The amount they paid was small but I achieved a lot.
After that I never looked back, and within 4 years I had already done around 375 small and big projects. Today I work on my own terms and conditions from my home. I am even in the Top 50 freelancers list of that site. I also completed successful projects at Guru and Rent-a-coder later on. Even without a portfolio site I got steady work. These sites give you a very good break, confidence, money and projects for your portfolio too. I’ve experienced it myself.
Seven Golden Rules of finding work on freelancing sites
From my own experience here are seven golden rules if you too want to change your destiny by getting into freelancing sites:
1. Keep knocking on the door until it opens
Most of the freelancing sites work on an open bidding system. When you take a membership at these sites they give you a free bidding option. To enter into freelancing world you need to have a lot of patience at the beginning since you are not the only competent person there. There are many good designers out there vying for the same project. But patience always pays off. So keep on bidding and trying til the door opens for you.
2. Write intelligent messages to the buyer
The buyers are very intelligent. Don’t just write “I can do it” in your bid. Rather you must write why you can do it and how differently you can do it from the next guy. Never try to show someone else’s work as your own. If you are bidding for a Flash site project, for example, explain the process, how you will achieve it, and how you can give the client all he pays for and more.
3. Quick communication is the key
Communication, or lack thereof, can make or break your design career. Return the messages or emails from the clients as quickly as possible. Try to follow what the client is asking for. Answer every query in an intelligent way to show to the client that you mean business. I have grabbed some projects in 20 minutes just by talking quickly and intelligently. The client is always ready to pick up the best guy; you just have to prove that you are him.
4. Respect deadlines
When bidding you have to provide an approximate number of days you need to do the job. Generally clients are flexible, but I suggest respecting deadlines to show how efficient you are. If some part of the site takes more time, which it always does, try to explain that part to the client so they can see your point of view too. If for any reason you do not work on weekends or holidays, let the client know that so he doesn’t wait for your messages.
5. Ask for advance payment after approval
Never ask for upfront payments–the client will simply run away. Remember, you are trying to break into the business. Try first to make some kind of mock up for the client and get his approval. Once he approves it, you have won half the battle. Then ask for safe escrows through freelancing sites. You can ask for half or full escrow by discussing it with the client. Then you can concentrate on the big picture and complete the project since you know money is in safe hands. Even after doing so many jobs I hardly ask for upfront payments and my clients always respect me for that.
Chase after the work and money will follow.
6. Respect your client and give something extra
In this business if you show forth an extra effort it will always be worth it. If a client has asked you to design a website, you should suggest hosting, registration, or administration as well. Your clients will appreciate small favors. If any small changes are needed later on, help the client with out any monetary expectation. These small steps have given me so much work since many clients return these small favors with more work.
7. Polish your skills
Never think you know it all. Try to learn new techniques and skills every day. I settled for Flash and Html/CSS at some point of my carrier. I used to refuse to the jobs involving WordPress, Joomla, Flex, Jquery and XML and lost some clients in the process. Then I spent some months learning about these technologies and my client base immediately picked up since they can now rely on me for getting different varieties of jobs done.
What else would you add?
My advice to new-comers is to just follow these tips, take a deep breath and jump into the big world of freelancing. I can assure you if I can carve a niche for myself and earn a good paycheck, so can you. What other tips would you offer to the design community on landing some great freelance jobs?
A thought from the editor
Jay, Thanks so much for contributing this article to Graphic Design Blender. It came at a great time considering the newest and most exciting advancement here at GDB. I would like to introduce everyone to the new Graphic Design Blender Job Board. Currently the job board contains over one hundred job opportunities for both web and graphic designers. These archives are updated daily and new sites will constantly be added to the board.
The entire purpose of GDB is to help designers truly succeed and make a living doing what they love. These hand-picked freelance and full-time job opportunities provide a great way for you to build your graphic or web design business. Be sure to visit the job board frequently, make suggestions, and find some great job opportunities to help build your portfolio and grow your design business.