Job sites are a popular way for freelancers to find work, but a quick glance at any of them will show you just what a crowded marketplace it is.
To have any hope of landing work without the dreaded ‘race to the bottom’, you need an edge.
Think of a job site as being a bit like a speed-dating agency. First impressions count. To stand out from the crowd, you need to hit the ground running and then pick up the pace even more.
There are several things you can do to boost your chances of standing out on job sites.
Polish Your Profile
You may think the first thing potential clients notice is your job proposal, and often you’ll be right. But there’s a good chance they’ll check out your profile for a quick glimpse of you before they decide to spend any time reading your proposal.
The more responses they’ve had to job adverts, the more likely they’ll use profiles to create an initial shortlist.
In your profile:
Highlight achievements before education. Clients don’t care if you have three degrees and a PhD, but they do care that you can do the job. Showing them previous work in a similar area is the best demonstration of your expertise.
Use Clear language. Say what you can do clearly and simply. It’s tempting to use big words and lots of jargon but avoid it. If you’re not sure whether you’re using jargon, imagine you’re explaining it to your mother. Will she understand the ‘insider’ terms you’re using?
Take pride in your accomplishments. No need to brag, but don’t be too modest either. If you’ve increased sales by 30%, say so. If you’ve extended circulation by half a million, quote the numbers. Be as specific as you can.
Learn from people higher up the chain by looking at the top profiles in your industry or sector. How are the high flyers presenting themselves? Can you make similar claims?
Remember, the words, tone and style you choose for your profile will reflect your brand, your personality and style. The style of your profile should mirror the market you wish to attract.
Target Your Proposals
Sending in fewer, more carefully targeted proposals will help you stand out from the crowd
It is very important to make the offers you do send as personal as possible and address the client’s request directly. The more specific you can be, the more they will know you are genuinely interested in helping them out.
Know Your Skill Level
When you’re searching for suitable clients on job sites, search within your skill set.
While a bit of stretching is necessary for growth, offering to do jobs you know little about is stressful. Working beyond your current level could also mean your work doesn’t quite make the grade, especially when you are starting out.
Quote a Suitable Price
You’ll find a range of prices and budgets for similar jobs. Just about all advice on setting your pay rate starts the same: decide how much you need to survive then work out your hourly or fixed rate for specific tasks.
It’s sound advice but, on job sites, there’s a caveat: You have to take into account the potential client’s stated budget.
Wherever you can, align your fee with the amount offered. You can (and should) negotiate a little if you have a strong argument but, when you’re trying to attract attention, you’ll stand out more if your offer fits in with the client’s request.
Don’t be tempted to undercut either - the client may wonder what they aren’t getting from you that the other freelancers can provide.
Build Your Reputation
Your reputation on job sites can make or break your chances of finding work. You build your reputation by earning good feedback for a job well done. Most job sites offer star ratings, and these can let clients filter out lower rated freelancers.
Like book reviews, your feedback from previous clients influences how potential new clients will regard working with you.
To earn your five-star rating:
Deliver what you promise.
Over-deliver if possible – over-delivering means providing something extra that adds value the client wasn’t expecting.
Update clients on progress.
Ask for information if you need it.
Stay positive, professional and polite.
Telling your client you want to provide a top-rated service is a subtle way of letting them know you want a five-star review.
Competition is fierce in the freelance world, but there is plenty of work for those who stand out from the crowd. It’s not too hard to raise your head above the others when you know your market and follow a few basic guidelines.