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Freelance Sales
How to Game Elance & Guru

@DisruptiveDave
A little creative exploration
goes a long way.
Before we get into it, THIS GUY did it first and
inspired me to try my own ...
First, I set up a fake buyer
profile


My goal is to learn about my competition and
the intricacies of the bidding proces...
My posting
Observations


Elance’s price range options are much wider
than Guru’s ($1,000-$5,000 vs. $2,500$5,000, for this particul...
Elance


Much more information was provided to new
job posters on Elance than on Guru.



The onboarding process is quit...
Proposal review page

1. Avatar, name, country, hourly rate, skill category
2. Earnings, ratings, portfolio link
3. This e...
Drop-down menus for
organizing list view
Observations


The view defaults to “latest submit date”, with
sponsored proposals at the top regardless of
submit date. ...
Evaluating the bids


I set my project cost between $1,000 and
$5,000 and received 24 total proposals.



The average bi...
Guru


The only real onboarding I received is the
call-out on the next page, which references
both Premium bids (of which...
Onboarding messaging
Proposal review page

1. Avatar, name, portfolio link
2. The Guru Recommendation number, which we’ll discuss in a minute

...
Drop-down menu for
organizing list view
Observations


Guru organizes proposals according to
Recommendation number by default. From
what I understand, Premium pr...
Evaluating the bids


I set my project cost between $2,500 and
$5,000 and received 16 total proposals.



The average bi...
Viewing proposals as a buyer
and what freelancers can
learn from this


It was downright frightening how similarly
vanill...
(cont.)


Most pitches read like resumes, simply
listing qualifications and previous work, with
no attempt to connect to ...
Some tricks and tips I’ll be
using based on this exercise


Assuming many projects receive more
proposals than mine did, ...
Adding “Creative Marketer” to
my name
(cont.)


As Daniel pointed out, not one proposal came
with a video, never mind a personalized one.
Why the hell not?! Th...
(cont.)


Daniel advises you do some research and I
wholeheartedly agree. One of the best ways
to do this is to look at t...
(cont.)


Daniel’s take is to not include a quoted price in your
pitch because the client “will sort you by price and
be ...
(cont.)


On both sites, as a freelancer, you can see
how many other sellers have made
proposals and if all the sponsored...
Viewing other applicants on
Guru
(cont.)


Because response speed is important in
pitching new jobs, I’ve set up email alerts.
For Elance, here’s how I di...
My job alert
I’m sure there’s plenty more I
missed.

Dave Marcello
Freelance marketer
Startup co-founder

I’d love your input, feedback...
Freelance Sales: How I'm Gaming Elance & Guru
Freelance Sales: How I'm Gaming Elance & Guru
Freelance Sales: How I'm Gaming Elance & Guru
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Freelance Sales: How I'm Gaming Elance & Guru

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I spent my Sunday doing some poking around Elance and Guru and came out with some pretty damn useful tips for anyone trying to find gigs online. Tweet me your thoughts @DisruptiveDave. Thanks for reading and sharing!

disruptivedave.com

Published in: Marketing, Business, Technology
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Freelance Sales: How I'm Gaming Elance & Guru

  1. 1. Freelance Sales How to Game Elance & Guru @DisruptiveDave
  2. 2. A little creative exploration goes a long way. Before we get into it, THIS GUY did it first and inspired me to try my own angle. Dave Marcello Freelance marketer Startup co-founder I don’t often head to freelance marketplaces like Elance and Guru for gigs, but every now and then I check in to see if there’s anything worth chasing. After reading Daniel’s experience hacking Elance, I decided to follow suit and see if I could unearth any additional tips and tricks to help me stand out and win business with minimal effort. Hope this helps you make more money and enjoy the freedom we all desire as solopreneurs.
  3. 3. First, I set up a fake buyer profile  My goal is to learn about my competition and the intricacies of the bidding process for both sites.  Particularly from the point-of-view of a buyer.  I created a project to reflect an offer that I would go after, as a freelancer.  I chose a fixed budget so I could test where the average quote would fall.  I specifically called out the need for experience, command of the English language, and an individual, not an agency.
  4. 4. My posting
  5. 5. Observations  Elance’s price range options are much wider than Guru’s ($1,000-$5,000 vs. $2,500$5,000, for this particular project).  Guru automatically sets the “skills required” tags based on keywords used in your project description. This can be a bad thing, though, as tags were added for skills/descriptors even when I specifically called out that I didn’t want them.  Within the first 60 minutes of posting, I received 11 bids on Elance and 2 on Guru.
  6. 6. Elance  Much more information was provided to new job posters on Elance than on Guru.  The onboarding process is quite detailed, and included elements like a “Talent Trends” section, which shows average hourly rates for various skill sets.  You are also presented with the screen on the next page as soon as you submit your job, which I imagine is a great place to be as a freelancer.
  7. 7. Proposal review page 1. Avatar, name, country, hourly rate, skill category 2. Earnings, ratings, portfolio link 3. This example is a sponsored proposal, so it has the appropriate tag and orange/camel border color around it 4. The proposal wording, about 5-6 sentences (followed by an option to expand and read more) 5. Attachments (resumes, portfolio examples, etc.)
  8. 8. Drop-down menus for organizing list view
  9. 9. Observations  The view defaults to “latest submit date”, with sponsored proposals at the top regardless of submit date. BUT, the sponsored proposals do not remain pinned to the top of the list in ANY other view option. And, oddly, that includes when you hit “Submit Date (Latest)”. That’s right, in the default “Submit Date (Latest)” view when you first open your proposals page, the sponsored proposals are up top, but not if you hit the same button again. The fact that the sponsored proposals do not stay pinned to the top of the list in all views greatly reduces their impact.  When you view proposals from lowest bid to highest, the proposals with no price included show up first.
  10. 10. Evaluating the bids  I set my project cost between $1,000 and $5,000 and received 24 total proposals.  The average bid received was $1,947.  Over half of the bids were under that number.  Five bids didn’t include a cost at all.
  11. 11. Guru  The only real onboarding I received is the call-out on the next page, which references both Premium bids (of which I received none) and the Recommendation score, which has major implications for freelancers and job posters.
  12. 12. Onboarding messaging
  13. 13. Proposal review page 1. Avatar, name, portfolio link 2. The Guru Recommendation number, which we’ll discuss in a minute 3. Total amount of money earned through Guru 4. Star ratings 5. The proposal wording, about 4-5 sentences (followed by the option to expand the quote) 6. Bid amount
  14. 14. Drop-down menu for organizing list view
  15. 15. Observations  Guru organizes proposals according to Recommendation number by default. From what I understand, Premium proposals are pinned to the top and remain there regardless of view. The freelancers who had the most amount of earnings and the highest star ratings were the #1 and #2 bids (not surprising). Interestingly, the #3 and #4 bids had no money earned and no star ratings yet, but were both ranked ahead of someone who had earned some money (minimal) and had full star ratings.  Proposals with no price quotes (referenced as “placeholder” in the system) show up at the very bottom of the lists in both “Estimated Cost ($$$-$)” and “Estimated Cost ($-$$$)”.
  16. 16. Evaluating the bids  I set my project cost between $2,500 and $5,000 and received 16 total proposals.  The average bid received was below the proposed minimum, at $2,445.  Five bids were under $2,500 and four were right at it.  The top three Recommended freelancers all submitted bids at or below the minimum amount.
  17. 17. Viewing proposals as a buyer and what freelancers can learn from this  It was downright frightening how similarly vanilla nearly every single proposal was, on both sites.  Though my buyer profile wasn’t set up the way it should have been (I mistakenly left out key personal information that freelancers could have used in proposals), there was a strong lack of personalization in 100% of the proposals.  Out of 40 total pitches, only 3 directly mentioned wording I used in my project description — and even those only glossed over the “word of mouth” part.  Not one freelancer addressed me by my username, while several used the “Dear Sir/Madam” cringe-worthy moniker.
  18. 18. (cont.)  Most pitches read like resumes, simply listing qualifications and previous work, with no attempt to connect to the specific tasks and goals outlined in the project description.  Several freelancers referenced skill sets that had nothing to do with the specific job offered.  Most freelancers use their headshots for avatars, while a few used logos and a couple didn’t have one at all.  Names ranged from personal first/last names to agency names to a few descriptors (e.g. “Social Media Savvy”).
  19. 19. Some tricks and tips I’ll be using based on this exercise  Assuming many projects receive more proposals than mine did, especially if they are promoted or from reputable buyers, sifting through dozens of bids can be time consuming and tiring. Obviously, demonstrating a proven record on these sites is a major bonus (high buyer feedback, good star ratings, lots of money earned, etc.), you can’t necessarily control that from Day One. I’d like to concentrate on what you can control.  I’m going to make a bet here that personal names and faces get more attention than logos and agency names. Put yourself out there. One trick I’m experimenting with is adding a short qualifier / skill descriptor to my name, since that’s one of the first things (if not, the first) that a buyer sees.
  20. 20. Adding “Creative Marketer” to my name
  21. 21. (cont.)  As Daniel pointed out, not one proposal came with a video, never mind a personalized one. Why the hell not?! That’s a fantastic way to stand out, show you are committed to the project, and connect on a personal level in a process that can seem a bit robotic. I love that.  Of extreme importance, only the first few sentences of your pitch actually show up in the proposal list, and with so many to review, it’s safe to assume that’s all a buyer will see. You need to hook them right off the bat. Mention their name, call out something specific in the description, bring the video to their attention —  just do it quickly.
  22. 22. (cont.)  Daniel advises you do some research and I wholeheartedly agree. One of the best ways to do this is to look at the buyer’s history, particularly their feedback for other freelancers. Any patterns of things they liked or disliked? Use that in your pitch.  If the buyer is from the U.S., it could be worth calling out that you are too, and English speaking as a first language.
  23. 23. (cont.)  Daniel’s take is to not include a quoted price in your pitch because the client “will sort you by price and be less likely to consider you”. I need to test that theory, though it certainly makes sense at first. Elance is a better site to offer no initial bid, where on Guru it could easily bite you in your ass since it’ll put you at the bottom of the list when organized by price (high or low).  Sponsored / Promoted proposals aren’t always a sure thing. On Elance, they typically cost double the amount of “Connects” as a regular proposal submission, and only three Sponsored proposals are allowed per job. But, as previously mentioned, they don’t remain at the top of the list in any other view the buyer may choose. On Guru, the Promoted proposals cost more (6 bids vs. 1 for the standard proposal), but remain pinned to the top of the page at all times.
  24. 24. (cont.)  On both sites, as a freelancer, you can see how many other sellers have made proposals and if all the sponsored / promoted spots are filled yet. On Guru, you can also see what the Recommended rankings currently are for anyone who has bid on the project. All these factors should help you decide whether you should pitch that particular project and if it’s worth a sponsored / promoted proposal.
  25. 25. Viewing other applicants on Guru
  26. 26. (cont.)  Because response speed is important in pitching new jobs, I’ve set up email alerts. For Elance, here’s how I did it. Go to Find Work and Search Jobs. Be as specific as you can, as the search function isn’t the best. In the example below, I used “marketing strategy” as my search term, then chose U.S. based jobs, in the Sales & Marketing category. You can get as specific as you like, including fixed vs. hourly rate and even featured posts or payment-verified buyers. I then set up a recipe in IFTTT by using the RSS feed from my search page (click the RSS button on Elance) to email me when new jobs are posted.
  27. 27. My job alert
  28. 28. I’m sure there’s plenty more I missed. Dave Marcello Freelance marketer Startup co-founder I’d love your input, feedback, and enhancements. Head on over to Medium, where you can comment directly in my original post. And hitting the “Recommend” button is always appreciated. Be well, Dave

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