Many writers are artists, content to starve and struggle while they write the great American novel. I say, “More power to them” while simultaneously saying, “No thank you” as it pertains to my own career. Luckily for people like me, there are resources that can help you be a creative artist without all the starving and angst.
I decided a while ago that I was ready to get serious about my career. No longer was I content to submit essays to contests and hope for the best. No, I had decided that if I was going to be hired as a writer, I’d best get my shingle hung. So at that time I had two options: Elance or Odesk.
I chose Elance. Why? Simple, I went in alphabetical order. But clever decision-making process aside, I am happy that I did. This site is a great way to get experience in writing professionally by connecting you with people who want to hire professional writers. Personally, I have made several connections along the way and learned a lot about the business of writing. You won’t have the same arduous decision-making process that I did, however, as the two sites have merged.
You should become a premium member. It’s a cheap investment and makes a big difference in where your proposals are listed. But if you really don’t want to invest any money per month, you can set up a free profile.
Elance.com makes it easy to hang your writer’s shingle. When I say easy, I don’t mean that it isn’t time-consuming or that it doesn’t take a certain amount of discipline. I just mean that they outline the process for you pretty well of what your shingle should include if you want their clients to hire you. Here is where you can find mine.
Here’s what your Elance Profile should include:
- A photo that you have verified. This lets people know you are who you say you are. It’s a little bit of a bizarre process where someone calls you on Skype that you can’t see and says, “Okay, thanks.”
- Put up your education and have it verified. This again just assures people that are hiring you that you are who you say you are.
- A complete profile. Yes, it takes a while and in my case, I wasn’t entirely organized for making an online profile. But I did it and it’s important to both Elance rankings and clients’ perception of you.
- Take the skills tests. I’m not gonna lie…the tests are not easy. In fact, I failed the Native English Speaker’s test – and it’s the only language I speak! I also just reviewed my profile and saw that I could definitely use a few more tests.
- Put up samples. The portfolio gives you a chance to show off what you can do. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of stuff here at first. Just put up what you think best represents your work.
Once you have a profile complete, skills tests taken, and everything else, you are ready to start applying for jobs.
The great thing about Elance, beside the fact that it is a huge contributor to the growth of my business over the past year, is that you can pick and choose what type of project that you want to pursue and more importantly, what you would rather not.
For example, I get a lot of blogging work (because these days, who doesn’t?). So when I go out on Elance, I never apply for blogging work. Besides way too many writers are willing to write 1000 words for $2 in some other country, so blogging isn’t exactly a money-maker. Instead I choose to pursue projects in fiction and children’s writing. As a result, I was contracted to write several projects of both. I look at it as a way to get paid to learn to write a certain style, which in my case is how to write a book.
Check out Elance.com. If you want to be a freelancer, it’s a great way to connect with people who want to hire freelancers. Is it going to derail your efforts to be a struggling (read: starving) artist? Probably. But is it going to help you earn money doing what you love to do best all while working on your writing skills? Absolutely.