Applying for New Projects and Finding Online Freelance Work

What does it take to impress clients? Unfortunately, I can’t give you a universal answer. Every freelancer that has tried scoring projects on websites like Odesk and Elance knows that it’s sometimes incredibly difficult to stand out and land the gig.

Though there seems to be tons of online freelance work, finding clients that are willing to pay enough and establish long-term relationships with freelancers is still a challenging task. You have just one chance to impress and this one chance involves sending the perfect application letter.

Confidence and experience are two factors for finding online freelance work and impressing potential clients. Building a solid portfolio and having a proven track record of success are equally important. These steps become even more crucial if you’re just getting started and trying to find your first independent projects (outside of content mills or agencies that hire freelancers).

Based on my experience, I’ve come up with several rules for finding online freelance work and applying to the project. Whether you’re looking for jobs on Odesk or trying other means of communication with potential customers, the dynamics remain the same.

What You Need to do before Applying for Freelance Projects

Build your web presence, if you want to find well-paid online freelance work. Google your name to figure out what clients will find, if they decide to do research.

Get rid of anything that looks unprofessional. Your old Myspace profile is probably still online and it probably still features those embarrassing photographs. Get rid of it and work on establishing a solid online presence:

  • Develop your LinkedIn profile: make it detailed and include all of your skills and competences. Ask people that have worked with you in the past to endorse you for relevant skills.
    Create an online portfolio: it could accompany your LinkedIn profile or it can be web-based. Building your own website is much easier than you believe it to be. Even if you don’t have the experience, you can opt for an inexpensive template and the WordPress CMS engine. You’ll simply need to pay for hosting.
    Start a professional blog: this step is incredibly important if you’re a freelance writer but all other professionals will benefit from it, as well. Demonstrate your competence and skills through the posts that you create. Write about specialized issues and share your own thoughts and ideas. Don’t replicate anyone, especially if you’re passionate about the particular industry.
    Ask former clients for reviews: many people use testimonials to decide whether to go for a particular service. Ask a couple of your former clients to write a brief review about their experience. DON’T write such texts on your own – they will lack the authenticity of reviews written by genuine customers.
    Create profiles in freelancing platforms: websites like Odesk and Elance enable you to build a comprehensive profile. Take the tests and provide all of the essential details. The more comprehensive your profile is, the easier it’s going to be to find online freelance work.

Set the Right Price

Your pricing policy will also determine the success of your interactions with potential clients. The price is one of the first factors that many individuals will assess and if you don’t fall within the required range, your application will be dismissed.

A very low price will have many clients wondering whether you have the skills to do a good job. Overpricing is another major mistake that will decrease your chances of getting chosen (especially if you’re just getting started). Your charge should be backed by experience and positive customer feedback. See what the industry averages are and try to remain within that range.

Choose the Right Project to Apply to

Odesk and Elance give you useful information that can facilitate the application process. Use that information to figure out whether a particular gig is really worth the try.

The first thing you can see is what’s the price range that the client’s comfortable with. Odesk gives you information about the average bid of the freelancers that the client is communicating with. If the average is 1.5 dollars, chances are that the particular client’s not going to be happy with your 15 dollars per hour bid.

Next, you can see information about the number of people that the client’s interviewing and the amount of time that the ad has been online. Many companies post ads without having actual intentions of choosing a freelancer. If the client isn’t interviewing anyone and the ad has been online for a couple of days, chances are that you will not hear back from them.

Finally, take a look at the skills and competences that clients are interested in. these are usually listed at the bottom of the ad. You’ll get information about the skill level, the nationality of freelancers that clients want to work with (some opt for US freelancers only, others prefer to work with people from the Philippines). Don’t bother applying if you don’t correspond to all of these requirements.

A Few Tips for Making Your Online Freelance Work Application Stand Out

Now that you’ve done all the research, it’s time to finally apply to the project that you’re interested in.

For a start, forget about copy-pasting the same cover letter each time. Clients want to learn how you can address their particular project needs. A generic letter that doesn’t provide any relevant information will be ignored immediately.

Make your tone confident and always check for mistakes before sending. Address the letter to the particular person responsible for the recruitment process. Tell them who you are and why you’re the best person for the project. Back your claims with evidence by providing links or sharing information about relevant projects you’ve completed in the past.

Adding a link to your website or your blog to the application will also be beneficial – it will show the client just how passionate you are about the particular industry.

Go through their job posting once again. Answer any questions that might have been posted there. Clients will often ask about the way in which you charge, relevant experiences, your availability and the amount of time you’ll need to complete the project.

Finally, remember that finding online freelance work could be a challenging task in the beginning. Don’t give up and continue applying. If you don’t hear from any of the clients, there’s a chance that you’re doing something wrong. Your bid could be too high or your application could be too generic. Examine all of your cover letters once again to figure out whether you are committing a particular mistake.

Do you want to learn more about how to find online freelance work? My book about online entrepreneurship can help. How to Make Money Online: The Secrets of Starting Your Own Web-Based Business is available for purchase in various stores including Amazon, iTunes and Google Play.

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