Selling (blogging) services is the best way to earn money online because you will always have yourself. You are what you can always rely on!
But how to effectively sell services online? I’ve collected some actionable tips from those who succeeded at that!
BTW: You can hire a blogger here. We have a great collection of available services!
From Start to Finish: Go Above and Beyond!
Jennifer Peaslee of @TheSavingsOpp offers an excellent answer:
This brainstorm stuck out for me because I have been freelancing for only about 2 years now, but it’s been a fun and incredible journey! I had a very small job a few months before that (only a couple hours a month) but that’s what got me interested in freelancing and working full time from home.
I started completely from scratch, not having any connections, so I guess I can prove to people that they can definitely do it too, as long as they put the time and effort in to make it successful. I have a number of tips from different ‘stages’ in my freelance career, so I’ll touch on these.
I got started freelancing on Elance, and I totally recommend starting out with Elance or a similar platform if you don’t have any industry contacts to get you started. Websites like Elance bring all sorts of freelance workers together with all sorts of companies who are looking for freelance work. There is always a lot of jobs up for grabs BUT getting started is definitely tricky because Elance and similar sites are very reputation based – so when you start you won’t have any ratings, reviews, references, etc. Here are some tips that worked for me:
Start out by filling out your profile completely. This is all people will know of you since you have no ratings/reviews/etc! Definitely include your pic (it makes you more trustable) and fill out your description plus all your past jobs and education.
I don’t recommend including your hourly wage on your main profile. The reason is that you will more than likely have to start out at lower than what you would prefer, then move up when possible. You have to prove yourself before employers see your work as worth a higher amount. I started out at $9-10 an hour (or the fixed-price equivalent), which was not what I wanted, but I needed to get in and get experience, ratings, reviews, etc! Two years later I’m making double that and sometimes even a bit more, so it’s not the end of the world to offer a lower rate when you’re starting out.
Find jobs within an acceptable price range, bid a little lower to give yourself a possible edge, and be thorough in your applications to state exactly why you think you are a good match for this specific job. No cut and paste applications! Each should be unique. And you should put a lot out there because many will be dead ends.
Eventually you WILL get your first job. I got mine within a few days after I started. It was a very small editing job for only $20. But I got a 5 star rating and an awesome review and it built up from there because these ratings/reviews attracted new clients. Here are my tips on building steam with your first jobs.
There are no small jobs, only small freelancers (lol!) No matter what the job is, and how small it is, give it your ALL. Be thorough, consciencious, double then triple check your work – your work represents you and it should be the best that you can give every time.
Be pleasant, respectful and professional when communicating with clients. They’re not your “boss” in the traditional sense (because if you don’t like the working relationship you can end it at anytime and just move on) but employers want to work with nice people and freelancing is about building relationships
Be easy to reach. There are seasoned companies who have been hiring freelance workers for years, but for some companies freelancing is a new venture. This can make them nervous because you’re not in the office, they can’t readily check in on you, etc. Elance has private job rooms when you get accepted to jobs. You can also give the client your personal email or skype account info to faciliatae communication.
Treat every new client like they are your first, delivering top notch work with the mentality that each new client can make or break your freelance career. This will mean more 5 star ratings and excellent reviews, which just helps you get more work in the future.
As your clients and reputation grow, start to raise your bid. Do this gradually to see what works…you may find that you’ve jumped too high if you’re not getting accepted on jobs for a while, in which case you can come back down a little.
If freelancing will be your full time job, look for long term, regular work that you can depend upon. It will help you create a schedule and eliminate the need to bid on new projects.
I’ve found that as my experience and reputation as a freelancer grew, I was able to branch out in different directions both within Elance and with non-Elance based clients. Here are my tips:
When you start getting good ratings and reviews, make sure your settings allow employers to personally invite you to bid on their jobs. At a certain point I didn’t really have to look for jobs, I just waited as they came directly to me then bid on the ones I liked.
Continue to learn and grow while you’re freelancing. You can develop new skills through online training programs, personal research, or with clients who trust you with new skills just based on your current skills. For example, I grew as a content writer, writing blog posts and articles, but based on the requirements of a new job I then began to manage a blog’s social media pages…and getting that experience (and developing it/learning on my own) allowed me to claim social media management as a new skill on which I could advertise to new clients.
Look for jobs that allow you to claim authorship. The majority of my jobs were ghost writing, but I was able to find some where my name was attributed with a short bio – allowing me to come out from the veil of Elance and establish myself as a writer with a face. If you can’t find jobs that give you the opportunity, you can still try to find sites where you can contribute and get author credit.
As you branch out like this, make sure you have social media pages and/or an email that people can find so they can contact you personally. You cannot take an Elance client off Elance – it’s against the rules, of course because they want to keep getting their cut (the Elance fee is currently 8.75%), so don’t do that or you could get kicked out! But, if you can be recognized for your work on various websites and tag yourself as a freelancer in your bio and make it easy enough for people to find you, then you can start getting outside-Elance invitations for work too.
If you’re interested, you can also branch out by running your own website, where you provide content on the topic of your choice, find ways to monitize through ads, affiliates, sponsored posts, etc. This is what I’m pursuing now! I still have one major Elance client, plus a handful of off-Elance clients, and in January I decided to start my own blog too. I did have to cut down on the freelancing I was doing – my current schedule would allow me to bid on more jobs and take on more clients, but I’m holding back so I have a little time to work on my own project. It takes a while to build up your own blog, but if you can devote some time to it then it can be profitable in the long run. This is my goal, because in my eyes this is truly ‘working for yourself’ – where you are both the worker and the boss on a project that is completely yours.
As a final thought, I think my biggest tip and what has helped me the most is demonstrated in this response. Be thorough! Go above and beyond! Try to be helpful, insightful, and give yourself to others! There are a lot of people out there giving shoddy, half-hearted work, so this will make you stand out right away.
David Hamann @davi also offers a very simple step-by-step plan:
From my seven years experience selling, wordpress sites, ecommerce site and online marketing campaigns the best approach has always been to sell naturally to a customer. By this I mean, not forcing the sale, not trying to convince them of anything. To do this I follow these techniques:
- Asking a lot of questions. Once I have a clear understanding of their problems and goals I then respond with clear examples where I have overcome these problems and achieved these goals.
- Providing three solutions all set at different prices. This way you can cater to all budgets.
- Providing a list of areas where they can achieve fast results and get the best return on investment.
- Educating the customer so all their objections are resovled.
- Not making them sign a contract on the spot and giving them time to thinking about the options.
- Offer a free trial of my services.
shares his experience:
All my freelance work comes through contacts – Every penny I have earned online for the past 5 years has been through contacts and through contacts’ recommendations.
Initially my contacts were from the forum on a writing site I used to frequent. Then one of my writers moved up in the world and I wrote for HIM. My most recent work has come through the MBU writers’ gallery and Ann Smarty’s recommendations.
I only just realised that it is now FIVE years since losing the day job! And it still haunts me!
Showcase Your Knowledge -> Demonstrate Authority in Your Niche
Patricia Anthony @patantconsult suggests building authority first. People do business with people they trust. People trust people whom they believe can solve their problems. These decisions are often made well in advance of any purchasing decision. In fact purchasing decisions are being made well in advance of any monetary transaction, in that the process of selection of experts begins through non monetary transactions and encounters.
Freelancers must there take opportunities to occupy share of customer’s mind in the earliest stages of the buyer journey. The best strategy is to build trust and gain buyer confidence at the earliest stages of interaction. So well in advance of purchase we try to help customers solve real problems and demonstrate our competence and unique approach to problem solving. We use multichannel outreach in achieving this.
Some of our outreach platforms include blogging, forum contribution, blog comments or guest blogging, conferences, networking events, facebook and linkedin groups, workshops and webinars, social media sites like twitter, and providing free advice or resources. We try to capitalize on every opportunity to educate our customers and help solve their nagging problems, and in the process establish our authority in the niche and competence in satisfying expectation of prospective customers.
Eventually when these prospects are at the stage of making a decision to purchase online business services or products, then we hope that we would have previously made a sufficient mark, so as to be at the forefront of the customers mind at this stage.
Luke Jordan @LJordanOnline has a great example here:
Example: Dre @drebeltrami over at TheBrandedSolopreneur.com produces regular, high quality content about the world of design. Essentially, she’s teaching people how to do her job for free!
However, a large number of people realise that – whilst she makes it look easy – not everyone possesses that creative spark. Dre therefore picks up a lot of business from people wanting her to create awesome shit for their sites as well as hers.
I think this is one of the best examples of proving that great content really can be the decisive factor for small-to-medium businesses, as long as you’re getting word out there about said content. Promote your content, not your service – and the business will follow.
Be Helpful and Kind Where You Can
Don Sturgill @DonSturgill thinks this is an area where there is “nothing new under the sun.” No ninja tricks. No magic words. No funnels to fill.
The secret to getting work is to be helpful and kind. It is old wisdom, and it feels good:
- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
- What goes around comes around
- If you want to make a withdrawal, first make a deposit
I have been fortunate to have met some amazing people in my work as a freelance writer: Ann Smarty, Sana Knightly, Stu Draper, Jason Wiser, Josh Parkinson, Matt Coffy, Arsen Rabinovich, Mike Haley, Chris Brogan, Yaro Starak, Demian Farnworth … the list could go on and on.
ALL of them, to a person, are different – but ALL are good at ONE THING: Helping others.
When I can step out of my own little work, even for a little bit, and really try to be of value to YOU … the world is suddenly a better place – for us both.
Keep Your Clients Happy: Enjoy Referrals and Repeat Clients!
David Leonhardt of THGM Ghostwriters has a GREAT point:
I won’t pretend that the majority of business comes from my own customers; that is probably my third source. But I know that others have already mentioned inbound marketing and the search engines, which are my top source, and networking, which is my second source.
But my third source is from my own clients. This business comes in three ways:
First, I get repeat customers. This has happened on numerous occasions on both the website promotions side of my business and on the writing side of my business. For example we are writing a non-fiction book right now for a client who first came to us for a fiction manuscript. And many people return for social media promotion over and over again.
Second, I get referrals. This does not happen as often as repeat clients, but it does happen. If you do a bang-up job for somebody, chances are that they will tell somebody. It does help to follow up with clients a while after you have finished with their project, just to see how it is going. And I love to help promote a client’s book once it has been published. That has the side benefit of keeping you in their thoughts down the road.
Third, and I know I am cheating just a bit by including this one, testimonials from satisfied customers often sell my services to new clients. Strictly speaking, this is part of inbound marketing, but there are times when I know that it was one testimonial or another that sold them on filling in my lead-generation form. I make it a strict policy never to solicit testimonials; all the testimonials on my website come from the heart. I explain it here: Why never ask for testimonials. You just can’t fake authenticity.
And what worked for you? Please share in the comments!