It’s been four years since I started pursuing freelance writing online.
I love it! I would never want to go back to working 8 to 5 in an office.
I was working full time as a bookkeeper when I started this journey. I’d browse the Internet in the evenings, trying to figure out how to actually begin making money off my words.
It was early on that I discovered the freelance bidding sites, Guru and Elance. Without having anyone else to give me much direction and without any professional writing experience, I jumped into these two sites. I set up profiles and started looking through projects and doing some bidding. With a little luck, I was able to land a gig writing quarterly newsletter articles fairly quickly. It was good pay, but a small project. Still it encouraged me to keep looking and bidding on these sites.
It was slow going after that first win. It would have been easy to give up, but I didn’t.
After about 6 months, my hours at work were decreased. This was a blessing in disguise, because it meant I had more time to spend on seeking out writing projects. I started spending several hours a week bidding on projects and working to perfect my proposals. I didn’t have many writing samples, so if I didn’t have an appropriate writing sample to use for a project, I’d write one for it.
I started winning a few more projects and gaining some good feedback on my profiles. In less than a year from when I started looking, I was quitting my office job and flying free as a full time freelance writer.
Whoohoo! I’d made it! And faster than anyone thought I would.
Looking back, however, I think I could have achieved my goal even faster!
Faster than 10 months to go from a non-writer to bringing in a full time income as a freelancer?
Yep. I think I could have.
Actually, I’ve helped other people do it, so I’m sure I could have too.
What is that “one thing?”
The thing I’ve taught other people to do, but I wasn’t doing?
Putting in more bids. Pitching more jobs.
I was browsing the jobs on those sites off and on those first few months and occasionally bidding on projects, but I wasn’t spending near enough time on it.
If I’d realized then, what I know, I would have been bidding on jobs daily.
After I had enough work to provide me a full time income, I didn’t slow down my prospecting for new work. Instead I increased the time I spent looking for and bidding on work. It became my first-thing-in-the-morning routine. Fix a cup of coffee and then spend a couple hours looking through projects and placing bids.
Throughout the day, when I’d get notices of new projects that were available on the sites, I’d stop and look through the new lists. If there was anything that looked like a potential fit, I’d stop and put together a proposal.
I seldom bid on anything that was older than 24 hours. My bids were quick, and there were lots of them.
At one point, I calculated that I would bid an average of 30 jobs to win one.
So, if I got three new jobs or clients in a month, I’d likely be placing close to 100 bids to get those three.
Was it a lot of time and effort? Yes, it was.
Was it worth it?
Apparently so. Within six months I had to hire someone to help me keep up with all the work I had.
I don’t spend as much time prospecting for work now, as I did then. Now people send me invitations to bid on their projects on Guru and Elance because of my outstanding reviews and strong profiles. I don’t have to go looking for them.
Now I spend most of my prospecting time in new areas, but I’m careful never to take my current workload for granted. I never stop pursuing new clients and building stronger relationships with my ongoing clients.
How much time do you spend looking for work and putting in proposals?
Have you come up with any time saving strategies to help you accomplish it faster?
Do you know how many bids you place to win one job?
Put your feedback in the comments.
If you’d like more freelance tips for newbies beyond what’s on my blog, sign up for my email list HERE.