I’m no Rick Duris or Copy Nazi……yet.
So, on my way to their neighborhood, I decided to set up an oDesk account and build my portfolio.
I’d heard all the standard complaints: oDesk is full of bottom-feeders looking for spun gold for pennies, competition so heavy you’ll never get noticed, a sign-up procedure that makes eHarmony look easy and an assortment of other complaints that may discourage you from going there.
My advice: get over it, and sign up.
I just pulled in my first job.
OK, it was only $125 (still, half my rent for a 2 bedroom house here in the Philippines) but after spending an hour on the phone with my client, I can tell you it has the potential for a great partnership and lots more higher-paying work down the line.
More on the project a little later. First let me give you my top 5 hints on how to make oDesk work for you and get your first job.
1. Build out your profile -- NOW. The site shows a ‘percent complete’ slider bar only you will see. As you add components, such as a bio, resume, skills, work history and portfolio, you inch your way to 100%.
Why is this important? A couple reasons. Look at the heavy hitters in your category. They all do it -- maybe it works. And, more importantly, the more complete your profile, the more jobs oDesk lets you bid on.
2. Check out your competition. You can run a search for ‘copywriters’ under ‘find contractors’ on the home page.
OK, what will you see? The first thing you will notice, and this is good news, is that very few copywriters use good copy in their overview. The overview is what shows up most prominently on your profile so make it sing. Think of it as your web homepage. In fact, if you have a great homepage that works well, use it, at least as a starting point.
It’s your first and greatest advantage. If you want to hire a copywriter, don’t you want one who can sell herself or himself in the first 69 words?
I spent the majority of my time writing and editing this overview. You should too. And don’t hesitate to keep reworking it. It’s as simple as opening your profile and editing it. Changes go live immediately.
3. Put at least 2 pieces in your oDesk portfolio. OK, the more the better, but at a minimum, put in your two best pieces. Of course, it goes without saying, they should be 100% clean, with no typos or grammatical errors.
4. Check the ‘jobs available’ for copywriters several times a day and respond immediately. Rick Duris posted the other day about this, and I couldn’t agree more.
Good jobs (and there ARE good jobs here) will attract many applicants, so you want to be ‘first in, best dressed’.
Think about it, job posters are busy people. The last thing they want to do is spend days interviewing applicants. If you respond quickly, it tells them you’re serious and you want the job. If your response, your member overview and your portfolio are impressive and you show them you can do the job, you’re streets ahead of the pack.
5. Responding to a job. OK, you have completed your profile, you’ve found a job that is perfect, and now it’s time to make your first application (oDesk terminology).
Man up and kill ‘em with your application. Remember, just as with your overview, make it all about them. Yes, it’s about you but it’s about what you can do for them.
Talk directly to their need, whether it’s for a sales page, website do-over or whatever. They have to “feel” you can do this job better than anyone else.
You’re selling them here, don’t forget it. Every word you create, from your bio to your projects to your application and cover letter, needs to show them your copywriting and sales skills.
Make every word work.
Everyone is different, but my objective in my cover letter is to get them to have a phone call with me.
I know if I can get them on the phone, and they’re serious, my chances of nailing the job go up 500%. Why? Because it gives me the chance to be the ‘sage on the stage’ during the phone call.
Oh, and something I learned a long time ago that I would recommend you keep in mind on the phone call: spend more time asking questions than answering them. And it’s also a good idea to answer a question with one of your own.
Use smart, penetrating questions to get to the heart of the need and talk to those points.
And, as I said, this first job has the potential to lead to a lot more work.
My man has a successful SEO company in the US. He’s hired me to go over a free 20-page report he gives away on his site. He feels it could be doing better and wants a pair of outside eyes to critique it for him.
I consider myself a pretty good judge of character, and I’m convinced this guy’s the real deal.
He let me know that the kinds of clients he works with often need the kinds of copywriting and marketing services I can provide.
I have no doubt that if I give him a positive experience out of the box on this first job, he’ll turn out to be a great long-term partner. My goal on any assignment is to do a first-class job and open the door to more assignments.
I hope this has been helpful to anyone considering using oDesk, Elance and the like.
If I can answer any questions, please feel free to ask.