Many young liberal arts grads, amateur writers, or alumni of the sales and marketing realms have been quickly discovering that by marketing your writing skills on ODesk, you can make a pretty penny handling jobs of all sizes and difficulties.
The wide majority of ODesk freelance writing jobs fall into the small potatoes range (anywhere from $15-$25 fixed price), which can be a nice addition to your weekly income, but nothing that’s going to allow you to jet off to the Caribbean. The trick that many burgeoning freelance writers on ODesk are trying to turn is getting into contact with the big fish that swim in the ODesk waters.
In fact, it may be on one of the biggest unheralded aspects of ODesk that a number of reputable digital advertising agencies, web development and design companies, and sales and marketing firms are turning to ODesk to handle their clients’ site content and promotional materials. From writing static content for company home pages and affiliates, to creating email templates for mass mailings, to designing social media outreach for different brands or services, freelance writers on ODesk can find a ton of ways to make money from the big names in selling and branding. However, while ODesk is still a great secret for writers to make money, the pool of talented freelancers is growing every day. So how do you rise above the fray and land the Big Fish clients, the ones who want to put you on a weekly retainer or send big-time fixed contracts your way? As a veteran of the process ( I launched my own creative writing business thanks to ODesk), let me offer a few tips:
1. Treat your profile like a living resume – The serious employers on ODesk treat hiring freelancers the same way they hire regular employees of the company. They need to see that you are professional, that you are willing and able to communicate on their terms (remember, we’re talking employers from all over the world), that you have a proven history of writing to review (if you don’t yet, start working on some of those small fish to make yourself a lure), and that you are affordable. Remember, these companies come to ODesk because they know it’s cheaper than paying in-house copywriters, who can demand eye-boggling rates. So blending yourself as affordable, but reliable (which companies will pay a few extra dollars for to draw in any good freelancer) is the ticket to getting nibbles from the Big Fish.
2. Work on your employer’s schedule – One of the most appealing features of ODesk is the ability, not before possible, to offer your services to companies all over the world. Whether you’re logging in from Karachi or Chicago, you can find employers with jobs not limited by boundaries or languages, in some cases. However, the serious employers all over the world are not interested in making a freelancer’s schedule their baseline (with a few exceptions). Deadlines are expected to be met, as they would if you were in the office itself, whether those deadlines are at 3am your time or during the middle of your normal workday. It’s up to you to figure out how to find the time to get your work done for your clients on their terms, in order to get them to shuffle over the big bucks.
3. Versatility is a must – While I’ve been lauding the many opportunities available to freelance writers on ODesk, in order to make a freelance gig based on the site lucrative for you, you need to be able to handle a wide variety of tasks. Big Fish want writers they can go back to again and again, but to make it worth their while they need writers who can handle the different demands of digital content. From social media, to branding, to informational writing, to product reviews and listings for sites like Amazon and EBay, the demands of the Big Fish are as diverse as the lures you need to catch a real big fish. If you have areas of weakness in content writing, start trying your hand at some smaller gigs to build up a portfolio and an acuity for it. The more you can offer a Big Fish, the more work (and money) they will send your way.
4. Fluent English Required – We never like to discourage any would-be ODesk entrepreneurs, but the real Big Fish (both domestic and international) on ODesk are for the most part looking for native English speakers, given the importance of sales and branding content delivering a specific message to customers and visitors. There are also a number of Big Fish out there looking for freelancers fluent in a variety of languages for transcription and market-specific services, but the biggest money out there on ODesk is for content geared toward English-speaking markets.
Like landing any big contract, hooking an ODesk Big Fish requires a combination of factors. As much as your own skill, experience, and professionalism are metrics a Big Fish will measure you by, the ability to fit a need is very much dependant on circumstances and consistently looking for new writing opportunities.
It’s important to stay active in searching for new jobs on ODesk, as most of the Big Fish listings are going to draw a lot of freelance anglers like yourself. Since you will be facing the same level of intense competition that people are facing in the job market around the world, applying the same traditional lessons of professionalism and communication to a blend of skills geared toward the digital age is the best way to find yourself a nice Big Fish (or three or four) who can open doors never imagined.
From my personal experience of launching a creative content company, the best route is to start off by taking as many new writing projects as you can handle. It builds your content portfolio and amidst the shuffle, a Big Fish will be swimming.
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