How To Make Money On Elance – $1,593+ A Month Step By Step

  • James Johnson
  • Updated on Mar 19, 2024
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UPDATE: Elance is now called UpWork but it works the same way so take what you learn from this post and apply it in the same way!

Today I am going to show you how to make money on Elance by sharing the exact strategy I used to start making money on Elance myself.

 This enabled me to earn $1,593+ a month and live location free.
Unfortunately, the freelance world has been made, well, a little bit complicated!

There is a course, an eBook and a six figure freelance guide from every guru you can think of, all giving their advice on it.

And it’s turned Freelance living into a murky water where you never quite figure out what you’re supposed to do, without paying a $200 price tag first.

But that’s about to change.

Today I want to show you the simple, easy-to-follow method I used to build my freelance business, and springboard me into a world of location free living.

 All completely for free.

Because it’s time to clear the waters. Throw out all the guides and give some simple, effective information you can use right away.

If you’re ready, grab a pen and paper, and probably a hard hat, because some knowledge bombs are about to be dropped…

Get started now

How To Make Money On Elance

Elance (and it’s sister site, oDesk) is an online marketplace for freelancers, just like you and is the perfect answer to the question… How do I make money online?

how to make money on elance

Where you could be trawling the Internet looking for work, Elance puts the potential jobs right in front of you. You can find work in all of these niches:

  • Copywriting
  • IT and Technical
  • Virtual Assistance
  • Sales and Marketing

The jobs listed here aren’t going to make you a millionaire anytime soon.

Essentially people are looking for lower cost freelancers to get their work done well.

Which is why it’s often, unlovingly, referred to as a Content Mill. But that’s mostly by snobs without a thick skin.

But it does come with a lot of benefits:

  • Easy access to new work
  • A great way to build your portfolio
  • Trustworthy payment protection

It also gives you a quality essential for survival on any online project –  a thick skin.

So, ignore all the haters of Elance and let’s see what you can really get done on Elance…

Who Am I To Teach You About Making Money On Elance?

My name is James and I’m a full-time, location free Copywriter from England.

I quit my retail job last summer and decided to pursue writing as my new career. And, Elance is where I learned my craft.

In the three months I spent on Elance, using this strategy you’re about to learn, I managed to average $1,593 a month for a little over 80 hours work total.

 Which is a little better than my retail job, don’t you think?
making money on elance to quit my job

Although I did this in Copywriting, it can be done in any of the niches on the site.

And it’s so simple to do that once you’ve learned it here, you can use it to build your freelance business to even new heights.

Or, just use it to make some quick cash in a pinch, depending on what you feel like.

Step #1: The Foundations

A good profile can make or break you.

Because this is where potential employers decide if you’re trustworthy. Which, as anyone who has ever worked in sales will tell you,  trust is important.

So let’s look at some simple ways to build trust with your profile-

Your Headshot

You wont get work without a headshot. In the same way you wouldn’t accept a friend request off somebody without a picture.

It doesn’t need to be professional, but you do need to consider a few points:

  • It should be clear
  • You should look professional
  • Smile like your life depends on it

All of which comes together to create a trustworthy picture, like this one of my ugly mug-

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 09.40.53

Your Strapline

See where it says, ‘Expert Content Creator, Trojan Horse Thinker’? That’s your strap line.

Think of it as your first impression on clients.  You need to make a good first impression.

A little trick I like to use here is, Sell it in six.

If you had to sell yourself to someone in only six words, what would you say? When you can answer that, you’ve got the perfect strapline.

Here’s some idea’s to get the juices flowing:

  • Great writing that makes you money
  • Fast technical support, cheap rates available
  • Virtual Assistant so good you’ll cry

Your Bio

Think of this as your after pitch. Because nobody is going to see it unless you’ve already pitched to them.

Use this space to:

  • Show you’re a real human
  • Show your professional side
  • Give any information you left out of your pitch

Here’s what mine looks like to give you an idea.

But, do try writing one for yourself so you can learn how to do it.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 09.51.00

Sign Up For Premium

Becoming a premium member costs you $10 but you’ll make that back almost instantly.

It gives you:

  • More credits to apply for jobs
  • You rank higher in proposals
  • You’re viewed as more trustworthy, because you invested in yourself

So, when you’re presented with the opportunity, do it. You’ll not regret it.

That’s about everything you need to get started on Elance.

Once you have this foundation in place, it’s time to learn about the really fun stuff:

 Pitching and making money.

In short: Your profile is the first part you set up, but the last part the client reads. It should always add to what you said in your pitch. And it should show you as a real, trustworthy person they want to work with. Professional, Personal and to the point.

Step #2: Finding Your Niches

 Being niche is the best thing you can be when you’re working on Elance. Or, if you’re a freelancer in general.

Unlike a business, it pays to have multiple niches. Each one creating its own income stream at a different level to the rest.

It also means you’ll always be able to find a topic you enjoy – or are at least know enough to work on.

For example, as a copywriter I stick to these five niches:

  1. Internet Marketing
  2. Business and Freelancing
  3. Health and Fitness
  4. Men’s Lifestyle
  5. Personal Development

 So I only find work in these Niches. Anything else is a waste of my time. And, once you find these niches – like you will in a second – it becomes a powerful tool for productivity.

Because, all of a sudden, you stop looking at jobs that might pay well but don’t interest you. And you make the conscious decision to only find work in these niches.

Which, means you naturally filter out all of the other mess in the marketplace.

Neat, huh?

Let’s look at how you can find your own niches…

It Starts With One Simple Question

What do you like to do?

What would you do even if someone wasn’t going to pay you for it? What do you enjoy working, or being, around? What excites you?

Don’t censor yourself. Take a pen and paper, or open Evernote, and scribble down everything you can think of.

Then, of all of those, choose your top five. The ones you feel the most drawn to. And rank them highest, to lowest, in the order you want to do them.

If you wanted to work in Sales and Marketing, it might look like this:

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 12.40.53

It might sound a little ‘airy-fairy’, but trust me, the more you enjoy the topics, the more sustainable it is.

Keep The List Safe…

When you’ve got your list, you’re going to need to do two things:

  1. Put it somewhere you can see it
  2. Keep an editable version saved

This list is going to come in really handy when we look at the system of applying for jobs a little later on. Plus, it never hurts to keep a reminder of what you’re trying to achieve in view either.

Before you learn the system, it’s time to learn some tools that will boost your chance of getting jobs.

In short: You’re going to spend a lot of time looking for, and working in, these niches. Especially if you want to hit that $1,600+ mark. Make sure they’re topics you’re knowledgeable about, but that you also want to work in. Because if they’re not, you’re setting yourself up for a fall.

Step #3: Social Proof, Guest Posting, Feedback & Your Portfolio

Potential employers are naturally cautious of people.

Because between you, me and the four walls – not everyone on the Internet is as honest and hardworking as us. Go figure, right?

You’ve already looked at building trust in your profile. But the truth is, people are sheep. They don’t always want to be the first. They want to know the water has been tested.

 Enter the power of social proof.
Social proof is by far the best way of gaining someone’s trust. Especially if you have a big name behind you.

Picture this:

You want to hire a copywriter for your new blog. You’ve narrowed it down to two people.

Candidate A has a great writing style, that you really like, but hasn’t ever been published anywhere.

Candidate B has a good writing style, you don’t like it as much, but he also sends along this graphic of places he’s been published, with links:

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 12.58.37

Which candidate do you choose?

It’s almost definitely Candidate B. Because you’re taking on much less risk.

But, how does that help you if you don’t have social proof? If you’re starting completely from scratch.

Here’s what you do if you’re in that situation:

Start By Getting Guest Posts or Testimonials

If you’re a writer, having someone else use your writing is powerful.

Now I can tell people I’ve been featured on Matt’s blog for example…

 It’s going to add a lot of credibility to me.
So go out and get guest posts. Try and get featured on the lower-end blogs in your niches, or ask a friend to let you do the copy for their website.

If you’re not a writer, testimonials are the way to go.

Chances are you’ve done the work for someone, somewhere, in some form. So get a testimonial from them and a link to their website, e-mail or relevant contact details.

If someone says…

“This guy is amazing at coding, I can’t recommend him enough”

It adds a ton of weight behind you.

Get Elance Feedback

Feedback is a powerful currency on Elance. For every job you do you get a star rating. Which helps the cream of the crop, like you, rise to the top.

Anything over four stars is where you want to be. Because sometimes people are picky and will fault you over a misplaced comma. So there is room to manoeuvre.

I once got a four star review that said, ‘James is the best health and fitness writer I have ever worked with’, to put that into perspective.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 13.20.21

But how do you get this feedback without social proof to get the job?  You ask for it.

When you’re pitching – which you’ll learn in the next step – you offer to swap time for feedback. Such as writing a sample article in return for a five star review.

It might sound a little underhanded, but it’s predatory thinking, and it’s going to get your foot on the ladder to making an income. Sometimes, you’ve got to be ruthless.

Make Your Own Portfolio

Start a project. Measure your results. Use it to sell yourself.

Think along these lines:

  • Create a ‘list’ blog post about one of your favourite niches
  • Start a social media campaign for your friends blog or business
  • Do a weeks free Virtual Assistance and measure how you improved productivity

Anything that is tangible and shows the benefits of working with you on their next project.

In short: People trust other people. That’s why reviews are so powerful. Give your potential client a reason to trust you. Get published somewhere, have good feedback and showcase your skills in a portfolio, even if you have to make it up yourself. It may be an investment of time, but it could return a lot of money.

Step #4: Learning To Pitch

Life’s a pitch.

 And this is the most important stage of earning your money on Elance.
Because, if your pitch is weak, you’re not going to get any.

It really is that simple.

But, thankfully, I’ve written enough failed pitches to show you what you should and shouldn’t be doing when it comes to contacting a potential client.

Let’s break it down into its elements so you can piece it together as you go along.

RTBQ: Read The Bloody Question

When you find a position you want to apply for, they’re going to have a job description outline what they’re looking for.

Make sure you read it. Twice. Because the more you can provide what they’re looking for, the better your chances.

And, occasionally, they’ll drop in sections like this:

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 13.59.11

If you miss out anything on the list, you’re out of luck before you even start.

 So read the page and make sure you’ve not missed any important information.

Part #1: The Introduction

With your introduction you want to:

  • Get their attention
  • Keep it
  • Prove your worth

A little bit like this…

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 13.50.17

Don’t worry about any of the niceties or sparking up a conversation. You’re working on the assumption that their e-mail inbox is full.

Cut through the fluff and get straight to the why they should hire you.


  • Who you are
  • Why you’re pitching
  • Why they should care

And you’ve got a good foundation for any pitch.

Part #2: Why You’re The Right Person For The Job

Once you have introduced yourself explain why you’re the right person for them to hire.

Don’t focus on the features of your service, focus on the benefits of working with you.

Do you…

  • Increase productivity?
  • Engage their audience?
  • Boost social shares?
  • Keep valuable documents safe?

Anything that gives them a real desire to work with you, and sets you apart from the other people pitching.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 13.56.08

Part #3: Social Proof and Portfolio’s

You want to make your potential clients life as easy as possible. Which means putting all the information you can in front of them, in the shortest space possible.

Adding your social proof into this next section does that perfectly.

Sharing links to your published work, or even to your portfolio samples in a Dropbox folder, makes it all more accessible and powerful to your client.

Lay it out, simply, like this:

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 14.14.12

Part #4: Share Your Story, Then Finish Strong

I don’t think I’ve used the word trust enough in this article, have I? Maybe I have. But I’m going to say it again.

This is another opportunity to build trust and prove you’re a real person. Share a little bit about yourself, your background and who it is they’ll be working with.

 Then finish strong with a confident close-out.
Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 15.09.43

Bonus Part: Asking For Feedback

All of the above is how to pitch for work. But, if you’re asking for feedback in return for your time, you need to approach this slightly differently.

Not much though.

In Part #2 – Why you’re the right person for the job – simply replace that with a simple message like this:

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 15.15.32

In Short: Pitching is vital to your success on Elance. It’s the start of you earning money and landing jobs. Remember these key points: keep it short, be clear, make their lives easier, focus on your benefits and stay confident. The rest will take care of itself.

Step #5: The Most Simple System In The World For Building A Freelance Business

Phew! You made it this far into the article. Well done. Hopefully you’re still with the program…

You’ve made it to the most simple, yet effective, business model of all time. How do I know it’s so simple? Because, well, it works for me.

And I’m the king of,  ‘Keep it simple, stupid!’.

All you need to make this business model work on Elance is:

  • A piece of paper
  • A pen
  • The ability to write a tally chart
  • Your list of niches

Yeah, it really is that simple.

You’re going to split your page into three different columns:

  1. Jobs Applied For
  2. Responses Received
  3. Guaranteed Work

So it looks a little something like this…


Then, whenever you apply for a job, you simply put another line on the tally chart:


And when you get a response:


And when you get some guaranteed work:


Why Do You Do That, Exactly?

Because now you know how many jobs you need to apply for to make money. How?

Let’s say you apply for ten jobs. From those applications you get two responses. But it takes you four responses to get one piece of work.

How many applications do you need to make?

That’s right, 20.

Once you know that information, you’re able to figure out how much you need to guarantee yourself some work.

If you needed four new clients tomorrow, you would apply for 60 jobs today. Not that you need to go to that extreme though.

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Where Do The Niches Come Into It?

Ahh yes, the niche list. Well that’s your guide through the world of looking for jobs, and identifying the ones you want to do.

When you first come to the ‘Find Work’ page on Elance, it will look a little like this:

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 15.41.57

A heaped mess of jobs you don’t want to do. Now you’re going to use your niches to guide yourself through it.

Let’s say you set yourself a target of applying for six jobs today. And your number one niche is Technology Writing.

You would select ‘writing and translation’ from the sidebar, and then search, ‘Technology’.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 15.44.23

The world of job searching simplified.

But, what if you can’t find six jobs you want to apply for in Technology? Well that’s where the list comes in again.

You just work down to the next section on your list. And so on, and so on, until you’ve filled your quota.

 Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Everyday.
Simple, right?

A Quick Note On Setting Your Price…

There is no right price to set for yourself.

Only the price you feel comfortable charging. Because, if you don’t feel honest in your price, you won’t ever actually get paid it anyway.

But I made my whole first $1,593 charging between $20-30 per hour, and charging in bulk on bigger items (like a 10,000 word eBook for $700) for example.

You’ll find a place that suits you.

 But remember to value your time, because you’re worth much more than $5 an hour.

Wrapping It Up

In this article is everything you need to know to start your own freelance business with Elance and start earning serious money from it.

The more you follow this system, the easier it gets. The easier it gets, the more money you start to make.

And that brings me to a challenge I want to make to you now you understand how to make money on elance.

 Can you beat $1,593 in a month, using this system?
I want to see you try. I want to see you succeed. And I want to see you break the mould.

Do you think you can do it?

If you have any questions about making money on elance or just need help? Let me know in the comments below…

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What Are Your Thoughts?

99 Responses

  1. Thanks for the tips an detailed guide James!I have been working as a freelancer on numerous Niche based freelance portals like SEOclerks, contentmart, etc..I used to fear working with elance as there are thousand of expert freelancer with their portfolio ans star ratings, reviews and all.But your guide is gibing me a boost again and hope i will start making money on elance too. 🙂

  2. Hello,I’m getting the projects from different sources, but many of the new clients are asking about the Elance profile reviews. I tried to learn from online, but I was unable to understand clearly.I really thankful to this clear setp-by-step post which cleared all my doubts on Elance.

  3. If anyone is looking into freelancing then this is a perfect guide to start. Sounds like a pretty sweet business model. Thanks for the post!I really loved the post and going to try Elance for sure..

  4. Hi,I just setup my account on UpWork. I have been trying hard to get my first order but people always through a lesser price and win the project. I haven’t completed any project on the platform so don’t have anything to showcase as a portfolio and also don’t have reviews as well. Any strategy for that?

    1. For the first few jobs you are going to have to under price yourself to get that initial feedback, remember – once you have a direct relationship with a client, you will have them for life 🙂

  5. Thanks for sharing the step-by-step process. A really helpful, then you need to be patient to be earning well from Elance. With a proper strategy and focus you can make it your full time source of income

    1. Yeah you can 🙂 But as with building any business, it takes a lot of time and effort to get started!

  6. Personally I started in sites like Elance as a Freelance writer.After I starved (yes, you read that right) I decided I was gonna try make some money out of writing something. It worked. A lot. Thank GOD for that =)But since I am a very focused man on achieving my best, becoming the best and being among the best, I am pitching REAL clients now like companies and big blogs with projects that have a good budget.We all, SERIOUS FREELANCERS that see their work as a business, need to show a huge amount of quality so we can get good payments, and that is my goal. Quality work, quality clients, quality projectsMy starting point was Workana.But now, this is just an arm of my writing jobs. I want to be among the lists of top freelancers of top companies.That’s my final goal.PS: A-W-E-S-O-M-E post!!RegardsPeterson

    1. In this article is everything you need to know to start your own freelance business with Elance and start earning serious money from it.The more you follow this system, the easier it gets. The easier it gets, the more money you start to make.

  7. hii Matthew, I am new on freelancer sites both Odesk and Elance.But i have gain so much things from this post and i will apply all these things on my freelancer carrer too.Thanks for this.

  8. Then perhaps you would be willing to share your own knowledge and experience with the audience in a step by step manner? I have never worked on eLance personally so this is a weakness in my knowledge

  9. That was inspirational 😀 Will start working on this next month because I need to wait to switch up my Elance account :/ Also, do you recommend sticking with a single platform or you can do it on multiple as well? Like

  10. Most of the points within the article are already discussed. If we type “how to make $$$ from elance” or “how much can you make on elance” on Google, you’ll find plenty valuable tips (or even better). When I came here, I expected to see steps which the writer have taken which would have made him $1500+ in a limited time duration. As a freelancer myself, I have even better strategies and I have made $14,261 in January 2015 by doing freelance writing <<< this is an extremely competitive niche because every ol' nigga thinks s/he can write!The point is, I was not over blown by the figure (it's a great SEM strategy to add a figure in a title), I expected to see steps which would have slowly and gradually led the writer to earn this much. In short, I didn't see the steps but I did see how he manages to behave like a professional when he takes projects and the marketing strategies that he applies. I mean, ofcourse, he should.By steps I mean, like for example, going creative with the cover letters, starting to learn a new skill and then taking projects accordingly, bonding with prospective clients through social media (the softsell) and then introduce them to Elance or oDesk.The article itself is good but when I come to, I expect to be provided 'specific' steps which lead to the outcome. Not how do I behave as a gentleman while working on my projects. I open EVERY e-mail you send to me. I will buy anything in a heartbeat – if you recommend it BUT this piece was yet another generic piece to grab attention – nothing else.

  11. I do still do some freelance writing, but it’s slowly becoming a smaller part of my business.I love helping clients grow their businesses. So for me that’s content marketing and SEO. But I’m also about to launch my first info-product, set up a sales funnel, and scale the business that way.Then it’s travel time!Couldn’t be happier 🙂

  12. Hey,I’m sorry you didn’t see any value in this post! You can’t please all the people all of the time, right? But, maybe in future you should be up front about what you do want to see. Or, start your own blog where you control what goes online.

  13. I’m with Matt on this one, Mike.There is a lot of competition on Elance, for sure. But, equally, there are lots of people looking for *quality* work too. I’ve had people follow this system and get similar, if not better, results. So it comes down to how you approach your work, and what you do to make yourself stand out.It’s never about the cost. It’s always about how you justify it.

  14. Hi It is going good and I am making good amount of cash from Fiverr :)Even right now I am enjoying my work on Fiverr 😀

  15. I like the way you collected stat about how many jobs you need to apply to get the guaranteed work. This will vary from person to person and depends on your applying skill.I mostly work freelance on oDesk, very few on Elance. Elance gave me most of the problem with money transaction. Anyway, these companies are merged together now. Unlike the; they are now the biggest market trend.Thanks for the nice post.

  16. I think there will always be people that would prefer to work with local developers.Personally as a designer, I am always on the lookout for copywriters, seo’s and developers. I usually start by looking in my home country. It’s never cheap but I get fantastic results and a team I can trust to deliver quality work. My own story with hiring in India is that the quality of work isn’t always great and it can take alot of back and forth and fixes until you get the result you want.I charge by the hour and have had no problem finding clients at £50 plus per hour for maintenance services. Agencies charge a lot more.

    1. Yeah I have had similar problems with Indian outsourcers and while I don’t want to tarnish everyone with the same brush I have never had a good experience with workers based out of India and always turn to the Phillipines for those kind of tasks.

  17. I mean the continued stream of positive feedback from people that don’t feel the need to hide behind anonymity to share their thoughts.What articles would you like to see as its clear you know what you don’t want to see, point me in the right direction.

  18. I also do a similar thing as a service provider, you can control a lot of things with your price – such as client quality. In my experience the lower paying clients are the ones that are the most difficult to work with. It works both ways.

  19. Each time I hire on Elance I never look for low bidding freelancers.I look for:- Quality- Better chances to get the job done properlyAnd I can tell I never went for the low cost guys, no matter where they come from. I doubt any of them would deliver the quality I’m after.I feel it’s a poor judgement to say guys from Eastern Europe and Asia are to blame for anything bad happening. I would never judge people, especially when they come from countries where average monthly income can be as low as $260.You just need to stand out from the competition in other ways. If you can’t do it, I’d say you can only blame yourself.

  20. Great tips if you are writer and want to be a freelancer.What about if I am software developer and usually charge $60-$80 per hour for full time job and want to move to freelance livestyle? I heard senior people usually charge $120-$200 per hour for freelancing. How I can find clients like this in freelance? I don’t think it’s easy. Is there other services providing clients like this?Thanks,Yaro

    1. Hi,You do exactly the same thing as advised in this article except in the development arena. You still need to build your portfolio in a similar manner etc

    2. Hey Yaro,Like Matt has said, you just take the system and apply it to whatever arena you’re in. I currently use it with corporate blogs, to make $500 – $600 per blog post, away from Elance.James

  21. Elance is a great marketplace with great buyers.I have seen many great products got developed after getting people hired from such websites.Many people call me almost daily to make money online, so I always suggest them to try Elance and oDesk to find the work. But unfortunately most people fail to get their first job on these websites.Today onwards I am going to give them this link so that they can read the exact guide and increase the chances of their success.Thanks for revealing the big secrets.

  22. Oh, you mean all the people going ‘wow’ while looking for links?Oh I do apologise, I’ll head back to the real world now

  23. I’m very good at what I do — 19 years worth of experience in several online marketing/advertising areas — and I can still remember the last time I tried to get work and bid on about 35 or so projects trying to be very reasonable in my prices. (I live in America.) Needless to say, I did not get one of the projects. 10 years ago I would have probably gotten 7 of them. The Great Recession did not just affect America…

  24. That is entirely different in that the search market is not a competitive one, it is a monopolised one – watching the EU case closely on that as I believe it will set a precedent.But for example ‘losing weight’ is very competitive, but there is room for people to rise by competiting in sub niches such as ‘weight loss for gamers’ etc

  25. Hi James,Thanks for the article. I’ve got a practical question about how you organize your finances. Are you set up as a sole trader or do you pass everything through a company and pay yourself a dividend?

    1. Hey Daniel,I’m a Sole Trader. I’m based in the UK, so it works better for tax purposes for me 🙂

  26. Fortunately, I haven’t had to pitch for a job in the last 3 years but I think this post is a wonderful guideline to Elance. Thank you James – Bookmarking it incase I need it in the future

  27. As an employer on Elance & Odesk I can tell you that you’ve missed the most important part from your step by step instructions which is:Do a great job and keep to the deadline that you’ve promised. I’ve had so many applications that look great on paper with great reviews but they’ve just failed to deliver on their promises.One of the copywriters that I’ve hired was 4 weeks behind schedule!

    1. Hey James,I guess when I wrote this – as someone who takes their job really seriously – I gave them the benefit of the doubt that they *would* be on the ball with their deadlines.But, you’re 100% right. Always respect your employer.

  28. This tutorial is terrific. I´ve been working on for a while and I know it´s a little hard to get use to the culture over there.What´s good about this tutorial is that it provides a systematic way for working as a freelancer.The one advise I can give to any other freelancer is to value your time. Your time is the most precious thing you have.Some people want to pay $5 the hour, and you´ll see tons of that, But I´ve seen that if you value your time appropriately, you might get less work, but you´ll earn way more and you´ll meet the best clients.

  29. This post is freaking amazing. Just one question how much harder is it to get freelancing jobs for non native speakers like me? Maybe I shouldn’t consider writing because of that, though on the flip side I remember reading an Indian freelance writer success story…

    1. Hey Liudas,I think, if you can *prove* the quality of your work – the language barrier doesn’t really stand in your way! There are also lots of tests you can take that show your skills too.Don’t let anything stand in your way – where there is a will, there is a way.

  30. Great post. I used Elance too. My approach from day 1 was about building up a portfolio. I learned a lot in the process and will now only bid/accept hourly jobs to cover the inevitable ‘scope creep’ factor.

  31. So the whole point of the article is to increase the hourly rate to $30, work for 50 hours to be able get $1593 in our account? Wow. This is simple maths. I was looking forward to learn something useful out of this piece. Hence, I didn’t.

    1. Hey Sana,I’ve got a feeling you missed the point here. This is about the process of building a freelance business on Elance, and *landing* those higher end jobs. What would you have liked to have seen in this article?

  32. Hey James,great article. I’m also doing freelance web development on Elance and I’m getting by. My friend and I working together, so whatever we charge, we actually split it in half. Hence why I’m now only looking for $300+ jobs.I think that your Elance location matters. I think people are skeptic when they see a guy from Bosnia asking for $500+ for a job. Or maybe I’m just being paranoid.Anyway, I wanted to ask: where’s the best place to reach you?

    1. Hey Stefan,Sorry for the slow reply here! I had the wrong date for this post to go live in my Calendar. Rookie mistake! You can get me at: jamesthinksthings [at] gmail [dot] com

  33. Thanks James. I read this post from beginning to end and I appreciate how you laid this out in a step by step process. It makes me feel as though earning through freelance work is something that could actually be attainable. It’s nice to know that there is work for people in any niche. This way we share and also learn more about topics that we like as we continue to build our knowledge base. I especially like step 4 which a great tip to get started. Reputation is everything. I have read a lot about guest posting recently and although it does require a little effort I can see here first hand how effective it can be.Keep up the great work. Enjoy the success and thanks again for sharing!Julie

    1. Hey Julie,I’m glad you enjoyed the article :)Freelance is always attainable – as long as you have a system to work to. If you go in blind, it takes twice, even three times as long. The process always wins the day.Guest Posting is, by far, the best reputation builder.

  34. Thanks James. I read this post from beginning to end and I really appreciate this how you laid this out in a step by step process. It makes me feel as though earning through freelance work is something that could actually be attainable. It’s nice to know that there is work for people in any niche. This way we share and also learn more about topics that we like making our knowledge base stronger in the process. I especially like step 4 which a great tip to get started. Reputation is everything. I have read a lot about guest posting recently and although it does require a little effort I can see here first hand how effective it can be.Keep up the great work. Enjoy the success and thanks again for sharing!Julie

  35. Great guide James.Wish I had read something like this 7 months ago when I was trying to make it as a freelance writer :).It really is all about showing people what you can do. Then, showing them that other people value what you can do.Congrats on the success.

    1. Hey Michael,Thanks for the kind words! Are you still a Freelance Writer, or have you moved onto new ventures?

  36. This is an excellent article or better say a resource guide. With some efforts in the initial stages one can build an excellent portfolio which plays a key role in better conversions. Everything is clearly explained :)ThanksPhanindra

  37. Wow, its almost like you giving tutorial s on how to write a Resume. I tried elance back in the days but didn’t get the kind of response to keep me hunting for more jobs there. Hopefully with smart tips in this tutorial i’ll be able to get a better response.Matt I really enjoyed this Elance tips from James.Thanks

    1. My advice:1) give them something in the proposal2) look for companies1) When I say “something”, I mean give them a sample. If you’re a writer, write 50-100 words about the subject, or better yet, give them links to your best articles in that niche. If you’re a web designer, look for job offers with a detailed explanation, and then do a quick mockup based on the explanation.2) Look for companies, because companies = long-term cooperation.This is not easy, so it pretty much boils down to looking for work all the time. But once you find a few companies that can offer you a steady flow of work, you’re good to go.

    2. Hey Batas,Glad you enjoyed the article! Persistence wins the day on Elance. And, I’d definitely pay attention to Stefan’s tips below…

  38. Hi Matt, it’s me again :DI am from Asia, a non-English country.How do I overcome the ‘native’ requirement? Sometimes customer looks for this one and does not trust the non-native writer. T T

    1. Hey Buddy,My biggest advice here would be to take the tests that Elance provide, that show your abilities with the English language.If you’ve got proof, the playing field suddenly becomes much more level.

  39. Hello James!First of all thanks for being here and this post my day although its night here. I really liked the way you explained everything like from scratch. You’ve cleared many of doubts regarding Elance. Regards, Inzy

  40. In my thoughts, ELance was good for work around 10 years ago. It was then you could bid on a job and “get your percentages” with a little bit of luck.Fast forward.Nowadays, probably because of the Great Recession and its aftermath, a trillion competitors from every third world country in the world are all competing on ELance for the same pool of work.The end result? You get 35 to 57 people all bidding for the same job usually within 1-2 days. All your friends from Pakistan, Romania, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, let’s not forget India, Romania, Turkey and Iran.If you have ever tried to compete with that many people, niche or no niche, you arrive at a point where it’s probably not even worth the trouble of bidding.I once told the owner of ELance that they should rename it “India-Lance”. If you look hard enough, you can probably find someone from India so eager to work that they will pay YOU to work for you.

    1. 100% disagree with that statement, not just in eLance but in business. If anything is competitive, it’s with good reason. It’s your job to stand out from the crowd.

    2. Trust me: if you have a good portfolio and if they’re serious about the project, they WILL hire you, regardless of your location.There also other things you can do to increase your chances of getting the job, but it all boils down to trial and error.If someone doesn’t hire you, yet your work is outstanding, but they do hire someone who’s gonna do the job for one third of your price, then you know they either have a low budget or they just don’t want to pay you, because “there’s someone who can do it for less”.About the India-Lance, lol I agree. I got nothing against Indians, but damn, have some standards. To learn something for 10 years and then charge $5-6/hour, it’s degrading.

  41. Hi James Fantastic guide for newbie to start a freelancing career. Very informative and motivational after seeing your Income :)Right now I am working on Fiverr but after reading post I feel I need to take a look at elance to grow my freelancing careerThank you for all this 🙂

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