Monday, August 18, 2008

Turning to the dark side might be a smart move for freelance writers

No, not that dark side!

And really, I guess Elance isn't THAT bad : )

Yes, I'm eating crow here. I'm still a Guru girl at heart, but I'm also learning something very important lately.

My biggest clients are not on the Guru board (they never were, it's not that we moved off the board). It's never seemed like a good idea to rely ONLY on Guru - or any other job board - for a freelance writing career. However, it's a fantastic way to get your business started, and one of the easiest, most-efficient ways to keep a steady stream of work coming in.

To be completely honest - I've only ever had maybe 5 days that were slow in the entire time I've been freelancing. And that's not to say those days had no work - just not a full day. Part of the reason I've avoided the feast or famine cycle lots of freelancers complain about is that I have a constant source of work from Guru.

However, with the ranking system changes, I'm finding that as a firm (rather than a single writer), I'm still not sure how to master the new system. In fact, even with repeat work from relatively high paying clients, my "new" rank (not active yet) is getting worse and worse! Could be that we take in a huge volume of projects rather than just a few from a few clients - looks like that would do bad things to your ranking. Could be that we are willing to work with clients who just want a one-time project done - that doesn't seem to help your ranking either.

The old system was easy - do lots of projects really well, make your clients happy, and your rank will climb. Still working on how to build a ranking in the new system.


I also decided it was time to branch out a bit, rather than putting all my freelance writing board eggs in one basket. So I did the unthinkable... I set up a profile on Elance!

: ) (Yes, I know many of you love Elance and have done really well on it - in fact I'd really love to hear your tips!)

I'll share what I learn as it goes.

Here are some very interesting things:
  1. You can do sealed bids (not sure whether this works for all projects, but it definitely seems like an option for at least some of them). Not positive this is a new feature, but I could swear it wasn't like that when I messed with Elance a couple of years ago.
  2. They've got tests on the site so you can get certified for different skills. This is pretty cool.
  3. They don't seem to have templates, which is kind of a bummer. Not that you'd ever send a template out without customizing it to completely match your client's needs, of course. But having a template to start with is HUGE for bidding efficiently.
  4. Seems like a lot of projects' bidding periods are extended.
  5. You can pay monthly instead of coughing up $150 for an annual membership.
Haven't gotten any gigs there yet, but I think it's worthwhile to keep trying there. I'll keep you posted!

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