How to Get Better Elance Jobs and Avoid Bad Customers

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Few minutes ago I published an article entitled Cheaplance or What’s Wrong with the New Elance?. While this sounds really ‘final’, I love doing Elance jobs and still recommend this web site for any aspiring freelancer. You can also read an article detailing how you can start your career there and be successful.

So, after detailing my main ‘issues’ with how the marketplace is working today, let’s do something more useful and ‘productive’ by detailing how you can avoid those ‘nasty’ clients and get more jobs for your bids.


How it all works

Before we start: if you’re a freelancer, you will ‘bid’ for various Elance jobs posted by clients. Some have a long standing there and a good reputation, while some might be troublemakers and we clearly don’t want to have anything to deal with them.

The main ‘problem’ with bidding is that it costs you at least one ‘connect‘ (50 cents). You have at least 40 in your monthly membership (even free ones), so, by doing some clever bidding, you don’t pay money. Sure, if you use up these connects, you need to get more.

What I love about the system is that it prevents people from blindly bidding at 1000 projects, just to ‘fish‘ for a client. Since it costs you money (or connects), you’re clearly more thoughtful with your bid. The downside is that, even if the job is not awarded, you don’t get back the connect, unless the client cancels it. Most of them don’t know or don’t care and, as you can guess, Elance have no interest advertising this too much.


How do we find the best Elance Jobs and ditch the troublemakers?

As a freelancer there you have your own portfolio, with your presentation, past work and the feedback your clients provided you. Based on these details you’ll probably get invited to some Elance jobs and, clearly, this info is what the client takes into account when deciding to award you the job.

The fun part is that, if you’re careful, you can actually see something about the client, before you make the bid. Let’s see the plan now:

1. DO LOOK at your potential client’s ‘record’

NEVER, let me repeat, NEVER, should you bid blindly for Elance jobs. Not only you’d probably waste time and connect on someone who’s probably not looking to hire anyone (just testing the waters or trying to get freelancers out of the system), but you might actually get to work with someone who has no idea that a great job needs a 5 star rating. So, beware and read their ‘portfolio’.

2. Issue no.1 – the client hasn’t verified any payment method

Sure, this is not a deal breaker, I had few clients who just joined Elance and started looking for talent to hire. After we started our project together I taught them how to verify a payment method and how to get the money in Escrow.

FAST TIP: Always be nice and helpful with your clients. Sure, it’s not your business that the client has no idea how to use the system, but, if you can help them with an advice, do so. They’ll be grateful.

Still in most cases the client is just ‘fishing’ for some prices and probably won’t bother hiring anyone. Which gets us to the next point:

3. The client has WAY TOO MANY Elance jobs that are not awarded

This is a huge RED FLAG for any freelancer who’s not willing to waste his connects for nothing. There are (quite many, I’d say) clients who open tens of possible projects and never bother award any of them. It’s their right to do so, since Elance don’t charge for this, but, in your case, this means wasting time crafting an unique proposition and wasting you connects (money) on a bid that won’t go anywhere.

If you have some connects just ‘sitting‘ there and can afford wasting them, by all means bid. If you do need to get some projects for fewer connects, then stay away from such clients who most likely won’t bother hire anyone.

For me this one is one of the biggest concerns when deciding to work with a client or now. Someone who has a small Elance jobs award rate won’t get my attention too soon.

4. The client doesn’t ‘know’ how to give a 5 star rating

When I was in school, there were few teachers who said that 10 (A+ for us) is just for the teacher, so they’d give what’s more like a B for an American for awesome work or test papers. Of course, we all love to see our teachers are pleased with our performance but grades do matter.

In a similar way there are people on Elance who are thrilled with the job one freelancer has provided and yet they don’t give a ‘clear’ 5 star rating. While having a pleased client is what we all strive for, that 5 star is really important for a freelancer who’s interested in getting some more Elance jobs.

Believe it or not most clients will look at the feedback and anything less than 5 stars might mean the freelancer won’t get hired or he’ll need to lowball the prices for the next few offers just to get some work.

It might sound mean, but I want my dang A+, so any client who’s clearly not willing to give anything more than a 4.8 is not on my list.

5. The client has given bad reputation (and I mean bad)

I have seen some pretty nasty ‘cat fights’ in the feedback section of some freelancers with very low ratings from disgruntled clients. In some cases the freelancer had an outstanding track record and one job that clearly went amiss.

My next move was to immediately look at the client’s ‘record’ and see if such mishaps are common for him or not. While I can understand there are projects that don’t go as expected and the negative feedback is deserved, if a client is routinely having ‘issues’ on the Elance jobs he’s managing, then I’d rather avoid being the next target of an unhappy ending.

6. The client seems rude from the job offer itself

There are some clients who just seem nasty from the moment they draft their job offer and for me this is already a red flag. My career as a web designer has meant dealing with some outstanding people from all over the world, but there were few who were close to being abusive. I get a sense when someone could mean trouble and simply reading their job offer can make me reconsider any work together.

So, read carefully the job presentation and the requirements since, someone who’s not willing to be nice when trying to hire you, won’t be too nice to work with (the majority of the cases anyway).

These are my main tips for any aspiring freelancer to get some great Elance jobs, not waste time/connects and dealing with the best clients that use the marketplace. What other tips would you add?

8 COMMENTS

  1. I had a bad experience with a disgruntled client. Even if I did everything by the book, the client still provided a poor feedback. It took me weeks and at least 5-6 more jobs to get to a better position and start attracting clients without having to work for pennies.

    • Sorry to hear about it, Donna. I had few ‘trouble’ clients in the past and chose to lose the money (canceled the job and didn’t get paid), than to get a bad feedback, just because the client is nasty. One of them was so abusive that I just let him go. Immediately I cleared the way for 3-4 other jobs and some terrific clients.

  2. These tips are literally life-savers! Thanks for sharing them. The world of freelancing is full of scammers, and as weird as it may sound, many of them come in the form of clients freelancers should learn how to avoid. If there’s something I’m most afraid of when working on freelance websites, it’s getting working for free or, even worse, get a bad rating!

  3. Dealing with anyone can be a headache. “Clients” that just want to fishare around for whatever reason probably don’t even care that freelancers are wasting money biding for their jobs that they know they won’t reward. We usually have articles written about how to find good freelancers but here is one about how to find good clients. Healthy business relationships is a must whether you are the client or freelancer. Otherwise, how will things get done?

  4. The first thing on your list happened to me once 🙁
    I’ve done some work for someone who, instead of giving me a 5 star rating, gave me a 4.5 !! And had the nerve to tell me that I am awesome and he would appreciate it if we could work together long term because he just loves my work. I immediately refused. If I’m so great, why did he give me a 4.5 ? Luckily this didn’t affect me much..

  5. I am so very new to this, I barely understand what an Elance / Upwork connect really is! LOL! But nevertheless, thank you very much for writing about the ‘don’ts’, it really helps newbies like me understand how the Upwork system works.

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