I was brand new to freelancing. No idea what I was doing.
But I won 5 gigs in less than a week, and you can do the same.
A bit of background to this story: I come from the passive-income writing world where I create my own products and all the work I do is for myself. I didn’t know how to write up a freelance proposal, let alone how to successfully deliver services to a client! But I decided to try freelancing for two reasons.
- To create a backup income I could lean on for cash if anything went wrong with my passive income writing.
- To test a theory I had about business and life in general: that the way you communicate matters more than your background, and that you get more if you give more.
I’d outsourced many aspects of my passive income business through the Elance platform, so I was familiar with that system and how the flow of bidding worked. I figured I’d set up as a freelance service provider there.
[Note from Sophie: Yes, I know some of you hate Elance with a passion. But Lior’s approach to sending proposals got him started and hired fast, so set aside your Elance-flaming reaction for a few minutes and consider how you can adapt this to your own proposals, no matter where you find your clients.]
Lessons Learned from the Client Side
Before, I was always in the hiring position and had noticed a couple of things from that side of the table:
- I hated it when I received copied-and-pasted proposals that weren’t unique to the project I’d described.
- I was more likely to respond to people who gave me advice or asked a question regarding the job.
On Elance, you can’t contact a potential client directly until they express an interest in you. I knew I couldn’t rely on my Elance profile alone to impress potential clients, because it was almost empty — I had no published blogging clips to show for all my self-employed experience.
I had to find a way to implement what I’d learnt from my time in the client’s shoes and use that in my proposals as a service provider.
Turns out my empty profile wasn’t a problem. My proposals won me 5 gigs in 3 days.
The total time I spent sending proposals on Elance was 30 minutes, plus an extra 20 minutes of e-mailing back and forth to discuss and confirm the details. The total value of my gigs for the week was over $1,000. Not too bad for a “nobody” without a portfolio.
Here’s How to Do It
These are the main two tactics I used in my proposals to attract clients to respond. Remember, the idea was to prompt the client to reply to my proposal so that I could show them my experience and build the relationship from there.
“I looked into that for you and…”
The idea here was to show them that I went ahead and investigated what their job posting was referring to. Often they post a link to a website as part of the project description, so this leaves a great opportunity to separate yourself from the other proposals by basing yours around their website content.
Familiarize yourself with their world and customize your proposal around that. This will show you know what you’re talking about, making your potential client more inclined to accept your proposal.
“I’m not sure why you would do that, but…”
Here I’m giving criticism that leads into advice. I love this one because it works so well with clients — often, they’re outsourcing the work because they don’t know how to do it themselves. They definitely don’t want to spend money to have something done wrong, or to find they asked for the wrong thing in the first place! This leaves a lot of room for suggestions to improve the job specifics, and almost always elicits a response.
It’s another great opportunity for you to show that you know what you’re talking about. Once a potential client has spent time discussing a project or problem with you, they will be more likely to choose your proposal as they’ve already invested time planning with you. Your proposal is more likely to win, even if it’s at a higher price point.
The main thing I learned from this successful week of Elancing is the common theme between the two methods above: “If you give, you will get”.
This was the foundation of my experiment, based on my experiences in the hiring position. It always boiled down to that one point of human nature. And I plan to use it over and over again in my business and personal life.
If you give, you will get.
So you tell me: What can you give in your proposals to boost your chances of getting hired?