Isn’t it frustrating?
You get all excited to be a member of a thriving freelance marketplace, ready to take on new jobs, satisfy clients, and rake in a bunch of cash. You are thrilled. You can’t wait for your profile to be approved so you can start applying for jobs and building a reputation.
As a copywriter, I’m always on the look-out for a fresh sources of clients. We need clients to survive. Even though I have a lot of return customers, the business is usually not enough to keep me afloat, and I always need to look for more work.
That’s the downside to working as a freelance copywriter. I’ll use a wide variety of marketing techniques to sniff out people who are in need of engaging content.
My search for clients has taken me to the far corners of the internet, and during my travels, I have learned a few important key tips that have made it much easier for me to lock down great clients.
Recently, a few weeks ago, I created an account on Upwork, and as one might expect, started sending applications like crazy to every job post that I came across. Naturally, I didn’t get hired, until I made a few changes. We will talk about those changes in this article. You don’t have to make the same mistakes.
What Happened When I Tried to Use Shortcuts…
Like most people, shortcuts appeal to me. Shortcuts appeal to everyone, everyone wants fast results and fast cash. It’s human nature to not want to work hard. So I figured that I could use some sneaky shortcuts to get hired on Upwork and rake in cash. Yes, that’s right, even I screw up sometimes. It was a big mistake. Here’s what I did…
I wrote up a simple – general – cover letter on a Word Document. The cover letter included my skills, my rates, my samples, and anything else that I thought was relevant. It was all there on one page; it looked good to me.
I figured nobody would be able to refuse. Then it was time to copy and paste that application to any offer that was vaguely relevant to my skill set. Ctrl C + Ctr V. Ctrl C + Ctr V. Ctrl C + Ctr V…. and on and on it went, until I ran out of Tokens.
Tokens are like points and each member on Upwork has a certain amount to spend, renewed every month. It costs tokens to apply to jobs; usually two – but sometimes more.
So I sent out about 30 applications. Great, now it’s time to wait – it won’t be long before someone comes to their senses and hires me. I sat back in my chair, took a sip of coffee, and gave myself a pat on the back.
You sent a lot of applications and soon you will have a big fat bank account. Yes. Tomorrow they’ll respond. You just take it easy until then.
Tomorrow arrived. No responses.
The next day, still no responses.
The next next day, still no responses.
Two weeks later still no replies. Oh well, maybe Upwork is not that useful after all, back to my old marketing ways…
Then a Light Bulb Flashed in My Brain…
Maybe the reason nobody cares about my application is because I barely checked their job requirements, and sent them a general application letter.
They don’t want to see a list of qualifications that don’t apply to their needs. They want someone who knows how to complete the task and doesn’t screw around. Uh-oh, have I been doing the complete opposite of what I should be doing?
Yes. I was. I was doing the complete opposite of anyone who wants to find good clients should do. It was all about me. It needs to be about them. They want to know how you can help them with their problem.
They need to see that you know what you’re talking about. They need to see you in action. It needs to be all about them.
The Power of Listening to a Person
Dating and marketing have a lot in common. Imagine that you are talking about a personal interest of yours, a hobby, or dream, and you go on and on, all fired up, and then you realize that the other person was playing with his phone the entire time. He was totally not listening to you the entire time. Just nodding and making random “agreement” sounds.
Everyone felt that feeling a few times in their lives. I have experienced those situations more often than I like to admit. It’s not that I’m such a boring person – well maybe a little – but a lot of times people just don’t want to listen.
They’re easily distracted. It’s not your fault.
They never learned to pay attention. Unfortunately, it makes you feel worthless and ignored. Like your opinion doesn’t matter at all. You get angry and vow to never open up to that person again. It’s one of the most annoying feelings in the world!
But then there’s the other person. The person that sits down with you, holds eye contact, and focuses all of his attention on you.
He listens to you and asks questions, makes comments, and puts effort into keeping the conversation alive, because he genuinely wants to know more about what you’re talking about. That makes you feel wonderful.
You finally found someone who loves to listen to you. It’s a pleasurable experience. You vow to talk to him whenever possible. A friendship is born.
Can you guess which person you should be when it comes to finding clients on Upwork? I acted like the first person. I didn’t listen to their job description. I didn’t pay attention. I didn’t make progress. You need to be like the second person.
What You Need to Do…
You need to thoroughly read the job description. What does the client need? How can you deliver what he needs?
Do you have the skills and knowledge to help take his business to the next level? Create a strategy for the client right there on the spot. It doesn’t matter if it takes a long time. I spend about an hour on each application I send. The result? Lots of jobs. Lot’s of money for me to spend.
So if nobody is replying to your application letters on Upwork, it’s probably because you are not actually trying to solve their problems.
Put effort into it.
Yes, it is time consuming but the results are well worth the trouble. Forget about the money and focus on solving problems.
Start with low rates and build up a portfolio. Even do it for free. Over-deliver whenever possible. The ball will start to roll and soon you will have plenty of income and return clients.
So we are done for today. Remember what you learned here. The client does not care about your experience and skills unless they are relevant. The client knows what he wants and is looking for someone who can fill those needs.
The key is in the job descriptions. Read the job descriptions. Write a application letter that focuses on how you can solve the clients problems; show how you will do it.
I guarantee if you follow these tips you will be hired a lot more often on Upwork.
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