Elance Blog

Introducing Advice From An Elancer (Volume 1)

Today we kick-off a fun and informative new feature here on the Elance blog. It’s called Advice From An Elancer, and it’s your opportunity to get timely answers to those all-important freelancer or client questions -- all from a seasoned Elance professional who has walked a mile in your shoes. Feel free to peruse the answers to other people’s questions (or ask your own question on the discussion page of Elance’s LinkedIn Group). Enjoy! Hopefully it will help greatly as you Work Differently in 2013.

Advice from an Elancer Icon

Welcome to Advice From An Elancer – a place to ask your Elance questions (through Elance’s LinkedIn page) and get them answered as thoroughly and personally as possible. My name is Dorothy D. and I have worked with Elance as a freelancer since April 2009. I have always tried to help other Elancers understand how things work and how to accomplish more. In Advice From An Elancer I will address as many questions as I can each week. In some cases, questions have been edited for clarity.

Question #1:

Elance is new to me. I need to understand. How do I get my first job when I don't have anything to showcase. All I need to understand is "How do I approach the client or post a proposal which will not only attract the Client or Hiring Manager, I would rather he initiate the PMB, which should result in a Project Award!!!

Advice from an Elancer:

Part of the answer depends upon what area you are working in. If you are in IT or Design, you may provide links to work that you have done online. For writing, you may want to write a few pieces to use for examples of your skills. You can use this technique in several areas. Make some examples simply to use in your portfolio or to share with clients in proposals. You could also use recommendations in your portfolio from previous clients.

You cannot approach a client without making a proposal or asking a question. There is no way to contact a potential client without using a Connect and filling out at least something in the proposal screen. This may be questions for clarification or a bid without an exact amount, but it opens the door to communication.

While it is nice to communicate via PMB, your main impression on the client will from your profile and your proposal. This is the place to show who you are and what you can do. Don’t worry about initiating private conversations. Focus on your public profile and high quality proposals.


Question #2:

I have been on Elance for over a year now but unfortunately I've not even won a bid. Is the problem about my proposals? Or where I come from? (international provider). An employer that was interested in me recently declined my bid because I do not have a feedback. How do I get one when I'm not offered a job? I'm in the Finance and Management section.

Advice from an Elancer:

This was posted within a thread selling an e-book with tips for writing winning proposals. Honestly, to give a precise answer, I would need to see the freelancer’s profile as well as a sample proposal that they have written. Elance is a global business, so it is doubtful that location is the culprit. More likely, your profile is not complete or is not attractive to clients or your proposals are not written in a way that stands out above the others.

Remember, each proposal must be different. You cannot use a “cookie cutter” proposal with small changes and expect to win jobs. There is no secret for writing that magic proposal that will win a job. There are, however, ways that you can write your proposal that will show the client that you are the best candidate for the job. Let your experience and personality shine through. Be confident and explain why you are the best person for their particular job. Realistically, you may have to bid lower for a few jobs to establish a reputation on Elance. Once you have the reputation, you may raise your rates to a more reasonable level.

Another way to gain a reputation is to add some references or some jobs to your portfolio. This will help clients feel comforted that you do, in fact, have experience.


Question #3:

Sometimes it is very tough to get a project on Elance. Do clients get a lot of proposals and get confused and move for the cheapest bid?

Advice from an Elancer:

Some clients are simply looking for the lowest bid to get their job done. Some even say this in the description! Often, the client is looking for good work for an unreasonably low price. This can be frustrating for both the client and bidding freelancers. I have had situations where the client chose a very low bid, did not receive the work they needed, and came back and hired me to fix the work so that it met their needs.

The best case is the client who realizes that you get what you pay for. In other words, the client realizes that to get high quality work, they may have to pay more to get a freelancer who can provide what they need.

There are all types of clients out there. Before you bid, look at their profile. Do they usually hire the lowest bidder? Have they spent very little money on Elance? If so, you may want to save your Connects and look for another client.


Whew, that's enough for today. If you have questions or want to follow the conversation of other Elancers, visit the Discussion page of our LinkedIn page.


Totally agree with making each proposal unique. I've secured most of my projects by providing clients with just the information they were looking for.

I guess I need help with - or a pointer to the thread about - writing an eye catching proposal and portfolio. All my currently saved works are freelance/for hire gigs that don't have my byline on them. It is more than a little frustrating at times. I'm not the original questioner, but I bet this is a FAQ topic that should be stickied to the top of the thread.

In regards to trying to determine if a particular client simply goes for the lowest bid (repeatedly) - while I can see the total they've spent through Elance, I have no way of telling what they've spent on any particular project, correct? So it's still tricky to figure out what they're willing to pay, it seems...

More of these questions \answers will continually be helpfull-thank you

I would be happy to look at your page if you like. I will be looking at some individual pages and discussing issues in this column, without names attached. Message me if you are interested.