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Well, walking into a terrain you're not used to and trying to steal a sale or two from sellers who have already built a home there and learnt all the tricks may be a little difficult.
But it is not impossible!
After all, the top sellers in each of those platforms also started as newbies. They also struggled; they learnt the tricks and now they're comfortably seated at the top.
So, you also can take your time, learn the tricks and before long you'll land that first sale that will open the door to many others.
Like I said earlier, there are tricks to making your first and subsequent sales as a freelancer. I'm not talking about dodgy, dirty tricks or tricks to beat the system. If that's what you're looking for, I'm sorry I can't help you. Those kinds of tricks may fetch you little success, but they don't last. When they are detected and flushed, you're taken back to a level you may never rise from again.
There's a reason the top sellers you know are there and there for long. They're not trying to beat the system. They simple do the right things. They position themselves well and maximize opportunities.
This is what Sean did when he first signed up at 99designs - a freelance platform for designers. He first went to the community section and clicked through almost every topic that had some form of help or another for a newbie. From profile and portfolio building tips to webinars.
Platforms that have forums, communities and blogs that allow comments are the very best.
Sean quickly learnt all the tricks he could before building his profile. Then he read more on design tips and how to enter contests and then he went over to ‘open contests' to see the kind of work that other designers submitted.
After seeing some designs, he was convinced he needed to brush up on his skills. He went back to his lessons, read more and practiced a little more. Then he read more success stories from the community section. Those stories got him inspired.
Sean didn't win the first eight contests he entered, but he won the 9th and that swelled his account by $135.
Even after you've learnt the tricks, you need a little patience. Janice, a WordPress developer, did not get any job on oDesk until she was 3 months old on the platform. She didn't give up, she kept learning, tweaking and improving until she got her first.
She spent some time asking questions about how to write a cover letter that converts. She learnt from experts and it paid off for her. Now, her cover letter converts at 18%, which is not bad at all. That brings us to the next point.
Your cover letter or custom offer or whatever it is called on the platform you use is a very important tool. Every new freelancer needs to understand how to use this tool to make his/her first sale and more.
Janice shares that one of the most important elements within a cover letter is telling the prospective buyer/employer how you intend to solve his/her problem. She advised against starting your cover letter with a long mention of your experience.
"It helps sometimes," she said, "to find sellers that catch your fancy and research them. Then start your letter with what you like about what they do."
That way, you're showing them some respect, which they, more often than not, like to return.
She also shared the following:
Don't make your cover letter sound like a mass email. Concentrate on the employer's current, specific task. Summarize the task in your letter, so they have the idea that you're both on the same page. Every employer needs to be sure that you understand their project before they even look at anything else on your cover letter.
Next, make a rough recommendation of how the project can be completed. Give one or two suggestions. A lot of employers say they're open to suggestions. That's to show you they value suggestions and recommendations.
Now that you have the employer's attention, you may then talk about how you successfully handled similar projects in the past - your experience.
Your rate is not as important in a cover letter as your ability to catch the project owner's attention. Once you can do that, he/she can pay you whatever you quote because they now have confidence in your service.
End your cover letter with a call to action. It works! Pretend you have been given the job, what would be your first question to your employer? Ask that question at the end of the letter. Such questions prompt them to respond. Then you may close the deal from there.
So, if you're yet to land your first task from freelancing, be patient, learn the tricks and write cover letters/offers that convert. Your first sale is not far away.
Image Credits: freepik