How NOT to Position Yourself When Freelancing Online

I created a fake copywriting job. All I wanted was a salesletter. I got so much more.

If you want to do well on a dating site, you just make a fake profile of the opposite sex. When you do this, you can you can see what kinds of messages they get. You are able to see what people are doing right, and what they are doing wrong.

This same method can be applied when freelancing — because you are still looking for a partner to do things with.

So if you're wondering… How people in your industry pitch themselves online… How you can make your online proposals better… And what should you avoid doing… Keep reading.

Here’s exactly what I did to find out the answers to those questions. I used Elance to create a job for a salesletter. This “job” has a fixed price of $3,500 — $10,000. I wanted to attract talent… not tadpoles. After creating my job, I invited the “top 30" copywriters on Elance. Most of them replied back.

Before I get into the details, I'm just going to clear the air. There was one thing that most people did that shocked me. This one thing was the sole reason I would not hire the copywriters... if my job were real. Here is what it was.

The number 1 thing that was a COMPLETE TURN OFF that 90% of the people did was TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES TOO MUCH.

Sorry for the caps… it’s just that I had to vent my frustration. It was unbelievable that they all did this.

I mean… these are supposed to be copywriters. Shouldn't it be embedded in their craniums to NOT do this? Shouldn't they not talk about me this, me that and I’m so great at doing what I do? Are these copywriters, or floppywriters?

There is a general rule to follow when sending proposals: don’t give more information than what’s requested.

Had I asked about your background in advertising… how many salesletters you've written… or for you to tell me how you made made gangbuster profits from your last client… don't mention it.

…moving on.

This leads me to the next thing:

DO NOT treat your prospect like an idiot.

Use simple language, but don’t speak to someone as if they are a moron. What should you do instead? Talk to prospects as business owners, because that’s exactly what they are.

Too many proposals treated me like 4 year old. You may know more than someone about a topic — that’s great! Don't assume that this makes you better than them. The client is the one that ultimately is in charge. Your bravado won't get you paid. What you can do for the client is what matters.

And now for the next thing:

USE general business language, not the language spoken in your particular industry.

A lot of the proposals used words like USP… hooks… and other copywriting lingo. Had I no prior knowledge of those things, I would have been bamboozled. They could have just been made up words.

Additionally, different methods have different words for essentially the same thing. So tell them about the end result, not what buzzword you think is hot. Speak results, not what systems you will use (unless they ask).

By the way, does anyone else cringe when they hear the word “growth hacking”? I mean, in the history of buzzwords, this phrase is one I can’t wait to go away.

When you use the language of your industry you are taking a risk. Not everyone is in your industry, so don’t treat them as if they are.

The next thing to keep in mind when writing a proposal this:

You have ZERO credibility.

So don't come out the gate talking about your results. I don’t know if you’re lying. I don’t know who you are. Let me be clear






…and I do not want to spend MY time confirming what YOU say about yourself.

What to do instead: initiate a simple conversation. And remember to only provide minimal info. Answer what’s being asked. Nothing more.

A few things to keep in mind when writing an online proposal on a freelancing website

Do not try to overpower the project. You are not a messiah. You are not the best… everyone says they are, so saying you’re the best makes you average.

Pitch your proposal as if you are overhearing their job offer. Pretend you’re standing in a line, and they just so happen to talk about something you know how to do.

Think of your proposal as “blind luck”. You just happened to be in the right place to see it. People can relate to blind luck. We've all been at the right place at the right time at some point. Recreate that feeling with your proposal.

Give your potential future clients reassurance. Let them know you won't bounce town after you fix their sink. You could even offer a “discount” for repeat clients. Create an opportunity for a relationship — not a one time thing.

Lastly, don't use templated responses. Templates are fine as long as you do one thing: customize your template for your prospect. Treat each prospect as an individual blade of grass.

Do those things, and you will avoid what 99% of Elancers are doing wrong.

So those are my discoveries from this week long experiment. I hope they helped you as much as they helped me.

Those that know me know that I like to provide value. I am still working on how to best communicate this to my clients. One thing I've recently done is a create my Facebook page. It’s a work in progress, but if you like it, hit “like”.

Thanks for reading. Hope it helped.

Raymond Duke

P.S. Want to know what the worst proposal was?

The guy that simply said:

“Ready to cooperate. Experience: 5+ years”


P.P.S. Here is one more thing someone did:

“I guarantee to share with you information you can put to use in your business immediately. And if you find I have not delivered any value during our 30 minute conversation, I’ll make a $25 donation to a charity of your choice.”

Not bad. Would still not hire the guy for my fake job. But still clever.