Guest Blog Post: How to Land Lucrative Projects, Without The Hard Sell.e_darrellj | Aug 07, 2013
Occasionally we invite professionals to wax poetic about issues of importance to Elance clients and freelancers. Here are some thoughts from Ashwin Satyanarayana, an online marketing strategist and big fan of Elance.
I confess, it was a shameless trick to make the title irresistible for the lazy freelancers, but the truth is this: Either there is “hard sell” or years of hard work involved before the “easy sell”.
Personal development guru Steve Pavlina says it best, “Challenging work, when intelligently chosen, pays off.” Challenging work is painful. It sucks your soul. Yet, it’s this pain that charts the path to your growth. Pain, by the way, is a ruthless, unbiased, and a horrendously hardnosed teacher.
Yet, there’s a way for freelancers to land more jobs. You are on Elance and that should be enough work for this lifetime and the next. It’s not about whether there are jobs (because there are too many of them out there). It’s about the approach:
The Rule of Pure Hustle.
For freelancers who dig digital work, “hustle” here is of the digital kind.
You’d send proposals, write guest posts, develop your own content for your blog, generate alternate content, and compose social media specific content.
On Elance specifically, the hustle is entirely digital. It’s simple: How many proposals do you send out everyday? Hustling on Elance has a specific workflow: Customize your proposals, fix a set number of proposals you’ll make per day, send in proposals irrespective of what happens to the proposals you make.
It’s not like heaving bags of cement and working in harsh conditions (oil rigs or construction work) and also doesn’t require you to shove your hands between moving gears and free-falling pistons.
You’ve just run out of excuses to not “hustle” at least when it’s digital.
Play by the numbers.
It’s amazing how numbers (in the sense of activity volume) come to your rescue. I am a freelance writer and here is how my averages play out:
Number of proposals or bids sent per day: 20 (and all of them are customized)
Historic average conversion rate: 10%
Number of opportunities that accrue per day: 2
Average ticket size per opportunity: $350
Total bookings made per day: $350 x 2 = $700
If I work 20 days a month, I make: $700 x 20 = $14,000.
Want more? Can you do with less? Go play with the numbers.
Now, the numbers look good here but in real life there are things like the state of your mind, motivation levels, hunger, distractions, people, and current workloads that you have to think of.
Find exactly 20 right opportunities to apply to everyday and in months (or sooner), you’ll have more than you can handle. Elance, at any given point, has thousands of jobs across categories. You’ll never fall short of opportunities to apply to. Of course, ignore those “Peanut Projects” and others who look for “Monkey labor”, if you want to.
Assuming you do take all of that into account and still manage to pull it off, I can hear your cash register ringing.
Being creative with the act of “looking out.”
Jen Hubley Luckwaldt of Payscale points out that more than 80% of job openings aren’t advertised. While you let that sink in, browse Peter Cappelli’s explanation of why employers aren’t filling up open jobs, in the Harvard Business Review.
Clearly, there’s impetus to getting creative with “opportunity seeking” for freelancers. The competition is understandably high for every opportunity. So, here are a few ideas to kick-start your opportunity patrolling on Elance:
- Cross Sell: On Elance, there are two ways to make more money: getting clients and selling more to the clients that you manage to secure.
To make more money per client, you’ll have to upsell your services. While bidding, the key lies in something so simple that we miss it every time: it’s called “asking for it”.
Let’s assume that the client posts a brief asking for exactly 12 blog posts a month (3 per week). You could send in a custom proposal along with other services you can offer: upload posts and manage comments through their CMS; find and add images to every blog post; do their social media management for them; let them know that you can also do guest blogging campaigns.
The worst that could happen (apart from getting no response to your proposal): Clients will stick to their original requirement and commission you to work on those 12 blog posts a month.
All I did was put up an offer. If accepted, I earn more and the client is happy. If the offer were not accepted, I’d still end up blogging for the client.
- Find channel partners: Reach out to others on Elance. Web designers and developers generally don’t take up content development work. Clients, however, ask developers for content work, and vice versa. Virtual assistants could team up with anyone. You get the drift, don’t you?
- Be everywhere with your mettle: Creative types should showcase – that’s a given.
Elance already has a functional portfolio section. Instead of putting up files on your portfolio, use graphics (even for word documents and other content). Web Designer and developers could do the same.
What other ways can you think of?
Build a legacy
Here’s one way to sell easy: do work upfront, give to the community, and create a legacy.
Now, it’s against Elance Terms and Conditions to offer free work to clients. It’s not against any Elance policies to provide value to the Elance Community itself, though.
Designers/developers can sit tight and create templates for free on Elance. Did you know that you could head to the Water Cooler, create free templates for other freelancers to use, and let others download these templates?
If you are a content developer, blogger, or writer, you can offer to write guest posts on the Elance Blog, to begin with. You could also create helpful posts and publish them as a new topic on the Water Cooler.
When you rustle enough leaves and make some commercially viable noise, you create a name for yourself.
You, in effect, create a legacy.
When you give away, you earn credibility and trust. Once you are past the tipping point, selling is automatic. You could contribute, write a book, develop a community website, and lead a tribe. In years, you’d develop enough credibility and build a personal brand that can pump your pipeline up.
Brent Weaver of Hotpressweb.com actually built bcgurus.com as a community site that helps him get loads of credibility, trust, and visibility. Daniel Larsson of RightInbox.com chronicles how Brent Weaver manages to do it. Do we have lessons to pick or what?
Which of these tips do you think you can act on?
Ashwin Satyanarayana is an online marketing strategist and is the founder of Fetchprofits -- an end-to-end digital marketing services company. He is a passionate blogger, technology evangelist, and an incorrigible world traveler.