What I Learned About Selling By Hiring A Freelancer On Elance

by Bill Conerly

Source: Forbes

Being on the buy side of a transaction can help you see where you’ve gone wrong on the sell side. I recently used Elance to find an editor for my current project, a great business strategy book. I sorted through 33 proposals (received in less than 48 hours) and realized how important a few key selling principles are.

Address the client’s minimum requirements up front. I had listed three, in bullet points, in my project description. The best responses showed right away that they met all three. Others ignored one or more requirements. Why should I go hunting for required information when I have another two dozen proposals to look at? Proposals that caught my eye added some specificity. Most of the response can be boilerplate, but it helps to have one sentence that shows having read my job description and found some connection.

After the requirements are covered, add some pizzazz. Make me want you. This is the time for a short brag with a great testimonial.

Be careful about negatives. One applicant had a couple of negative reviews by other clients and had responded in the Elance system with criticism of the client. I’m sure there are bad clients out there, but I wondered if I were about to become the next one to be criticized. My top candidates had no drama in their reviews, which helped me make a buying decision.

Pricing is always a difficult issue, even for a professional economist such as me. The range of bids on my project was $350 to $986, which is pretty broad. My four top candidates were all in the middle ($504 to $685).

Buyers usually work on one of two strategies:

  • Identify qualified candidates and then pick the cheapest, or
  • Identify candidates within the budget and pick the best.

With that in mind, I suggest that sellers take a guess on each project about whether they are likely to be the best candidate. If so, set a reasonably high price. However, if your qualifications are likely to be less than that of other candidates, set a price low.

Elance (now changing its name to Upwork) is a great way to connect with good freelancers. I’ve used it for graphic design, web research and editing, always with success.

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