One of my biggest problems when I started offering my freelance writing and webmaster services was actually finding those new customers to add to the existing clients I was already helping out on a part-time basis. I had been reviewing forums such as DigitalPoint and responding to several messages but wasn’t really picking up any work. I bid on projects on both oDesk and Scriptlance but was constantly overlooked or not selected for a variety reasons.
The one thing that kept coming back as feedback was I was too expensive compared to others. I would continue a conversation with those individuals or companies that posted the projects and found that they had selected talent that quoted a fraction of my price. Doing the math I figured most of these freelancers were working for a wage that ended up being between $4 – $6 per hour. When I investigated further I found that generally most of the talent getting the jobs were situated overseas in places such as India and Thailand.
While its always tempting to lower your prices to get those initial projects, resist it at all costs. I originally quoted between $15 and $17 per hour to try and land some new freelance customers with the hopes of getting additional work at a higher rate. In the end I caved on my pricing and agreed to do a project fairly cheap. I immediately regretted it. Due to the lower rate I was disgruntled about having to complete the writing project at such a low price. I found staying motivated while writing to be very difficult and I wanted to rush the project and not give it my full efforts. I ended up delivering articles I was relatively happy with but the experience soured me on many of these freelancer boards where people are more concerned about the cost then the quality.
You can’t compete on price in the freelancing world because if you attempt to, you’ll be working for a wage lower then you would get manning the counter of your local donut shop. Oversea talents obviously have lower pricing expectations then their North American counterparts due to the lower standard of living. You need to figure out what pricing you’re willing to work for and stick to it. At the same time come up with a list of differentials you can provide over an oversea freelancer such as native english skills, higher education, more experience on certain topics, etc. Also provide potential customers with links to your portfolio with your best work. It’s even better if you can point them to client sites to show the prospect both your abilities as providing proof that you are generating quality product for happy clients.
It may take some time but the effort is worth it in the end. We often hear about outsourcing but I actually have a quick story about reverse outsourcing. I work on a subcontract basis for a very large SEO company that provides content creation and conventional search engine optimization. Oddly enough they are located overseas in a country with a much lower standard of living and cheap freelance talent. I was recruited to do writing work because several North American companies rejected articles completed by their regular staff due to the rough English skills and overall quality. I now complete approximately 60 articles a month for them generating 18,000 to 20,000 words. As proof of my quality of writing, I was asked to complete a large “white paper” for the company singing their virtues and highlighting some of their most successful projects. As for pricing that I regularly bill them? It’s much more then $4 – $6 per hour.
Take the time, sell your skills and find the right customers for your budding freelance business.