Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tips for Using Freelance Websites

A freelance writer’s best friend is the site that combines all of the country’s clients in one centralized location. Sites such as ODesk, Guru and Elance are all great sites for freelance writers looking for a quick job, extra money or perhaps a permanent position. Though these sites protect the freelancer, there are still ways to get scammed. Since I have tried them all, I have compiled a few tips for working your way through jobs in freelance sites, getting paid and avoiding scams.

Create a Profile
Employers want to see a resume when you apply and the same goes for freelance sites. Don’t just sign up for an account and apply to jobs. You won’t get any. You have to complete a profile on the site that includes information like experience, past work and even a few links to writing samples. The more proactive you are with your profile, the more job offers that will come to you, rather than you coming to them. Treat it like a resume and fill in every section. If the site offers tests, like ODesk.com does, then take the tests.

Market Yourself
Freelance sites have thousands of writers with active profiles listed; therefore, a writer literally has to stand out in a crowd. Market yourself by offering up all of the information required in the profile including samples, resume, links to previous work, past clients, etc. Prepare a cover letter when you bid on jobs and sell yourself to the company. Tailor your cover letter to the type of job -- such as a little humor for a posting looking for a comedy writer.

Free Samples?
Employers on freelancing sites often ask for a sample to make sure your writing abilities match what they are looking for. Though most companies have honest intentions, there are some that post jobs, accept samples and use those samples instead of paying writers to work for them.  If a client requests a free sample based on a topic they present, proceed with caution. Require that the company either pay for the sample or offer links and examples of past work you have done instead. If the company only wants a free sample based on their own keywords, most likely they are fishing for free work.

Scammer Alert
Freelance sites try to protect freelancers, but scammers still get in. Never sign on with a company that asks for your social security number, personal information or sounds too good to be true. For example, clients that offer writers the chance to write their own book for thousands of dollars and no cost to them, are usually scams.

Name Your Price
When a writer first sets up a profile on these types of sites, they are required to name and hourly and per article (or word) rate. If this is your first time on that particular site, it’s time to be reasonable. You cannot expect companies to pay you $22 per hour, even if you have the credentials. Clients on these sites want to see feedback from other customers on the site and in your work history WITH THAT SITE before paying you anything worthy. So set your prices lower than expected until you build up a good work history on that site.

The Reality of it All
Freelancer sites are a great way for writers to make money, if they know how to work it. The bottom line is if you sign up with the expectations to make thousands of dollars that month, you will be very disappointed. Instead, be realistic. Follow the steps listed here and you can find success or even land a great job from one of these sites.

Visit the Where to Work page for user reviews and a list of freelance sites to work for.

…My personal experience? I found a great job writing travel articles and updates for Expedia.com from a freelancer site (ODesk.com). They paid $25 for 500 words and $35 for 650 words. Not too shabby for working at home and writing about Paris in my pajamas.

No comments:

Post a Comment