Freelancers typically face two challenges when starting out: credibility and pricing.
Freelancer.com alone has more than 10 million users. Given this large pool of competitors, it is difficult to stand out in the crowd and be visible to a potential client. It is natural for a business seeking freelancers to opt for someone who has had several projects with good ratings under their belt over a new entrant who has neither the rating nor project experience.
To make up for this, most freelancers start out by competing on price, which is not a sustainable model, primarily because a significant number of freelancers come from developing countries where the cost of living is lower than the developed world. The amount bid by these freelancers are likely to be much lower in general. If you are an emerging freelancer, your bid is not likely to be more attractive than what these freelancers (who may have a better reputation in the marketplace) quote.
Related: How Much Should I Charge Clients?
The ideal way forward is to create a communication channel with the client that will not be overwhelmed by the noise from competition. The process below should help new freelancers with an opportunity to be more visible and credible to the client.
Look for projects where the client can be identified. The nature of the freelance marketplace makes it difficult for you to stand out from the crowd. The first step is to take your conversation outside the native platform. Unfortunately, most projects that appear on such marketplaces are vague and do not give away too many details about the business. However, a small minority of the projects do and these are the clients that need to be targeted.
Look for listings that contain the website address. In some cases, the URL may not be available, but the user ID (example: richardmanning227) can give the client’s name away. Combine this with other details you can gather about the client from the project description (industry, location, etc.) and you may be able to uniquely identify the person through websites such as LinkedIn. Once identified, dig deeper into the profile to gather information about the website or business that is related to the project.
Analyze their business from the project perspective. The next step is to thoroughly analyze their business from the project perspective. If the client is requesting an SEO strategy, go ahead and spend a few minutes to identify possible areas you will be working on. Make a short document about it.
Send a personal email. Check the Who Is details for the client’s website to get the owner’s email address. If it is not available, find the right email address using trial and error. For instance, if you know that the project is for Example.com and the owner’s name is John Doe, then their email address could be email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. If your email is not delivered to any of these addresses, make use of the website contact form to send an email.
It is recommended to keep the email short and sweet with the analysis document provided only as an attachment. In my experience, this strategy gets a response at least 40 percent of the time. Once you convince the client to consider your proposal, bid on the project and ask them to accept the proposal through the marketplace. Over time, this strategy will help you build a good portfolio of clients without having to sacrifice your earnings.
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