Freelancer [Advanced winning tips & handling communication]
On freelancer, you register and set up your profile, and they ask you to link a card like Payoneer or PayPal. The card thing is not strictly required until you are awarded a job or want to make your first withdrawal. Unlike Fiverr where an employer hand picks who they want; freelancer.com creates a bidding war among employees.
During registration, they will ask you to pick certain categories or niches that you can handle. Once an employer needs something in your category and you are online, they will send such job offers to you and to others that picked the same category as you. When you have a poll of candidate, you need to rank them, and they do exactly that. They run a business and want to make money, and they will rank the best freelancers first. But don’t let that weigh you down, a lot of clients will still go down the list and pick raw talents provided you can stand-out. So, hang on!
For jobs less than $30, freelancer charges an employee a flat rate of $5. For Jobs greater than that, they charge you 10%, and they also charge the employer a tiny percentage for using their services, but they do not usually charge a processing fee.
Billing on freelancer
- One-off vs. Hourly billing
On Fiverr, you are only billed at once, and there is nothing like hourly billing. The concept of hourly billing as employed by freelancer and upwork is meant to mimic the real-life method of working per hour. These two sites have integrated their websites with time tracker which is intended to ensure that an employee is actually working and now and then, the software takes screenshots of what you are doing and will show it to your employer.
What is my opinion about the hourly projects? It is a flawed system which doesn’t track anything. I mean, I can write a piece of article in 30 minutes, if I agree to use the hourly model; will I now have to write the article in 3 hours so that I get paid more? You know, you get my drift. But of course, the site owners are not 100% dull. This kind of model is helpful when you are working as a virtual assistant or an online customer care rep. There are also clients who just need someone to chat with for one hour; this is applicable here too. If a customer wants an hourly model, by all means, take it. Just work out the number of hours in advance.
2. Milestone or Escrow system
Freelancer.com and Fiverr have a system which is aimed at protecting buyers and sellers, so one does not cheat the other. In Upwork or freelancer, they call it milestone but Fiverr doesn’t have a specific name for that. What happens is that the site owners take the money from an employer and hold it in trust after you both have agreed on a price point. When the project is completed satisfactorily to the client’s taste, the money will be released to the employee.
Advanced advice from a Pro
- Do you have experience?
Ah Ha. This is my favorite one. You see, in the freelance world, there is nothing like experience/employment verification. If Fiverr, Upwork or Freelancer.com do not verify anything other than your identity, then it could be concluded that they support the fact that you are inexperienced. So, riding on the back of the “conspiracy of silence” exhibited by these sites who refuse to verify what you call yourself; you are what you say you are. These guys need as many people as they can get and are aware that stricter vetting will drive people away, and this is all just a game of numbers to them.
So, as long as you do not claim to be Opera Winfrey or Hillary Clinton, or any such people whose identity can be verified in the blink of an eye online, you are pretty much set to go. You can claim that you had a Ph.D. at the Harvard Business School and that you had briefly worked for three years at KPMG. But of course, as any lie, you need to tell them why you are now freelancing on the side. You could claim that you are on some extended holiday and thought it would be fun to write about Business articles for people of the world just for the fun. This is not a one size fits all scenario but if you want to say the lie, tell it well. If your conscience is pricking you, by all means tell the truth.
- The underrated world of portfolio
Portfolio! Portfolio!! Portfolio!!! There live a web designer who wanted to offer his service but doesn’t have a sample to show to the world. Em.., are you kidding me? You are a new guy; nobody knows what you can do except the things you say or show you can do. You need to show the world what you got. But what if you don’t have a lot? Well, there is a straight way to do things, and there is the smart way. You could be honest about your level of skill, employers who are not so loaded might be ready to make that compromise. Eventually, you would have a few jobs under your belt and would be able to raise your price point. But if you want to join the league of smart, you could look for relevant pictures in your niche, customize it and say you can do that too. I have tactically not asked you to tell a lie. I have only asked you to challenge yourself. I mean, it happens that sometimes the mere fact that we haven’t done something before doesn’t mean we can’t do it.
So, having a great portfolio is important if you want to make a headway. I didn’t know the importance of this until I started scouting for freelancers that could work for me. Turns out that 9 out of 10 times, I was leaning towards the guys that have something to showcase. And when I remembered my earlier struggles in the business, it dawned on me that my struggles were due to lack of a portfolio.
- A game of pictures
Pictures tell a better story than words and some newbies out of naivety or perhaps, been shy usually skip this part and just leave it blank or leave the picture of an animal. But this is incredibly wrong. You don’t need to use your real picture if you are not cool with it, you can just visit sites like pixabay.com and get copyright free images that you can use on your profile. I don’t want to start quoting reports or statistics of how visuals pass a message more than texts, but as an employer and an employee, I have worked on both sides of the fence, and you should take this one seriously. A profile picture should project who you are. If you are an English guru, you would want to look formal. If you are a logo artist or graphics guy; maybe not very important. But the mistake you don’t want to make is to use the photo of an Indian, or Chinese or African in a niche that has anything to do with English and writing as clients would avoid you like the Egyptian plague.
- But I don’t have reviews.
This is a critical part of your entire process. The bedrock of job quality you will get is contingent on the strength of your reviews. You know, sometimes, when I see people with review ratings like 4.9/5 where all other persons are getting 5 in the same category, I tend not to even look at the 4.9. But this is absolute madness, right? 4.9 is just as good as 5.0, but I am just telling the difference that a mere 0.1 rating difference can have on your profile.
Most times, these ratings are from factors like not fulfilling an order on time or cancelled orders or orders that led to a dispute. A dispute is most likely going to get you a bad review, and you must avoid or make a bargain (will talk on that later).
Asking your friends to award you a cheap job and write you a raving review will help to give those first reviews to get the ball rolling. However, you will also get jobs reviews or not, provided you do all other things that have already been discussed correctly.
5. Always Insist on Milestone.
On freelancer, never accept a project from an employer until he/she sets a milestone payment. The apparent reason for this is that freelancer.com will charge you a project fee straight from your bank account or from your balance on their site immediately you click the accept tab. Ignore this advice and get your fingers burnt
Increasing your chances of winning contests
Contests are a number game, and first off, there are tons of freelancers trying to outsmart each other. I have seen contests for like 400AUD for a 200 word “about the services” write-up. It turns out that the owner of a pet store needed that write-up for a marketing campaign and they apparently wanted the best. But as a participant, you must try to think like the employer to improve your chance. First of all, if the contest doesn’t have decent money attached, don’t waste your sweat. Pick the contests that have a lot of money and which will not cost you too much. I have also seen a $500 contest for a logo design and the entries ran into 400. But how do you hack this?
Let us consider the first case scenario and the guy asking for about us page. What would a good freelancer do and what will a smart freelancer do? Turns out, there isn’t a lot of things you want to write that hasn’t already been written about. Between the UK and America alone, you are going to find tons of pet store. These pet stores have websites, and they all have “about us” page. A good freelancer will craft 200 words and send to the employer. A smart freelancer will visit those websites and study their “about us” page and in less than 1 hour, such a person could come up with up to 5 different about us pages that sounds great and will increase your odds. Take me for example, I know next to nothing about logo design, but I once won $120 on a logo design contest. I simply searched for a new freelancer who was happy to make four different logos for me for $10, and the dude was super talented. I just took the logo and applied it to the contest. The client picked one of the logos but needed a little review. I simply told my guy to fix it too.
Mastering the most important Communication Scenarios
Obviously, I am going to tell you how to say hello, or how to subtly apologize if you keep your customer waiting with their message unanswered, the following are what should focus on:
- I will write you a free sample (looking at the bigger picture)
If a client has multiple jobs like an ongoing gig, what other way to endear yourself to them than to write a no-strings-attached free sample? But, you include a clause. The clause is that if you do this free sample well, you get all the other jobs. Of course, they can break this clause as nothing is cast in concrete. Once came a client who wanted a summary of 89 different articles, but she did the wise thing by giving out only one sample for $20. While every other person was bidding between $15 to $30 per article, I simply told the client in my proposal that I will do it for absolutely free. I have my eyes on the prize, and I got all her other jobs.
2. Ask questions but not too many
To avoid sounding off as stupid when you ask questions, always endeavor to read what the client wants carefully. These guys are the ones with the money, and they absolutely want their money to work for them with no or little question asked.
3. Can you do this job?
I ask myself this question a lot. Sometimes, you know you can deliver on the job, but you are not just sure. One piece of advice I always give myself. A client is not mad, if they feel this job is impossible, they will not give it out in the first place. Once you cajole your mind that you can do it, you will eventually do it.
4. Can you send me a sample of your job? Playing the waiter.
Well if you have the sample, that is not a problem but if you do not have, what do you do? Throw in the towel and call it a day? Nah! You are smarter than that. Turns out that if for example, the client had asked for writing a sample, you can quickly go to google and download relevant material and show your client. This doesn’t mean you can’t do the job as these clients ask for all manner of conditions. So, the waiting excuse I usually give while I get my acts together is to tell the client that I am chatting from the mobile app and that when I get to my laptop in the next 15 minutes, I will send samples. I had just bought myself enough time to get my house in order.
5. Language barriers
There are some times that people you work for can’t speak your language. There are other cases that people you want to award jobs to are brilliant and can carry-out the job, if not for this tiny communication glitch. Well, between bing translate and google translate, you will be able to solve this problem. As much as possible, try to give a description with pictures. Everybody might not understand words, but even a little child understands pictures.
6. I don’t understand what this client wants
Of course, there are scenarios like this, and you and the client are not in agreement on a line of discussion or how to execute a project. This problem is even compounded when you feel that the client is talking to several freelancers at once and once you cannot understand your client, he simple switches allegiance. There isn’t a quick fix for this. If you read the project description carefully and you ask the right question but still couldn’t understand the client; don’t kiss the poisoned chalice.