Toggl Review: The Best Time Tracking Software On The Market?

Time tracking.

With so many software applications built for this one thing alone, it's easy to wonder what the big fuss is about.

The reality is, in some industries, tracking time is fundamental to both freelancers and clients to ensure that work is being done, and that payment can be fairly attributed.

So, while I'm not a huge advocate of billing by the hour, I do understand that some people rely on tools like Toggl in order to get paid.

What Is Toggl?

Thought you'd never ask.

Toggl is a dedicated, web-based time tracking tool, meaning it's specifically designed to keep tabs on your hourly input.

Now, while that may seem like an incredibly niche piece of kit, it actually has a ton of practical uses for both clients and freelancers.

Today we ask the question: Is Toggl really "worth your time?" 😛

The Timer

When you first log into Toggl, you'll be greeted with a (very empty) Timer report that looks like this:

From here, you have two options for adding entries to your time log.

The first is by blocking out time manually, which can be useful if you've completed work without remembering to run the timer.

Doing this is as simple as writing in a short description, choosing your time window, and hitting the green check button.

While this is handy to have, it's not something you should really be rellying on if you want your reports to be anywhere close to accurate.

That's where the time tracker comes in.

Clicking the little "timer mode" icon in the corner switches you over to the sleek looking timer interface.

Having this in the web application is nice, but it does also present some potential issues.

For example, you have to remember to switch back over the browser tab in order to turn off the timer when you're done. (That's assuming you've kept the browser tab open.)

There is, however, another way to track time with Toggl, and that bring me nicely to the next section...

The Chrome Extension

I'm sure by now you're familiar with the wonderful world of Chrome extensions, right?

Toggl's handy browser addon allows you to track time without ever having to open the web application.

(I know, I know... my extensions are out of control. I'm seeing a professional, just give me time :P)

Anywho, this, for me, is what takes Toggl from a nice idea to something that's both useful an​​​​d incredibly practical.

By simply clicking the extension, you can do everything from:

  • Start a new time entry
  • See time tracked for the current time entry
  • Continue on from the previous time entry
  • Check time worked today
  • Check time worked for the current week
  • Continue tracking time for older time entires

As great as this is, and I personally use the extension, there is an alternative option that gives you even more power.

The Desktop Application

If you're a PC, Mac or Linux user (AKA most people), you can get your hands on the free Toggl desktop application.

Here's what it looks like:

As you might expect, the desktop application mimics virtually everything the Chrome extension can do...

...but it has a few other tricks up its sleeve.

Opening the Preferences menu, you'll find a bunch of additional settings that'll take your Toggl experience to a whole new level.

Some of these extra features include:

  • Autotracker: Set keywords that will automatically trigger the time tracker when related applications are active.
  • Reminders: Set reminders to track time at specific intervals and on specific days of the week.
  • Idle detection: Get notified when you're away from the computer, and choose whether or not to discard that time.
  • Pomodoro: Use the proven Pomodoro technique with the Toggl timer to boost productivity.
  • Record timeline: Tracks every website or application that's active for more than 10 seconds.

I'm particularly a fan of the Autotracker, as it removes the need to manually start and stop time when working on specific projects.

So, considering both of these options, unless you're having to organize your time entries at a higher level, you'll rarely find yourself logging into the web application.

And that brings me nicely to the next section (I'm getting good at this)...

Organization

As as I said earlier, you really have two options when it comes to tracking time with Toggl; manual entries, or tracked time.

Now, regardless of which way you go with this, it's always a good idea to store your entries under the right buckets — or what Toggl refers to as "Projects".

From the Timer dashboard, you can manage, select and create new projects by clicking the folder icon in the top bar.

Creating a new project will bring up a small window.

From here, you can give your project a name, attribute it to a workspace and client, as well as make that project private.

Let's briefly talk about what each of these mean from a management perspective.

  • Workspace: Aside from your account itself, this is the top-most level and everything else sits inside of this "bucket".
  • Project: Projects are created within a Workspace, and you can have multiple projects within a given Workspace.
  • Client: Clients are attributed to projects, and while you can only assign one client to a project, you can create multiple projects for the same client.

I must admit, I found these options a little confusing at first, and there are other nuances to the hierarchy that I haven't mentioned here.

If you want to learn more about how it all ties together, I highly recommend reading this support post on the Toggl website.

In any case, once you do get the hang of it, it becomes a breeze to manage your time entries across different projects and clients.

Reporting

Despite being a self-proclaimed "time tracking" software, Toggl is actually a reporting tool at heart.

If you think about it, we have time trackers installed on every device we own. It's nothing new.

What you get with Toggl is a way to PRESENT that information in a manner that makes sense for everyone involved.

Here's what a typical summary report looks like:

The section highlighted red is where you filter down by team, client, project or even tags and billable time.

(This is viewable by both the client and the freelancer, so it's incredibly useful on both sides.)

Granted, it's a pretty simple/basic interface, but that's exactly what you want with something like this.

There's also an option to get a slightly deeper report which breaks down the exact tasks that were worked on, based on the task description.

I've blurred some of the above out as it relates to a personal project I'm working on, but you get the point.

That's pretty much the bulk of what you can expect from reporting, unless you're a premium member...

Insights

As a premium member, you also get access to another, more advanced reporting feature called "Insights".

As a freelancer, you probably wouldn't benefit from using it.

But as a client, you can see everything from how profitable your projects are versus how much your spending, as well as labor costs and taxes that you can associate to each team member.

Here's what the reporting area looks like:

Again, simple but effective.

This is one of their newer features so it's still a little bare in terms of reporting options, but I have no doubt this will continue to see improvements.

Pricing

The best thing about Toggl is the pricing.

For most people in most cases, the software works great without having to pony up a single penny.

For the paid plans, however, here's how it breaks down:

Personally, I feel the majority of what you lose out on as a free user is mostly in the reporting side, such as Time Audits, Exports and Rounding.

If you're a client who's monitoring team members or freelancers, there seems to be a lot benefit to upgrading your plan than if you were a team member or a freelancer.

For a complete, side-by-side comparison of each plan, you can check out this handy page here.

Conclusion

Wrapping it up, it's fair to say that Toggl is one the better (if not the best) time tracking software on the market.

Even as someone who prefers to bill on a project rate, I've found myself consistently going back to Toggl when hiring other freelancers to work under me on sporadic projects.

So if you haven't sunk your teeth into this bad boy yet, why not take a free account for a spin?

Paymo Review: More Than Just A Project Management Tool?

For those fortunate enough to be working multiple clients at any one time, you know how crucial it is to have all your ducks in a row.

Here's the good news:

Platforms like Paymo offer a seamless management solution specifically targeted at freelancers and small to medium businesses. (Psst.. that's you!)

In this post, I'll be taking a closer look at the Paymo platform to see if it's worthy of a spot in your toolkit.

Want to test it out yourself? Click here to try Paymo for free.

Project Management

As you've no doubt gathered by now, project management is exactly what Paymo was built for.

(Despite marketing itself as such, I actually find it resembles a more all-in-one business solution — like AND CO and Plutio.)

So let's get right into it.

Clicking the "Projects" menu item, I started a new project which lead to me to a simple setup screen:

Overall pretty straightforward, though I wasn't sure what the 'Project ID' was used for, or how it was different from the 'Name' field.

Some tooltips would've been nice here. Just for clarity.

Anyway, the following screen gave me an overview of my project, including hours worked, tasks completed, and timesheet reporting.

From here, I jumped straight into the 'Tasks' panel to start planning out my action items.

Again, nothing too complicated. After filling out a title and description, the task was immediately added to my project.

You can also block out time for that task, start the time tracker, set start/end dates, attach files and estimate hours.

The task list feature was great for creating task groups, and the ability to expand and contract these groups was a very nice touch.

You also get awesome formatting options like bulleted lists and image attachments for each of these tasks, as well as the ability to save project templates for reusing later.

So far, so good.

Now, while I had no complaints about the basic view of the task area, I was super keen to check out the Kanban view. (Yep, I LOVE Kanban!)

After making the switch, I quickly noticed some weird overlapping issues with my boards:

Clicking the 'Hide Backlog' button seemed to fix the issue, at which point I was able to fully appreciate the new task layout.

Fast, simple, and clean — just how I like it.

Adding or removing boards was also easy enough, and can be done by clicking into the 'Manage Workflows' settings.

This is helpful if you want to define your own stages, as opposed to the typical Kanban progress stages.

Adding tasks in this view was also BLAZING fast. Seriously, just take a look how quickly I added 3 tasks in succession:

My only real complaint is the lack of "task hierarchy" in this view, whereas the previous view allowed for task groups.

Another awesome way to see your tasks is using the 'Table' view.

This gives you a more in-depth breakdown of your task at a glance, including who it's assigned to, billing type, hours worked, and more...

The problem with this view, at least for me, was that I needed to zoom out in my browser (by a fair bit) to squeeze everything in. Not ideal for smaller/low resolution screens.

Alternatively, you can remove specific columns and/or resize them to make everything fit.

Overall though, I'm a huge fan of how Paymo handles project management, but I have to deduct half a point for the minor issues I pointed out above.

— I'll give this a 4.5 out of 5

Proposals & Contracts

This is one area where Paymo clearly falls short, but that's okay.

Like I said earlier, Paymo is a project management tool, and it doesn't promise to be anything else despite offering features you'd typically see in more business-oriented solutions.

In any case, the closest thing you get to a proposal is an 'Estimate', which is an approximation of costs that a client can approve before work begins.

Here's what that looks like in Paymo:

Once you get client approval, you can quickly turn that estimate into an invoice with one click.

Pretty sweet.

While estimates don't replace proposals and contracts, it's a prime example of a feature that you wouldn't expect to find in a dedicated project management platform.

— Rating not applicable

Accounting

Nobody enjoys the process of keeping their business accounts in order, but the right tool can certainly make or break your ability to stay on top of it.

So, with that in mind, let's take a closer look at some of the specific accounting features inside Paymo.

Invoicing

No invoice, no payday.

The good news? Paymo has an invoicing feature baked right into the platform, and (spoiler alert) it's pretty damn good.

Here's what it looks like when creating a new invoice.

It starts you off with a typical invoice template, but allows you to modify/add to it by clicking on the relevant sections.

(Did I mention these template are available in 18 different languages!?)

The invoice will also work out calculations for you (bit like a spreadsheet formula) so there's hardly any fiddling with the numbers.

Invoice customization is pretty limited, however, so be aware that you're stuck with a rather generic template outside of small position changes.

So how exactly do you get paid?

Well, with the check of a box, Paymo lets you enable online payments, which then prompts you to connect a payment gateway.

You get usual PayPal and Stripe options, but I was also pleased to see Authorize.net and Payoneer supported.

Overall, I was impressed.

To be honest, I was hoping to see a more open-ended payment option, like AND CO's PayMe URL feature....

...but no luck.

— I'll give this a 4 out of 5

Time Tracking

Because time is money, right?

Truth: I'm not a huge fan of this approach to billing, but I realise it's something many freelancers and clients choose to rely on.

Here's what Paymo's time sheet looks like:

(Granted, my account isn't saying much right now.)

Using that little 'Add Time' button at the top, you can assign time where appropriate, which then syncs up with the relevant invoices.

Of course, the best way to track time is to actually track time.

Paymo's has a sleek little time tracker built right into the app, and it's easily accessible through the sidebar.

(There's also a desktop app for Windows and Mac, if you prefer)

But it get's even better.

*giggles with excitement*

Paymo has an intelligent addon called "PaymoPlus" that tracks what you're doing at all times, and allows you to go back and assign entries at the end of the work day.

Ah-mazing.

If you're the type of freelancer (or business owner) who simply needs to track time when billing clients, it doesn't get much better than this.

— I'll give this a 5 out of 5

Recurring Billing

Are you on a monthly retainer or recurring fixed fee?

One feature you may find useful here is 'recurring invoicing' - which allows you to automatically invoice for the same amount, month after month.

It looks like a lot like the standard invoicing setup, but with a few extra options such as 'frequency' and 'occurrences'.

Handy, no doubt. But what about recurring billing?

One thing I really liked about AND CO is the ability to instantly charge the client every month as opposed to just sending an invoice.

This eliminates the need to "chase" clients for manual payments, as it just does it's thing month-after-month until cancelled.

Unfortunately, Paymo falls a little short here.

— I'll give this a 3 out of 5

Expenses

As you've seen already, you do get access to things like invoicing and time sheets, but it's not all about what's coming in.

You know as well as I do, you gotta keep a sharp eye on those expenses, and you better believe Paymo has your back.

Here's what the 'Expenses' interface looks like:

I particularly like how you can upload a photo of your receipt (if applicable), tie it to a client or project, AND mark whether or not it was invoiced.

Everything you input here is neatly organized and easy to refer back to at any time using the sidebar.

It's simple, but this is exactly where simplicity excels.

— I'll give this a 5 out of 5

Notable Features

Before we wrap this up, I wanted to do a short quick-fire round for features that didn't quite fit into other sections of this review.

With Paymo, I HAVE to talk about the reporting aspect.

When you first log in, you'll be greeted with a complete overview of your business, including things like hours worked, your finances, unpaid balances and total number of clients.

Not only is this crazy efficient, but it's also just beautiful to look at, wouldn't you agree? (I'll just go ahead and assume you agree)

In fact, the client reporting area is just as pretty, giving you a dedicated breakdown of how much the client owes, what's been paid, and what tasks everything relates to.

Here's what it looks like:

Finally, becoming a premium user of Paymo gives you access to a pretty unique feature.

Gantt charts.

This is essentially just another way to "view" your project tasks, but it could be a game changer depending on your personal preferences.

Again, isn't very busy, but the more you have going on, the more valuable these viewing options become.

Anyway, there's so many nuances to this tool, but those are the features that really stood out to me.

Final Thoughts

It's fair to say I put Paymo through it's paces in this review. While it's not technically an all-in-one business management tool, I decided to test it against that criteria anyway.

Partly because I felt it had the feature-set to compete, but also to give you a better idea of how it stacks up against other, more holistic alternatives on the market.

To give credit where due, Paymo certainly rose to the challenge.

Not only is this a well-crafted solution to project management, but it also throws one hell of a punch when it comes to invoicing, time tracking and general project accounting.

Convinced? Click here to try Paymo for free.

AND CO Review: A No Nonsense Look At The Free Business Management Software

Running a freelancing biz is no joke.

You need to think about everything from creating invoices, writing proposals, drafting contracts and, of course, tracking expenses.

Fortunately, we have plenty of options when it comes to freelancer-focused business management software, and this one certainly has a strong foothold in the market.

With Fiverr's recent acquisition of AND CO, the $168 annual fee has now been removed, making the software 100% free to use.

If there was ever a good time to take this thing for a spin, this is it.

Project Management

Given the initial barebones feel of AND CO, I was expecting to tell you that it doesn't have any project management capabilities.

I guess that's why they say you should never judge a book by it's cover.

Don't get me wrong, this thing isn't going to replace the likes of Asana or Trello anytime soon.

I mean, there's no Kanban or timeline layout, no templates or complex workflows, and no custom fields or colour coordination.

You do, however, get an organized way to keep track of projects, add tasks, associate time, record expenses and even attach files.

I'd argue that anything more should be left to a dedicated project management tool like the one's I mentioned above.

(Though it's fair to say that Plutio, a competitor of AND CO, seems to be an exception to the rule.)

Overall, not a whole lot more to talk about there. It's fairly basic, but solid.

— I'll give this a 3 out of 5

Proposals & Contracts

I don't know about you, but writing out proposals and contracts has to be one of the most boring aspects of running a freelancing business.

AND CO proposes a solution that I think you'll like.

It starts you off by asking you to set the project terms:

Not too overwhelming, which is always nice.

You enter a project name, set the total project fee, payment terms, start/end dates, deposit amount, etc.

Then, you click next, and AND CO works some magic to generate a pre-formatted, proposal based on your inputs.

While a lot of the work is done for you, it's still fairly basic as far as proposals go, so you'll need some manual input.

As you can see from the screenshot above, AND CO does let you slot in a new sections to bulk out your proposal with more information.

You then pop in a virtual signature and send it off to the client. Easy peasy.

And contracts?

The great thing about this process is, AND CO will ask if you'd like to attach a contract to your proposal.

At that point, it'll give you some new options that look like this:

All the thinking is done for you.

You literally just have to make sure the values are accurate, with many the fields offering a simple multiple choice.

Then, you guessed it, AND CO turns it into a pre-formatted document.

You can even request payment on approval, meaning you don't have to follow up with an invoice if the client agrees to move forward.

This is done through the "deposit" option, and set as a percentage of the overall project fee.

After setup, AND CO will send your prospective client a link to view the proposal/contract.

Fortunately, the client doesn't need an account in order to approve the proposal and make payment.

Overall, super easy to set up and a very smooth process on the client-end as well... what more do you need?

— I'll give this a 5 out of 5

Invoicing

You can't get paid without first sending an invoice, which makes invoicing one of the most crucial aspects of running your business.

The good news is, AND CO has an invoicing feature baked right into the platform, and as you might expect by now, the step-by-step setup interface is just... flawless.

From here, you can edit the billing terms and even add a time sheet based on specific activities. (More on time tracking in a mo)

Clicking next will generate a pre-formatted invoice that can be easily customized to your taste.

Once you're happy with changes, simply hit send and wait for your client to make payment.

Speaking of payment, what payment options are even available?

Well, you get the usual Stripe and Paypal integrations, and these sync up nicely with your invoices and subscriptions.

You may also notice from the screenshot above, AND CO gives you something called a "PayMe" link.

This is essentially a way for clients to make quick, custom payments without you first having to generate an invoice, etc.

I think it's a great idea and something I'd certainly use myself.

Granted, AND CO doesn't offer the most feature-packed invoicing solution on the market, but they're clearly focusing on simplicity.

Is that a good thing? That's up to you to decide — but I can totally see why some freelancers would go for this over more complex solutions.

— I'll give this a 4 out of 5

Time Tracking

Ahhh, time tracking.

While I'm not a huge fan of this approach to billing, I realise it's something many freelancers and clients rely on.

After clicking the 'Time Tracking' menu item, you'll be able to choose from any of your active projects in order to start tracking time.

Here's how that looks in the web app:

(You can also do this through the AND CO desktop app.)

As basic as this all looks on the surface, there's a few key features that are actually quite useful when you dig into them.

For example, AND CO allows you to assign time to individual projects, create and group activities, as well as automatically create invoices based on your timesheets.

Much like other areas of this tool, the time tracking feature alone isn't going to win any awards, but it's certainly an easy, reliable solution for freelancers looking to track time and bill accordingly.

— I'll give this a 4 out of 5

Recurring Billing

For anyone on a monthly retainer or recurring fixed fee, this is a MUST have feature for you.

Even the most basic invoicing tools will have you covered with recurring invoicing, which essentially just automates the sending of your invoice at the end of each month.

AND CO goes one better with subscriptions, allowing you to automatically charge your client at the end of the month.

(That means no more reminders. No more chasing.)

You simply set up a subscription and fire it off to the client via email, they input their payment details, and the software does it's thing every month - like your own personal debt collector.

A very simple feature that'll take you less than a minute to implement, but one that could result in significantly more revenue, and less headaches.

Amazeballs.

— I'll give this a 4.5 out of 5

Accounting

It was nice to see some accounting options here, which allow you to record both income and expenses in your business.

Here's what the main dashboard looks like:

From here, you can either add income or expense items.

Clicking into one of these will take you to an interface that allows you to add more information.

It gets better.

Yon't won't have to do this manually in most cases, since AND CO will automatically update your accounts based on your invoices.

And, if you connect up your business bank account, you'll be able to automate virtually all of your expense tracking.

Very simple, but also very effective.

Finally, once you've got everything running like clockwork, you'll have access to a super clean reporting interface to get a quick overview your income and expenses at a glance.

Here's what that looks like:

Despite not being a dedicated accounting solution like Freshbooks or BillyApp, I really can't fault what AND CO has managed to do here.

— I'll give this a 4.5 out of 5

Notable Features

Before we wrap this up, I wanted to do a short quick-fire round for features that didn't quite fit into other sections of this review.

The first is the notification system.

Whenever you send out an email through AND CO, they'll not only tell you when it's been accepted, but also when it was viewed.

Why does this matter?

Well, for example, knowing that a client has looked at your invoice or proposal will give you an indication of both when and how to follow up.

I should also mention that you can see a full feed of all your notifications by going into your dashboard. <3 it.

The next notable feature is the Shoebox.

I'll admit, I wasn't entirely sure what this was at first, but I immediately fell in love with the concept.

It's basically a collection for all your scrappy bits. You know, like random files, documents and receipts.

You can even send these things to your Shoebox via email, by simply addressing your email to "shoebox@and.co".

Seriously, how can you not love that?

Finally, I want to mention custom branding.

From the settings panel, you can apply some branding changes that will affect your account globally.

So you can have your company logo and colour scheme on every email and invoice that goes out, without having to do this every time.

Can you say #effeciency?

Final Thoughts

It's fair to say that while AND CO isn't exceptional at any one thing, it is reliably good at everything.

The clean, simple and easy to use interface makes it a viable option for the less tech-savvy freelancer, as well as being perfect for the more time-sensitive folk who just want to get in, get it done, and get out.

Considering AND CO is now a free solution, you really can't ask for a better business management tool at this price point.

Click here to try AND CO.

How To Become A Freelance Writer In 2018 (with ZERO Experience)

So you want to be a freelance writer, huh?

Well, I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news. Let’s start with the bad.

Building a successful freelance writing business is no walk in the park. It takes a LOT of hard work and dedication. Especially in the beginning.

You will f*ck up.

You will doubt yourself (a lot).

And you will feel like quitting.

If that’s not something you’re willing to accept, you better close this page now and go back to playing Candy Crush.

Still here? Great.

Because the good news is, this article will guide you through the EXACT steps you need to take in order to become a professional freelance writer.

(And, more importantly, how to get paid a decent living in the process -- something even experienced freelance writers struggle with at times.)

Let’s talk structure...

Here's How I’ll Break This Down...

I spent a lot of time thinking about how this article should be structured, and believe me when I say there were multiple iterations.

What I’ve ended up with, I believe, is the most logical way to approach starting your freelance writing business -- especially as a beginner.

We’ll go through this in 3 phases, like so:

Phase #1: Finding Your Market

Knowing what kind of service you're going to offer is not enough. In order to fast-track your success a freelancer, you'll need to establish your position in the market and "nichify' your offering.

Phase #2: Developing Your Craft

Once you've identified a market and honed your focus on a particular sector of that market, you can then use the methods discussed in this section to become an "overnight" expert.

Phase #3: Bringing In The Moolah

It doesn't matter how much you know or what you can do, if you don't know how and where to market yourself effectively, you'll never turn your skill (preferably passion) into revenue.


Please, don’t skip this section.

If there’s one mistake I see plenty of new freelance writers making, it’s branding themselves as exactly that…

...a freelance writer.

Unless you’re Jeff Bezos (Amazon Founder), you should never try to be all things to all people. It’s FAR more effective to narrow your focus and serve a small portion of a larger market.

I know, it sounds backward; after all, how does appealing to less people help you make more money?

The answer is relevance.

The more closely your service (or solution) speaks to the job (or problem), the more desirable you will ultimately be to the client.

Relevance is often valued over things like experience and qualifications -- even if some clients aren’t consciously aware of that fact.

Not sold it yet?

Well, niching down comes with various other benefits, including:

  • Easier to identify your preferred clients
  • Allows you to establish yourself as an expert
  • Increases the chance of referrals
  • Higher possibility of repeat business
  • Significantly less competition

It’s fair to say not everyone will agree with this approach. In fact, the whole “big fish, small pond” argument is often debated.

The reason I think it works so well with freelancing, is because you can slowly expand your offering as you begin to outgrow the pond.

It’s easier than you think.

As someone who uses Upwork as their primary source for new clients, it’s literally a case of adjusting my title and bio.

(And yes, I do recommend using Upwork when you're starting out, but I'll talk more about that later.)

Like I said, easy.

Assuming we’re we on the same page about the importance of positioning, I think it’s time for the real meaty stuff.

How To Find Your Positioning And Dominate A Smaller Market

There are essentially two angles you can take when it comes to positioning yourself.

  1. Selecting a niche market
  2. Selecting a writing niche

(I recommend taking both angles to some degree, but this will start to make more sense later.)

Let’s talk about what they mean, exactly.

Angle #1: Selecting A Niche Market

Despite me using the term “niche market”, you don’t actually have to go very niche with this at all.

In fact, you can be a successful freelance writer without choosing a niche at all:

Do I recommend it?

No, I don't. Especially if you're a beginner.

Instead, you'll give yourself a much easier ride if you focus on serving clients in a specific niche market, like:

  • Health & Fitness
  • Finance
  • Law
  • Education
  • Marketing
  • Real Estate
  • Technology
  • Etc.

And where the demand is strong, you can niche down even further. For example, there are a number of sub-niches for "Health & Fitness"

  • Weight loss
  • Pregnancy
  • Dieting
  • Body Building
  • Skin Care
  • Etc.

We’ll talk about validation shortly, but don’t be afraid to venture deep when it comes to niching down.

Note: This is an interesting podcast interview with Kendell Rizzo, a freelance copywriter on FIverr who niched into ‘crowdfunding’ (a subsection of finance) and is now making 6-figures as a result. (Yes… you can charge a lot more than $5 on Fiverr.com.)

Angle #2: Selecting A Writing Niche

This one is REALLY going to influence the next phase, and it’s the one I recommended spending the most time getting right.

What am I talking about, exactly?

Well, the key here is to zero in on specific sectors of writing, not just writing as a whole.

Some examples of writing niches include:

  • Academic Writer
  • Article Writer
  • Content Writer
  • Blog Writer
  • Sales Copywriter
  • Business Writer
  • Copy Editor
  • Creative Writer
  • Journalist
  • Press Release Writer
  • Screenwriter
  • Technical Writer
  • Translator
  • Book / Ebook writer
  • Ghostwriter
  • Guest blogger

Note:  If you want a more exhaustive list, this is an excellent resource covering 50 writing niches you can potentially dive into.

Another thing to keep in mind:

Some of the writing niches I’ve listed above encompass a wider selection of smaller, but still profitable “sub-niches”.

A good example is copywriting, which can be further drilled down into email, sales pages, webinar pages, squeeze pages, etc.

Validate Your Niche Market (And Avoid Setting Yourself Up For Failure)

The screenshots above are from my go-to freelance platform, Upwork.

Since this is a marketplace with over 12 million freelancers and 5 million clients, it’s also the PERFECT place to validate a freelance niche.

So how do you a validate a niche, exactly?

It’s simple. If other writers are doing well in a given niche, it’s very likely you will too.

(In other words, they have already proven the demand.)

As you’ve no doubt guessed, we’re going to do that by looking at the freelancer database on Upwork -- based on your prospective niche market.

Sticking with the “Health & Fitness” theme, let’s say you were interested in offering a writing service around ‘weight loss’.

Step #1: Head to the freelancer search page. (You can even do this from a freelancer account.)

Step #2: Open up the filter options, and apply a filter to show only freelancers under the “Writing” category.

Step #3: Apply a second filter to show only Freelance Writers that have earned over $1,000 through the platform.

Step #4: In the search box, use common keywords to describe the angle (or angles) you’d like to validate.

​​​Step #5: Scroll through to see how many other writers are having success in that particular niche.

What should you do if you struggle to find others making money in your preferred?

You can always try going broader, but if that doesn’t work, I’d strongly recommend finding an alternative.

(Remember, you can always change this at a later date if you feel your niche is not working out for you.)


PHASE #2: Becoming A Master Of Your Craft… In A Matter Of Weeks!

Now that you’ve nailed your positioning (wait, you have nailed your positioning, right?), we can talk about the writing itself.

Coming into this, you may already have some experience as a writer. Even still, it definitely doesn’t hurt to go through this section and brush up on your writing ability.

If you have virtually NO experience as a writer, this section will help you get into the game as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The good news?

You can become proficient in almost any online skill in a matter of weeks, and writing is no exception.

(In fact, the idea behind doing phase #1 first, is to make phase #2 EVEN easier than it would have otherwise been.)

Rapid Skill Learning & How I “Wasted” 2 Years Of My Life

‘Rapid Skill Learning’ is the process of becoming proficient in a given skill over a very short period of time.

Not years. Not months.

WEEKS.

I know it smells like BS, but hear me out.

During my 2-years at college, I studied software development. (Yeah, I thought I wanted to be a programmer.)

The saddest part?

I somehow managed to walk away with a marginally better understanding of software development. I mean, it was laughable.

Soon after, I decided to invest in an online course on coding a website from scratch, using a tool called Adobe Dreamweaver.

Within 1 week, I had gone through all the videos and learned more about coding than I had EVER learned over that 2-year period. No competition.

That’s not even the crazy part.

I paid $59 for that course.

That’s right. Fifty f*cking nine dollars for something I valued more than my 730-day stint at college.

Like it or not, online courses are just as -- if not more -- effective at teaching you something than going through the traditional education channels.

(The key difference being, you can get through the material in a FRACTION of the time.)

Moral of the story?

Online courses are the way to go if you want to break into freelancing writing, but don’t have the writing ability to back yourself up.

Shortcut Your Way Into Freelance Writing Through Online Course Marketplaces

Before I dive into courses specifically, I should clarify that it’s not the only channel when it comes to rapid skill learning.

There’s books, PDFs, blogs, podcasts, videos, etc.

The reason I’m so big on courses is because they’re organized into a complete, end-to-end system.  In other words, the information is structured -- very important for RSL.

(The other channels can, and should be used to supplement what you learn via a paid course.)

Note:  In case you were wondering, I do have my own course that teaches freelancers -- including freelance writers -- how to use Upwork to land high-quality clients and kickstart their online freelance business.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, you can join the waitlist here.

So, where do you actually find these courses?

Well, with everyone and their mother throwing themselves into an instructor role these days, several marketplaces have emerged.

Let me break down some of the more popular options:


Marketplace

Avg. Course Price

Rating

Udemy

$20

Lynda

$25 / month

Coursera

$49

Skillshare

$15 / month


Course Marketplaces

As much as I love these learning platforms, a lot of the good stuff is, unfortunately, buried amongst low-quality information.

In this section, I’ll show you how to flesh out the gems.

Firstly, depending on your writing ability and confidence, you may want to brush up on the basics before going full-throttle.

What I mean is, looking for general courses that cover things like spelling and grammar.

For the real ROI, however, you need to leverage the second positioning strategy I outlined above.

Your writing niche.

Granted, some writing niches will be better served than others, but you should be able to find a handful of good courses in any case.

For example, sales copywriting:

Many of the courses you’ll find on these platforms are only a few hours long, but that’s often all you need to get started.

Instant Proofreading With These KILLER Writing Tools

One last thing I’d like to cover before we move into the next phase, is writing tools.

You would be AMAZED at how good some online tools are at finding mistakes in your writing.

Grammarly is probably the most well-known.

You can install it as a Chrome extension (to monitor your writing in, say, Google Docs), or write directly in the web application.

The premium version gives you some nice benefits that are also worth considering, though certainly not necessary to get started.

Another one is Hemingway app.

It’s a free web-based tool that grades the reading age of your sentences. Believe it or not, but the key to great writing is having a lower reading age.

I find Hemingway to be a little too picky at times, but it’s definitely worth a quick check before submitting your work.

There are a bunch more, but those two will be plenty to get you off on the right foot.

Note: If you’re interested, I actually wrote a HUGE post outlining 60 similar writing tools. You can read it here.


PHASE #3: How To Secure High-Paying Clients For Your Freelance Writing Biz

If you skipped everything else and jumped straight to phase 3, I can hardly blame you.

This is easily one of the biggest question people have when they jump into freelancing.

How do I find clients who will actually pay me to write?

As it happens, this is also where my advice differs from most other freelance writers out there. At least to some extent.

While many will tell you to avoid freelance platforms like Upwork, I’ve actually found them to be a great channel for kickstarting (and even maintaining) a freelance writing business.

So, rather than just give you my own experience of what works, I’ll try to be as objective as I can here.​​​​

Note: It’s also worth mentioning that I compiled a huge list 101+ sites to find freelance work across several different fields, including freelancing writing.

The Case FOR Upwork (And Why You Should Ignore The Naysayers)

I’ll say it now, Upwork isn’t perfect. Far from it.

I’ve personally read/heard from plenty of people who have had a bad experience with Upwork, some worse than others.

What people don’t realize, however, is that 99% of these situations could have been avoided.

Take this classic example, posted on Reddit:

Note the highlighted section; Upwork told this freelancer exactly why his earnings were not protected.

If he had bothered to read up on what qualifies for hourly protection, he would know that he didn’t meet the requirements.

Do I think this freelancer deserved to lose out over not putting memos in his work diary?

Nope. Of course not.

Do I think Upwork has some pretty sh*tty rules that are not always in the best interest of freelancers?

Absolutely.

But if the cost of tapping into this highly-lucrative freelance platform is taking some time out to make yourself AWARE of these nuances, surely that’s a worthwhile investment… no?

Like I said, most of these situations can be avoided if you just familiarize yourself with the way Upwork works.

Note: If you’re still shaky about Upwork, I wrote a post that’ll hopefully clear up any remaining doubt you have.

Why You MUST Diversify Your Client-Acquisition Channels

Many freelancers, including myself, have relied solely on Upwork to acquire new clients whenever needed.

The truth is, Upwork is large enough to supply you with all the work you could possibly need as an independent freelance writer.

No question.

But that doesn’t mean I recommend doing that -- even if I don’t follow my own advice at times.

As great as Upwork is, putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good strategy. When it comes to running a freelance business, diversification is key.

So, while I am saying to focus solely on Upwork in the early stages, you should also eventually start building new channels to deliver leads to your business.

That way, if one channel was somehow removed from the equation, the damage that has over your business (and income) is severely mitigated.

There are a number of ways to achieve this, but none come so highly-recommended as the one I’m about to cover.

Building Your OWN Channel For The Craziest Conversions You’ll Ever See

You guessed it, a website.

Having your own website is one of the BEST ways to attract and convert potential leads for your freelance business.

It’s professional.

It projects authority.

It establishes credibility.

And, most importantly, YOU control every aspect of what prospective clients will see and experience as they navigate your site.

That’s everything from your branding, messaging, pricing and promise…  to the more granular details, like which portfolio items and testimonials to show (and where).

The best part?

These days, a complete beginner can have a professional-looking site up and running in as little as a day. (That’s right, no coding experience necessary.)

Of course, it does take a bit more work upfront to get it generating consistent leads, but it’s absolutely worth the effort if you’re serious about freelance writing.

Note: If you need some guidance with this one, I highly recommend Elna Cain’s course, WriteTo1k.

It’s a complete system that not only takes you through the foundational stuff, but also gives you a step-by-step process for setting up, designing and attracting prospects to your website.

Wrapping It Up

As I said in the beginning of this article, getting your freelance writing business off the ground won’t be easy.

Sure, reading guides (like this one) will soften the blow, but you gotta hustle if you want to make it in the freelance world.

The good news?

If you follow the steps I’ve outlined, you will give yourself the best chance to succeed, with the least amount of friction possible.

Good luck!


Make Money on Fiverr: 17 Advanced Tips to Optimize & Promote Your Fiverr Gigs

Let's face it, it's 2018 and this "Fiverr" thing isn't getting any easier.

You spend hours setting up your gigs, days waiting for orders to roll in, and weeks trying to hustle your first few sales.

And then.... crickets.

I know, because I've been there myself. I did the research. I put in the long hours. I took consistent action. And I gave up... multiple times.

Any of this sound familiar?

The good news is, Fiverr isn't a lottery, and your ability to make money on this platform rests largely on strategy... not luck.

What you're about to read isn't just another half-assed, rehashed Fiverr optimization post. In fact, most of what you'll learn here isn't even been taught anywhere else online.

But first, let's quickly cover...

How Fiverr Works For Sellers (Hint: It's All About Quality Signals)

How is it that some Fiverr gigs have endless orders queued up, while other, almost identical gigs can go months without getting a single sale?

The answer is visibility.

Fiverr has hundreds of thousands of gigs listed on their site, with hundreds more being added every day.

So, when someone does a search, Fiverr has to decide which gigs to show on page 1, and which gigs belong page on 100. (In other words, it's a search engine, just like Google.)

It's pretty obvious when you think about it, but it's easy to forget that appearing on any page other than the first will drastically reduce your gigs visibility.

And this principle even applies at the page-level to some degree...

So how does it actually work?

Well, the ranking process is handled by Fiverr's proprietary algorithm, which looks at different "quality signals" in order to determine which gigs deserve visibility over others.

(I know, that was a mouthful. But stick with me.)

While there's no public record of what this algorithm looks at, most established Fiverr sellers would agree that it boils down to four fundamental signals.

You're ability to...

  • Attract visitors
  • Engage prospects
  • Convert leads
  • Fulfill: orders

Everything I'm about to share with you feeds into at least one of these quality signals, whether directly or indirectly.

17 Advanced Fiverr Strategies You Can Start Using Today

Now that we've covered Fiverr's quality signals and how they impact your visibility on the platform...

...let's get into the actionable stuff. 🙂

1. Hack Your Gig Title To Get A More Sharable URL

Ever looked at your Fiverr gig URL?

For 99% of sellers, it'll probably look something like this:

This URL is actually generated from your gig title the moment you hit publish on a new gig. It can also never be changed.

If you want something shorter and more memorable — which always helps with promoting your gig outside of Fiverr's platform — you'll need to use a little hack when you first create your gigs.

In the gig title field, write as few words as possible (minimum is 4) that accurately describes your gig.

Here's an example:

The "I will" part won't be included in the URL, so in this case, the end result will end up looking like this:

Now isn't that a more a favorable URL?

As soon as you publish your gig, you can then go back in and edit your gig title to something more appropriate.

It's such a seemingly small difference but it adds another level professionalism to your approach that the overwhelming majority of Fiverr sellers are still oblivious to.

Note: You can also generate a shortened "social" URL through your Fiverr seller dashboard, but I still like to do this since you can't count on every person to use and share your social link.

2. Use Keyword Modifiers To Get More Exposure On New Gigs

I'm a strong believer that when it comes to naming your gigs... shorter, punchier gig titles are the way to go.

In the early weeks (and sometimes months) of a new gig, however, you'll likely struggle to get much visibility as Fiverr slowly gathers data on your gigs performance.

One way around this problem is to use keyword modifiers as they tend to be FAR less competitive than the obvious head terms.

Let me explain:

If someone types "modern logo" into Fiverr's search box, the search algorithm has to decide which of the 3,951 results to show on the results page.

That's gonna be a tight squeeze for a brand new, unproven gig.

On the other hand, if someone types "modern logo 24 hrs" into the search box, you're only competing against 986 results, which gives you a MUCH better chance of actually making the cut.

The great thing about this approach is that you can STILL rank for those head terms because they still a part of your gig title, so you only stand to gain.

Here are a list of other gig modifiers you can experiment with:

  • "24 hours"
  • "fast"
  • "unique"
  • "custom"
  • "bespoke"
  • "2018"
  • "using illustrator"
  • "using photoshop"
  • "with after effects"

One more thing:

These are very niche specific so it's worth doing the research (like I did in the screenshots above) to see which modifiers narrow down your competition, as not all of them will.

3. Eliminate Competition By Niching Down Your Gigs (The Right Way!)

This might seem like another angle on the last tip, but it's different in the sense that it actually changes your gig's fundamental offer.

Most people understand the idea of niching down — in that you're targeting a smaller subset of a bigger market — but few people (especially on Fiverr) seem to execute on this properly.

I'll explain this one using the "Article & Blog Posts" subcategory.

The screenshot above conveniently highlights one of the first mistakes I see people making on this platform — assuming that Fiverr's subcategories are niches.

News flash: they're not.

The truth is, these subcategories contain thousands, if not tens of thousands of listings, and so creating a gig that offers "article & blog writing services" will put you up against 100% of the sellers in that subcategory. 

That's a guaranteed way to #fail on Fiverr.

Instead, you need to go deeper into a subcategory to identify where clients are really spending their money — and this another area I consistently see Fiverr sellers drop the ball.

The idea isn't to guess your way into a profitable niche, but to identify top selling gigs by looking at the correlating data. In the case of Fiverr, the closest data we have is the number of reviews a gig has.

Note: From my experience, around 60% of clients who order on Fiverr will leave a review, so you can almost double the number of reviews to get a rough idea of how many orders a specific gig has amassed.

There's no magic formula for this, it's simply a case of navigating into your chosen subcategory and noting down (or favoriting) any gigs with a significant number of reviews.

The more pages you sift through, the bigger your sample size and the better your understanding will be of what actually SELLS.

4. Leverage Your Fiverr Username For A Boost In Search Visibility

If you haven't already started your Fiverr account, or you plan to create a new one for whatever reason, this one's for you.

(If you do have an existing account, just skip ahead.)

As you've probably guessed by now, Fiverr is heavily reliant on keywords to understand the nature of a gig, whether these words appear in your gig title, description, or tags.

What you may not know about this, is that Fiverr caps the number of times you can mention your keyword in your gig.

This restriction is likely in place to protect the user-experience, since sellers will naturally start spamming the f*ck out of their gig description in an attempt to rank higher in the search results.

There is, however, one sneaky workaround you can leverage if you're just starting out on Fiverr.

By putting a relevant keyword — as in, a keyword that sums up the majority of your gigs — into your username, you can squeeze a little bit of extra relevancy onto each of your gig pages.

Here are some other examples I just made up:

  • "CopywritingNinja" — offers copywriting services
  • "LogoDesignChick" — offers logo design services
  • "MrDataEntry" — offers data entry services
  • DrSnuggles — Offers cuddles (okay, scratch that one)
  • You get the point...

If ranking higher wasn't incentive enough to do this, it also helps your conversions since potential buyers will view you as an expert in that field.

5. Move Away From $5 Gigs & Raise All Your Package Prices By At Least 50%

If there's one counter-intuitive truth I've learned from my time as a freelancer, it's that charging more money doesn't necessarily cost you sales.

In fact, from many of my own "experiments", I've actually found the opposite to be true. Yep, sales increased when I raised my rates.

(I've written about this phenomenon before in my Upwork pricing post, and the same principles apply on Fiverr.)

Here's the thing:

While you can technically charge as little as $5 for your services, Fiverr has been actively moving away from the $5 marketplace model, and most buyers today will only expect to see that as an absolute minimum.

And there's probably more to it than you think.

Not only can it be easier get clients with a premium price-tag, but the clients themselves tend to be MUCH nicer to work with.

They're friendlier, they know what they want, they communicate clearly, they're less picky, and, most importantly, they're happy to pay extra for quality.

In fact, it's clients who actively seek out these $5 bargains that give the platform a bad name. When you cater your services to these kinds of people, you're just asking for trouble.

And believe me, I get it.

Raising your prices is a hard a barrier to overcome for many freelancers, but it's something you NEED to get comfortable with if you wanna start making some serious cheddar on Fiverr.

Note: The only exception is at the very beginning when you're trying to get your first few sales and reviews, but even then, charging less isn't always the way to go. Don't be afraid to test.

6. Encourage People To Favorite & Share Your Gigs For A Cheeky Boost In Rankings

You can favorite any gig with a click of a button, either from the search results page or the gig page itself.

(As a side note, I actually use this a lot when I'm doing gig research, so I can quickly refer back to gigs I'd like to emulate myself.)

The fact that there's a counter on this metric indicates to me that Fiverr uses this as a quality signal, so always encourage people to favorite your gigs... even if they don't place an order.

At the very least, a high number of favorites contributes to your social proof which will also help conversions, so it's a win-win.

If you want to be really sneaky, you can participate in some of the "favorite exhange" groups on Facebook:

And yes... Fiverr HATES this kind of group manipulation, so abusing it could result in you getting your account banned.

Basically, ifyou're going to do it, do it in moderation.

(And don't even think about crying to me via email me if you get into trouble. You were warned.)

7. Create A Gig-Network To Multiply Your Customer Lifetime Value

Did you know it takes anywhere from 4x to 10x the time, money and energy to acquire new client as opposed to retaining an existing one?

(Nope, I didn't pull that out of my ass.)

It's easy to sit back and wait for Fiverr to send you new leads all day, but with the right strategy you can effectively double or triple the value of your existing leads through the power of a gig-network.

A gig-network IS that strategy, and it's essentially just a series of gigs that offer a logical next step for your clients; a natural progression from one purchase to the next.

This usually requires a more holistic approach to Fiverr that most people never even stop to consider.

Essentially, it means no longer creating services from individual gigs, but using individual gigs to create a single, unified service.

Need an example?

Ok, let's say I was an expert on YouTube (for the record, I'm not), I might create a gig-network like this:

  • Gig #1: Set up your channel & optimize keywords
  • Gig #2: Create your channel cover art
  • Gig #3: Write your YouTube channel or video description
  • Gig #4: Optimize your video title, description & tags
  • Gig #5: Create your video thumbnail art
  • Gig #6: Share your video on social media
  • And so on...

As you can see, there's a clear, natural progression.

A client could realistically order my YouTube gigs in sequential order to have everything covered, and that's EXACTLY what you want to achieve.

8. Incentivize Referrals By Bribing Your Existing & Past Clients

This little nugget is something that almost nobody is taking advantage of on Fiverr; referral marketing.

There's no better person on the planet to recommend your service than someone who's just had an amazing experience with your service. (Sounds obvious when you read it, right?).

Often times, people just need a little nudge (or incentive) to actually fire off an email to a colleague, or inbox a friend on Facebook.

Here's some ideas you can experiment with:

  • An improvement on what they just received, whether that's an upgrade on the actual deliverable, or something extra to enhance it
  • Double up on the deliverable (such as 2 logo concepts instead of 1)
  • A free order for every person they refer to you

Once you have your incentive nailed down, it's just a case of messaging your clients after they've left a 5-star review.

Here's a script you can use:

"Hey [client name], thanks again for your order!

Just wanted to let you know that I'm offering [incentive] in exchange for referrals. If you could mention me to anyone in your circle who might be interested in what I do, I think we could both benefit from it.

Either way, stay awesome!
[your name]"

9. Prevent Negative Feedback With This (Almost) Bulletproof Script

Not so long ago, refunding a client would automatically remove any feedback left by that client, including a negative review.

While this was a reasonable trade-off for sellers to maintain ratings on their profile, it didn't exactly leave buyers with an accurate/reliable scoring system.

In 2017, Fiverr put an end to all that.

The update meant that once a review is left by a client, it cannot be changed or removed unless it breaks terms of service or the client is willing to modify it  — even if you issue a refund.

(Personally, I don't think this is the direction Fiverr should be taking to solve the issue, but I digress...)

In response to the change, Fiverr sellers now need to be a lot more proactive when it comes to client satisfaction.

The trick is to set the right expectations in your delivery message. (As in, the message you send with your attached deliverable.)

Here's another script you can use:

"Hey [client name], please see the attached [deliverable].

Before leaving feedback, please let me know if you have ANY issues with your [deliverable] and I'll do everything in my power to correct it for you at no additional charge.

I want you to be 100% satisfied with my work, otherwise I insist that you ask me for a full refund. No hard feelings.

​Thank you,
[your name]"

In 98% of cases, even the most disgruntled clients will play nice after reading this message.

Reason being, even if they're not satisfied with the deliverable, you've already presented them with not one, but TWO easy resolutions.

And the other 2%? Well, unfortunately, there are some people in this world who would rather hurt your credibility (and ultimately your income) than accept their money back.

In these cases, there's very little you can do to fight it (which is exactly why I don't agree with the change, but heigh-ho.)

10. Inject New Gigs With Targeted Traffic To Generate Engagement

As you know, engagement is one of the fundamental quality signals that determine which gigs rank where on Fiverr.

Engagement being anything from:

  • Favorites
  • Social shares
  • Direct messages
  • Sales

(Basically, anything that pulls someone out of "browsing mode" and gets them to take a specific action.)

The only way to generate these engagement signals is to start sending traffic to your gig, because without them, Fiverr will be reluctant to send you some of their own traffic.

You're basically saying to Fiverr:

"Hey, look guys, I'm sending all these people to my gig and they clearly like it, you should give me some credit here."

Make sense?

Of course, your gig needs to be on point if you want that traffic to actually resonate and engage with your gig. This doesn't work without a quality offering in the first place.

So the question is, how do you actually send traffic to your gigs?

My favourite strategy is to use highly-targeted Facebook groups along with something I call the "feedback technique".

If I were promoting a video editing gig, for example, I'd join a YouTube community, integrate myself a little, and then make a post.

Here's yet another script you can use:

Hey guys, I'd really appreciate some feedback.

I'm a freelance video editor and I've recently been trying to drum up more leads for my business. (Don't worry, I know better than to pitch you here.)

I've just set up a gig on Fiverr, and since nothing is really happening I was hoping I could get some feedback from this community.

Here's the gig: [insert URL]

Any ideas why it's not converting? Any help is appreciated.

Unlike most peoples attempt to blatantly self-promote, this approach actually encourages members of the group to get on your side.

Better yet, you'll get genuine feedback on your gig from the very people who will likely buy it.

Win-win, baby!

11. Capture More Sales By Creating Multiple Variations Of Your Own Successful Gigs

The Pareto Principle (also called the 80/20 rule) is something everybody should be aware of by now.

It states that 20% of the invested input is responsible for 80% of the results obtained. (Read more about it here.)

How is this relevant?

Well, you can see evidence of this principle at work by looking at the gig sales (or reviews) of any popular Fiverr profile.

I can't fit them all into the screenshot above, but this seller has 23 total gigs with top 3 making up around 80% of their total review count.

Surprised? I'm not.

Thanks to the Pareto Principle, there will always be a small handful of gigs that outperform the rest, and ultimately account for the majority of money you make on Fiverr. Period.

Here's where the magic happens:

Once you identify these gigs, and it may take some time, you can make similar versions of the same gig in order to target related, but also more specific keywords.

Looking at the example above, you can see that the best selling gig focuses on product label design.

And if you look even closer, you'll notice the seller has already started to capitalise on this information by creating a version for bottle labels.

I'd go even further...

A bit of research shows me that people are also interested in product boxes, packages, bags and even gift box designs.

Why is this important?

Because those keywords don't appear in the sellers product label gig, which means Fiverr probably NEVER show it for these search terms.

You have to treat the algorithm like a baby. Assume that it can't associate words with one another and feed it with those variations.

12. Create Gig-Specific Bonuses To Boost Client Satisfaction On A Budget

If all you take away from this article is to give an unexpected bonus on every order you get, it'll be worth the weeks I spent writing it.

Seriously, this is one of the easiest ways to overdeliver and get clients singing about your services.

The reason most people don't do it, however, is that it can be too expensive and time consuming to come up with a bonus for every new order — especially when you're only making a few bucks on it.

(Plus... people are lazy.)

The good news? You don't have to. In fact, I advise against it.

The secret is to have something relevant enough to be genuinely useful to the client, but not so relevant that it can't be given to other clients who order the same gig.

In other words, instead of creating bonuses that are order-specific, you need to create bonuses that are gig-specific.

To give you an example, let's imagine I have a logo gig offering clients 1 logo concept for $20.

Which bonus would be better?

  • Bonus #1: An extra logo concept on every order
  • Bonus #2: A video showing how to edit one of my logos

While the first option is good, it requires infinitely more work to deliver vs the second option, which can recycled for every order without any additional production time.

THIS is how you should be approaching your free bonuses, and you can apply this kind of logic to pretty much any type of gig.

Here's some other ideas for you to chew on:

  1. A checklist
  2. A cheat sheet
  3. A PDF guide
  4. Course access
  5. Community access

13. Offer High-Value Gig Packages To Instantly Increase Revenue

Gig packages.

If you're not using these on ALL your gigs, you're leaving money on the table. No question about it.

Here's an example of gig packages in action:

Not only do packages allow you to charge more for your services, but it also opens up another opportunity.

A BIG ONE.

The ability to directly influence how much people spend on your product, simply by offering them a choice.

This isn't theory I'm spewing here.

Plenty of experiments (like the one below) have been carried out to prove that this psychological phenomenon exists.

"People were offered 2 kinds of beer: premium beer for $2.50 and bargain beer for $1.80. Around 80% chose the more expensive beer.

Now a third beer was introduced, a super bargain beer for $1.60 in addition to the previous two. Now 80% bought the $1.80 beer and the rest bought the $2.50 beer. Nobody went for the cheapest option.

Third time around, they removed the $1.60 beer and replaced with a super premium $3.40 beer. Most people chose the $2.50 beer, a small number chose the $1.80 beer and around 10% opted for the most expensive $3.40 beer."

To sum up, when people are presented with a 3-way choice:

  • Most tend to go for the middle option
  • Some will always go for the most expensive option

So, by only offering a single price, you remove the ability for those people to give you more money for a more premium service.

You want more monies, don't you?

I recently put this theory to the test by adding a $300 high-end gig package to one of my existing gigs.

And within a week... BOOM....

If you're not taking advantage of high-value gig packages, you're literally leaving money on the table.

Get it done.

14. Use An AFK Message Template To Maintain A Stellar Response Time 

Average Response Time is a big deal on Fiverr.

If you've ever browsed the platform as a client, you've almost certainly looked at average response time before pulling the trigger.

Not only would I consider this a direct ranking factor, but a stellar response time will also encourage engagement and sales.

In other words, it MATTERS.

The problem for anyone with a semblance of a social life, however, is that being on call at all hours of the day, every day, is simply an unrealistic to run a business — and I couldn't a agree more.

So how do you keep this little metric in tip-top shape?

Well, the first thing you should know is that Fiverr only measures the time difference between a clients message and your first reply.

That means all interaction (or lack thereof) between you and the client after your first reply isn't counted towards your Average Response Time.

Here's how you take advantage of that:

By using a generic AFK—or 'away from keyboard' message—you can immediately reply to any message, politely let the client know when to expect a personal reply, AND maintain your response time.

I like to add a template using quick-responses, which I can then quickly insert through the website or mobile app. (And yes, you should definitely have the mobile app installed.)

You can add a new response right from the inbox:

This way, no matter how busy you are, you can always take 20 seconds to open up your laptop (or whip out your phone) to insert your AFK quick response.

You didn't think I'd leave you hanging on a script, did you?

"Hey there,

Thanks for your message. 

Unfortunately, I'm currently away from my computer so it's a little difficult for me to properly respond your query at this time.

Give me a few hours and I'll personally get back to you on this. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Cheers,

[Your name]"

15. Strategically Plant Keywords In Your Client Reviews

We've talked a LOT about keywords already, but I couldn't end this post without giving you the heads up on this ninja tactic.

You already know that gig reviews are a big deal on Fiverr. That's old news.

Bu with all the hype surrounding reviews, it's easy to forget that Fiverr also gives YOU (the freelancer) an opportunity to review your client.

You NEED to be actively doing this.

Not only does it show Fiverr and potential customers that you're responsive, but it also gives you an opportunity to reinforce your gig's keywords.

When writing a client review, take note of which gig it relates to and strategically work in your core keywords.

Okay, example time.

If I was responding to a review on my (hypothetical) 'Facebook ads consulting' gig, I might say something like:

"Thank you so much for ordering my Facebook ads consulting gig!
[NAME] was amazing to work with and I hope to have many more clients like him/her in future."

And don't just say the same thing for every review, though.

You should take the opportunity to mix things up, and even hit other keywords potential clients could be searching for.

For example, the next one might be:

"I enjoyed working on [NAME]'s Facebook ad strategy, and we were able to work together to create several profitable ad campaigns. AMAZING."

16. Leverage Gig Authority To Break Out Of Your Niche & Skyrocket Your Sales

I talked earlier about the importance on niching down on Fiverr, but some savvy-eyed folks are quick to point out the obvious.

If you look hard enough, you'll find there are plenty of Fiverr sellers still crushing it with generic gigs, like this guy:

This broadly-targeted gig not only has an impressive 499 reviews, but it's also consistently bringing in new orders with 7 currently in queue.

Gigs like this encourage newbies (and even sometimes experienced sellers) to set up their own generic gigs, but in the vast majority of cases, they're left scratching their head as to why nobody's buying.

So what's their secret?

Two words; gig authority.

The more authoritative a gig is — as in, the more sales and positive reviews it has — the more exposure it is ultimately given in Fiverr's search results.

If we look closely at the URL of this gig, you can start to get an idea of what it actually started out as:

As you can see, this used to be a gig offering article rewrites to pass an online plagiarism service, called Copyscape.

This was the "foot-in-the-door", so to speak.

With only a handful of other sellers to compete with, this guy was able to consistently generate sales and reviews over time.

Once he managed to build up enough authority (and ultimately ranking power) on this gig, he was then able broaden and "rebrand" the service in order to sell to a larger audience.

But it gets better.

While this trick is mostly used to tap into a larger market, it can also be used to transform a service-based gig into a product-based gig.

Easy when you know how, right?

17. Build Up Your Profile Authority To Lift Your Entire Gig Portfolio

This one follows the same principle as the last... with a key twist.

While gig authority represents the overall "ranking power" of a gig, profile authority applies at the account-level.

It represents your ability to not only get people clicking the buy button, but to also deliver a quality service, on-time and to each and every clients unwavering satisfaction.

Fiverr gauges this through the same quality signals I've been banging on about throughout this entire article.

There's no official metric for it, and there's no r​​​​eal way to actually measure the "authority" of your Fiverr profile.

But I we do have the next best thing.

Of course, I'm talking about what Fiverr refers to as 'Seller Levels' — where freelancers are essentially "promoted".

Why is this important?

You know what they say, a rising tide lifts all boats.

If there's one thing I've seen from my time on Fiverr, it's that promoted accounts get more visibility on ALL of their gigs — old and new.

#fact

So here's what you need to do make it happen:

  1. ALWAYS focus on those quality signals
  2. Stay within the rules (read the reqs here)
  3. Be consistent, and be patient. Fiverr takes time.

I hate to end on such a dampening note, but this is perhaps the single most important tip to take away from this post.

Fiverr is a marathon, not a sprint.

Give it the time and attention it needs, and soon enough, you'll have an asset that can easily generate thousands of dollars in revenue each month.

Wrapping It Up...

If you want to start making money on Fiverr, you need to finally ditch the post-and-pray approach.

It doesn't work, and it never will.

Fiverr's algorithm runs on a set of principles that, once understood, allow you to turn this once low-level platform into a powerful sales engine for your freelance business.

Feed it with the same quality signals I've outlined here, and I guarantee you'll see an amazing shift in the way Fiverr treats your gigs.

If you have any questions or you have an advanced Fiverr strategy that I haven't covered here, please let me know in the comments.

Happy selling. 🙂


The Rapid Rise Of Freelancing & What It Means For You In 2018 (And Beyond)

According to a study conducted by Upwork and the Freelancer’s Union, freelancers comprised 36% of the US work force and contribute $1.4 trillion each year to the economy.

The same study predicts that by 2027, freelancers will actually make up the majority of the workforce in America.

This is an unprecedented rise in popularity given that not too many years ago full-time freelancers were only a tiny fraction of the workforce in the US. So what is that has thrown gasoline on the fire of the freelance economy, and what can we expect the future of freelancing to hold?

Factors Contributing to the Growth of Freelancing 

In recent years, a number of factors and scenarios have come together to create the perfect storm for freelancing.

It isn’t any one of these factors that's been the only force behind the growth of freelancing, but rather a combination of all of them together. Some of the main factors contributing to the rapid rise of freelancing are:

Technological Advances

By far one of the biggest driving forces behind the growth of freelancing is the technological advances that have made it possible for freelancers to perform a wide range of jobs while working remotely.

Popular online freelancing platforms enable freelancers to connect with clients who are looking to hire someone to complete a project.

And, through various apps and software, freelancers can perform everything from graphic, design and even software development using only their laptop and WiFi connection.

Changing Ideals of the Perfect Career

A couple generations ago, the ideal career was a steady nine-to-five position in an office with good benefits and a good salary.

For many people, this is still the ideal career. For a growing number of others, though, the ideal career has changed. More than ever before, people are starting to value other career benefits such as the ability to set their own hours and the ability to work remotely and travel when they please.

This is especially true of the millennial generation, who, on the whole, value these benefits more than any generation before them.

Since freelancing offers these career benefits in spades, it has become a natural choice for those who want something different out of their career than what a traditional career offers.

Increased Demand for Freelancers

As the freelancing economy has grown, many companies have begun to realize the benefits of hiring freelancers as part of their workforce. Freelancers allow companies to be more flexible and versatile in how they go about completing various projects.

For example, if a company needs a logo designed, they are able to quickly hire a freelance logo designer online for a one-time project rather than having to go out and recruit a graphic designer to join their company as an employee.

Freelancers also provide companies access to a diverse base of skills and backgrounds that they can leverage.

Before the freelancing economy, a US company would be largely limited to hiring US employees and local ones at that.

Now, though, a company can recruit freelancers from all over the world and make use of their diverse backgrounds and skillsets to come up with more innovative, out-of-the-box solutions.

Combined, these three factors have created the perfect conditions for freelancing to rapidly grow, and right now we are just looking at the beginning of freelancing and the rapid increase in popularity.

So, What Does The Future Of Freelancing Actually Look Like?

Experts agree that we are in the middle of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and plenty of big changes are still to come in regards to the way people work and the careers they pursue.

This is true for both the freelancing economy as well as the more traditional careers. Outlined below are some of the possibilities for what the future of freelancing holds in store.

Automation Remains a Big Concern

There’s no doubt that automation is eating into many of careers that people once commonly held. Today, automation taking the place of employees remains a big concern.

However, freelancers are better prepared to survive this challenge than most employees. For one, surveys show that freelancers are more aware of the challenge that automation presents, with 55% of freelancers saying they are concerned about the impact of automation versus just 29% of non-freelancers.

Beyond this, the roles that freelancers play aren’t likely to be replaced by a machine anytime soon.

Robots and AI may be able to fulfill many positions, but we’re still a long way away from coming up with an AI that can adequately perform creative tasks common in freelancing such as sales copywriting and design.

The Freelancing Economy Will Continue to Grow

The factors driving the growth of freelancing aren’t likely to slow down anytime soon, and, as already mentioned, freelancers are expected to comprise a majority of the workforce in the United States by 2027.

Freelancing may have experienced a major boom in recent years, but analysts agree that we are just at the beginning of that boom rather than the end.

Freelancers Will Begin to Exert Political Influence

In one study, 72% of freelancers surveyed said that they would consider crossing party lines to support a political candidate who indicated that they would support the interests of freelancers.

Freelancers face several political hurdles, such as high small business taxes and access to healthcare. As the freelancing workforce continues to grow, you can expect their political influence to grow as well.

Wrapping It Up...

There's two ways about it, it's an incredibly exciting time to be involved in the freelancing economy.

Businesses all over the world have just begun to realize the value that freelancers are able to offer, while at the same time talented workers all over the world are just now beginning to realize the benefits that freelancing offers over a traditional career.

As the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution continues to shape the way people work and the roles they fill, freelancers are uniquely positioned to make the most of the ever-evolving economy that we have today.

Fiverr Review: Why You Should NEVER Use Fiverr For Freelance Work

I’ll be honest, I always liked the concept behind Fiverr.com.

Just a few clicks and a client can place an order with a freelancer based on a specific set of deliverables.

Easy peasy, right?

Sure, but it comes at a cost. A big one.

This is one the few freelance platforms where buyers are given free reign to abuse, threaten and outright blackmail sellers any way they like.

Why? Because Fiverr turn a blind eye to it.

In this post, I want to share a recent bad experience as a seller on Fiverr, and why I decided to give up on the platform altogether.

How A Regular Order Quickly Turned Into A Hostage Situation

While I’ve been using Fiverr myself (on and off) for a while, this particular experience relates to my girlfriend’s account, not my own.

(I’ve been advising her on building up a reputable account, and how to go above and beyond with every last order. Everything stated is her doing, I’m just an observer.)

In this case, she had just gotten another $5 order on her logo gig, which seemed to be like any other… or so we thought.

The order was fulfilled in good time, and my girlfriend had even included a bonus logo concept as well as the source file (which is usually part of the more expensive package).

The client “loved” one of the concepts and so we proceeded to send her the appropriates file sizes, as stated in the gig description.

Soon after, things got a little weird.

The client came back asking for a social media kit to go with the logo, something that is clearly not offered as part of her gig.

Against my advice, my girlfriend decided to deliver the additional work, despite not getting paid any extra for it.

After that, the client responded with even more demands and some changes to the social media files.

At this point, she agreed enough was enough.

Despite every effort to please this person, they were clearly overstepping their boundaries here.

So, she sent the client a polite message:

The next reply was the nail in the coffin.

This is when the client went from simply overstepping boundaries to unquestionable blackmail. (The equivalent of taking my girlfriend’s Fiverr reputation hostage.)

F*cking disgusting.

While she took some time to ponder a response and reach out to Fiverr support for assistance, the client did eventually go ahead and leave a 1 star review.

Presumably this was to show her he/she wasn’t kidding.

Soon after, while still waiting on Fiverr’s response to the support query, the client paid an extra $10 for the social media kit.

Of course, the payment was accompanied by yet another threat.

At this point, all I wanted to do was go all Liam Neeson and hunt this person down so I could repeatedly punch them in the face.

(Seriously, I would have paid good money for the privilege.)

But, at the time, I still had hope that Fiverr support would step in and rescue my girlfriend from this PITA client.

Enter The *Almighty* Fiverr Support Team

When the response came back from Fiverr support, they told her they couldn’t force the buyer to accept the order.

Okay, that’s fair enough. (Even though the buyer already accepted it, technically.)

They also suggested drawing up a list for the buyer to show the work has been completed in accordance to the gig requirements.

Honestly, this reply just didn’t cut the mustard.

My girlfriend communicated in her initial email that the client was trying to extort her for free work outside the agreed terms, by leaving a negative review if she didn’t comply.

Of course, it wasn’t really about the work, it was about seeking protection from an abusive client who was blatantly pushing their luck.

Their reply didn’t give either of us any confidence that Fiverr really understood that, and even at this stage we felt like they didn’t want to get involved.

Here was her reply to Fiverr:

At the same time, she also responded to the buyers latest threat, explaining that she would not continue to work with them unless the feedback was changed/removed.

(Again, this is feedback that was clearly and intentionally left to bully her into providing work outside of the agreed terms.)

A fair request by anyones standards, right?

Well, apparently not.

Rather than acknowledge what the buyer had done up until this point, Fiverr immediately turned the tables on my girlfriend.

Turns out, she was the one breaking all the rules.

Because she had asked the client to change their feedback, she was no longer entitled to any help from Fiverr support.

You can imagine how we both felt reading this.

Everything that the buyer had said and done prior to her last message was now being swept under the rug — as if never happened at all.

Fiverr essentially chose to support a manipulative bully, leaving my girlfriend with a permanent stain on an account she’d worked so hard to build up.

Case closed.

What a f*cking joke.

Think This Was Just A One-Off? Think Again.

If everything that happened wasn’t upsetting enough, it’s knowing that this person is still running rampant on Fiverr, preying on defensless sellers without a shred of repercussion.

And believe me, there are plenty of buyers doing exactly this on Fiverr, knowing they can and will get away with it.

How do I know?

Well, as all of this was happening, I did some research to see if any other sellers went through a similar ordeal with a buyer.

Very quickly, I found a number of almost identical cases on the Fiverr forum dated years back. (that’s right, years.)

Here are just a few examples:

And this…

And this…

I could go on, but I won’t.

This is clearly something that’s been going on for a long time and it all stems from giving buyers too much power over sellers.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Fiverr, it’s that clients are ALWAYS more valued than freelancers.

Doesn’t matter how much time you put into a project, or how hard you worked on it, or even how well you handled communication during a dispute, when it really comes down to it…

…freelancers have little to no protection.

Even when it’s a clear cut case in your favour, there’s still every chance the client will come out on top. All it takes it one tiny thing you “did wrong” according to their terms of service and EVERYTHING else is disregarded

The worst part?

Looking at the evidence, it’s obvious to me that Fiverr is well aware of what’s going on, yet is still willing to sit back and let it happen.

Tut, tut.

A Final Message To Fiverr…

If you’re a decision maker at Fiverr and you’re reading this, I implore you to seriously reconsider your current support procedures for freelancers.

It’s not right that someone can put all that time and effort into building up an account and over-delivering at every possible opportunity, only to be shot down by the very people you rely on to protect you.

Look, I don’t want to abandon Fiverr.

I don’t want to be telling people to avoid your platform.

But after everything that has happened, you haven’t left me any choice.

Until something is done to protect freelancers from this kind of abuse, I will continue to spread this post and do whatever I can to prevent others from falling victim to your one-sided support team.

The second you actually do something about it and give freelancers a way to fight back, I’ll be more than happy to update the post.

How To Get Your First Job On Upwork Using These 3 “Secret” Ingredients

You’ve signed up for a freelancer account.

You’ve spent hours filling out your profile to perfection.

And you’ve wasted countless days pumping out proposal after proposal without so much as a rejection email to show for it.

Sound familiar?

Well, you’re not alone. In fact, this is something a LOT of new freelancers struggle with when they first jump into the difficult world of Upwork.

And, sadly, it’s an experience that ultimately leads people to come to false conclusions about the platform as a whole.

But, as I often find myself saying these days, the problem isn’t Upwork. The problem is your approach to Upwork.

Flawed Advice

I want to start off by saying that it’s not your fault.

The internet is riddled with garbage advice on every topic imaginable, from relationships, to marketing, and, of course, freelancing.

Most of the stuff you read about Upwork is based on traditional thinking. Approaches that work great in the real world, but in reality, they fall flat in the kind of online environment that Upwork harbors.

Despite popular belief, success on Upwork (or any freelance platform, for that matter) isn’t predetermined.

The truth is:

  • You don’t need previous experience
  • You don’t need a portfolio
  • And you don’t to be qualified

Any “resource” that says otherwise is just spewing flawed advice that’s long passed it’s sell-by-date. The kind of stuff that lingers on old forums and blogs like a fart in an elevator.

It doesn’t matter how dedicated you are, if you’re following the wrong advice, you’ll just keep spinning your wheels until, eventually, you burn the f**k out.

Why Should You Listen To Me?

I just told you that most of the “Upwork advice” out there is total crap, so what makes mine any different?

It’s a good question, and one I hope you at least pondered in the back of your mind.

All I can say is, unlike most of what you read nowadays, I’m actually applying what I teach in my own business. (In fact, you can head over to my Upwork profile right now and confirm for yourself.)

And what I’m about to share with you is the exact strategy I used from the beginning, allowing me to secure copywriting work at $35/hr, and closer to $100 only months later.

And I did it…

  • Without ANY copywriting experience
  • Without a SINGLE portfolio piece
  • With ZERO relevant qualifications

But more than that, I did it regardless of having virtually no history on Upwork, and with more established copywriters were charging less than I was.

How I Pulled It Off…

I’d like to tell you that I’m gifted. I’d like to tell you that I’m incredibly intelligent and that I somehow managed to “hack” my way to the top.

But the truth is, I was just lucky.

Before I started freelancing on Upwork, I was already very familiar with the platform because I’d been using it to hire freelancers for almost 5 years.

Being on the other side of the fence for so long gave me a distinct , unfair advantage when I eventually did switch sides.

And because of that, I was quickly able to reverse-engineer the core ingredients. The same ingredients I’m about to share with you.

The 3 “Secret” Ingredients

I put “secret’ in inverted commas because, despite very few people actually implementing these, they’re not really secret at all.

Ready to have your mind blown? These are the 3 core ingredients we’ll be tackling in this post:

  1. Authority
  2. Credibility
  3. Likability

Before you face-palm and click away, bare with me for a moment.

You already (hopefully) know that being authoritative, credible and likable are crucial ingredients for success. That’s not a new concept by any means.

But, if there’s one thing I’ve come to realize, it’s that just knowing this stuff isn’t enough by itself.

The key is getting a handle on these ingredients, and actively working them into your overall approach on Upwork. Then (and only then) will everything else start clicking into place.

That includes:

  • Your profile overview
  • Your proposals
  • Your work samples
  • Your communication

Alright, it’s time to get your wetsuit on because we’re about to do a deep-dive.

Ingredient #1: Authority

Being an authority, in laymen’s terms, is simply establishing yourself as an expert on a given topic.

And that’s the word people get hung up on. In fact, most people don’t see themselves as being an “expert” on anything.

The truth is, you’re hardwired to think that way, and it originates from a cognitive bias called the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Hence, the corollary to the Dunning–Kruger effect indicates that persons of high ability tend to underestimate their relative competence, and erroneously presume that tasks that are easy for them to perform also are easy for other people to perform. – Wikipedia

To put it plainly, “authority” is subjective.

Clients go to Upwork because they don’t know how to build a website. They don’t know how to write compelling copy. They don’t know how to build an iOS application…

Assuming you know more than they do, in their eyes, you are an authority. All that’s left to do is help them realize that fact. (And again, it is a fact.)

How To Project Authority On Upwork

Being an authority — or being knowledgeable on a given subject — is not enough to land clients on Upwork.

You need to know how to project your authority and market your expertise before you can really start to capitalize.

So let’s look at a few specific tactics you can use:

#1: Offer Suggestions To Demonstrate Value

Whenever you get the opportunity, take some time to make tailored suggestions based on the subject matter of the task.

For example: if a client is looking to improve the conversion-rate for a landing page, check out the page and offer a killer tip that can be implemented for a quick-win.

Not only will this prove to the client that you know your shizzle, but this value-first approach will land you more gigs than you’ve had hot dinners.

#2: Dig Deep Into The Client’s Needs/Pain Points

All too often do I read proposals that are entirely focused on the freelancer and their experience, qualifications, ability,… blah blah.

The problem here is that you don’t become an authority by telling someone you’re an authority. It’s perceptive, and the best way to influence that perception is to put the spotlight on the client.

Whether it’s in your profile overview or in your cover letter, you should always be aiming to help the client, as opposed to selling yourself. (I cover this more in my cover letter analysis post.)

There’s a huge difference between the two and trust me, the mindset you go into this with will almost certainly be carried over in your writing.

#3: Communicate With Power

Alright, so this isn’t a “tactic” per se, but your ability to communicate with power is possibly the single most important factor when it comes to projecting authority — so it has to be said.

For them most part, communicating in the right way stems from believing not only in your ability to deliver results, but also in the true value of your services.

(Wait, you do believe in the value you’re offering, right? Good.)

Not only that, but once you stop clamouring for clients and and start putting yourself in an “overbooked mindset”, you’ll naturally remove any semblance of desperation from your communication.

Ingredient #2: Credibility

Being “credible” ultimately comes to down to whether or not the client believes you can do the job.

Of course, you do inherit a certain level of credibility when you effectively position yourself as an authority…

…but that’s not always enough.

Not only do you need to demonstrate your expertise, but you also need to provide some form of evidence that YOU can get the results.

This is where, for many people, huge portfolios and high-level qualifications play a big part, but they’re not necessary. (In fact, they are among the least effective ways to establish credibility in my opinion.)

How To Establish Credibility On Upwork

There are a few ways I like to do this on Upwork, and each one is tailored to a specific, but universal goal.

Paint a picture of the end result.

I realize that’s sometimes easier said than done, but let me give you a few specific tactics you can use to achieve that.

#1: Give Them The Blueprint

This is something I’ve yet to see any other freelancers using, and it’s a technique I dubbed, “The Mind Map Method”.

Basically, it works by creating a mind map (or any other visual medium) that outlines your process from start to finish. I won’t go into it here because I wrote an entire post on it, so I highly recommend you check out.

There’s a fair bit of setup time to it, but once you’ve created your mind map, it’s something that really sets you apart from everyone else. Besides, it can be used repeatedly, so it’s absolutely worth the upfront investment.

#2: Attach A Highly-Relevant Sample Piece

Yes… I told you that having a portfolio isn’t a necessary component to being successful on Upwork. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Samples are still incredibly important when it comes to conveying credibility, and if you don’t have a portfolio to choose from, you can simply create them on-the-fly.

The biggest impact you can make with your proposal isn’t by submitting something super long or complex, and it isn’t even necessarily about outstanding quality…

…It’s about relevance.

Fortunately, starting from scratch and creating proposals on a need-to-have basis puts you at a massive advantage, because you’ll always have a scarily relevant sample to attach alongside your cover letter.

#3: Cough Up Some Stellar Testimonials

Nothing screams credibility like someone else vouching for your services, especially when the results speak for themselves.

If you’re just starting out on Upwork, you probably don’t have any Upwork feedback to leverage for this, and that’s okay. While this does seem like a bit of a catch-22, there’s a pretty simple workaround.

All you have to realize is…

Nobody said your testimonials must appear exclusively on your Upwork profile, and neither did anyone say they should come from Upwork itself.

In other words, you can source testimonials from from past clients, colleagues, or even friends and relatives, and then you can simply paste them straight into your cover letter.

Ingredient #3: Likability

“Likability” is often attributed to in-person scenarios, but I can tell you now, the same principles apply online, and Upwork is no exception.

The funny thing is, most freelancers tend to overlook this ingredient, and it’s one that will almost always give you the edge over your competitors.

Fortunately, only a slight shift is needed to take full advantage of this, and you’ll slap yourself once you realize just how powerful it is.

How To Be Insanely Likable On Upwork

A lot of this stuff comes down to just being human, and, as obvious as that may sound, you’d be amazed at just how many proposals read like a letter to the President.

Again, let’s look at a few specific tactics you can use:

#1: Address Each Client By Name (Seriously)

If there’s one stupidly easy way to set a good impression right from the start, it’s by addressing the client by their actual name.

Yet, even when I’ve clearly listed my name in the job description, I find more than half of applicants still fail to start their cover letter with it. (Which promptly lands them in the rejected archives.)

Can’t see a name? I’ve got some sneaky tricks for finding any client’s name, but I only share them with subscribers so you’ll have to gimme your email if you want in. 😉

#2: Inject Complements Where Appropriate

I struggled with this myself at first because I really hate forced compliments. (They’re so pronounced and full of intent.)

But I quickly figured out that even a subtle compliment slipped into your cover letter can go a long way, and if you know where to look, it’s really not hard to find a genuine reason to make one.

It could be as simple as…

  • Complementing the design of the client’s website
  • Acknowledging a need for the client’s product
  • Showing an interest in the client’s business or market
  • Thanking the client for a detailed job description
  • And literally dozens more…

Such a small thing, but it really does work wonders when it’s said in the right way and with conviction.

#3: Show Dem Pearly Whites

See the little circle that appears next to your name on Upwork? That’s right, your profile photo.

That little beaut is one seriously overlooked piece of real-estate, and using a cropped FB picture from your friends stag-party just isn’t going to cut it. Not this time.

The biggest impact you can make with your profile photo is to smile. And not just a casual smirk, but the biggest full on ear-to-ear smile you can muster.

A genuine smile is incredibly powerful. It communicates ease and openness, approachability and trustworthiness. It is perhaps the single most immediate way to express likability. –
The 11 Laws Of Likability

Wrapping It Up

Understanding and applying these core ingredients will not only allow you secure your first job on Upwork, but they are the key to landing consistent work on the platform.

And while I’ve only scratched the surface on the individual tactics, the lessons in this article alone will put you head and shoulders above the competition.

Feeling confident? It’s time to get yourself back on Upwork and win yourself that first job.

Good luck!

Getting Paid on Upwork: Are You Following These 6 Crucial Rules?

Navigating a freelance marketplace like Upwork can be a bit of a minefield at times.

That’s why it’s important to do your homework, especially when it comes to getting paid. After all, getting paid is one of the main reasons, if not the main reason, you are freelance writing. Duh.

Whether you choose to undertake hourly assignments or fixed-price contracts, the trick is to ensure that you’re adhering by Upwork’s payment policies in order to avoid getting yourself into any disputes or sticky situations.

You’ve worked hard, you’ve completed the contract and now naturally you want what you’re owed. Read on for my 6 crucial rules that you must follow so you can get paid successfully on Upwork.

#1: Leverage Hourly Protection

If you’re already familiar with Upwork, you’ll know that the site offers payment protection to freelancers for the hours they work, as long as the freelancer meets certain criteria.

First of all, you have to ensure that you’re logging the hours that you’re putting in through the timesheet on the Upwork Desktop app. You can simply download this app for free from the site as soon as you sign up.

Then, you need to make sure you’re regularly updating your Work Diary with activity labels. This is so you can demonstrate the tasks that you’re performing for the purpose of your client.

If you’ve never worked with a particular client before, this hourly protection is ideal if you’re unsure about them, or if they’re suspicious, in any way. Trust me, it’s a trust builder. But once you’ve got the hourly protection down, then you can proceed to kick ass at those fixed price contracts!

#2: Fix Your Timesheet To Avoid Disputes (Hourly Only)

There are some instances where freelancers won’t qualify for hourly payment protection. I know – what’s up with that, right?

At the end of each week, you’ll have a brief window which you can use to help you clean up your timesheet. Make sure you check over and edit it before you send it off to your client.

The key is to remove any segments that are added manually, as well as any incorrect or missing memos. If you have long periods of low activity, you might want to remove them too, as this won’t work in your favor if there are any disputes. It’s also worth taking out any screenshots that are irrelevant or inappropriate.

Basically, keep things tidy and you’re laughing!

#3: Leverage Fixed-Price Protection

Not only does Upwork aid freelancers working on hourly contracts, but the site also offers payment protection for fixed-price contracts.

When you first start working with a new client on a fixed-price contract, there is the option to split heavier workloads into milestones. The client must always fund the next milestone in the contract. Then the money will be held in Escrow until the work has been completed to, what the client deems, a satisfactory level. Then the client approves the milestone and you gain access to your dollar. It’s as simple as rice and peas.

Like with hourly protection, fixed-price protection allows you to develop trust between yourself and your client which will hopefully result in a happy long-term relationship!

#4: ALWAYS Submit Your Work For Fixed-Price Jobs

What a lot of freelancers don’t realise is that sending work through Upwork’s messaging service or via email is considered as unofficial delivery. I was also guilty of this in the beginning!

The best way to go about it is to submit your work through the Upwork contract which will then kick off a two-week review period. The client can request changes or edits to be made to your work within this time limit. When the client is satisfied, they will approve the milestone and you will get paid! Happy dance!

However, if the client gives you the silent treatment and you don’t hear from them within these two weeks, you will still be sent the payment at the end of the review period. Another happy dance!

 

#5: Set Up Automatic Payments

You can choose the way that you get paid by Upwork, both through the payment method and the payment schedule.

In terms of method, you can decide which way you’d like your mullah to come through to you. The most popular methods are direct to your bank account or via PayPal. You can also have the funds wired to your bank or delivered through Payoneer.

In terms of schedule, you can choose to either get paid weekly (every Wednesday), twice per month (the first and third Wednesday of the month), monthly (the last Wednesday of every month), or quarterly (the last Monday of each quarter). Choices, choices!

However, make sure you choose carefully. As you get charged a flat-fee for every withdrawal, it’s better to specify a higher payout amount. Think about it.

 

#6: Don’t Be Tempted By Outside Payment Methods

As originally talked about in this article, there are plenty of clients who try to coax you into being paid outside of Upwork. The little rebels. Now it goes without saying that you will lose Upwork’s protection by agreeing to this.

I can understand why it’s so attractive; you get to skip the 324 fees of Upwork which end up taking a big chunk out of your wage (okay, slight exaggeration). And you can get paid according to your own terms and time schedule.

However, this is a little risky. If you get caught by Upwork then you could lose your account. Say what you like about Upwork, but it is a core driver of leads for your business as a freelance writer. So, be careful.

It is tempting in one sense, but completely not worth it in another. If you choose to get paid via PayPal for example, and there’s a dispute, PayPal tends to favor buyers over sellers. So not only would it be bye bye client, but it would also be bye bye money! Not cool.

If you really, absolutely, unequivocally want to take your client off the platform, there is an opt-out fee that few freelancers even know exists. It’s pricey, though.

Wrapping It Up

Essentially, it’s all about putting measures in place and respecting Upwork’s policies in order to protect yourself and your wages.

Being a large freelance marketplace, I know Upwork can be overwhelming at times. The getting paid side of it can be a little challenging to get your head around, especially when you’re new to it all, but if you follow these 6 rules then you won’t go far wrong.

And you’ll be an Upwork pro before you know it!

Upwork Vs Fiverr – Which One Is Truly King Of The Freelancing Hill?

By now, we’ve all seen those ridiculously long lists of places to find freelance work online. (I’m in the process of creating my own, but with a unique twist to make it actually useful.)

And while list-posts like that are an invaluable resource for any freelancer trying to kickstart (or grow) their business, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by just figuring out where to focus your energy.

In this post, I’ll tackle two biggest freelance platforms on the interwebs right now, giving my perspective on which of these monsters you should really be paying attention to.

Who Are These Giants?

In case you’ve been living in your Grandma’s basement for the past couple years, let’s quickly establish why we’re even comparing these two juggernauts in the first place.


Upwork is the result of a merger between oDesk and Elance back in March, 2014, and, as a result, it’s now the biggest freelance exchange in the world.

The platform is estimated to receive 43 million visits per month, and is said to house over 5 million client accounts, and 12 million freelance accounts, with jobs worth more than $1 billion in revenue each year.


Fiverr, established in February, 2010, is the $5+ marketplace that now ranks in the top 100 most popular sites in the US.

The platform is estimated to receive 35 million visits per month, and is also said to facilitate close to 1 million transactions per month.


Understanding The Key Differences

Despite both Upwork and Fiverr having a huge presence in the online freelancing world, and despite being compared side-by-side in this post…

…they aren’t actually all that similar.

Yes, they both allow you to connect with clients across various skill categories, but the similarities stop there for the most part.

Truth is, these platforms function very differently, and before you can even begin to know which platform is best, you need to really understand those key differences.

In a nutshell, this is how it looks:


Upwork

  • You offer services closely related to your skills
  • You bid on jobs to win client contracts, where scope is set by the client
  • The earning potential is broader

Fiverr

  • You offer gigs that can span across any number of services
  • Clients buy your gig, where the scope is set by you – the freelancer
  • The earning potential is on the lower side (initially, at least)

So… Which One Is Better?

The reason I can’t give you a straight answer to this question is because it’s the wrong question to begin with.

One isn’t inherently better than the other.

Both freelance platforms compliment your freelance business in entirely different ways – as highlighted in the comparison above.

Tapping into either of these can be lucrative — and you can absolutely benefit from both — but it’s more effective to master one strategy before moving on to another form of lead generation.



Lewis’s Note
To summarize: Upwork is better for finding high-paying, long-term clients, while Fiverr is better for offering multiple high-volume, narrow and repeatable services.

The Real Question

The real question you should be asking has been staring you point-blank in the face since you started reading this article.

It’s not: “which platform is better”. That’s always going to be subjective.

In fact, it’s the same question I embedded into the title of this article… “Which one Is right for YOU and YOUR business?”

And if I frame the comparison in a slightly different way, it becomes a whole lot easier to identify which is the best fit.

Wrapping It Up

Look, I don’t know what business you’re in. And I don’t know what services you offer.

What I do know is, you should be able to take what I given you and figure out pretty quickly whether or not either of these platforms fit into your business (not the other way around).

If for some reason you can’t do that, then you need to take a step back and figure out what it is you’re actually offering, and what format best fits that offering.

How To Ace Upwork’s Interview Process (And Obliterate Your Competition)

Let’s face it, nobody likes interviews.

Having to prove yourself to someone you likely don’t even know is tough. And when it goes wrong, it’s demoralizing.

But what few freelancers realize, is that Upwork’s interview process is far from a typical job interview. And, once you fully understand how it works, you’ll see that it’s actually not all that scary.

In today’s post, I’ll reveal how interviews truly function on Upwork, and more specifically, some core principles that allow you to breeze through Upwork interviews every single time.

The Initial “Interview” Phase

There’s a reason I put the word “interview” in quotes.

Not because I like quotes (who doesn’t like quotes?). It’s actually because the term is a little misrepresented on Upwork, specifically.

In the real world, an interview would be defined as:

“A somewhat formal discussion between a hirer and an applicant or candidate, typically in person, in which information is exchanged, with the intention of establishing the applicant’s suitability for a position.”

But on Upwork, that’s not strictly the case.

In fact, the official moment an interview begins is when a client responds to a freelancers application (or proposal). You can even see this publicly.

A response doesn’t necessarily mean they want to interview you per se, and in many cases, it means:

  • Scenario 1: The client wants to give you more information about the task
  • Scenario 2: They’re already sold on you and want to ask some general questions (ideas, availability, etc.)
  • Scenario 3: They’re looking to negotiate (price, deadline, scope of work, etc.)

All of that stuff just relies on basic communication and negotiation skills.

Of course, there will occasions where the client prefers to do a separate, slightly more literal interview to help narrow down their options.



Lewis’s Note
It’s even possible to skip the “interview” process entirely if the client sends a hire request in direct response to your proposal. It’s quite rare, though.

2 Types Of Dedicated Interviews

So let’s assume the client does want you to prove yourself, how does that actually translate?

In my experience, it can be broken down into two core types.

  • Type 1: The Call
  • Type 2: The Sample

In this post, I’ll only be breaking down ‘Type 1’ since that’s the area people tend to struggle with, and it’s also what most people would associate with being
“an interview.”

(Don’t worry, I plan to a release a separate post on samples soon. I’ll update this section when I eventually hit publish on that bad boy.)

The Call

In this case, the the client will reach out to request to have a call with you. Usually on a separate platform (although you can actually call directly through Upwork now.)

Here’s how that might look:

A key thing to keep in mind here, is that most clients will assume this to be an unpaid offering of your time.

Now, there are very few cases where I recommend working for free, but given how well these calls convert, I’d say it’s very low-risk on your end — providing you execute properly, of course.

That said, there are a couple boundaries I’d recommend you communicate to the client from the offset.

Boundary #1: Date And Time

As you can see in the screenshot above, the client will often suggest a date and time for the call.

Since Upwork is an international marketplace, it’s very likely that clients will suggest times that are super inconvenient for you. And, if that’s the case, don’t be afraid to offer alternatives that better suit you.

In fact, you can even use a tool like Calendly to give the client a visual overview of your availability, and they can book themselves in. (This is also great for positioning yourself a high-level, in-demand freelancer.)



Lewis’s Note
If the client doesn’t show up and fails to give you notice of cancellation, I recommend taking that as a pretty big red flag and considering passing on the opportunity entirely.

Boundary #2: Duration

This is a BIG one and something I was always reluctant to do when I first started out, but it’s a necessary part of establishing yourself as a professional and learning to respect your own time.

Most invitations for a call are open-ended. They have no specified duration and could last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour (or longer).

That’s why it’s your responsibility, as the service provider, to communicate the allotted time-frame of the call. Especially if you’re not being paid for you time.

Not only does this BEAM authority, but it forces both parties to get all their ducks in a row before the call and make it a highly-focused and productive 10…15…20 minutes.

How To Pass With Flying Colors

Ok so you’ve had a response to one of your proposals, and you’ve successfully scheduled a time to jump on a call.

What next? 

Well, one of the best ways to ensure a smooth interview (and to almost certainly bag the job) is to be irrationally prepared for every scenario.

Now, as I said before, these interviews are almost never like traditional job interviews. They tend to be a lot more informal and sometimes even require YOU to take the lead.

As long you’re prepared, that will never be an issue. In fact, taking the lead is often something you want to strive for. Being able to direct the conversation in a way that hits all the right notes is exactly what you want.

Being Irrationally Prepared

I don’t care how nervous or inexperienced you are for a call, being unreasonably and irrationally prepared is the only way to overcome the negative emotions and absolutely blow your prospective client away.

Look, 90% of the interview takes place before the interview even starts. The rest is just executing on what you’ve already laid out for yourself prior to jumping on the call.

Okay, I’ve got a lot to share so this will a bit of a quick-fire section:

#1: Just Ask

Once you’ve scheduled a call with the client, you should always ask if there’s something they’d like you to prepare for the call.

Even though you’ll already be preparing everything you could possibly need, their answer can often give insight into what kind of interview the client wants this to be.

(Whether it be a casual chat, a strategy call, or a more traditional, question-by-question grilling.)

This is more of a mindset thing more than anything else, and going in with the right mindset is another form of preparation that should never be underestimated.

#2: Reread The Job Description

Rereading the job description you applied for is a great way to get a quick refresher on what the opportunity is actually about.

It can sometimes be weeks until you hear back from a client, let alone end up on a call with them, which is why it’s crucial to remind yourself of why you were interested in the first place.

This also ties in heavily with the new few points…

#3: Research The Company

The job description rarely offers enough information to get a complete understanding of the clients company and their goals.

A great place to get that information is from the company website. If the client didn’t mention their website anywhere on Upwork, take a note from the first point and just ask.

You don’t have to spend hours combing through each page of their website, but a quick read over the home page and about page will likely give you more insight than you know what to do with.

#4: Always Be Taking Notes

As you do your research prior to the call, you should always be taking notes. It sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed by how many people skip this part.

Relying on your brain to recall information at just the right time is a risky move, and the payoff for getting it right is significant enough to warrant going the extra mile to have it all written down.

Trust me, something as simple as reading back a clients mission statement in the midst of a conversation will earn you HUGE brownie points.

#5: Have Samples Ready

Often times, even though you’ve likely provided a sample prior to the call, you will mention something that ties in closely to something you’ve done previously.

For example, that might be a particular strategy you recommend the client take, which is likely something you’ve executed in the past. Wouldn’t it be awesome to back up your advice with a proven case study?

It’s all well and good saying “I’ll send that to you after the call”, but walking the client through it right there and then has significantly more impact than letting them figure it out solo. (And that’s if they even remember to check it.)

#6: Watch Your Connection

I won’t jabber on about this because it’s fairly straightforward — but it’s so important to take the call on a stable internet connection.

There’s nothing worse than having to repeat yourself countless times (or worse, asking the client to repeat themselves) because you couldn’t be bothered to check your WiFi capabilities.

No matter how prepared you are in terms of what to say, none of it matters if you’re not able to properly communicate.

#7: Don’t Dodge Questions

Very occasionally, you’ll get that one question you’re not quite sure how to answer. It may be that you don’t know how to phrase it, you’re not confident in your ability to explain it, or you simply don’t know the answer.

It happens. Don’t sweat it. But the last thing you should do in that situation is try and dodge the question. Just be straight about your concern in answering that specific question.

Being upfront and honest is something that anyone (and especially clients) will appreciate, and maintaining authenticity is always a good substitute for when you don’t simply don’t have the answer.

Wrapping It Up

As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, Upwork interviews aren’t something to get your knickers in a twist over.

At it’s core, the key is to understand the true definition of an Upwork interview and how it actually functions in comparison to a traditional interview.

From there, success simply comes down to your ability to be irrationally prepared for every possible scenario. And believe me, few freelancers are taking advantage of this crucial phase of client acquisition.

27 Insanely Practical Writing Blogs Every Word-Ninja Should Follow

Whether you’re just starting out in the freelance writing world, are a few years into building your career, or have been knocking out content for more years than you can even remember – we all need a little inspiration sometimes.

Often, the best way to develop our own careers is to learn from the careers of others. (We learn what works for them, so we can replicate the same success ourselves.)

We can also learn from what hasn’t worked for them, by making sure that we don’t repeat their mistakes! Lucky for us, there are many successful freelance writers out there, all willing to share tips and advice based on their own personal experiences.


1. Smart Blogger

asana

Smart Blogger (formerly Boost Blog Traffic) shares tips, strategies and guides on building and growing a successful blog. As you might expect, many of these posts revolve around writing, and they’re easily among the most actionable articles I’ve ever read.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
Jon Morrow


2. Writers in Charge

asana

Writers in Charge is owned by a Freelance Writer who’s currently enjoying wild success in the industry. Through the blog, Bamidele shares his expertise and experiences, as well as numerous free resources, in order to help you further your own career in freelance writing.

My top picks


3. Freelancer FAQ’s

asana

Freelancer FAQ’s does what it says on the tin, answering all of the common questions that a budding Freelance Writer might have. Different professionals in the industry often guest post, providing a wealth of knowledge and a community feel to the site.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
Elna Cain


4. The Write Life

asana

The Write Life aims to turn the journey on the way to becoming a Freelance Writer into a fun one, by offering help and advice to eliminate as much stress and confusion as possible. From their income reports, to how-to’s and SEO strategies, you’re bound to learn something!

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
Alexis Grant


5. ProBlogger

asana

If you haven’t yet heard of ProBlogger, then are you even a freelance writer? Well-known particularly for hosting detailed, high quality advertisements on their job board, this site is the go-to resource for any self-respecting freelance writer. Their variety of learning methods, through podcasts, e-books, in-depth tutorials, mean that it won’t be long before you’re a daily visitor.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
Darren Rowse


6. Be A Freelance Blogger

asana

Sophie Lizard’s simplistic, no-nonsense blog content delivers help and advice for young, aspiring writers. Each post comes with bags of enthusiasm and oozes Sophie’s infectious personality, providing a high dose of entertainment alongside practical writing tips.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


7. Freelance Writing Gigs

asana

Another website centred around its highly credited job board is Freelance Writing Gigs. This site collates jobs from a variety of sources, as well as providing business, job-hunting and writing resources in order to help you grow your freelance writing career.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
Visit Blog


8. Daily Writing Tips

asana

Daily Writing Tips publish a new article, you guessed it, every day in order to help budding writers improve their grammar and writing on a technical level. The topics range from spelling and punctuation, to usage and vocabulary, aiming to turn your writing into not only something, but something amazing.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
Maeve Maddox


9. BloggingPro

asana

Very similar to ProBlogger in principle due to being owned by the same media company, BloggingPro currates top quality job advertisements on a daily basis for its popular job board. In addition to being a great job resource, the site also offers an abundance of WordPress tips and an extensive book list to serve as research for freelance writing beginners.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
BlPro


10. Aliventures

asana

The owner of Aliventures, Ali Luke, aims to encourage beginners to “master the art, craft and business of writing” for both fiction and nonfiction purposes. From tips and techniques, to personal development and motivational features, Ali shares her thoughts and experiences to help you be the best writer that you can possibly be.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
Ali Luke


11. Make A Living Writing

asana

Through video tutorials, e-books, and a writers-based community, Make a Living Writing is bursting with practical information and actionable advice for any solopreneur in the making.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
Carol Tice


12. Writing Revolt

asana

Writing Revolt is one of my personal favorite blogs for freelance writers. Jorden Roper’s no-bullsh*t approach to coaching aspiring writers is just as entertaining as it is helpful. There is certainly no fluff involved, compared to some other sites out there, and it’s just great to be able to laugh while you’re learning!

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
Jorden Roper


13. All Freelance Writing

asana

Featuring a frequently updated job board, alongside a forum for freelance writers, All Freelance Writing (formerly All Indie Writers) is one of the best resources for bloggers wanting to not only build a business, but make it flourish.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
Jenn Mattern


14. Live Write Thrive

asana

Susanne Lakin is a writing coach and copy-editor who provides online courses to professionals in the writing and editing fields. In addition to handy resources, Live Write Thrive also communicates the latest news and events for the wordsmith community.

My top picks


15. Shout Me Loud

asana

Shout Me Loud is a blog for bloggers with an aim to “liberate every human being from the 9-6 job.” They’re dedicated to providing content that will guide aspiring writers through the blogging process, from conception to monetization.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


16. Lauren Sapala

asana

The Lauren Sapala blog is mostly educational-based. Lauren offers online courses and coaching tips in order to help her readers improve their writing, build confidence, and empower their creative flame.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


17. Enchanting Marketing

asana

Henneke Duistermaat is a successful entrepreneur who runs the blog over at Enchanting Marketing. Her enthusiasm and passion for coaching other professionals in this field is infectious, and she provides light-hearted blog posts on writing topics, alongside offering educational online courses.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
Henneke D.


18. CopyBlogger

asana

Henneke from Enchanting Marketing is actually a frequent guest contributor to Copyblogger: a site whose aim is to teach people how to produce “killer online content.” In addition to offering online courses, they have listicle-type blog posts that are incredibly engaging and valuable to budding freelance writers.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
Brian Clark


19. KissMetrics

asana

Surely you’ve heard of a (not so) little site called Kissmetrics? If not, then allow me to enlighten you! The Kissmetrics blog provides some of the most practical advice for bloggers there ever was. They focus on content based around analytics, marketing, and testing, in order to primarily help bloggers optimize their growth.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
Visit Blog


20. The Write Practice

asana

The Write Practice has extensive practical tutorials for any type of writer. As well as freebies and fun articles for creative writers, The Write Practice also provides grammar and interviewing tips aplenty.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
Joe Bunting


21. She Writes

asana

She Writes is, you guessed it, a site for female freelance writers. It is one of the largest online communities for women, whether they are at the beginning stages of their writing careers, or have been in the industry for years. The site has a lovely, personable feel and provides encouragement for every woman currently working in the writing field. Go, girls!

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
Kamy Wilcoff


22. About Freelance Writing

asana

About Freelance Writing is especially aimed at writers in the early stages of freelance writing, giving them all the tools that they need to get their careers off the ground. From helpful books and online courses to job boards, About Freelance Writing serves as the ultimate guide for beginners.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
Anna Wayman


23. Productive Writers

asana

Three guesses as to what this site champions? That’s right, productivity! Their philosophy is that the more productive you are – not just in terms of learning, but in terms of actual writing – then the higher chance you have at succeeding. Productive Writers’ signature blog post comes in the form of a guidebook, and these guidebooks are based on a range of topics, making you feel well-equipped for your venture into the freelance writing world.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
John Soares


24. The International Freelancer

asana

The International Freelancer offers shareable posts that are split into four categories, resembling the four different stages of your freelance writing career: “finding the work”, “doing the work”, “running the business” and “living the life”. The site makes it easy for you to search for the help that you need and then receive beneficial advice from the experts.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


25. Write To Done

asana

Write To Done is unique in the sense that it offers motivational self-help articles, alongside thoughtful freelance writing advice. They put a creative spin on otherwise mundane topics and deliver content that is just as entertaining as it is educational.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog

Author
Mary Jaksch


26. Men With Pens

asana

You might be thinking, like She Writes, Men With Pens is a freelance writing website aimed at a specific gender. And the owner, James Chartrand, is a man. But you’re wrong on both counts. James runs a successful freelance writing business and shares her personal thoughts, experiences and learnings from her own career through the Men With Pens blog.

My top picks


27. Rosie Does Digital

asana

Rosie Does Digital may be a relatively new freelance writing business website, but its content is seriously dreamy. Not only are the posts really advantageous and useful for writing beginners, but the content on the site is beautifully presented. Everything is so pretty and attractive that you can’t help but do the love heart-eyed emoji.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Wrapping It Up

Whether you decide to check out just one of these blogs, have a peek at a few, or go crazy visiting them all – which FYI might take you all day – I guarantee that you will discover at least one good piece of writing advice.

The trick is to harbor what you learn so that you can apply this information to your own freelance writing career. That way, you’ll become a major success in no time, and then you can share your own expertise. It’s an endless cycle!

How To Write A Highly-Effective Meta Tag Description (Like The Pros)

You’ve written stellar content and want to create a link to the page that will rank in Google. You can create a meta description that captures the magic of your page while giving the reader a powerful mental image of what your content offers them. This article is going to show you how to construct a hard hitting, highly impactful meta description.

What Is A Meta Description?

A meta description is a snapshot of your content’s main idea. It’s a 135 to 160-character summary that leaves the reader wanting to click on your link.

The  snippet of what the web page is about displays in search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo and Yandex, just to name a few. It is best to set your own meta description in the CMS you’re using like WordPress or Joomla.

Why Is Your Meta Description Important?

If you don’t write your own meta description, one is automatically generated for you containing the first or second sentence of your link.

For instance, if there were no written meta description for this page, underneath the name of the page name you’d read: “You’ve written stellar content and want to create a link to the page that will rank in Google.

You can create a meta description that captures the magic of your page while giving the reader a pow…” This line doesn’t compare to the competing articles above or below it.

Creating your own meta description allows you to squeeze out the juice from your article so that your user will read it and get thirsty enough to click on your link.

Most People Neglect Creating Meta Descriptions

Why would anyone not write a customwant to create a meta description? Many people don’t know about meta descriptions. They think that they’re something that’s automatically generated or that it’s optional. While that’s all true, meta descriptions drive traffic to your website. Creating your own powerful meta description improves click through rates dramatically. This means you’ll actually see the traffic on your website increase once your pages have solid meta descriptions. See the difference here:

Automatically Generated Meta Description: BAD

Manually Written Meta Description: Good

See the difference between the “Bad” meta description and the “Good” meta description. The automatically generated meta description looks like it was grabbed from some random part of the article. It doesn’t make you want to click on the link because it doesn’t communicate any value. The second meta description is clear, concise, and communicates an interesting and little-known fact about annuities. The second meta description, for this reason, will get more clicks throughs, often resulting in a higher ranking. A human touch is always infinitely more powerful.

Surprisingly enough, the automatically written meta description is from a government website. This just goes to show you that by creating your own meta descriptions, you could actually communicate to users that your site is more relevant to their search than a government regulated fact site. How’s that for getting ahead of the game?

The 7 Elements of a KILLER Meta Description

Meta descriptions are a conversion factor that ultimately translates into a ranking factor. How can you create epic meta descriptions? Here are 7 ways that you can increase clicks and drive traffic to your webpage.

1. Stay Within The Limits

Meta descriptions should be limited to 155 characters and no more than 160. Unlike a Twitter post that are to 140 characters, meta descriptions are limited by pixel. This means that a search engine like Google will crop your description to a certain width. These tools will help you with creating meta descriptions that fit Google’s parameters: Yoast SEO and Google SERP Snippet Optimization Tool

Avoid truncated meta descriptions. This means using asterisks or quotation marks in your snippet. You can get help with getting around using truncation in meta descriptions from the Moz SERP tool.

2. Cut Out The Fluff

Make the most of your character limit. The more to the point you are, the bigger the effect you’re going to make on the user. Remember, someone scrolling through a Google search list wants to meet a need. If your meta description isn’t impactful, they’re not going to click on your page.

3. Avoid Trickery

Explain clearly what your page is about. The more to the point you are, the more relevant your webpage will be to the people searching for that information. Using flowery, click-bait meta descriptions can get you more clicks, but users will leave your page as quickly as they arrived. When users visit only one page on your site and then leave quickly, it increases your ‘bounce rate’, which decreases your rank.

4. The PAS Framework

Use the PAS framework to write your meta descriptions. PAS stands for problem, agitate and solution. PAS is guide that first identifies a problem: “Tired of student debt?” It then agitates the reader: “Many alumni are buried in debt. Some still haven’t found jobs after graduating from college.” Finally, it offers a solution: “Applying for loan forgiveness is simple.”

5. Core Benefit

Don’t get carried away with the details. Focus on communicating the core benefit of your page. Why should users click through to your site? Why is your site important and what value does your content bring your readers?

6. Use Common Words

Include keywords in your meta description. Use bold words because they stand out to the reader as well as SERPs. Refer to the third screenshot that shows you what a good meta description looks like. See that the word “Annuities” is in bold? The user’s eyes scan the screen and stop on your meta description. Making key words bold will make users read your meta description.

7. Test Variations

If your click through rate is low, change your meta description. Keep playing with it. Try different ways and see what works best. Research keywords that is relevant to your content and use those words in your meta description.

Take Action

Constructing powerful meta descriptions takes practice. Use the resources linked in this article as a guide. Creating hard- hitting descriptions that increase your click through rate and generate traffic to your website is possible. Start now with step one, and as a tip, don’t use the same meta description for multiple web pages. Have you found a method that works for you? Comment below. We want to hear your opinions on what makes a killer meta description.

Upwork Proposals: A Deep And Thorough Analysis Of A Real Cover Letter

Ahh… Upwork proposals.

As a long-time Upwork client, I’ve personally read well over 1,000 proposals and hired my fair share of freelancers along the way.

If there’s one thing I can say without a doubt, it’s that the majority of proposals I’ve received over the years have been… well… awful.

The truth is, most freelancers are completely oblivious to what really makes a great Upwork proposals (even if they think they know).

So here’s the deal…

Today, I’m not just going to tell you what makes a winning Upwork proposal, I’m going to show you.

Making The Cut

I recently posted the below job ad on Upwork (twice), where I was looking to hire a content writer.

Within 24 hours, I’d already managed to attract a couple dozen applicants.

As usual, though, I ended up deleting 98% of the responses I received. (Out of 31 responses, I was left with 2 reasonably good candidates.)

Like I said…

…I’ve gone through this elimination process countless times already, and this kind of result isn’t too far from the norm.

If you’ve ever found yourself applying to endless jobs only to never hear back, it’s because you’re just not making the cut.

The good news?

It’s easily fixable once you learn and implement what I’m about to teach you. Today, I’ve picked out one cover letter I’d like to share with you.

Obviously, my goal isn’t to “out” anybody here, it’s to highlight common mistakes in the hope that I can help you better your proposals and land more clients.

Note: When I say “proposal”, in most cases, I’m actually talking about the cover letter in particular, which is the written part of an Upwork proposal.

The Cover Letter

Below is the cover letter we’ll be analyzing, and this is one I received only a few days ago in response to my job ad.

I’ve blurred out some personal information for anonymity, but have a quick read over it. Please. 🙂

I chose this one for the case study because if you read it, you’ll probably struggle to find anything inherently “wrong” here.

(In fact, it’s a lot better than most proposals I receive through Upwork.)

But, while I will admit this isn’t a terrible cover letter, there are still a few fundamental flaws I’d like to address.

Pay attention, because I bet your bottom teeth you’re doing at least one of these yourself.

The Bad Stuff

#1: THE SALUTATION

Before we even get into the meat of this cover letter, there’s already a slip up on the very first line.

If you look at my job advert again, you’ll notice I actually included my name at the very end.

Obviously, this freelancer didn’t bother to address me by name, despite the fact I gave it to them on a silver platter.

Maybe they didn’t read the entire job ad, or maybe they just didn’t think it was important to include it. Either way, these are not traits I would personally be looking for in a freelancer.



Lewis’s Pro Tip
Many clients – including myself – purposely include a name to quickly eliminate ~60% of applicants who miss it. It’s just another filter, so don’t get caught by it.

#2: THE ANGLE

This is the one most freelancers get caught up in – and likely the one you missed after reading the cover letter.

It’s not what they said, it’s HOW they said it. The entire letter is focused on the freelancer, not the client.

In fact, just look at how many “me” statements there are (yellow) compared to statements that are focused on me (green):

Look, I get it. It makes complete sense to mention your achievements, your experience, and your talents. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But unless you can directly relate those things back to the client and explain exactly how they will benefit, none of it matters. It’s just waffle.



Lewis’s Pro Tip
Try turning a “me” statement into a “you” statement wherever possible. And if you absolutely have to talk about yourself, be clear about why the client should even care.

#3: THE LENGTH

I always get asked about the “correct” length for a cover letter, and honestly, it’s hard to say exactly what that is.

What I can say is, the goal should be to include only the essential elements in as few words as possible. (It’s obvious, but you’d be surprised.)

From my experience, the sweet spot tends to be somewhere around 120-150 words. Considering this cover letter stands at 226 words, it’s already a bit too long in my opinion.

Remember, clients are busy people. The last thing they want to see is a wall of text. Keep it short, fluff-free and punchy.



Lewis’s Pro Tip
Psst.. I share my exact cover letter structure with email subscribers. Just click this box if you’re down.

#4: THE SAMPLE

This is another “hidden” filter I plant inside my job ads.

Some freelancers are very quick to just point you to their portfolio and have you wade through different samples until you find a relevant piece. (Please, please, pleeeeease don’t do that.)

Others will do one slightly better and attach half a dozen relevant pieces to the cover letter itself. But again, that’s hardly respecting the clients time.

That’s why, in my job ads, I make sure to slot this little gem in somewhere:

Even with that so bluntly thrown in, roughly HALF of applicants fail to include a single sample piece.

The proposal (or cover letter) above was no exception. No links. No attachments. Not even a portfolio on Upwork. Nothing.

The Good Stuff

#1: CREDIBILITY

If there’s one thing this cover letter is full to brim with, it’s credibility.

This particular freelancer is involved at high-level with several recognized online publications. And that says a LOT in terms of writing ability.

Not only that, but I can actually verify whether these claims are true, just by going to each website and looking for the name. (Some form of verification is crucial whenever you’re trying to establish credibility.)

Of course, the freelancer has gone a little overboard in this case, but the right ingredients are definitely buried in there. No doubt about that.



Lewis’s Pro Tip
If you’re looking for other ways to establish credibility, I wrote a killer post on something I call “The Mind Map Method“.

#2: SPELLING & GRAMMAR

What can I say… the spelling and grammar is flawless.

As someone who’s hired more writers than anything else on Upwork, it’s clearly important for me to see stellar writing ability within the cover letter itself.

Even if you’re not a writer, it still doesn’t hurt to run your cover letter through some free tools before you send it off. (Bad spelling and grammar is still a low quality indicator.)

Conclusion

Your proposal (and your cover letter in particular) is easily one of the biggest contributing factors when it comes to winning contracts.

Fortunately, as long as you follow the principles I’ve outlined in this case study, you’ll be able to take your own cover letters to the next level.

In fact, get yourself over to Upwork right now. Fire off some proposals while this stuff is still fresh in your head. Never know, you might surprise yourself.

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