Unless you’re lucky enough to be part of your company’s telecommuting staff, the only other way to make money while working from home is to be a freelancer.
There are dozens of sites out there pairing up freelancers with prospective clients, and we’ve even featured a top ten list in a previous entry on the iRemit blog. However, it can be quite daunting to sign up as a beginner, what with the staggering number of freelancers listed on the said websites.
So, what can you do to make yourself stand out (and thus get actual gigs that pay well)?
1. Study the competition.
There’s a very sneaky yet effective way to do this.
Post a fake job description and analyze the responses you get. Make sure to write a job description requiring the sort of services you yourself are offering for a more targeted result.
For example, if you specialize in website design, you can write something like this:
“I need someone who can revamp our company website, preferably a person who is familiar with CSS, plug-ins, typography, and themes. This opening is only for serious, experienced developers who have an excellent command of the English language.”
Once the applications start coming in, look for a common pattern. You might notice that many of them come from non-native English speakers, for example, or that the applications seem to be generic, as though the applicant used a template and just filled in the blanks.
Now that you’ve sized up your competition and seen the gaps in their application, you can move on to the next step.
2. Draft your profile carefully.
An accurate and well-written profile is the first stepping stone to getting hired, so take time to compose yours.
For starters, be specific with your descriptions and titles. You can look up in-demand keywords to point you in the right direction. For example, rather than just typing “Writer” as your title, you can use “SEO Copywriter,” “Brand Journalist,” or “Social Media Writer.” Not only will this attract your target clients, but using targeted keywords will make you rank higher.
Don’t neglect your portfolio either. Clients will hesitate to hire a candidate with an empty portfolio, but you shouldn’t list every single project you’ve done either as all that clutter can be overwhelming. Instead, curate your portfolio as you would your Facebook account: list only the projects that showcase the best of your abilities.
Lastly, update your profile every few months. Encourage your previous clients to provide feedback, take on additional training seminars to expand your skill set, and make sure your profile reflects all these.
Oh, and I shouldn’t have to say this, but your grammar usage should also be on point. Majority of the clients hiring freelancers come from either the US or the UK, both of which have English as their native language. Shoddy grammar will not only detract from your credibility (because come on, who wants to hire a writer who can’t tell the difference between “their” and “they’re?”), but it also makes it difficult for prospective clients to understand you, possibly causing you to miss out on a big break.
3. Understand your client (so you can make your pitch more specific).
Should a prospect express interest in hiring your services, do a bit of background study on them before you enter into preliminary interviews.
Things to zero in on are their purchase history (how long they’ve been hiring freelancers on the site and whether they regularly do so), their feedback history (how they evaluate freelancers they’ve worked with in the past, specifically which skills they appreciate and/or actively seek), and their personal details (names, interests, locations, or anything else that can help you build rapport with them).
If you’re up for it, you can even send them a link to your mini-pitch on Youtube. Such a proposal video should last around 90 seconds or less and should contain a brief background on you as well as why you like their specific project, and a couple more tidbits about yourself that might be relevant to their needs.
So, there we have it. Standing out on a freelance website is not so different from standing out among several applicants for a job interview. You simply have to strive to be concise, straightforward, AND memorable.