Elance.com has been around since 1999, but I have just recently signed up for their service. I completed my first job on Elance a couple of days ago. It feels like I have been working forever to get started on this job board as a freelance translator, but let’s take a look at the numbers to see, what I have done to get my first job completed:
- Joined in May 2014 (about 2½ months ~ 80 days ago)
- My identity was verified July 2 by phone (30 days ago)
- I have submitted 16 bids on jobs since May 19 (about 2½ months ~ 74 days)
- The current status of the jobs are: 10 closed, 4 open, 1 awarded and 1 ongoing
Although it seems like a long time to wait to get going, the bid-to-deal ratio is pretty good I would say, i.e. 1 out of 16 bids led to a job ~ 6%. And the jobs I bid on where all jobs that I knew I could complete before the deadline, with topics I knew I could handle.
The Elance system seems to be quite good at first impression. When I was digging up the numbers I noticed the little text in my browser address line, to the left of the address, saying “Elance-oDesk Inc. (US)”. I’m already used to working on oDesk.com, which is a nice system, so apparently a merger is already going on, although the user interfaces are still different.
The message system inside Elance enable the users to communicate back and forth, which is great for building trust, clarifying issues and asking questions regarding the specifics of the job. Sometimes it seems like time wasted because it takes time away from the actual translation work, but when the relationship is established with the client, things move more efficiently, so remember to follow up and let the client know you’re there.
When I find a good client I invite them to connect on LinkedIn too, to establish a stronger relationship. I have loads of information in there about my previous work, which works as a sales letter, presenting my skills to the client, if they want to know more about me. Just another way to market yourself that is easy to do, when you already have a LinkedIn profile.
This is not related to Elance.com only, but it’s a general idea concerning all the job boards. I have seen quite a few clients on the market, who post something like “I have a job, [source language] to [target language], very easy. Is this something for you?” After a long communication back and forth I usually find out what they want, but in order to save time, whenever I see this, I have built up a list of things that I need to know, before I can come up with a serious offer that will work in the long run. It’s better to shoot these questions right away, in order to get moving and make a decision:
- How many source words are there in the source text / document / website?
- Which format is the source in? (Word, text, HTML…)
- What type is your text? (Tourism, gambling, technical, legal…)
- What is your deadline? (Within a month, within 3 hours…)
- In which format do you want the document delivered in? (.txt, Word, Excel)
A source document received in Word, but expected back in Excel will take a lot longer to handle, than simple Word to Word translation.
I don’t know if it’s my imagination but we’re having the warmest summer here, and it feels like the activity on the job boards is a bit low at the moment, which I would like to attribute to summer vacations around the world, and not me being lazy and not doing enough. But then the question about Australia pops up right away; isn’t is cold Down Under at the moment? Around here, the summer vacations are about to end, so I’m looking forward to see, if the activity will increase in the coming weeks and months. But after all: The training and development of determination and patience is a requirement for success, so I’ll look at this slump and see it as an opportunity to work on these softer parts of my freelance business.