When I first discovered Elance, a platform for freelancers, I wasted a lot of time bidding on work that I never even got so much as a response from. I was a new freelancer, without any Elance reviews, and I was starting to think Elance was a major bust. But then I made a few simple changes to my profile and started winning bids until Elance jobs made up half of my freelance income.
A freelancer's profile can make a big difference between getting the gig and never even being acknowledged. Sure, your proposal is important too, but with dozens of candidates, do you really want only your proposal to stand out? Here are five ways to maximize your Elance profile.
Give yourself a face.
The change that made the most difference was also the easiest one to make: I changed my profile picture from my business logo to a professional head shot. Businesses use Elance to find people. Most aren't looking for some big agency, but a professional individual who can get the job done quickly and efficiently. Let businesses know who they are working with by including a professional head shot of yourself.
Identify what sets you apart.
So, you're a freelancer. Great—so are 53 million other people in the United States alone, so why should anyone hire you? The profile is where you should identify just what makes you different from all the rest of the freelancers bidding on work. What topics are you an expert in? What experience do you have? What have you done in your work that's made a difference? Don't be shy—this is the place to brag about yourself (professionally, of course). Remember, the first sentence of the summary is what shows up next to your bid, so put a lot of effort into making that first sentence stand out so they'll be interested enough to click the link to your entire profile.
Triple-check your spelling and grammar.
I don't know how many profiles I've seen, submitted for editing jobs no less, with multiple errors in the first sentence alone. Even if you are not submitting bids for writing and editing jobs, make sure your profile is free of errors. Triple-check everything, and have a friend or two read it for you as well.
Include a variety of portfolio samples.
Your profile summary should talk about your work, but you should also let your work do some of the talking. Include your best work in your portfolio, and include at least one type of each kind of work you plan to bid on. If you don't have any samples yet, make up a project on your own, or submit very low bids to get a job that will pad your portfolio.
Don't leave anything blank.
All those blank fields look rather daunting at first, but you should still fill out every out every aspect of your profile, without leaving anything blank. A half-finished profile will make you look like a professional that only does half their work, and that's certainly not anything you want potential clients to think. A profile isn't a five-minute task—set aside a few hours to do it right, or you'll loose bids to freelancers that did take the time to complete their profile.
A freelancer's profile helps give an identity to someone who otherwise would be anonymous. Give potential clients a chance to “meet” you electronically with a thorough, accurate Elance profile.