Should You Bother Trying To Find Work On Freelance Sites?

By March 17, 2008 Uncategorized 5 Comments

Is it worth trying to get work on freelance sites such as elance.com, guru.com and getafreelancer.com? It depends on your situation. If you’re starting out working at home as a Virtual Assistant, it can be worthwhile to register and bid for work on these sites.

You have to accept though, that you’re going to be competing with people in India, Eastern Europe and Asia, who will be bidding at VERY low rates to get the work.

Does that mean you won’t get work if you’re bidding at higher rates? Not necessarily. Some clients are willing to pay higher rates for Virtual Assistants who are based in countries where English is the mother tongue. I have come across Virtual Assistants who have successfully found one-off projects AND long-term clients through these freelance sites but it’s a bit like searching for a diamond in the rough.

One strategy is to state your full rate, regardless of what others are bidding. If you’re charging $35 per hour for wordprocessing, ignore the others who are bidding $2 per hour. You have to be mentally strong to do this and not get discouraged by the cheaper bids. In your bid, you need to stress that your work is quality work. In every communication with the potential client, you need to make sure that your spelling and grammar is perfect and that you respond promptly. That way, you stand out as a quality service provider. Although the majority of people using freelance websites are looking for the cheapest bidder, there are occasionally clients who are prepared to pay for quality work. I say ‘occasionally’, so don’t expect to get a flood of clients this way.

Another strategy is to cut your rates down somewhat, in order to get more of a foothold in the freelance marketplace. This strategy must only be viewed as a way of getting a few projects under your belt and building up a portfolio of work to show future clients.

You wouldn’t want to use this as a long-term strategy because you won’t be able to support yourself by consistently charging low rates.

Plus, it’s demoralising to work for less than you’re worth.

I would suggest using the freelance websites only at the beginning of starting your business, rather than as a long-term strategy, unless you’re working at home in a country where the cost of living allows you to work at a very low rate.

5 Comments

  • Deb Frawley says:

    Good advice Lisa! I use the first strategy you mentioned and bid at my full rate. I also know other Virtual Assistants that have gotten good clients this way. Of course you can’t use this is your only means of gaining clients. You need to network and market yourself religiously. I try to spend a 1/2 everyday just on marketing!

  • Lisa Taliga says:

    Yes, it’s another way of getting your name out there and there’s no need to feel intimidated by the low rates on offer. It’s a great feeling to stand your ground, bid your full rate and STILL get work!

  • Delita says:

    Great advice. I used to get discouraged when I saw others advertising their services for less, but when clients contact me, I use this time to let them know why my rates are what they are and I usually get the client. It is the old adage, “you get what you pay for”. So I say this to say, don’t get discouraged. I have even tried cutting my rates, which has also worked. In this day you have to bend sometimes to get a client, but don’t bend too much. I once cut my rates for a client…biggest mistake I ever made! The work was tedious and time consuming and once I completed it, it wasn’t worth my time or the money. So do what feels right for you.

  • Lisa Taliga says:

    Hi Delita, I’ve found that clients who are too focused on cost, are not the ones to have. I’m glad you know how to project your value and that you’re getting clients that are paying you what you are worth!

  • Jennifer says:

    HI,
    That was really helpful. I am going to use Deb’s tip of tyring to spend more time on marketing.
    Thanks Deb and Lisa

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