5 Ways to Stand Out from the Competition on Major Freelancing Sites

Being able to run a business at home, earn money, invest, raise kids and socially distance all at the same time has become the 2020 marathon. Parents, professionals, graduates and those caught in-between careers weren’t exactly prepared for the new age of working from home; yet, as Covid-19 restructured life as we knew it, we had no choice but to consider alternative work arrangements that supported our families right from our laptops.

Companies were forced to furlough staff as budgets were slashed. Individuals elected to quit their jobs for fear of coronavirus exposure and others realized that, considering how fleeting life can be, they wanted to leave their jobs and do something they love. For all of these people, the arrangement of working on a per-project basis for different companies, brands and startups became more alluring than ever before.

As of last year, nearly 57 million Americans considered themselves part of the gig economy as freelancers. The data for 2020 will show a massive increase in that figure as part of Covid-19’s new normal. Why were so many people joining the gig economy as freelancers in 2019? One study explains it all: skilled freelancers earn more per hour than 70 percent of workers in the U.S.

Related: 50 Ideas for a Lucrative Side Hustle

That’s why more people than ever before are wondering how they can not only become freelancers but also how they can position themselves for immediate success right out of the starting gate. The competition to stand out as a freelancer just got dramatically more challenging, and everyone knows it. Tens of millions of people are using the biggest freelancing sites today, from Upwork and 99designs to Fiverr and Guru.

With millions of providers worldwide accessing these sites, how can you ensure that your profile and services are the most alluring?

Here are five ways to stand out from the competition on major freelancing sites.

1. Use your picture throughout your profile 

People think that working online as an anonymous provider, instead of being a corporate employee, means they can withhold their identity from their freelancing profile. Quite the contrary, removing any imagery of yourself from your freelance profile makes it harder for prospective buyers to trust you. Are you really who you are claiming to be? How can buyers be sure? 

Related: 9 Reasons to Start an Online Side Hustle in 2020

Content with imagery and video gets 94% more views than content with only plain text and stats. We are visual creatures, so we need to see photo evidence that we are not being scammed.

  • Include different photos of yourself for your profile picture, services and biography. The more images you use, the more trustworthy you become
  • Post only crisp, high-definition photos in which you are making eye contact with the camera
  • Consider branding yourself with the same colors in all of your images
  • Refresh your photos every few years to match your real-time identity

2. Feature as many reviews as possible

Social proof is essential. It’s the only way we can convince ourselves that someone is trustworthy online when we have never met them in person. That’s why 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as they do a recommendation from a friend or family member. Prioritizing your five-star reviews on your profile will help a buyer trust you immediately.

  • Work hard in the beginning to secure a perfect five-star average. Go above and beyond and consider charging less-than-market prices to get your first reviews
  • Proudly present the reviews on your profile, front and center
  • Offer up a summary of your reviews to prospective clients in your messaging inbox

​​​​3. Don’t lie about credentials

Too often, first-time freelancers skew information about their background and experience since no boss is watching them do it. This can come back to haunt you, especially since buyers can do a simple background check on you in minutes. Should the freelancing site catch you lying, you will be blacklisted for the remainder of the platform’s existence. It’s not worth it. Augment what credentials you do have. If you don’t have many, offer free work for friends and family to bolster your portfolio.

  • Spend some months doing work for free so you can add real projects and products to your profile
  • Never lie. As you climb in prominence on a freelancing site, the company will conduct background checks on you.
  • Buyers are more likely to buy from you if they trust you. If they catch you lying, they will never trust you again.

4. Don’t wait for first reviews

One of the most challenging periods in freelancing is the initial weeks when you have to sit and wait for a buyer to be the first one to invest in your service. When you have no reviews, they don’t know if they can trust you.

Related: How to Start a Freelance Writing Side Hustlehttps://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Think outside the box and go to your in-person networks for first reviews. Ask family members, former coworkers, friends and those who follow you on social media if they need your service for their businesses. Accessing your already aggregated networks will have you circumvent freelancing algorithms that can punish newbies.

  • Think outside the box and offer a discount to people you know in the beginning
  • Post about your services on social media
  • Write articles about your services and post them to a website or your social profiles
  • Offer referral discounts to people you know for securing you new clients

5. Offer more than one service

Marketing studies have found that consumers prefer choices when they go shopping. If you walk into a clothing store and see just four shirts hanging on the clothing rack, you start to feel uncomfortable, right? But if you want into a store with 400 shirt options, you would feel free to shop around and find the item that is right for you. 

Related: 3 Best Ways to Diversify Your Income (and Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck) During Times of Uncertainty

The same goes for your freelancing profile. If you offer just one service, buyers will assume you’re new to the site, you don’t know what you are doing and have only one skill-set. When starting, offer at least three (related) services on your profile. That way, buyers can feel like they are really shopping. 

  • If you don’t know what other services to offer, check out your competition. Look up people with your same skill-set and see what other services they list.
  • Don’t be afraid to teach yourself new skills. Take online classes and practice.
  • After a while, increase your services from three to five to even 10!

The art of the side hustle

Those that once laughed at the thought of a side hustle becoming a main hustle are no longer laughing. Our newly decentralized, socially distanced world has made freelancing ripe for the taking, which is why now is a great time to pivot your skill-set online through one of the major freelancing sites. Follow these tips above to ensure you are positioned as successfully as possible while wading into the freelancing waters.

Related: Moonlighting Your Way to Millions: 4 Tips to Turn Your Side Hustle into a Successful New Business

By: Alexandra Fasulo Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

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I’m Dan Johnston, a former entrepreneur, turned Freelancer, turned Author and Coach. I value freedom and experiences over money and things and I believe we’re all capable of designing our own lives. So far, I’ve lived in 7 countries, published 12 books and worked hard to achieve my dream of being time and location independent. Along the way, I’ve shared my experiences and helped thousands of people achieve their dream as well. ►One-on-One Coaching Together◄ https://www.dreamsaroundtheworld.com/… ►Free Training and Entertainment◄ http://www.dreamsaroundtheworld.com/f… ►Have a Question or Topic You’d Like Me To Make a Video About?◄ https://www.dreamsaroundtheworld.com/… ►Subscribe to my channel◄ http://bit.ly/ytsubdreams ★☆★Follow me and Learn More★☆★ Website: https://www.DreamsAroundTheWorld.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dreamsaround… Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thedanjohnston Podcast: https://www.dreamsaroundtheworld.com/… (or search for Dreams Around The World on iTunes, Spotify, Google Music, or wherever it is you listen to podcasts)

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7 Tips to Manage Freelancers Efficiently in a Post-COVID-19 World

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It comes at no surprise that most businesses are shifting to on-demand workforce to optimize costs, survive and thrive in a post-COVID-19 world. Although a contingent workforce existed for many years, very few businesses relied primarily on independent contractors and freelancers. Contract roles were mostly available either to highly skilled management consultants and experts or to seasonal workers.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the workforce dynamics as millions of people have been laid off and businesses have to look for alternative solutions to remain competitive. Hiring freelancers and gig workers on-demand has become a preferred option even for more traditional businesses. However, managing freelancers, remote workers and independent contractors is never seamless and requires processes, planning, and reliable vendor management and freelance management services.

Some industries like software development, e-learning, digital marketing, video production, online events management, hospitality, tourism and more are likely to permanently shift to contingent workforce. As managing freelancers has its own specifics, the following seven tips can be helpful to all companies that are planning to hire more gig workers, remote workers, and freelancers in the future.

1. Analyze your hiring needs.

If some roles had been strictly reserved for full-time employees working in an office environment, now these roles may be suitable for remote workers and freelancers. To identify roles that can be transformed into contract jobs and freelance gigs, the hiring managers need to ask themselves “How critical is this role for the business?’’ If the role is of utmost importance to the business, consider keeping it as a full-time role or offer a retainer to freelancer or independent contractor who has always delivered quality work.

This approach can ensure a high quality of work and motivation. On the other hand, all roles that are not critical to the business can be transformed into part-time roles or contract jobs and assigned to freelancers and independent contractors.

2. Develop a pool of freelancers.

Working with people who have demonstrated their skills and delivered high quality work over and over again is the right way to go. At the same time, project managers need to have sufficient information about the projects these freelancers have worked on before and to be able to contact them if there is a new project that requires a similar skillset and expertise. Often, being able to demonstrate that you have sufficient resources is what’s needed to win a new project over the competition.

3. Select a Freelancer Management System.

If more than 10 percent of your workforce consists of freelancers and gig workers, you will most liekly need a Freelancer Management System to be able to keep track of completed and ongoing projects, have access to historical information, manage project budgets, assign freelancers to new projects, approve payments and much more. A checklist will help a lot in your selection process. Answers to questions like “How many freelancers will I be managing in the next three years?”, “Will I manage both freelancers and remote workers across multiple geographies?”, “Do I need integrations with project management and time tracking software?”, “Do I need automated billing and invoicing?”, etc. will help you to select the Freelancer Management System that’s is addressing the needs of your business.

This can help with eliminating duplicate payments as well. Imagine that 10 freelancers are working on the same project but each of them is working on a different task, has different deadline and is paid a specific pay rate. This is the reality for many digital marketing, design, and creative companies. If the payments are managed via Excel spreadsheets and payment approvals happen via emails, duplicate payments are inevitable.

Enterprise solutions like SAP Fieldglass and Oracle HCM are usually not an option for small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) due to the high integration and maintenance costs. Luckily, there are affordable alternatives like Transformify that have been specifically designed to address the needs of SMBs.

4. Source freelance talent quickly and efficiently.

Working with a pool of freelancers over and over again is great, however from time to time you will have to hire new people. As hiring needs highly depend on business growth and customer acquisition, it is hard to predict the skills set that will be required to win the next customer or the next project. Trying to source freelancers via various job boards, freelance marketplaces and the like is time-consuming and the results are often far from those desired. The best solution is to have a Freelancer Management System integrated with an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to be able to quickly source, hire and manage freelancers ad hoc.

5. Know your talent pool.

Historical information about the freelancers who have worked on similar projects is invaluable when starting a new project on a tight budget and challenging deadline. Imagine that you have interviewed seven freelancers for a similar project in the past, three were shortlisted and one got the job. Wouldn’t be great to be able to easily check who those three shortlisted freelancers were and contact them immediately to check if they are available?

6. Manage project budgets.

Often, project planning and project execution are not aligned. There are tasks that have been overlooked and not budgeted at all, skills that are missing and people who become unavailable out of a sudden. It is common for freelancers to work on more than one project at the same time. Being able to move costs from one bucket to another while staying within budget is invaluable. Poor budget management may turn a promising project into a loss generating project.

7. Keep an eye on time-tracking reports.

As freelancers are often paid per hour, project managers need to be able to identify any unusual deviations in time tracking reports. If the same task was taking 10 hours in the past, why is it taking 30 hours now? Team velocity is also important as sometimes team members may happen to be times less efficient than the average for the team. If inefficiencies and overbilled hours are not identified on time, this inevitably will lead to lost productivity, tension in the team and increased costs.

The gig economy was on the rise even prior to COVID-19 lockdowns and massive layoffs. As businesses had no other option than to adopt remote working and work from home policies, going forward more and more companies will rely on contingent workforce and freelancers.

Lilia Stoyanov

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Let’s talk about how COVID-19 is affecting Freelancers, Contract workers, and Self-Employed workers around the world. Over 22 million Americans OR roughly 13.5% of the labor force have filed for unemployment in the last 4 weeks. This is the largest rise in claims since the Labor department started tracking the data in 1967. This pandemic has brought to light the issues with Freelance benefits such as affordable insurance, retirement, and qualifying for unemployment.
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