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A common misconception about freelancing sites like Elance and Odesk are that it’s impossible to make decent wages on there due to high competition from offshore competitors.

In fact, a recent poll conducted by Freelance Switch showed that less than 50% of freelancers use job bidding sites to find projects and under 15% of freelancers polled use them regularly.

It’s true that there are a lot of low priced jobs on job bidding sites. However, in my first year of freelancing on Elance, I was able to generate thousands each month and managed to make over $7,600 in one month during my first year (the seventh month after I started to be exact). Here are some of the things I did to achieve this result.

1. Provide Top Quality Service for All Clients


This may sound obvious at first glance, but a lot of freelancers overlook this simple tip. Asides from freelancing, I have also hired people for my own projects through the years and here are some of the common problems that have arisen when hiring freelancers:

  • Poor Communication
  • Slow Turnaround Time
  • Freelancer Suddenly Disappeared

Poor reliability can damage your feedback rating and hurt your ability to get more clients, especially good clients that are looking for professional service.

One of my best clients that I found early on started with a small project for just a few hundred dollars, which was one of my smaller projects for web design. But we ended up doing bigger projects later on with a good pay rate.

I ended up doing a website for this client for over $5,000 – part of which was paid in my $7,600+ month. So be sure to treat all your clients well, because you never know when you might get a big project from one of them or even a good referral.

2. Look for Repeat Business

A lot of freelancers complete the project and then just continue looking for more work. If you do a good job, sometimes simply asking for more work can get you more projects.

I’ve found that if a client has a great experience with you, then they generally want to continue working with you rather than go through the trouble of finding someone else.

In fact, about half of my $7,600+ month came from a repeat client who targets high end clients who need websites.

3. Bid on Projects Regularly

About half of my earnings that month came from one big client, but the rest of it came from other new clients. One of the most tedious parts of job bidding sites is bidding on jobs.

For most people, it’s boring reading through other people’s job descriptions. But if you are a good provider, then the more people you reach, the more likely that one of them will hire you.

An easy trap that many freelancers fall into is to only look for work when things slow down or even when you feel the need to. So one of the things I make sure to do regularly is look through and bid on projects. And that is what landed me the other projects worth over $3,000 in sales.

4. Develop Your Skills

Don’t expect to have a record month when you first start, but as you get more clients and grow your feedback profile, be sure to also continue to develop your skills.

Too many freelancers focus solely on working or looking for new jobs. But improving your skills can give you a big edge over competitors. Be sure to pay attention to skills that clients are looking for and take the time to develop them.

To sum it up, when considering freelancing sites, it’s important to note that there are clients that are willing to pay a good amount for quality work. Doing good work, prospecting regularly, and building good relationships is the key to succeeding on these sites.

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Posted by Brian Lang

Brian Lang runs a Wordpress web design business on Elance and also provides coaching and freelancing tips in his email newsletter at Freelance Client Secrets and his blog at Small Business Ideas Blog.

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