Micro-Entrepreneurship For Dummies
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No matter what type of services your micro-entrepreneurial business offers, Elance, like other freelancer sites, can connect you with prospective customers that need your business services. Finding work as a freelancer or micro-entrepreneur can be a challenge, but Elance can help.

One of the benefits of using Elance is that payment is assured. This way, if your client is on the other side of the country or in a remote town in Uzbekistan, getting paid for your services will be covered.

The client’s role on Elance

Individuals, organizations, or companies that hire freelancers can register on Elance for free with no cost to post a job or assignment. When the assignment is posted, freelancers like you see it and put in proposals (these act as bids) to gain that assignment. The prospective client views all the proposals and narrows his choice by reviewing your information:

  • Work history

  • Tests passed

  • Portfolio of your work (with images or screenshots)

  • Feedback and rating from prior assignments

The client can then make a decision and hire the freelancer (hopefully you!). After the assignment is started, both the client and the freelancer manage the project on the workroom page. Both can view the progress of the work and can set milestones toward completion of the work. Video conferencing can also be part of the process.

When the freelancer completes the assignment, the client makes the payment after approving the work.

  • For short assignments, a simple fee is part of the assignment (referred to as a fixed price job), and the payer puts the amount of the fee in a licensed escrow account; the freelancer receives payment after satisfactorily completing the assignment.

  • For long-term assignments, the client pays the agreed amount when the freelancer successfully meets each milestone.

Sign up for Elance

Follow these steps:

  1. Complete your profile.

    You want an honest and accurate showing of your skills and experience, but make sure you highlight the benefits of hiring you. Cover anything that a prospective client would want to know about your skill set.

    In your profile, include work samples (if available and suitable for that type of work). Your potential clients will be easier to win over if they’re convinced of your competence and see the quality of your work.

    Some types of work aren’t as easy to offer as a sample, such as data entry. In those instances, get good reviews from clients who were happy with your service. Of course, you should always solicit good reviews from any former client.

  2. Designate the categories in which you’re seeking work.

    Some categories may require you to be tested in order to be qualified to submit proposals.

  3. Choose whether your account will be a basic level or a premium level.

    A basic level lets you make up to job 40 proposals per month (submitting a job proposal is referred to as a connect, and 40 is the monthly quota). A basic membership is free.

    The premium plan has three levels: individual, small business, and large business. Each has a monthly membership with added benefits, such as increased proposals (up to 60 per month for individuals) and other services (such as hosting your portfolio work). By the way, at any time you can have more than your allotment of proposals per month for a small fee per proposal.

    No matter which level you choose, Elance makes its money as a percentage of your fee. As of 2013, that fee is 8.75%, which is deducted from your payment.

As you get familiar with Elance, take the time to go to its Elance University. It’s loaded with tutorials for both clients and freelancers to maximize your success and effectiveness on Elance.

How Elance bidding works

Because hundreds of jobs are available at any given moment for you to bid on (send your proposal), take your time and scrutinize what work is listed. Be just as selective finding clients and assignments as your clients are in seeking freelancers.

When you’re bidding for work, keep your minimum fee in mind. Also, don’t assume that a client will accept only the lowest bid. If the project is a complicated one, clients know that work quality is more important than the cost. Don’t be shy about what you charge because quality work is worth it.

Keep in mind that clients already know that hiring a freelancer will save them money because it’s less costly than hiring and retaining a standard W-2 employee.

Complete the Elance assignment and get paid

When you get the job, you’ll work and communicate directly with your client (whether it’s via telephone, email, and/or Skype). Elance provides the facility for tracking and reporting work and processing payment for both parties.

Always finish your work on time and be responsive to the client’s questions and concerns. As you gain a good reputation and build your client base, you’ll eventually be able to increase your fee.

Maximize your Elance success

After you nail your first assignment, keep your success going.

  • Keep updating your profile. Add to your profile when you increase (and improve) your skill set and as more folks are happy with your service. Make sure that your summary is updated and your keywords accurately reflect your skills and desired assignments.

  • Make yourself unique if possible. Focus on presenting something that makes you and your skill set different (better) than your competitors.

  • Focus on improving your bidding (proposal writing). Each time you do an assignment or don’t get an assignment — you figure out what makes (or un-makes) a good proposal.

  • Be responsive. Act fast when you see desirable assignments posted, and when clients and others have questions or concerns. Many freelancers lose opportunities because they forget that a successful freelancer is also a salesperson who understands the value of customer service.

  • Do skill tests. Skills testing can be a good marketing tool for you because your results are displayed on your profile. Those that score the best get special indicators, such as Top 20%.

  • Upsell and cross-sell. Don’t just thank your client when the assignment ends. Discuss other ways you can help him at that moment.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Paul Mladjenovic is a certified financial planner, micro-entrepreneur, and home business educator with more than 25 years' experience writing and teaching about financial and business start-up topics. He owns RavingCapitalist.com and is also the author of Stock Investing For Dummies.

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