Possible to make full time income on Elance?

 

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Hey guys, I know this depends heavily on the category that I'm working in, but ...
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    Default Possible to make full time income on Elance?

    Hey guys, I know this depends heavily on the category that I'm working in, but I'm just wondering if it's possible in general. I'm American, so I have my doubts. I signed up for the site 2 years ago but never did anything with it. Recently I logged into the account, updated my portfolio and bid on a few jobs. I got really lucky and snagged one. Got really good feedback and the guy paid, so now I'm curious.

    What's the most important thing? Writing a great looking proposal? Taking the skills tests? Both? Should I go with the average bid, or just bid what I think I'm worth? I notice that the average gets pulled down quite a bit, but I know that clients don't always go with those mid-range bids.

    Anyway, any info you can give will be very helpful.

    My category is Illustration, if that's helpful.


    Edit: I went ahead and reinvested part of that first job's profits in Elance, signing up for their most expensive plan ($45). I have 70 connects, but I think I'm burning through them too quickly. I guess this means that I'm "shotgunning" too much? The fact that we don't get connects back when we withdraw a bid or are turned down is ludicrous. Obvious greedy Elance is obvious.
    Last edited by codexehow; 06-12-2012 at 05:57 AM.




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    Default Re: Possible to make full time income on Elance?

    I know a few guys who make their living on those freelancers sites, so yeah it's possible. Here are some of my tips:

    - Go and register on a few more freelancers sites like oDesk, Guru and Freelancer
    - Make sure your profile is always up to date with all the right information and all (your best) portfolio work
    - When you don't have any ratings, start with a few small projects for a low fee. This way you can get a few ratings very fast and get some quality jobs. Good ratings are the key to success on freelancers sites.
    - If you can do any tests on the site, make them, but only if your sure you can get a high score, otherwise it will only hurt your profile
    - Only place a bid for the project you would like to work on and which believe you can do a great job.
    - Write for each job a custom message, don't be like most freelancers who just copy/past a default message. A great approach is to alway give advice in your message, it shows the client that you have knowledge on the subject
    - If you want to scale it up and earn more money, hire (quality) freelancers to do the jobs you get!

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    Default Re: Possible to make full time income on Elance?

    Trying to start off on a site like elance or odesk is almost impossible as a person with low to mid level skills competing against a team of people with massive experience. I haven't put much time into figuring out a way to work the system and get jobs, but I imagine it must be doable. You can make a living on fiverr, if you're smart enough, but how much you make depends on a number of factors, some of which is shear luck imo. You can't rely on steady income from odesk or fiverr when the jobs tickle in slowly when you're first starting out. Maybe a few years down the line, when you have a few hundred jobs in your belt and you can grab more than a few decent jobs every week or two without a problem, then you can make a true living off of those sites.

    I tried to bid low, but I'm pretty sure people equate that to you having very little experience and a sane person wanting to do quality work for them would never evaluate their time as if it was almost worth nothing.
    Last edited by johndoejohndoe; 06-12-2012 at 06:35 AM.

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    Default Re: Possible to make full time income on Elance?

    Thanks for the advice KillerHeck and Johndoe.

    I found out that Odesk and Elance use the same test provider, so I made a dummy Odesk account to take the Adobe Illustrator CS5 Extended test. It's pretty horrible, and most of the questions are on things that a working illustration professional isn't going to need to know about Illustrator. I passed it anyway though. I'm going to make another dummy account tomorrow and record the test this time with Camtasia, so I can study these ridiculous questions and get a perfect score on Elance.

    This is just to let you guys know, if you do any outsourcing on these sites, that the tests are meaningless. If the Illustrator test is any indication.

    Johndoe, from what I've gathered, bidding low only works until you have at least one rating. After that , it just looks bad . Or so I've heard.
    Last edited by codexehow; 06-12-2012 at 07:21 AM.

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    Default Re: Possible to make full time income on Elance?

    Quote Originally Posted by johndoejohndoe View Post
    Trying to start off on a site like elance or odesk is almost impossible as a person with low to mid level skills competing against a team of people with massive experience. I haven't put much time into figuring out a way to work the system and get jobs, but I imagine it must be doable. You can make a living on fiverr, if you're smart enough, but how much you make depends on a number of factors, some of which is shear luck imo. You can't rely on steady income from odesk or fiverr when the jobs tickle in slowly when you're first starting out. Maybe a few years down the line, when you have a few hundred jobs in your belt and you can grab more than a few decent jobs every week or two without a problem, then you can make a true living off of those sites.

    I tried to bid low, but I'm pretty sure people equate that to you having very little experience and a sane person wanting to do quality work for them would never evaluate their time as if it was almost worth nothing.
    I agree. I have done a bit of work as a contractor and on Odesk and I started with an average/high wage even without feedback. Something like $12/hour for simple SEM stuff which someone could have charged $3/hour for. What I did was make it sure that they saw that I was more valuable than $12/hour so they were really getting a bargain. The second thing I told them was that I'm going to be more efficient than almost anyone else on Odesk because I want to make sure that I can build a portfolio of happy clients, so I not going to let you down.

    I now charge over $33/hour and still get contracts because of the perceived value I have. Don't price yourself too low initially and don't be afraid to turn down work because the pay is too low.


    Quote Originally Posted by codexehow View Post
    Thanks for the advice KillerHeck and Johndoe.

    I found out that Odesk and Elance use the same test provider, so I made a dummy Odesk account to take the Adobe Illustrator CS5 Extended test. It's pretty horrible, and most of the questions are on things that a working illustration professional isn't going to need to know about Illustrator. I passed it anyway though. I'm going to make another dummy account tomorrow and record the test this time with Camtasia, so I can study these ridiculous questions and get a perfect score on Elance.

    This is just to let you guys know, if you do any outsourcing on these sites, that the tests are meaningless, if the Illustrator test is any indication.

    Johndoe, from what I've gathered, bidding low only works until you have at least one rating. After that , it just looks bad . Or so I've heard.
    I agree, that the tests are often meaningless. The funny thing is I wrote a post on BHW yesterday which was a bit of a how-to-hire on sites like Odesk to make sure you don't hire bad contractors. You can check it out here

    http://www.blackhatworld.com/blackha...-part-1-a.html

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    Default Re: Possible to make full time income on Elance?

    Great advice Sampler, and your "How to scale up" thread makes a lot of sense.

    One thing comes to mind:

    About asking a contractor to do a sample...this is how it is from our perspective:

    I can't speak for any other discipline, but I can tell you that designers hate being asked to do that. We often will fire YOU for asking us to do it. There's simply too many jobs available for us to dance for you. If our portfolio isn't enough to get us the job, we usually move on. This is because we've been burned before by the bad apples out there. Watermarks can sometimes be removed by a guy in India for $5, and it's actually harder than you might think to protect artwork.

    If we wanted to participate in contests, we'd go to crowdspring or 99designs. In all honesty, you are probably losing access to the best graphic designers with this practice. I can tell you with a high degree of certainty that for the most part, only amateurs are going to take the time to do a sample for you. The possible exception is a good illustrator who is new to the site and is hungry for their first job, or if the job is something extremely, extremely simple.


    A few questions, if anyone cares to answer:

    Do clients like seeing milestones in proposals, or no?

    What % of proposals for a given job do you think are copy/paste, ie "spam" proposals?

    What are some ways that you can immediately detect a copy/paste proposal?

    Should I make my lifetime earnings private, or does this matter?

    How detailed a proposal is too detailed? I'm assuming here that you don't really care about our personal details, and are most focused on how we can solve your problem. Do you just want to hear how we can do that, what equipment we use, and how long it will take us?

    I'm trying to come up with a good format for writing proposals that shows the client that I've read their brief, understand their problem and can help them.
    Last edited by codexehow; 06-12-2012 at 07:59 AM.

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    Default Re: Possible to make full time income on Elance?

    Quote Originally Posted by codexehow View Post
    A few questions, if anyone cares to answer:

    Do clients like seeing milestones in proposals, or no?

    What % of proposals for a given job do you think are copy/paste, ie "spam" proposals?

    What are some ways that you can immediately detect a copy/paste proposal?

    Should I make my lifetime earnings private, or does this matter?

    How detailed a proposal is too detailed? I'm assuming here that you don't really care about our personal details, and are most focused on how we can solve your problem. Do you just want to hear how we can do that, what equipment we use, and how long it will take us?

    I'm trying to come up with a good format for writing proposals that shows the client that I've read their brief, understand their problem and can help them.
    Funny you should ask about milestones. Personally, I've never had a project big enough to need one. My only worry if someone asked for a milestone is that they'll do the easier part of the project first to get the money, then when it becomes too hard just leave you.

    Almost all of the proposals have some copy/paste element to it. As mentioned in my post the best way to detect whether they have read your job description is to ask both a few general and specific questions and make sure they answer them first.

    I'd personally keep lifetime earnings public. Either party needs to establish trust for the project to work.

    The best thing that can make your project stand out is give relevant examples of previous work i.e. not just random graphics you've done if a musician wants graphics, but if you show graphics which you have done for other musicians that is what I want to see.

    When writing your proposal an easy way to make sure you have read there proposal and/done a bit of research is try and find a bit more about their company and make a relevant opening address i.e. because I'm Australian, any australian job I apply to (when I am the contractor obviously) I begin with "G'day mate" and then makea comment which reflects a key point they made in there post. Stay clear from just writing "I have read and understand your requirements" as this is simply copy paste. What I look for is someone who gives a human response early and then finishes their proposal with their copy/paste stuff.
    Last edited by Sampler; 06-13-2012 at 11:53 AM.

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    Default Re: Possible to make full time income on Elance?

    Thanks, Sampler. Based on these answers, I think I'm doing okay in the proposal department now. Much appreciated. I think I'll cool it with the milestones, though. My thinking was that it would create a more professional atmosphere, but you provided an invaluable insight from the other side of the fence.

    I almost snagged my second job today, but the guy used a bait and switch tactic, so I had to pass. Let's say he stated in his brief that he wanted graphics, but in his message to me he said they'd decided on animation. It was something along those lines. They said my work was the best they'd seen, so they contacted me in hopes of getting the wheels turning.

    I don't know if I should respond and call them on their BS or not. (Of course, I would be polite) My bid reflects the cost of still graphics, not animation, and they have to know that, since that's what they asked for in the public brief. I think I'll just ignore them. I know I can update by proposal, but this is a red flag already.

    It might not be intentional, heck, it probably isn't. But I'm tryin' to do business here. Maybe add that to your thread? Avoid bait and switch tactics. They are easy to spot by someone smart enough to do a good job on the project at hand. :P

    Very annoying. I was giving them a deep discount as it was.

    More questions for anyone who cares to answer:

    1. Because I am very, very familiar with Illustrator, I can often afford to take time out of my day to create a watermarked sample for an Elance client. Say if someone wants a logo, I can create a quick, decent looking mockup to give them an idea of what the finished item will look like. I then attach this to my proposal. How does this look to a client? Is it received well, or does it seem desperate? A main concern of mine is that if they realize that I can do half the job on spec, then they'll realize that the entire job won't take me very long, and they won't want to pay the full price for it.
    Last edited by codexehow; 06-14-2012 at 05:38 AM.

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    Default Re: Possible to make full time income on Elance?

    I make over $50 per hr doing web development related project management. It is the most specialized (=pays more), and if you are good with people its a great route.

    The most important thing is to be very good at communication, and really play yourself up in the profile. When you finish jobs, if the client is satisfied specifically ask them to give you a 5* review. Once you have 5 stars, it becomes drastically easier to get more jobs. As you get more it only gets easier.

    But don't rely on that. My first job on Elance was over $50 per hour. If you can give a good pitch you can get jobs on Elance just like anywhere else.


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