How To Succeed As a Freelancer Without Even Trying

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Guest post by Rachel Cook

Ah, the life of a freelancer! I jump out of bed each morning, alert and refreshed, no need for an alarm clock, my work-when-I-want schedule doesn't need such archaic devices. Then it's off to the gym where I spend a full twenty minutes striding like a majestic gazelle, without even breaking a sweat. Ha! If you believe any of this, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you in Brooklyn.

I still need an alarm. A week is hardly enough time to get to the bottom of my to-do list. Some days I consider it a success just to change into a different pair of pajamas! It's been a full two weeks since I've been able to paint my nails, my hands are too busy typing up useful information. And I wouldn't want it any other way. This is saying a lot, because I'm crazy about nail polish.

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Write For Yourself, And Others

I credit elance for my hectic schedule, and in a lot of ways I credit Elance with the myriad of possibilities which have opened up to me as a result. I was able to find clients within the first few weeks of familiarizing myself with the service, which was good because I ran through all of my bids practically overnight. Since that time I've been able to pick up a few hints and tricks that I found helpful, in fact I seldom spend bids at all anymore and I'm booked solid with amazing clients.
  • Deadlines, schmedlines – Milestones are just a guesstimate of when you might expect to be finished should you waste several days fending off a zombie attack or something before you actually get down to work. Since those reports of face-eating zombies in Florida turned out to be a hoax you should have no problem finishing the job long before it's due. Clients really appreciate this as they often have deadlines as well and need time to double-check your work.
  • Finish all jobs before bidding on new ones – Getting yourself overextended is just going to lead to stress and the procrastination most commonly known as “writer's block.” Instead of wasting time wooing clients you don't yet have, focus on providing your current clients with quality work. This often leads to invitations to bid on other jobs, allowing you to build the schedule of your dreams.
  • Create a standard template – Spending time catering each and every proposal to the needs of the client leads to a lot of time wasted on your end, it's really okay to create a standard template that you use for your bids. Just make sure that you allow some wiggle-room within your template to demonstrate to your potential client that you really have read the job description in its entirety and understand what's being asked.
  • Give a sample, not a serving – Early on in my elance days I made the mistake of creating samples specifically written to the needs of the client. Not only did this waste a lot of my time, I was essentially completing the job free of charge. I did not win any clients with this method. However, when I showed examples of past work that fit the client's guidelines I achieved consistent success.
  • Keep working, always – Even if you're going through a slow week and you're free of any projects, keep working. Update your own site, submit work to other  sites, keep your name circulating on a daily basis. Not only will you improve your portfolio, but you'll also enjoy a wider range of material to provide as samples to future clients.
  • Touch base with past clients  – Once you've finished a project, contact the client and see if they have other work for you. This often leads to repeat business with reliable clients, and also generates positive word of mouth within the community. Other potential clients will see how much repeat business you've been awarded when they look at your feedback.

Slow and Steady Works For Turtles and People

I've been writing for years, it's a passion of mine, and I would do it even if I wasn't getting paid. One day I encouraged a friend of mine to try her hand at writing, and she in turn encouraged me to try elance. I was very methodical about the whole thing, taking one client at a time and working to ensure their total satisfaction. This has worked very well for me, as it's lead to tremendous success with very little effort on my part. In fact I think I had a more difficult time learning how to make a website and everybody knows that's a piece of cake.

Freelance writer Rachel Cook strives to make work appear effortless, something that's almost worthy of a line on her resume. Always one to practice what she preaches, she often draws upon personal experience from her own life adventures, and leads by example whenever possible. Based on this logic, topics that she will likely never write about include skydiving, joining the polar bear club, and planting a flag at the top of Mount Everest. Convinced that education is the secret to a long and happy life, Rachel often directs her friends to with the instruction to learn something new each day.


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