How to Get Copywriting Jobs on oDesk

19 replies
I’ve not yet reached the stage in my copywriting business that I have mega-marketers knocking on my door, begging me to create their killer copy and all the financial rewards that come with it.

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.

Do it.

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.
#copywriting #jobs #odesk
  • Profile picture of the author John_S
    I just pulled in my first job.
    That line pretty much answers any questions.
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    Let's appreciate what lometogo just did.

    1. He beat out probably 20 to 50 other applicants for a small high-quality project on oDesk. Even if you have the goods, it's no easy feat.

    2. He did it within just a few days of signing up on oDesk.

    3. He did it with NO STARS by his name. Meaning no track record, no credibility.

    If you were a new copywriter looking for high quality work and Clients, wouldn't YOU want to know how he did it?

    He just shared.

    - Rick Duris

    PS: Now the question is: Can he do it again?

    My bet's on him.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    Originally Posted by lometogo View Post

    I’ve not yet reached the stage in my copywriting business that I have mega-marketers knocking on my door, begging me to create their killer copy and all the financial rewards that come with it.

    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 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.
    I find that your post is helpful, but as indicated above you
    shot yourself in the foot by indicating that this was your
    FIRST job.

    It's apparent that you are excited about this and I can relate
    BUT you have a few misconceptions that early beginners
    make and clients take advantage of.

    If a client promises me more jobs if I do a great job on the
    first gig, that's a RED FLAG! They are trying to get your
    work for CHEAP.

    It is obvious if you make money from my copy that you'll
    hire me again--you don't have to tell me that EXCEPT
    you think I'm so gullible. So watch out for those big
    promises because 99.99% of the time they don't work
    out.

    -Ray Edwards
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    • Profile picture of the author DougHughes
      Originally Posted by Raydal View Post


      If a client promises me more jobs if I do a great job on the
      first gig, that's a RED FLAG! They are trying to get your
      work for CHEAP.

      It is obvious if you make money from my copy that you'll
      hire me again--you don't have to tell me that EXCEPT
      you think I'm so gullible. So watch out for those big
      promises because 99.99% of the time they don't work
      out.

      -Ray Edwards
      Ditto what Raydal said. Don't ever do work on the promise of more work. I find these are some of the worst clients. Clients with money to spend will pay you, and if you serve them well, they'll be back.

      All the negative stuff about Odesk though, fine, let people think what they want. Stick to your guns on pricing and Odesk can deliver some great clients.

      Not everyone on Odesk is a bottom feeder. I've hooked up three equity shares from people who came to me through Odesk. Has this been worth my while? Hmmm? I like residual income, and if you're willing to pay my rates and give me points, and you have a good product, offer, let's figure it out. Yes, Odesk has made me a LOT of money.

      Really, all it takes is a few good clients willing to cut you in with a revshare deal. If you've got the skills, the balls, and the cushion to see it through you can hit paydirt in dozens of ways there. It's also a great place to meet people doing the same thing you are.

      Congrats man, and good luck.
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    • Profile picture of the author lometogo
      Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

      I find that your post is helpful, but as indicated above you
      shot yourself in the foot by indicating that this was your
      FIRST job.

      It's apparent that you are excited about this and I can relate
      BUT you have a few misconceptions that early beginners
      make and clients take advantage of.

      If a client promises me more jobs if I do a great job on the
      first gig, that's a RED FLAG! They are trying to get your
      work for CHEAP.
      .......
      So watch out for those big
      promises because 99.99% of the time they don't work
      out.

      -Ray Edwards
      Ray, with all due respect, you might want to go back and re-read what I wrote. Show me the word "promise" anywhere in my copy.

      I simply stated my read on this guy, and I stand by it.

      And, if you and what's his name in the post above feel I "shot myself in the foot" because I stated it was my first assignment, so be it.

      Thank the minor gods this forum has a fair number of folks who'd rather encourage than criticize.

      All the best.
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      • Profile picture of the author Raydal
        Originally Posted by lometogo View Post

        Ray, with all due respect, you might want to go back and re-read what I wrote. Show me the word "promise" anywhere in my copy.

        I simply stated my read on this guy, and I stand by it.

        And, if you and what's his name in the post above feel I "shot myself in the foot" because I stated it was my first assignment, so be it.

        Thank the minor gods this forum has a fair number of folks who'd rather encourage than criticize.

        All the best.
        I guess you missed the BOLD in my statement and the
        but I've been training copywriters for 5 years now and
        was trying to help you--that's all.

        All I was saying about shooting yourself in the foot is that
        giving advice in a subject and indicating that this was
        your first experience is a direct conflict.

        I'm not a "god", just been doing this business for 10 years
        and know a few things about it.

        Sorry if you didn't find my post "encouraging".

        -Ray Edwards
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        The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
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        • Profile picture of the author effectivesite
          I've hired quite a few copywriters on oDesk.

          What set them apart for me is that they actually wrote up a sample article for one of my topics (posted in the description).

          It showed initiative from them and that they're genuinely interested.
          This probably works better for niche content though since otherwise I would have accepted any samples.

          It's amazing how many people applied for the jobs with terrible sample articles though.
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          • Profile picture of the author Dean Jackson
            Article writers are different from "copywriters". There's a nice article at the top of this forum

            Dean

            Originally Posted by effectivesite View Post

            I've hired quite a few copywriters on oDesk.

            What set them apart for me is that they actually wrote up a sample article for one of my topics (posted in the description).

            It showed initiative from them and that they're genuinely interested.
            This probably works better for niche content though since otherwise I would have accepted any samples.

            It's amazing how many people applied for the jobs with terrible sample articles though.
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          • Profile picture of the author briancassingena
            Originally Posted by effectivesite View Post

            I've hired quite a few copywriters on oDesk.

            What set them apart for me is that they actually wrote up a sample article for one of my topics (posted in the description).

            It showed initiative from them and that they're genuinely interested.
            This probably works better for niche content though since otherwise I would have accepted any samples.

            It's amazing how many people applied for the jobs with terrible sample articles though.
            Gah! Like Dean said, copywriters are NOT article writers.
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            • Profile picture of the author Rigmonkey
              With every respect to those who have mentioned or commented on these two points, but I always believe they can't be reinforced enough...

              I love it when I see people like the OP buzzing off of their achievements so firstly, a big 'well done' and I hope this serves as a platform for future success. However, I will point out that you're getting free advice here from individuals who have been there, done it and, in some cases, are very near the top of their fields.

              Ray is absolutely spot on when he claims that accepting assignments on the premise (a different thing altogether from a 'promise', but every bit as destructive) of securing more work in the future is a bad thing. Essentially, potential clients do this to 'close' you at the cheapest possible price. Most of us have done it. I certainly have, and I've learned never to do it again.

              The mark of a potentially great client is finding somebody who's willing to pay you your full worth at the first time of asking. It shows they're serious about their own business, and prepared to pay the right price for the work they need (irrespective of whether they want copy, articles or any other service). These clients are your REAL future, and there's plenty of them about. Indeed, they're growing in number all the time, so there's no need to ever sell yourself short. Seriously, but it's great advice, and I wish somebody had told me when I was starting out. Take it in the way it was meant.

              My second point is about sample articles. If you have pre-written samples in your portfolio to show your prospects the quality of your work, then make good use of them. Show them around and reap the benefits. But never, ever, ever bow to the demands of prospects who want free samples written to order (unless, for example, you're running a WSO with review copies to gain testimonials). Apologies in advance to the poster who's used this as a tactic to their advantage, but why should ANYBODY write for you for free?

              I used to work as a automotive paint sprayer. I've painted thousands of cars over the years and was actually pretty damn good at it. In all my years of painting cars, I never came across a potential customer who asked me to paint a car for free before deciding if they wanted to give me the rest of their work. If they had, they'd have received short shrift, and walked out of my workshop with a paint gun embedded in their backsides.

              Sure, you'll find writers who are willing to do this because they're desperate to secure work. But for every writer who secures a job on the back of requested sample, how many writers have lost valuable time compiling pieces without actually getting the gig (or, more importantly, getting paid)? If somebody wants a tailored sample, only provide them on a paid basis. Never, ever, ever do them for free. You've automatically undervalued your services, and left yourself wide open for being mugged off further down the line.

              Oh... A final word about Copywriters and Article Writers. It's very easy to differentiate between the two. Article writers are better looking and have girlfriends!
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              • Profile picture of the author Shadowflux
                Congrats OP, it's always great to land some new clients.

                The only thing is that $125 for copy is rather low for people who live in places like New York City. Not trying to criticize or anything but I think when people complain about freelancers working way too cheap it's this sort of thing. I think most people in America pay around $1,000 a month in rent (depends where you live, obviously) so $125 isn't really much.

                You said your monthly rent is about $250 in the Philippines, maybe I should move :p
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        • Profile picture of the author xpatflipper
          Hey Ray! I'm sure you meant well in your original comment. I tended to agree with you but I just noticed another post that he snared two more gigs. I'm soon to be jumping into the autoresponder business. That's where I want to go. I also happen to be in the Philippines. I'm hoping to talk to that that guy down in Dumaguete.

          Regards,
          Art
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    • Profile picture of the author xpatflipper
      I think it's 60-40 that you're right about that. I happen to be in Manila and I hope to chat with him later.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dean Jackson
    Lometogo, Ray wasn't criticizing you - he was simply pointing out the fact that the promises of more work from clients usually indicates that that they're happy to work with you... as long as you STAY CHEAP.

    I can bet you $10 you won't ever hear from this guy again if your prices go up.

    I congratulate you on your success. This is a great way to hone your skills and get up to speed on copywriting quickly, rather than just theorizing about it. But do be wary of clients who promise things like more work, connections, higher fees, etc...

    I have PM'd you something that you might find helpful as a thanks for actually doing something! It might also make it a little clearer what Ray was trying to get at.

    Dean
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    • Profile picture of the author lometogo
      Dean, Thanks so much. Great stuff.

      I appreciate yours and Ray's kind words. The only point I was making is that I never used the word PROMISE -- Ray did.

      I may be relatively new to copywriting but I've been in business a long time and have a well-honed BS detector.

      Thanks again for the PM, and happy trails.

      Lometogo
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  • Profile picture of the author dominicyordz
    I agree with what Raydal said. He had a good point. He was just trying to help.
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  • Profile picture of the author lometogo
    Update: I just landed jobs #2 and #3 in the past 48 hours. Thus far, have have won three jobs out of six applications.

    I only post this to give hope and encouragement to any newbies out there, like myself, who may wonder if it can be done.

    It can. You can.

    If you want to speak about specifics, feel free to PM me.

    Lometogo
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    • Profile picture of the author xpatflipper
      Whoaaa baby! Just saw this post. Great news and I hope to talk to you soon.

      art
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  • Profile picture of the author Blake King
    Great job lometogo!

    I'm in the process of deciding if I should use odesk/elance for my own new copywriting services. Either that or going the "positioning" route.

    Your post has certainly tilted me toward odesk. Thanks and good luck to you buddy.
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    "Over 2 months ago Keith Baxter referred Blake King to me for some copywriting projects. Blake's copy skills are on another level. Our open rates and conversions have both doubled. I'll continue to use Blake on multiple projects in the near future." - Armando Alejandro
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