Wednesday May 31, 2023

From the Mailbag: Freelancing Questions


I’ve actually been sent some decent questions from Quora this week. You can listen to the podcast for the answers (once Podbean stops misbehaving and there are a two bonus questions I answer in the podcast).

Why Are People Afraid to Hire Freelancers?

The answer boils down to trust. It is impossible for a potential client to have 100% assurance that the freelancer is who they say they are, that they have the credentials or experience they claim to have, to know that their project will be completed on time, or that the freelancer won’t steal their idea. So, as a freelancer, it is up to you to find a way to inspire trust. Ideas include:

  • Don’t bid on projects that you’re not qualified to handle.
  • Don’t tell a potential client that you’re going to handle the project yourself if you plan to outsource it to another person. If you’re going to outsource a project, the potential client should know about this and be okay with it.
  • Offer to meet the potential client through Skype, Google Hangout, or some other form of online conferencing that makes use of a web cam. This helps potential clients put a face to a name and reassures that client that you understand and speak their language. It’s not necessarily about being a native speaker. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bid on something and the client decided to give it to someone who had a lower rate just to have them come back to me later and pay my full rate because the person they chose relied on Google Translate or didn’t fully understand the client’s needs because of a language barrier.
  • Give out a couple of free tips. Don’t use generic crap they can find through a published article. Give tips based on your experience as a professional. The tips should be specific to their needs.

It just takes one bad experience or someone hearing or reading about a bad experience with a freelancer to make people skittish.

How Can I Become a Successful Freelance Writer?

There are several steps to becoming a successful freelancer writer. It helps to have certain characteristics or learn certain skills like time management and self-discipline. Past that, you need some samples that you can show to potential clients. When I first started, I didn’t have any samples that I felt would interest potential clients (I was wrong based on my current client demographic, but hey…hindsight being 20/20 and all that).

So, I started a Hubpages account (free). To come up with ideas to write about, I’d consider topics I knew a lot about. Hubpages also has a forum and I would go through there and read about different topic ideas.

I started a blog (I don’t have many posts from the first blog that I continue to use – I move the best couple of posts over to a Wix site that I direct potential clients to if they are interested in certain things).

I was on Upwork when it was Odesk and I was on Elance (now defunct and owned by Odesk). I completed my profiles and started applying to things I knew I could do. My first gig was through Odesk. It was a demand letter. Then, I edited (same client) a paper he wanted to submit to an American law journal (he was from Canada). The first couple of things I landed on Elance were legal writing jobs (summarizing news articles / writing page content). I was stunned because it never dawned on me that lawyers wouldn’t write their own content because they know how to write. One client didn’t pay (wasn’t a lawyer…and I wasn’t chasing down the $20).

I would fill my schedule at a certain hourly rate (I started fairly low) and worked my way up. I charge reasonable rates for hourly and flat rate work. Yet, it’s not just what you charge…the real secret in creating a successful business (in terms of referrals and repeat business)?

Treat your clients like they matter. Because they do. A $10 client who takes up five minutes of your time is just as important (from a customer service perspective) as your biggest client. Why? Because they’ve contracted you through the Internet and it a few negative reviews or social media posts about how you don’t answer emails or respond in a timely manner is all it takes to make people NOT want to do business with you.

Which Freelance Sites Are Best for Beginners?

I recommend Upwork. I’ve used People Per Hour, too. It’s okay, but Upwork is my preferred site. Thumbtack is okay if you’re looking for things in your area, but you have to buy credits.

Is Upwork Worth the Hassle?

Specifically, the person asking this question was referring to the fees that Upwork charges when you get paid. It seems that there are a lot of complainers online about Upwork’s fees. Upwork is the only freelance market that I am active on. Yes, even with the fee. I use a free account. I don’t pay for extra application credits. I used to, but I don’t do that anymore. I found it was a fair price for the extra bids and other information that I received. It’s important to keep in mind that the fees that Upwork charges covers overhead. Upwork has bills to pay just like we freelancers do. Starting out, most contracts have a fee of 20% that comes out and goes to Upwork. Once you hit $500 with that client, the fee goes down to 10%. Once it hits a higher dollar amount, the fee drops to 5%. What I’ve found about people who complain about the fee is that they’re usually not making the money they want to make on Upwork and they don’t understand how to price projects in a way that they are able to absorb the fee.

As far as dealing with a limited amount of bids that you can submit, think about it as a mechanism that makes you stop and consider whether you really understand the scope of the project and have the experience to handle it before you bid.

Have a question? Send Robin a message on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or leave a comment here on the blog!

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