Pakistan ranks fifth on Odesk’s list of top freelancer countries. With a huge freelancer community, you would imagine that the Pakistanis freelancers have learnt to market their skills in an international market, and are highly sought after when it come to freelance/remote work opportunities. For some jobs – coding, graphics, website development – maybe yes. But where writing is concerned, it’s an uphill battle finding jobs regardless of the freelancing platform you use.
I’ve been a freelancer for over 8 years. I’m a full-time writer, and I also run a content marketing agency. I hire freelancers – from Pakistan and abroad – for writing, graphic design, website design and even virtual assistants. I see all kinds of applicants, from those that freelance full-time to those that think of it as a 1-hour a day hobby.
Here are three things that Pakistani freelancers can improve when placing bids on international (or local) projects.
1. Their Proposal
Do you send the same proposal to every job you apply for? Shame on you.
Actually, it’s ok. You’re not alone. A lot of freelancers are guilty of the same. After all, when you’re applying for a dozen jobs in one go (please don’t!), customizing each proposal seems like a daunting task. So here are two pieces of advice I can give you on this matter:
A. They apply for every job they come across.
When you’re applying for jobs, it’s best to apply for the ones that fit your experience. Specializing in certain topics as a writer, or specific kinds of design work if you’re a designer, will help you build a stronger portfolio of work over time. You will be able to better market yourself, and be able to show samples of work that address the client’s specific needs.
Applying for every kind of job available will result in you spreading yourself too thin. You won’t be able to charge higher rates, and you will constantly be researching new kinds of topics (speaking as a writer here), without being able to dive deep into the topics that interest you.
B. The don’t customize their proposals
It won’t take long. You can setup a standard format – possibly save different formats for different types of jobs – and fill in specific details based on the job you’re applying to.
Client’s want to know you read their job description and applied because you can deliver on the requirements. When you send in a copy-pasted application, they probably wonder, “did this person even read what I want done, or do they just apply to every job they see?”. Customizing your proposal will show the client you’ve invested time in thinking about the job and whether or not you’re a good fit.
2. They Don’t Pay Attention to Detail
Does it sound weird to you that the client is asking for you to write “cat” in the subject line, or only send one sample as a link? Sure, but they probably have a solid reason.
One of the things that you will (hopefully) quickly realize as a freelancer is the importance of reading, and understanding instructions. Working at home – or from a coffee shop – without direct supervision might seem like a “cool” lifestyle, but it requires working independently. No meetings to hash out the details of a project, no daily feedback of how you’re doing.
A client needs to know that you will be able to:
A. Read the instructions they have provide,
B. Follow them – because hey!, they’re there for a reason,
C. Not turn in a final product that looks nothing like what they ordered.
So if you’re asked to jump through *tiny* hoops during the application process, it’s probably because they only want to select the candidates who demonstrate the ability to read an email, understand and then follow the instructions.
My advice? Read the job description thoroughly, then list down all the “requirements” and address them one by one in your application.
3. They Don’t Handle Rejection Well
I’ve had my share of “why didn’t you hire me! My English is perfect! Rot in hell!” replies when I have *gently* let writers down.
Nothing ruins a *potential* client’s mood faster than a rude email. I’ve been turned down from jobs multiple times. Every freelancer is. It’s an industry with a lot of competition, and sometimes you’re just not the right choice. There’s no need to be rude about it.
Always thank the client for their consideration, wish them luck on their project, and let them know you’d be interested in hearing about future opportunities.
I’ve had many clients come back because their first choice didn’t work out. Would they have gotten in touch with me if I’d sent a nasty email telling them they’d made a mistake? Definitely not.
Politeness also applies to ongoing projects. Sometimes I’ll get angry emails from clients, and my knee-jerk reaction is rarely positive. Here’s what I do, I don’t reply for 24 hours. I let myself calm down, think about the issue from their point of view, and get back with thoughts/suggestions.
When your sole means of communication with a client is email, err on the side of caution and remove negative words from your vocabulary. It will go a long way in establishing you as a professional in your chosen niche.
Marketing yourself to an international market isn’t as tough as it sounds. Improve these three things and you will see international clients signing you up in no time.
What are some other things you feel Pakistani freelancers need to improve? Not guilty of committing these sins yet still have issues finding clients? Leave me a comment, or better yet, contact me on Twitter, and I will get back to you with my (honest) opinion.