excerpt from the upcoming book ‘Without Office’ by E. Mironichev

How to find remote clients through a freelance marketplace

“47% of all awarded projects on Freelancer.com are awarded to the median bidder or higher, therefore employers are looking for quality freelancers and not simply choosing the lowest bid.” Joe Griston, Director at Freelancer.com ,.

If you sell your services via the Internet, freelance marketplaces are a way to reach customers in the U.S. and all around the world. To find customers through a freelance marketplace, follow this algorithm:

  • Register and create a profile on the freelance marketplace.
  • At first, stick to just one specialization. Which specialization is best for you? Take a couple of hours to scroll through the ads posted by customers and see which of the skills or services you can offer that are most in demand.
  • Fill in the details on your profile on the marketplace. Highlight your experience in the specialization you’ve selected. Have friends or acquaintances look over your profile and weigh in on it.
  • Add a photo to the profile. Avoid made-up names (sooner or later the marketplace will block you for this) and do NOT use a photo of celebrities.
  • Start checking the marketplace for new projects. To do this, make a list of phrases or keywords, and every day use it to conduct a search for new projects. Each time you apply for a project, try to come up with one or two leading questions (even if everything seems clear to you). The right question will immediately set you apart from everyone else.
  • If you want to be competitive, you must have at least 2-3 good reviews in your profile. A fast way to get reviews is to find a small project in your specialization and offer to do it at a significant discount, explaining to the client that you are new and you need to gain experience and feedback from customers. Before completing the project, ask the client to write a positive review for you, or even better, offer to help him or her write the review. Many agree to this, because it’s less work for them to just take your text and tweak it a little than to write it from scratch. Repeat this strategy for 2-3 projects, and you’ll end up with a solid profile on the marketplace.

In my experience, if you spend just a few hours a month making a strategy on how to update your profile, you’ll see an increase in new clients. If you find that this is difficult for you, just find a freelancer that specializes in profiles.

How to correspond with remote clients

  • Keep it positive. Try to avoid the word “no”. Instead of saying that you don’t know how to help a client – again, don’t say “no” – try to find out what else the client needs done for the project. This approach often leads to new, unexpected avenues of cooperation.
  • When replying, rephrase the client’s question. What the client puts in writing doesn’t always correspond with what he or she really wants to know. And so it helps to paraphrase the original question, i.e. you repeat the question, but in your own words. Example: Do I understand correctly that you want me to specify which payment methods are available on our website?
  • Even after you’ve resolved an issue, ask if anything else is needed. It never hurts to ask if further assistance is needed. Example: “I’m so happy that we’ve found a solution for you. Is there anything else I can help with?”
  • Keep the client informed of what’s going on. Unlike the office, the client can’t see if you’ve received his or her question or not, or if you’ve started work on it or passed it on to someone else to deal with. If you’ve begun exploring a client’s request, but the process of formulating a response might take several days, it never hurts to simply tell the client, and give a rough estimate of how much time you need. Example: I passed your question on to my colleague; he’ll look into it today or tomorrow and get back to me. The latest online services for managing customer support usually lets you create a range of response templates.
  • Don’t make the customer “jump through hoops”. In other words, you should arrange it so that it’s not only profitable for the client to do business with you, it’s also easy to communicate with you. For example, if the client prefers to get in touch by email, make sure it’s easy for him or her to locate your email address on the site. Or if a client uses a less common method of payment, find a way to make it work. Another example: since many customers use mobile phones and tablets to view websites, make sure your site can be viewed on these devices. In my opinion, many new entrepreneurs with engineering backgrounds don’t always understand that customers don’t just require the performance of a service or creation of a product, even if they are happy with the end result. They also require customer support, and it certainly helps when the payment process is convenient and fast.

Conclusion

  • It’s not just the products that matter when conducting business online, but also good customer support and convenient payments online.
  • Even if what you have to offer isn’t anything new, good customer service and support will give you an edge in competing for clients.