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What I’ve Learned From Writing for Elance (and other freelance sites)

May 30, 2012

Freelance websites often get a bad reputation for being content mills that allow clients to hire freelancer writers for ridiculously low prices.  Many reputable and established writers warn new writers to stay away from them.  While much of the reputation is deserved, there are some benefits to these places. 

I’ve been working on Elance and oDesk for close to a year now, and I’ve seen the good and the bad with them.  But the bottom line is that I’m making money doing what I love.  Not enough to support myself without another job, but it’s a good start.  While they may not be for everyone, I have learned some valuable lessons from working on these sites.

How to Sell Myself.

No matter how much you just want to write, you have to learn how to promote what you do to others.  Marketing is a big part of writing, regardless of whether you write for print or online.  The freelance websites teach you how to do this successfully by creating a profile and submitting proposals to jobs in competition with others. Once you land a few jobs, you will start to see what works and what doesn’t.  I’ll provide more details on this topic in a later post.

How to Work With Different Clients.

You will always have to know how to work with different personalities and understand project requirements.  Sites like Elance allow you the opportunity to interact with clients from all over the world.  You will learn what questions to ask about a project and what information to provide to the client.

How to Create Different Types of Writing.

You can bid on projects that are geared to what you already know, but one of the best benefits to writing on Elance is that you can try your skills on new types of writing.  This will allow you to see what you like and don’t like to write so you can add new things to your portfolio. 

I first wrote landing pages for a client on Elance.  I also did some press releases and product reviews for clients.  I did research on projects I was not familiar with and learned how to meet expectations.  While you want to treat every client as important, you would rather practice on a beginner’s job than to lose out on a high paying client because you didn’t know how to write what they wanted.

How to Meet Deadlines.

You will always have deadlines as a writer.  Elance and other freelance sites provide you with varying deadlines for your projects.  You learn how to decide the length of time to promise for different projects in your bids.  You will get faster at your writing as you work on it and will learn how to predict the amount of time you will put into a project.  This is an essential skill so you know how to charge for your writing to make money.

Freelance writing websites are not for everyone, and most people cannot earn a full-time income with them.  However, they can be a great place to develop your skills to become a successful writer.  I’d love to hear your comments about any experience you have had with these websites.


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