Successful Elance Proposals Made Simple


Elance has changed my life. A hefty statement, I know, especially since I have so much life yet to live.  The truth is, I’ve been working in the same unfulfilling career for almost six years, but what I really love is learning new things, trying them out, and sharing the results with others so they can benefit as well.

My mom’s a writer.  Or would be, if she wasn’t so dedicated to teaching AP English to high school seniors.  She’s got a book in her, I just know it, I tell her so all the time.  I hope you’ll tell her too, if you ever happen to get the chance to meet the amazing woman I’m lucky enough to call “Mom”. To prove to her how easy it is to write something every day, I started chasing after  jobs on elance.

Diving into the Competition Pool
I figured it would be a fun way to earn some spare cash for my nail polish addiction, while also satisfying my knowledge-tooth.  Is that even a thing?  It is now! My first few tries at submitting proposals turned out to be an utter flop.  I soothed my ego, telling myself I had at least lived up to my vow of writing every day.  Over time, and with the help of some great friends, I settled upon a formula which I now follow religiously.

The Ten Commandments of Successful Elance Proposals

  • Thou Shalt Be Interesting – Clients see lots of proposals, some more generic than the rest.  Wake them up a bit by showing why you’re the only person for the job. This is especially important for writers – boring proposals are an indication that you’re a boring writer. There, I said it.
  • Thou Shalt Prove Qualifications – If the client has a specific niche, and you’re familiar with that niche, direct them to places around the ‘net where your work is published.  If you’ve won any awards for your genre, toot that horn as well.
  • Thou Shalt Be Personable – It’s great to have a basic template that you follow, after all your proposal is essentially a condensed resume. Just try to show a little personality in the process, clients want to know you’re approachable as well as professional.
  • Thou Shalt Quote a Fair Price – If you’re new to elance and have yet to land a client, expect to quote some pretty competitive prices in the early days.  Then as you work with more clients and receive some feedback you can increase your price to what you feel you’re truly worth.
  • Thou Shalt Discuss Your Background – Even if you don’t have published work around the web to prove your qualifications, discuss your past experiences with the genre. I’m not a mom, but I’m the middle kid in a large family, meaning I’ve done my fair share of diaper changes. To me, this makes me an expert on baby wipes. Think about it, you’re more of an authority than you realize.
  • Thou Shalt Explain Your Approach – Clients often have expectations, some are more clear about their expectations than others.  Take the time to explain your process of working so the client can decide if you two will mesh.
  • Thou Shalt Provide Relevant Samples – Don’t send an article about toothpaste to a client who wants articles written about beauty products,  unless the article explains the way toothpaste is a proven acne fighter.
  • Thou Shalt Be Realistic With Deadlines – Don’t say you can finish ten articles in two days just to impress a client.  Even though it’s entirely possible to meet this deadline time and time again, it sets up unrealistic expectations and leads to burnout.
  • Thou Shalt Review Before Submitting – Always double-check your proposal for grammar errors, spelling mistakes, or other flubs that would otherwise mar the positive impression you’re trying to make.
  • Thou Shalt Respond to Messages in a Timely Fashion – Remember, you’re not the only person bidding on this job.  If you receive a message from the client respond quickly and enthusiastically, you don’t want to lose a job because you were busy refreshing your Facebook newsfeed.

Write Something You’d Be Interested in Reading
When it comes right down to it, your elance proposal should demonstrate a clear understanding of the job. Likewise you should convey your qualifications and willingness to do the work.  Don’t simply copy and paste the same proposal on each and every job.  You want to stand out from the flock so take the time to build a presence. Focus on what you do best, even if your area of expertise extends only so far as how to build a website, there’s plenty of work for everyone!

Freelance writer Rachel Cook may be new to elance, but she’s not new to writing, or sharing heartfelt advice.  At the tender age of 10 she decided she wanted to be Ann Landers when she grew up. True to her goals, and to herself, her “Ask Rachel” advice column is gaining a loyal readership.  Upon hearing that a new wrinkle is formed on the brain each time something new is learned, Rachel began her friends to for their daily brain-beauty treatment. When she’s not busy writing, or encouraging her friends to write, Rachel can be found curled up with a good book, or with her cat, Patches.

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