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Freelancing. Arguably one of the most difficult and lucrative sources of income available, if you've got the guts and the time. Choosing the freelance route means you are solely responsible for your own income, which means you'll spend a good amount of time networking and building relationships. You'll also spend a lot of time on the net mining for clients.
Sites like Guru, Elance, and Freelancer are known as "Churn Sites" because you are literally competing with thousands of people for the same contract. Many people burn out after being rejected time and again and to be fair, raising your voice above the others is a tremendous challenge.
However, if you can stick it out and see the process through, churn sites can become one of your most viable streams of income. Here are three tricks I use to make myself stand out.
3). Make Sure Your Profile Is Up To Date.
If your prospective client is interested in your pitch, the first thing they're going to do is check out your profile. They'll want to verify you've done the work before. Consider it a surprise visit to your home. Make sure all of your contact information is up to date, as well as your work history and references. Make sure your reviews are front and center. This is your first impression. Make it a good one.
2). Have Work Samples Available.
After reading your bid and examining your profile, chances are that your prospect is going to ask for work samples. You need to have samples on demand. You won't be given time to write something on the fly (DON'T write something on the fly if your prospect asks you too, more on that later). If you don't have something available, expect to be left behind.
Keep a portfolio of between three and five work samples available. This will keep you in the running for that contract.
3). Know Your Niche!
This is the most important aspect of standing out. Unless you're paying for them, churn sites give you a limited amount of bids per month. Use those bids wisely and lock down the assignments you believe matches your skill set (and profile).
If ghostwriting fiction is your thing, then go for that. If research and non-fiction is your thing, then go for that. Whatever you do, don't waste precious bids on jobs simply to win them, because working on a job you really don't want, or can't do, is a recipe for disaster.
This can be especially hard to stick to when your preferred sort of work becomes scarce, and you're afraid of falling into obscurity because there doesn't seem to be anything available. This is where patience--and having a steady client list--pays off.
These are three ways to remain employed on churn sites. Best of luck to you and thanks for reading.