Yes, it happens. Clients reach out to you and ask you to bid on their project (see below). How does that happen?
It starts with having a really targeted profile. Here was my first one. Notice the hourly rate. It didn’t scare off this client. That’s because they were looking for Expert Level. This all leads to some best practices when creating your profile.
Best practice: Your tagline (Research and Technical Writing in my case) should be the exact phrase clients search for on UpWork. You can check this by entering search terms into the search box and letting the search box auto-complete the query for you. If the search box auto-completes the query, you know it’s a search term that gets used often.
Best practice: Tell them exactly what you do. The more specific the better. My strength is simplifying complex subjects, so that’s what I wrote.
Best practice: Don’t be too cheap. If, like me, you’re only interested in serious clients who aren’t scared of paying a fair price for top quality work, then your hourly rate should reflect that. You will miss out on a lot of low-paying gigs. So what?
Best practice: Niche down. The more specific you get about the industry you serve or problem you solve, the more invitations you’ll get (and the more you can charge). Unfortunately for me, I haven’t done that yet. I’m still trying to decide what my niche is.
In response to the invite, I sent this proposal:
So, what happened? After several emails back and forth, we arranged a time to speak by phone.
Best practice: Before your interview, and almost all gigs will begin with an interview, do some background checking on the person you’ll be talking to. You can use LinkedIn for that. In my case I learned the person I was to be speaking with had a birthday the prior day so I started the conversation by wishing him a happy birthday.
The conversation went well. He said he needed to get approval from his manager but things were looking good. This was a $3000 gig. For a first gig. That’s unheard of. So, what did I do next? I sent an expectations letter.
Best practice: When you come to an agreement with a client in terms of the project details and the compensation, summarize it all in a Word document and send it to the client by email. It’s called an expectations letter and it basically says I agree to do these tasks and get you these results and in exchange you agree to pay me $X. Be as specific as possible.
So, how did this project turn out? Same as the last one: TBD. It’s been a few weeks and nothing’s happened. Welcome to the world of freelancing.
Join me in Episode #5 where I get my first gig and actually make some money (and probably wish I hadn’t). See you there.
Also published on Medium.