With a decade of experience on freelancer.com, the best decision I made was joining the Preferred Freelancer Program. At least 90% of my work comes through the program which means I make 40% more money than before.
For many years I dreamed of escaping the daily grind of corporate life. The traffic. Locked in an office for 8 hours a day. Also, I wanted to spend my days with my incredible dogs. I show, train and compete in dog sport.
One day I made the break when I had some money behind me and had built up a reputation on the site. I joined the Preferred Freelancer Program and built great relationships with recruiters and employers. After joining the program, I became more visible. I now tend to win 30% to 40% of the jobs I bid on.
Being a preferred freelancer shows you are an expert. It endorses your integrity. It helps potential employers identify experienced freelancers. However, you are still only as good as the past projects you’ve completed. You need to stick to your word – complete projects on time and on budget.
Here are a few things to help you build a successful client base and excel as a Preferred Freelancer:
Bid on projects that match your skills
Only bid on projects that match your skills. There is no point setting yourself up to fail. Often, however, project briefs list skills that may be outside your skillset. Yours may only match a few of their requirements. Do not let that stop you from bidding.
Recently I bid on a project that wanted a content writer and web designer all rolled into one. This is doable for a company. But, I am a sole operator and I really wanted the job. In my submission I let the employer know how I could help them. I suggested they break the project into two separate projects, and invited the employer to open a conversation to discuss their requirements. On this occasion it worked better for the client to work with individual specialists. It can be worth taking the chance.
Being a preferred freelancer is not a licence to charge over-the-top prices. When you do, you are unlikely to hear from the employer. This risks them hiding your bid which means losing points from your bid quality score.
There is also no point putting in low bids. Employers are looking for top quality work at a fair price. Bidding ridiculously low prices comes across as desperation. And, low prices often tell employers you are not a professional.
Bidding on one liners
There are many one-line briefs. Yes, it is frustrating. Let the potential employer know you need more information to give an accurate price. Ask questions. Engage. I do this as part of my original submission. When I do not get a response, I move on.
How you bid is vital. There is only one chance to make a first impression. When I do get a response, I treat them with respect. Answer and ask relevant questions.
As a preferred freelancer, I rarely bid on one-line briefs anymore. I scroll on by. There are plenty more jobs on the site.
ALWAYS use milestones
I have never worked on a Freelancer project without milestones. They give me a sense of protection. It also tells me the employer is genuine. I know the money is in escrow for release on completion of each milestone. Only once have I ever lost money. I cannot stress this enough - milestones are the best thing since sliced bread!
Break projects down into manageable chunks which helps get the work done on time and on budget. Depending on the type of job, an example of this could be a milestone for a draft and one for the final copy.
Milestones shows employers you are professional. It gives them confidence you can do the job. Make sure the milestones work well for the employer.
Communication, Communication, Communication!
Communication is key. I cannot stress this enough. You are working with people from across the world. Sometimes there are language barriers, so communication is crucial- ask questions.
When an employer contacts me I thank them. This opens the conversation for them to ask questions. I ask for links or examples of things to give me insight. I try to get inside their head to see things from their point of view. Never, ever, ever spam an employer. If they do not answer, move on.
Be quick to answer employer questions. Do not leave them waiting. The work you do for anyone on Freelancer is super important to each employer. And, it should be to you too. Never turn it into a battleground if you get negative feedback. Work hard to make it right. We all get it wrong sometimes.
When you think an employer is being unfair, go back over the brief and conversations. Make a fair assessment. Do not ask for more money unless you are sure the employer has changed the project scope. It could be you have made a mistake or misinterpreted the employer’s requirements. When you have resolvable problems, ask your recruiter for advice or follow the Freelancer system for disputes.
Then there are the unresponsive employers. This is frustrating. I give them 7 days then ask for payment if they do not have any changes. After a couple of days, with no response, I again ask for release of the milestone or for feedback. Be polite. You do not know what is going on in their lives. Give them a couple of days to respond. If this is unsuccessful, I dispute the milestone and follow the Freelancer.com system.
Now you see why it is vital to only work with milestones.
Engage with your recruiters
Recruiters are invaluable. Sure, there are many projects you may not bid on. But, when interested, engage with recruiters. They are there to help. Their purpose is to match the right people to employers. They cannot do that if you do not engage with them.
Reputation is everything. Work hard. Do your best to earn top notch reviews. But, most of all, act with integrity, honesty and be positive. The rest will follow.
Good luck with your journey as a preferred freelancer. We are changing the way of working across the world!
If you are not already part of the program, what are you waiting for? Apply here: https://www.freelancer.com/preferred-freelancer-program/index.php