Looking for part-time, freelance, or full-time income? Are you frustrated with the current job market? Have a home-based business and you need to build your client base?

Try Elance.com.

I started my Elance business in December 2010, when I had a little free time away from my full-time job. The company closed down between Christmas and New Year’s, and I thought it would be a fun time to start a business. In fact, it was a silly time to start a business, as everyone else was taking a Christmas break, too! But I digress. By about the first week in January, I had my first client. Since then, I’ve built a thriving Elance business working part-time, while also working a full-time job.

When I was laid off in April 2012 (BEST decision that was ever made FOR me) I decided that being self-employed was what I was meant to do, so I took my book conversion business full-time. By that time, I had been working my business part-time for about 16 months, had 3 part-time coders and a personal assistant working with me in the business.

Working with Elance has been a blessing in so many ways. I work with some of the nicest people, and get to play a small part in helping them further their goals and dreams. And when people are happy with what you’ve done for them, they’ll tell their friends and say really nice things about you. Here’s my feedback page on Elance – you can see what I mean: Feedback.

Interested in building your own thriving business on Elance? Here are some things to think about:

  1. When you’re first starting out, you’ll want to spend some time working on your profile page. Talk about the services you offer, use appropriate tags and keywords so people can find you, and add some helpful information that your ideal client can use. For instance, I uploaded a couple of PDFs to my profile page about self-publishing. I have really concrete, practical tips that they can use. It also helps them know that I know what I’m talking about!
  2. Don’t shy away from low bids at the very beginning of your Elance career. You don’t want to be the lowest bidder, nor the highest. Expect to be paid just a little less than you’d like here at the beginning as you build your client base and positive feedback. This is the goal – build your client base and your portfolio. The higher-paying jobs and friendly referrals WILL follow IF you do a great job. Be a good steward of the small stuff and the big stuff will follow.
  3. GUARD YOUR FEEDBACK with your life! : ) But seriously, feedback to me is hugely important. I want to provide the best possible service at the best value. I’ve not always been able to deliver under the time frame, but I sure try…it’s like the adage says: “under-promise and over-deliver.” I’ve been known to stay up all night to deliver on a “book emergency!”
  4. Don’t get upset if you don’t get the job you want. You’re not going to get all of them, and that’s ok. Another one – a better project, even – is going to come around the corner before you know it. Resist the temptation to match the pricing of international providers just to get the job. You’ll work yourself ragged.
  5. Finally….be aware that Elance is a very competitive market. Elance customers are very demanding. Make sure you are an expert in your area before you put yourself out there. I had converted 140 books before I ever started on Elance, and so I thought I knew what I was doing. I soon found that every client is different and has different needs…and so I learned more in a month of working on Elance than I had in 6 months of converting at the publishing house.

Elance can be an amazing way to get started in a business, to increase your client base, and to fill in the gaps when you have more time than income.

Let me know if you have worked on Elance and how your experience worked for you – just post in the comments section.

4 thoughts on “How to Build a Thriving Elance Business

  • September 26, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Great article Lisa! I was trying to pick my favorite tip… but they are all equally true! I think I have finally found the right combination of compelling proposal + reasonable price that is causing me to get more clients. And they have all be great and have lead to repeat work with them on and off Elance. And referrals too! If you look at it as a good lead generation tool, (you’d pay for marketing anyway), it will help you deal better with the initial lower rate you may have to accept. Thanks for the info. 🙂

  • September 26, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    I hate typos… LOL. “They have all BEEN”… and have “LED” to repeat work… 😉

  • September 26, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Oh – forgot one tip – I ALWAYS customize my bid to what the client asks for – I don’t use a “canned” response when bidding. It shows them I care about what they need and am taking the time to respond to them in a personal way. (Plus, it proves that I can speak English!) Always a bonus. ; )

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