Daniel Dipiazza – Contributor at Business Insider
When people ask me what the best ways to make money are, sometimes I laugh.
Not because the question is stupid, but because, well, there really is no “right” answer.
The truth is that almost anythingcan make money.
But first, you have to change your mindset.
You must start viewing your skills and experiences as bankable, valuable resources with paying for.
You (yes, you) can help someone with skills and knowledge that you already have.
The easiest way to do this is by freelancing.
All that being said … I have good news and bad news for you.
The good news: There are several online freelance marketplaces like Elance and oDesk that allow you to offer your services, get clients, and start making money quickly, even if you’re a complete beginner.
The bad news: These freelance marketplaces can be extremely competitive and overwhelming. If you don’t know what you’re doing, the competition can be very intimidating.
But don’t let that discourage you.
Today, I’m going to show you the simple “hack” I used to make over $23,000 on Elance in four weeks designing simple WordPress websites.
(Note: the strategies here apply for any freelance skill, not just web design.)
If you stick around until the end, I’ll also give you some tools to help you get an even bigger jump on the competition.
Step 1: Use sneaky research on your competition
Before you start, you’ll need to know what exactly you’re getting yourself into.
Specifically, you need to know:
- Exactly what strategies your successful competitors use to stand out in the crowd
- How you can completely obliterate them by being ridiculously over-prepared
To find the answers to these questions for myself, I posted a fake job to see what types of responses I would get. I recommend you do the same!
Here’s what I posted on Elance:
My goal was to attract my competitors and see what types of proposals they sent me — then use that knowledge against them.
One note here: It’s not really necessary for you to post a fake job like I did in order to get good results. The big idea here is to show you what happens when you actually test your process and then act on those results.
Here’s what I learned with the results from my test …
Step 2: Analyzing the results
Within 30 minutes, I received almost 100 proposals — and I learned two very valuable insights:
- Over half of the applicants to my job were non-native English speakers.
- Most people were submitting “canned” proposals without any personalization.
Once I figured these critical pieces of info out, I knew I had a unique angle. Why?
Well, most people hiring freelancers are from the US/UK — which means that oftentimes, there’s a language barrier. People are always more comfortable communicating in their native language.
And because of this language barrier, most proposals were very dry and uninteresting.
Here’s one that I received …
See what I mean? What a snooze.
You can do much better. Here’s how …
Step 3: How to stand out and start booking jobs
To stand out against a sea of freelancers, you have to show that you understand your potential client and provide them with a reason to give your proposal a second look. Your approach should feel warm, engaging, and above all, personalized.
Nobody wants to feel like they’re #573 for the day.
Research your prospective client’s profile beforehand and look for these details:
- Purchase history — Do they regularly hire on Elance? If so, this is a good sign that they are serious.
- Feedback history — What type of feedback do they have for freelancers they’ve hired in the past. What have they liked/disliked?
- Personal details — Name, interests, location, etc. Anything you might be able to relate to and build some rapport.
The knockout punch: video “mini-pitches”
Once you’ve rounded up all this information, use it to create a short “mini-pitch” with an unlisted YouTube video.
Your “mini-pitch” should:
- Be 90 seconds or less
- Introduce you and give a very brief background
- Tell them why you like their specific project (so they know you actually read it)
- Offer a simple “call to action” to get in touch with you
Bonus: if you can include some relevant personal details that you have in common, it helps.
From there, the process is simple. Rather than sending a regular proposal like everyone else, just send them a quick message with a link to your custom video.
This method works SHOCKINGLY well because it differentiates you from the crowd and shows that you truly care about what they’re working on.
You can’t fake that.
Get the exact videos and scripts I used to make $23,700 in 4 weeks
At this point, you’re probably wondering what this approach actually looks like in REAL life.
I put together an extended guide on “Hacking Elance” that includes:
- The exact scripts and screenshots I used to book jobs and negotiate with clients
- Real “mini-pitch” videos I sent that resulted in thousands of dollars
- The biggest mistakes people make when trying this approach (and how you can avoid them)
- A checklist for dealing with common client objections
Daniel DiPiazza is the Founder of Rich20Something, where he writes about starting a business you care about, living a happier life, and occasionally, bacon. If you liked this article, be sure to join the Tribe by signing up for his free newsletter.