Hacking Elance – The Step by Step Guide to How I Made $23,700 in 4 Weeks : Under30CEO Hacking Elance – The Step by Step Guide to How I Made $23,700 in 4 Weeks : Under30CEO
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Hacking Elance – The Step by Step Guide to How I Made $23,700 in 4 Weeks

| June 6, 2013 | 248 Comments


At 24 quit my dead end restaurant job and launched a SAT test prep company. Things were going great and business was going well.

But preparing students for a comprehensive exam is no easy task. It’s actually quite exhausting. Gradually I began to wonder if there was anything I could do that would:

a.) Allow me to work remotely, so I could take my work with me and have much more freedom.

b.) Pay me more money in less time.

I thought about it for a few weeks…and then it came to me!

“Hey, I can make a basic website. Maybe I can make money doing that.”

Just the idea of a fresh pursuit was getting me excited. With the test prep business, I was always driving to clients. So the idea of being able to collect money with morning breath was extremely appealing. My girlfriend wasn’t going to be crazy about the breath, but she’d love the money.

I started thinking about all the obvious pros.

It was a viable skill set. Everyone needs a website these days, right? I could make my own hours and work from anywhere I wanted to. And even if there were some things I couldn’t handle at first, the learning curve was gradual enough for me to actually learn on the job.

Everything seemed perfect. I figured I could just hop on Elance (a site for remote freelancers), book some quick design jobs and get my business flowing.

Oh, Daniel. You’re so naïve it hurts.

I created my account, logged on to look for jobs and then….realized that I was in a waiting room with 2 million other freelancers from foreign countries. And they were all charging less.

I’d have a better shot at Kim Kardashian finally responding to all those letters I’ve been sending her.

As you read through this guide, think about it from your own perspective, with your own skills in mind. Web design is just an example/placeholder that can be changed out for almost any other skill set that you choose to leverage.

So how did I finally break through? Keep reading…

It’s not as easy as showing up

Outsourcing is one of the biggest challenges facing Americans in the growing international workforce. In every field, from manufacturing to technology, someone with a comparable (or superior) skill set is willing to do the same work as you for drastically lower cost. It’s just the way things are these days.

The minute I logged on to Elance, I was met with the crushing realization that there were literally over 200,000 other freelance designers (most of whom were more skilled), all looking for the same jobs at the same time.

This was going to be much harder than I thought.

How was I going to get clients when I was competing with all the freelance designers in the world not on the value and quality I provided , but on price? I couldn’t compete on price. My rent is $1,100. I really couldn’t afford to spend hours on a $300 website. I was at a loss.

And then, it occurred to me: I needed to become a “premium service provider”.

Is Mercedes Benz bashful about charging $80,000 for an E-Class? I think not. They are widely perceived as a luxury brand and come with ridiculous customer service to justify their price point.  That’s the bracket I needed to aim for.

But was it even possible? Could I even do something like that on Elance? I hoped so.

First, I needed to test my assumptions. Think about how you can apply testing to your unique situation.

Setting up the test

I designed a test to answer two primary questions:

  1. “Exactly what strategies do my successful competitors use to stand out in the crowd?” and then
  2. “How can I completely obliterate them by being ridiculously overprepared?”

Testing assumptions had worked pretty well for me in setting up the test prep endeavor – setting up small classes first, tweaking them and seeing what worked. But until I actually went out there and did it, I didn’t truly understand the value of feedback. Now I know that feedback is literally the difference between success and failure. Testing allows you to determine if a business will work without risking failure.

Here’s how I structured the test:

1.) I set up a dummy account in order to create a fake posting looking for web developers. The purpose behind this was to find out exactly what types of proposals other developers were submitting. Here’s what the posting looked like:

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 2.25.03 PM


2.) None of the copy in the ad is random. Everything has a strategic purpose, meant to find something out about my competition. A few tactical things to notice here:

  • The budget is high. According to Elance stats, most jobs go for around $1,000 across the board. So why put the price point so high? I wanted to attract the best possible candidates. What I’ve found anecdotally and through personal experience is that high prices often scare off underperformers. It’s part of the whole “the cream rises to the top” mentality. I wanted to see which contractors identified themselves as “worthy” of a $10,000 job, and see what they had to offer. Theoretically, these should be the best proposals.
  • The job is marked as “fixed price” – I wanted to see what rates they would throw at me and what negotiation tactics they would use.
  • I was very clear with my needs and the range of skill sets required to do the job. Ironically, these are the skill sets that I had and was trying to leverage, so I was looking for people with identical credentials to see what I was up against.

I sat back and popped a bag of Orville Redenbacher as things began to get interesting.

The results are in…


Within 30 minutes, I received 71 proposals from all over the world. All things being equal, this means that each applicant had a 1.4% chance of being hired. Of course, my goal was to figure out how to shift these odds dramatically, but more on that later.

Take a look at the breakdown by region:

Now it’s time to put ourselves in the shoes of a prospective client. So just based on initial impressions, before reading any of the actual proposals that were submitted, here are my observations:

  1. The lions share (50+%) of the bids were from India and South Asia
  2. North American applicants constituted about 25% of the bids
  3. The rest of the world made up the last 25%

Now compare the sample data above with the lifetime hiring data provided by Elance:
Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 3.04.42 PM

With over 1.5 million jobs awarded since the site’s inception, North America completely blows every other country off the map. The next closest is Australia, with barely over 150,000 jobs awarded.

If we take a step back and think about what this means, it’s pretty easy to spot an imbalance between the types of people applying for jobs and the ones doing the hiring.

English speaking Americans do (mostly) all the hiring and every other country does (almost) all the labor. It’s actually a pretty familiar pattern, don’t you think?

Native English speakers WANT to work with other English speakers who can easily understand their needs. The problem most American freelancers run into on Elance is that since their rates are naturally higher due cost of living, they miss out on jobs by getting ruthlessly lowballed by foreigners using the volume approach.

I knew that the Americans doing the hiring WANTED to hire other Americans, but were resistant to higher American prices.

I was attempting to find out how could I remove this objection and make price a non-issue.

Reading the proposals

I’d already learned a ton of information just looking at the distribution curve of applicants, but now it was time to do the actual dirty work – read the proposals. Remember my first objective: figure out exactly what the successful competition was doing.

When I opened my Elance inbox, the first feelings I had were those of nausea. I knew right away that I didn’t want to and WASN’T going to read through all 71 proposals. I just couldn’t. But I did notice certain elements of proposals that made them stand out. Here’s what I found that helped me narrow down which ones I would even bother reading:

  1. “Sponsored Proposals”: freelancers can buy monthly credits, which they use to be able to submit more proposals. These credits can also buy a “Sponsored Proposal” which sticks to the top of the page. No matter how many bids the job gets, their proposal will stay at the top. Only 3 contractors per job may be sponsored. I always looked at these for two reasons: First, I knew they were already making a small investment in me by paying to show their bid. Second, with almost 100 proposals to sift through, it was impossible to forget them.
  2. Copy/Pitch: if they hooked me in the first line or two of their proposal with something interesting, I’d read the whole thing. This got harder as I went along, so it helped if they were on of the first 20ish applicants.
  3. Specific reference to the project I posted, not a generic copy-paste job. This also gave me a good idea of how proficient they were at English. I just don’t feel like dealing with a communication barrier.
  4. Price point: this is important, but for different reasons than you may expect. If someone was ridiculously low, I’d instantly forget about them. I’m not looking for bottom feeder prices and bottom feeder results. I can only speak for myself, but I suspect I’m not the only one. Lowballing me won’t work. High prices on the other hand, would sometimes catch my eye, first as more of a “are they out of their mind”? But more often than not, it would actually draw me to their pitch, then their profile to see if they met the other criteria listed above. Even if I wasn’t prepared to spend that much, it got my attention. It made me think “I wonder what makes them so special?” This realization was key when I was devising my strategy later.
  5. Skill set: I didn’t think this would be the last thing I looked at, but it was. Surprisingly, I only considered people’s skills after they passed the other 4 criteria.

Just for fun, here are some of the worst proposals I got (with some notes):

Elance 1


This guy shot me TWO messages:

Elance 2



This girl…sweet, but no thanks:

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 4.17.57 PM


Once I applied all of these criteria, my pool of applicants was cut down significantly. From an original pool of 71, to I’d say 10-12 who really had all the right qualities to take the project and run with it.

So how was I supposed to choose between all those seemingly equally-qualified candidates and decide who I was going to award the job to?

Personal interaction. They had to sell me.

I found that when it came down to it, if everyone had similar qualifications, the only determining factor I could use to make a decision was personality.

I had to actually LIKE the person. To LIKE someone, I need to feel like I have a relationship with them, even if I’ve just met them..

Most applicants didn’t take my feelings into account and certainly didn’t seem to care about building a relationship. I’m not just a piece of man-meat. I have feelings too.

Once I realized that the secret to me hiring someone else was whether I liked them or not, I immediately got to work creating a strategy for my own campaign designed with one purpose only: to make myself completely irresistible to prospective clients as quickly as possible.

Identifying which clients to pitch a proposal to

Before I spent time and energy pitching randomly to every client that posted a job, I took time to narrow down the best candidates.

I’m not just looking for any client. I’m looking for the right client.

That’s a subtle distinction, but it’s very important.

I needed to find postings that showed evidence of reliable behavior on behalf of the client. I also needed to see indicators that I’d get the price I was looking for. Typically, I don’t find it worth my time to do a website for any less than $1,000. Here are some examples of ideal candidates that I would pitch to, along with notes:

Example 1:



Example 2:


Example 3:



Example 4:


Doing client research

After I selected who I was going to pitch to, I did detailed research so that I could approach them correctly.

Client history/research:

1.) Purchase history:

  • Look especially for clients that have already used Elance frequently and have spent a decent amount of money.
  • 3 and 4 green dots are a good indicator that they are serious buyers.

2.) Feedback history (extremely important):

If they have already purchased on Elance and have given feedback/reviews on past freelancers, this information is GOLD. Go to the profile of the potential client and look for information that will help you personalize the proposal as much as possible.

  • Things they liked about past freelancers
  • Complaints about past freelancers

3.) After you determine what they think about past freelancers, look for other personal details.

  • Personal details to looks for:
  • Their name
  • Profession
  • Location
  • Likes/dislikes
  • Hobbies
  • Any other relevant info

Use this information to create a completely customized proposal. In your pitch, casually throw in information that’s highly relevant to them, but doesn’t seem like you’re doing it on purpose.

Making myself irresistible by being WAY overprepared

The basic premise of the next step is to create a personalized presentation for the prospective client that shows you’ve taken into careful consideration their needs, then proactively come up with solutions to their problems.

Now, you might think that since there’s no physical meeting between you and the prospective client, this type of technique wouldn’t be applicable. Dead wrong.

You know what I noticed after reviewing all the pitches I received during my test?

There was not ONE video proposal. Not a single one.

I don’t know why this is. Maybe people aren’t comfortable in front of the camera. Maybe nobody’s thought of it (in which case, I’m shooting myself in the foot with this article).

Either way, since I’d determined that building a relationship was the fastest way to book a job, and face-to-face is the fastest way to build a relationship, I started testing video proposals.

Holy shit. The results were insane.

But first, the formula…

Creating the video pitches — How to develop the right “feel” for your video submissions:

People love stories. You must create a story that they feel emotionally connected to. As you progress, you will find the right groove and your own personal narrative,  this basic framework is a great starting place and eventually you can improvise as you become more comfortable.

Creating the story arc:

a.) Introduction

  • “My name (real or nickname or fake – doesn’t matter)”
  • “I’m the lead developer of XYZ company”
  • “I’m not part of some “big fancy firm”
  • “I had my first “real” job, hated it, decided to form my own company doing what I love.”

b.) How to build comfort and familiarity

  • Pretend that you’re talking to them over a lunch meeting. Be cool and at ease.
  • “I see you’re working on a _______ type of website. That’s really cool because _________(insert relevant personal experience. Even if it’s a stretch. It’s all about creating a compelling story.)”
  • Use customer research and feedback they’ve given to other freelancers to casually talk about some of your desirable characteristics — use exact wording from their profile page if possible. Go through several reviews.

For instance, if you go to the client’s profile page and see something like THIS:Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 12.37.06 PM

You might want to Say something like THIS in your narrative:

“I guess one of the things we love best about doing this type of work is getting clients ‘unstuck’. Sometimes you just need reliable pros who really undertand your needs to step in and get amazing work done quickly. That’s the name of the game here at XYZ. We want to makeworking together again a no-brainer!”

As you can see, the bold text shows where I used the client’s exact wording again in the pitch process. With this type of language, you don’t even need to sell them. You’re speaking to them in their own voice.

c.) Benefits and invitation to learn more:

The idea of the entire process is a “soft sell”. You’ll never mention pricing or any type of money in the initial pitch. You must create the value first.

After you’ve noted the specific features they are looking for in their site, make sure to mention that we excel at those things, and a handful of others when appropriate. I like to use rich, colorful product descriptions to really make people feel the pull. You can mention things like:

  • “All the sites we build are fully responsive for all devices”
  • “Breathtaking, beautiful Custom CSS (or PHP/Java/whatever is appropriate for the posting)”
  • “Easy-to-manage CMS that requires little maintenance”
  • “SEO/Conversion optimized”
  • Anything else that fits with the scope of their project that we can fulfill. Keep it ethical, but don’t hold back.
  • Use descriptive words – “beautiful, flowing, clean, responsive, sexy, stunning” and paint the picture.

As you close, keep the lines of communication open and leave the ball in their court by saying things like:

  • “Let’s keep the conversation going — I’d love to hear more about what you’re working on.”
  • Even if we don’t end up working together, maybe I can help point you in the right direction or answer some questions. I’m at the computer all day anyway!”
  • “Thanks for sharing some screen time with me — I look forward to talking soon.”

As you get better, you’ll develop your own style – this is just a framework.

This type of soft close usually gets at least some feedback and you can feel them out to see if they are good to work with. It also comes off as very secure — you’re not begging for the job here. By suggesting that you are completely comfortable with helping “even if we don’t end up working together” it makes you sound like you don’t need to do the work — you just want to.

Below are 3 different examples of successful pitches I’ve made that resulted in sales of over $1,000 each. Some of these videos run a little long, buteach video should only be between 2:30 and 3:30 max! I’ve become so effective that these days, some of my videos are around 90 seconds. It’s not about length, it’s about delivery. Notice the customization and approach I took to understanding the specific clients needs and the personal approach I took by creating a story arc. The goal isn’t to copy what I said, but to think about how you can create something similar using your own story. Remember, no matter what field you’re in, it’s all about creating a relationship with the potential customer.:

What your pitch on Elance should look like:

At this point you’ve picked out your prospect, done your research and shot the quick video.

Here are some samples of how I word the actual proposals in the Elance platform. It’s pretty simple and straight-forward, but I’ve also developed what appears to be a winning formula.

sample 2

Sometimes you can just keep it simple and get straight to the point, like in this example:



The negotiation process and the $23,700 results

Closing the deals

After they contact you, it’s your job to reel them in using the same charismatic personality that attracted them in the first place. They will most likely have one or two of a few common questions. Whatever your specific field of expertise is, think about possible objections from potential clients WAY AHEAD of time. Really put yourself in their shoes and create a “If they say this, I’ll say that” map in your head. Be so ridiculously overprepared to answer objections that they’re left completely awestruck and ready to buy.

Here are the 3 most common barriers I ran into trying to close the deal.

1.) Client: “I see you’re new on Elance — are you a new company.”

“We’re not a new company, we get most of our business from referrals stemming from our old jobs in corporate…but we’ve decided to branch out and try online platforms like Elance. This isn’t our first rodeo.”

Insert some details from the personalized story you told in your intro video, then refer them back to the portfolio website and reassure them that your work is awesome.

2.) Client: “Why should I pick you when I can get the work outsourced for cheaper?”

(it can be a shorter variation of this, but this is how I explain it)…

“You’re right, we’re not the cheapest firm on Elance. And we battle with getting our legs cut out from under us every single day by good firms in India and Asia who do the work for a fraction of a price. So if you’re in a bind and you’re basing your decision solely on price, we might not be the right fit for you. But we see design a little differently. To us, creating a design is like two people working on a painting at the same time. Both of you want the painting to come out looking like a masterpiece, both of you want to create something beautiful…but there’s a huge communication gap there. After all, you are two very different people, with different visions. Yes, we’re masters at design work, but where we really excel…where we really shine, is taking your ideas an interpreting them — understanding them and translating them onto the page, using our expertise, so that the end result looks like it came not from two people…but directly from your imagination. It’s almost as if we’re an extension of your creativity, not just outside numbskulls fumbling to get things right. I don’t think you can expect that perspective from anybody who is going to lowball you.”

3.) Dealing with further price resistance

If they are still hesitant to purchase at the lowest price you offer (mine is $750 rock bottom), be understanding and little flexible, while still demonstrating your confidence. This is a sample script I’ve used in the past:

“Typically speaking we work in a “our price is our price” type of mindset. This has come from a few years of working with dozens of different individuals and organizations who want all want the same service (design, implementation, optimization) and the same high level of service, but all at different prices.

It get’s very tricky and in the end 1 of 2 things usually happens: either you start becoming too “flexible” with your prices, stop considering time/effort and end up working yourself into the $12/hour bracket with ten low budget projects OR you do essentially the same services for two different people, while charging one person $500 and the next person $1000, and those people talk.
Not good.
Because of that, we are pretty firm. Our base price is always $995. We’d add the Elance fees of 8.75% on to that to protect our costs.
Now, that being said, I know you’re a startup, don’t have unlimited cash and need to get the most value for your money. I also appreciate you considering us because, let’s face it…..there a lot of people overseas willing to do this work cheaply –although that cheapness would probably show! Totally get it.
So we would be willing to break the price up and space out payments to lessen the financial burden on you over a period over a period of 4-6 weeks in installments.”

Bottom line: you have to be the same person in your messages that you were in your video. Upbeat, engaged, causal.

The results

I’ve been getting as high as a 70% response rate from prospective clients using all the elements above, and this is a very good thing. Since there are so many people applying for many of these jobs, it is a good sign just to be contacted.

Over the course of a month, I was able to land 7 jobs, one of which was a $15,000 retainer just to do occasional touch ups. All in all, I cleared about $24,000. I kept meticulous track of how the proposals were working, so that I could track and tweak. After a certain point, I had to stop taking clients because the workload was too high. Here’s a shot of my Excel sreadsheet from the first 2 weeks. I may not have always booked the job, but even getting a response means I’m doing the right thing:

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 6.39.08 PM

The Takeaway

So what did I learn from all this?

First, I learned the value of testing, testing, testing. When you’re trying to diagnose a problem with a system, it’s literally impossible to guess the right course of action by just staring at the outside machinery. You have to dig deep and probe the inner workings so that you can validate your assumptions. If something doesn’t work, tweak it.

Finally, I was reminded how powerful human interaction can be. In the sea of noise and confusion that is the internet, it’s still very possible to get noticed and, as a result, make a living. Usually the only way to do this is to spark an interaction that leads to a relationship. Video is a simple way to leverage that.

I hope this guide serves you well. There’s plenty of room out there for all of us, so get to work!

Your opportunity: how to use this information

Well, the first obvious way you can use this information is just to copy what I did. If you use this method on Elance, or in any other remote freelance capacity, it WILL WORK. I’ve gotten enough responses from readers and friends to validate this.

But I also want you to think about the bigger questions that this raises, and how they apply to you:

  • Is there an untapped resource inside you that has value, that other people will pay for? If you haven’t tried to leverage it before, why not?
  • How could you implement simple tests like the ones above to determine if your idea is viable?
  • What simple step can you take TOMORROW to get your first test up and running?
  • Are you ready to seize your opportunity immediately and stop waiting for somebody to give you permission to start your own shit?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Daniel DiPiazza teaches young people how to stop doing shit that they hate and break free of 9 to 5 boredom by starting their own businesses at his blog Rich20Something. Click here to join his tribe of hungry young entrepreneurs and get free coaching.

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Category: Entrepreneurship, Finding Customers, Startup Advice

  • Virginia Ngare

    I love your ideas keep up the good work. You really inspire me to become better each day.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Thanks so much for reading, Virginia. I’m glad you found some value and are fired up! LET’S DO IT!

  • Crysta Tyus

    Daniel that was a great read! Awesome advice, thanks for sharing your ideas and processes. I really like how you sat back, and instead of trying to “compete ” you got “creative.” Creativity will always lead the pack! Kudos!

  • Lauren Holliday

    This article is awesome. I read it from start to finish… Not something I usually do these days with all the information overload. Thanks!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Hey Lauren!

    Thanks so much for reading :) I try to write stuff that cuts through the fog. Really glad you enjoyed!


  • Benjamin Loh

    Daniel, this article has been amazing! I actually have done some of the elements like analyzing what works for the best-paid contractors/service providers in my market (professional training and coaching) through their marketing collateral, proposals, pitches and sieve out the “winning elements”. But you had the opportunity and wit, to go on the buy-side as well and gain more leverage on it, which was really a cool thing to do.

    Loved how you broke it down into two simple elements – 1) What makes the most successful, most successful?, 2) How can I integrate those principles and outperform them?

  • Daniel DiPiazza


    Thanks for noticing. You’re very right, creativity is where it’s at. If you’d like to see some of the actual videos I made, you can check out the article on my blog http://www.Rich20Something.com

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Hey Benjamin! Thanks so much for reading! Really glad you liked it – and to be honest, I think the analytical/creative approach is really the only one that works in such a crowded market. If you want to see the actual videos I used to get the clients, you can check them out on my blog ;)

  • Angela

    I have to be honest. I usually skim over most blog posts, especially if they’re long. But I read every piece of this. Thanks so much for sharing your secrets in such a detailed manner…most people would keep this information close to them. I’m definitely going to check out your blog.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Hey Angela – really glad you found it helpful. See you on the blog ;)


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  • Eric

    This came up as the first result in a search on hacking elance I did. I figured there must be a way to cut through all the noise and make a killing on it, and I am glad that thought led me to this. I am in Kenya, and I believe even from here I can get the results you got if I follow through with the game plan. Thanks for writing this!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    No problem Eric. It was one of the only guides I’ve every seen out there like this as well – that’s why I wrote it!

    Let me know how it goes!


    This is definitely an amazing piece of work, thank you for providing this insight to us and the world!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    My pleasure, man! Keep rocking!

  • Maki

    Cool post Daniel!
    As a salesman on Elance for more than 8 years, the post is more than interesting to me…I don´t have your “verbosity” (I actually envy you on this :)) to record that kind of videos (my spoken english is also a little “rusted”) and prefer to keep contact with clients through Instant Messengers.
    If you can take a look to the company profile of New Way Solutions on Elance and send me some advices, I will appreciate that :)

    Salutes from Argentina! Maki

  • Mike

    Great article (I haven’t tried the video idea, but will give it a shot). Two additions I would add, is that finding an unusual niche helps too. While there may be thousands of WordPress developers, if you can find something unique that you can provide… it really does work. The other, is I usually end my proposals with a question or two. Something they have to reply to. That usually generates the discussion in the messages and opens a door for me. I track my bids as well, and I usually get a 90% award rate from the clients that I had some discussion with through the messaging system. Get a dialogue going and you will more than likely get the contract. Don’t know if that helps or not.

  • Adam Lundquist

    This was incredibly informative. Keep writing and keep up the great work

  • Elancer Freelancer

    This is awesome info! I’ve been on Elance for 7 months, and you provided me with some new ideas I haven’t tried before. My response rate is decent, and my gut said not posting the price initially was the way to go: your article not only reinforced my opinion on that but also highlight some important details in proposal-writing that should take my business to the next level. Thanks!

  • Tim Frie

    Daniel, another great post. This is loaded with very useful insight.

    I used to frequent Elance. I always had success with doing some very quick research on the company. By checking out the client profile or the feedback they have left, you can often find a name (to personalize your proposal) and a company name (so you can see what they’re doing).

    As with copywriting for anything service related, always tell the client in the proposal what they are going to GET FROM you, not what you’re going to do for them.


  • Wally

    This is a great post! I am new to Elance and I am killing myself for just figuring out how much possible business is on there. But I am having a hard time getting a lot of people to respond, and your post is going to make me rich!

    Maybe not, but it’s damn good and full of great stuff!


  • Aaron

    WOW. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. You are amazing :)

  • Monu

    Hey Daniel,

    This is one of the best articles I have read about Elance job bidding. Very valid points combined with humour !! (Kim Kardashian joke was my favorite lol ) But I have an important question. From my experience, there are lot of jobs in elance that are NOT getting awarded to ANYONE. I am new to Elance and out of 34 jobs I bid, only 5 were awarded to someone. I would like to know if you are also facing the same problem ?!? Also…are you sure clients are gonna reject companies with lot of previous jobs in Elance (the one you said was a design mill) ??

  • Monu John

    Hey Daniel,

    This is one of the best articles I have read about Elance job
    bidding. Very valid points combined with humour !! (Kim Kardashian joke
    was my favorite lol ) But I have an important question. From my
    experience, there are lot of jobs in elance that are NOT getting awarded
    to ANYONE. I am new to Elance and out of 34 jobs I bid, only 5 were
    awarded to someone. I would like to know if you are also facing the same
    problem ?!? Also…are you sure clients are gonna reject companies with
    lot of previous jobs in Elance (the one you said was a design mill) ??

  • http://www.amazon.com/Paula-Neal-Mooney/e/B00B1T5BZS Paula Neal Mooney

    Very cool ideas, Daniel. I never thought about the video thing. And thanks for explaining that top 3 sponsored proposal thing now that I just switched from the free to the small business Elance account with 80 credits, I was wondering how that worked.

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  • Monique Engicht

    Hi Daniel,
    Loved the article – thanks! A quick question… I have recently stopped working full time and started freelancing, should I be worried I have no title/company to back me up or enlist on Elance or do you think as an individual I am equally qualified? Wanted to know your thoughts!

  • Roy
  • Daniel DiPiazza

    I’d start as an individual! It’ll work!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Thanks for the heads up. I’ll check into it.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    No prob dude!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Glad to have helped, Maki!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Absolutely. I’ve tried to do that with my lead in “let’s keep the conversation rolling” etc, but I’ll try a question. May be even more powerful.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    My pleasure, Adam. Thanks for reading.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    100% true on that, Tim. Thanks for reading.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Try it and let me know, Wally!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Hmmm….well, from my experience, the best clients are the ones who have hired on Elance before. So those are the ones I shoot for. And typically when they post, they hire. But I guess it depends on the industry.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Thanks for reading :)

  • Sambarnes90

    Absolutely amazing post Daniel.

    Really really inspirational stuff.

    Working in Social / SEO has taught me that there’s nothing more effective than competitor analysis.

    Sometimes it’s not about an original idea, but just doing something better than everyone else!

    Have signed up to join your Tribe and shared this post across all my social networks.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Ahh…bluehost is down. That sucks.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Thanks man! Really happy to have you!

  • Michael Zwiener

    Hi Dan, really great post, well done! I am part of a talent pool. We are freelancers from North America and Europe and we are getting pretty nice projects in the corporate world – good money, but booooring. We (and I mean that in a Borg way) really kick ass in terms of innovation and quality. Only full on Geeks… We could use someone pitching for projects on Elance as we are all pretty nerdy fucks, so sales is not our strong side – we do deliver top work which we are proud of. Are you interested to join us and do your pitching magic? We’d be looking on projects >5k. If not, can you recommend anyone? If not, well, we gonna steal what you do and find someone ourself ;) Would be real cool to have you in our pool! Cheeeers, Mike!

  • Lewis

    Hi Daniel

    I’ve been looking for a graphic designer lately and wrote a piece about it from the hiring perspective: http://lewisalexander.github.io/blog/2013/08/07/how-to-apply-for-graphic-design-work/

    It boils down to the following: people not following your advice leads to angry hirers!

  • Daniel DiPiazza
  • Dhishna

    Loved this piece! Hopefully this will help me out! :)

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Let me know if it does!

  • Nihar

    Hey Daniel,

    Great article man, it taught me a lot, I am surely it will help me to get more projects at elance and other freelancing sites, and wish some day i too make $23xxx like you :) Looking forward to read more such articles…

    Keep inspiring…

  • Mohit

    Really useful every bit of it thanx daniel…………….

  • Alex

    All i can say is wow……thumbs up And THANK YOU

  • Vincent

    Hi Daniel, awesome experience sharing !!!
    I see you already got a lot of these but I guess it’s always nice to hear: it’s definitely one of the best articles/tutotials I’ve come accross.

    One question though: You said in your video that you come from oDesk, I wanted to know why the change ?


  • Vincent again

    bit of details on this: I recently subscribed on oDesk, came across this article searching for beginners tips and this detail struck me.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Glad it helped :)

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    My pleasure, Mohit!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    No prob Alex!!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Hmm, I don’t remember those exact videos (I’ve done so many!!) but I actually prefer Elance to oDesk by far. Much easier system to use in my opinion…but it’s just a preference I suppose.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Thanks for the feedback and compliments, Vincent ;)

  • Alice K.

    Thank for this post, it was kind of encouraging to see that, that kind of an approach could actually work with the clients. I was forcing myself to sound more serious than I actually am, because I thought that is what most employers want, but you really pushed me in the right direction. Thanks man :)

  • Jonathan Blackwell

    Hi Daniel,

    I’m a team leader on Elance as Lineaist, currently serving as Elance Mobilizer in Sydney, Australia. You’re already doing the work of helping people make money and work differently on Elance, so if you’re not already a Mobilizer, here’s a link to join the program:


    Keep helping the community with your awesome insights! What are you going to call your business after you turn 30? Hopefully you’ll outsource Under30CEO to other twenty somethings and manage them from your yacht.

    You should sail into Sydney someday. We’d love to have you ;)

    Jonathan Blackwell, MBA

  • mano

    I just joined elance and odesk a couple of days ago. I was browsing through the jobs and what struck me was the absolutely idiotic responses from contractors (mostly from India) talking about things the client explicitly says she/he does NOT want!! I myself am from India and was wondering how to standout from this terrible noise. I was almost beginning to lose hope when I stumbled on this article. I’ll give your approach a try.


  • Bruno

    I spent more time googling for tips rather than submiting proposals as well testing the best aproach and way to land a job, since im a new freelancer and didnt hit any job yet. To build my reputation im already thinking i have no choice rather than working almost for free. From everything i already read through my search this is one of the best articles i found. Thank you for sharing!

  • Raman Kumar

    Many Thanks for such a great words u shared.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    No problem, @disqus_5PNXuayiTw:disqus :) Happy to help!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Haha! Good question, @disqus_4393E12bDV:disqus :) Thanks for reading!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Hey @5844e81be96c715a59d15cf5ae52afb6:disqus – let me know how it goes, ok?

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    My pleasure, Bruno. Thanks for reading!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Thanks for reading @9187d0a44fd5bc7f75ae915e61528e87:disqus

  • Miro

    Hey Daniel,

    I appreciate you share this valuable info that I guess you spent a lot of time on researching and testing. Your results are great! I’ve never considered video as a part of proposal, because English is not my first language, and even if my writing skills are good (I guess), I don’t feel confident in front of the camera. One question for you: have you been in touch with anyone like me who tried using video proposals even if his/her English was not too good and how did it go?

    Anyway, in the meantime, I will try to use the other info from your post to create some irresistible proposals and see how it goes :)

    Thanks and have a nice one


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  • Ariseo

    holy crap that was amazing….do you think SEO in elance would work just as well ? i was half way into creating my account when i saw this blog….good stuff bro

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  • Shane Almgren

    Fantastic info! I joined Elance a little over a year ago, and went from struggling-to-gain-a-foothold to nearly-full-time-Elance-freelancer by constantly analyzing and revising my bid presentation. The video idea is brilliant, and I will be employing it immediately! Thanks for tips….I’ll be following this blog carefully.

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  • Case Morton

    This is the best type of article for a site like this. It’s informative, interesting, & it makes me want to get off my ass & go work. Thanks

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  • http://www.moneymakingboy.com/ Deepak Yadav

    Really Nice info, Thank You so much Daniel for sharing this.
    I am new to eLance, so this surely helped me. BTW I am from India :P

  • http://www.raycolon.com/ Ray Colon

    Hi Daniel,

    You took a very different approach to many articles that I’ve read about succeeding on Elance and you’ve come up with some very good suggestions. After a brief period of floundering on Elance, I’ve begun to have some success on the site. I haven’t attained your numbers yet, but there has been steady improvement each of the last three months.

    The video proposal idea is one that I’ve tried a few times. I’ve either recorded a personal video as you have or opted to record a screen capture with voice-over to demonstrate a spreadsheet’s functionality. The early results have been mixed, but I agree with you — it seems like something that clients would find useful. One other difference between my video proposals and yours is that I try to keep mine very brief, somewhere between 60 to 90 seconds.

    I enjoyed your article and wish you continued success on Elance.


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  • Igor

    It is the best article about Elance I had ever read. It was really helpful for me.
    Many thanks, Daniel.

  • KatrinaSchenfield

    You are amazing, Daniel! Love your advice and the step-by-step breakdown!

  • http://www.skyemediagroup.com/ Toni

    Thank you so much for this post. I don’t like to read blog posts and hate even more when I read one thinking it pertains to me and it doesn’t. Wasted 5 minutes of my 30ish years of life. But this one I will take to the bank and cash along with the other nuggets of wisdom you have on your site. Preesh.

  • Andrea Nguyen

    thanks, whenever you need cover letter template, just go here

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Thanks for reading, Miro!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Haha! It could work with SEO. Try it and let me know :)

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Sweet, Shane. Let me know how it goes!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Thanks for reading, Deepak!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Thanks, Ray. 90 seconds is probably even better. I’m a talker.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Thanks, Igor! Much success!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Thanks, Katrina! So are you!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    My pleasure, Toni! Thanks for reading :)

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Awesome! Thanks, Andrea!

  • http://www.skyemediagroup.com/ Toni

    I enacted your formula over the weekend and have already received interest from a prospective client. It actually works! Thanks *sending a virtual ^5*

  • BJ Derganc

    You REALLY did your research here. Hats off!

  • Faraz Qadri

    Hey Daniel.

    I loved your post. I am Elance mobilizer for Pakistan. and have been freelancing myself.:) to tell you the truth.. i will , like Jonathan , ask you to join elance as well :) you did great!

    I train people on how to be a successful bidder on elance :) and i would be using your post as a reference as well :)

    i strongly agree with you with the personal touch part! and video proposal is something really creative!

    Great write up Daniel :)


  • http://jarodonline.wordpress.com/ Jarod Billingslea

    This article is as long as my jaw can drop. I’m in awe.

  • Raj Kiran Singh

    Man you could have written a book and made millions by selling copies of it, but gave all this information for free.

  • Ranger

    Hi, Daniel that was really a great teaching. I have been trying to get a job for months. I am really shy about camera I do not know how can I make a video. Besides my digital voice is worse than my real voice.

  • Ranger

    I think he should be 30 through out his life.

  • Laïna

    Wow, I’ve read it all, so detailed, so helpful ! Thanks so much for sharing this with us, really appreciate it !

  • Daniel DiPiazza


  • Daniel DiPiazza

    My pleasure!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Thanks Faraz!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Haha! Hope I can still make millions somehow!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Glad you enjoyed :)

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    It just takes time to get used to speaking on camera :)

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Thanks, BJ!

  • http://www.skyemediagroup.com/ Toni

    Not only that I’ve gotten a few more and my biggest client to date! So, I can’t say thank you enough. Even with my not looking dolled up on camera, it didn’t matter. They were able to see through my ashiness. I need to send you a lunch or something.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Aw shucks! I’m just happy to hear you crushing it! If you really feel compelled, you could always send a short testimonial to Daniel@rich20something.com :) Proud of you!

  • Lana

    thank you so so much! you took the time to explain it all for us! you are great!

  • appdeveloper

    Hey Daniel, thank you so much for this article and for sharing your findings with us!

  • http://www.PriscillaPWood.com/ PriscillaPWood.com

    I’m so happy I’ve found you! I find most blogs this type a bunch of hype with very little value. You just gained a reader!

  • sunyya

    Hi Daniel,

    I read your article and it is awesome. But one thing you didn’t mention. If a client say to show sample of his project and then he will award the project then what should i do? I don’t want to make samples for any client without awarding job. But when i refuse to send, they decline my proposal. Kindly explain some points for that so that i will not have to design for client without awarding job and i can convince client too so that the client will not decline my bid.

  • Shareem

    Great writing Daniel. Keep ‘em coming!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Happy to have you, Priscilla :)

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Great question. A good way to get a portfolio going is to go on Fiverr and start offering your services for very low risk jobs. People will pay $5 for you to work on something, even without a portfolio. Then, take that work and use it as samples to get more work at better paying places. Try Fiverr.com

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    My pleasure, glad you liked!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Any time, Lana :)

  • http://www.cathedralcomputer.com/ Jonathan King


    I just happened to have come across your post (Whilst stressing over whether the decision to go full time into freelancing was a mistake…at midnight). While I’ve gotten a couple of decent projects to date, I haven’t ‘broken through’ quite yet. In reading your article, I realized I was submitting proposals in the same manner that you dreaded reading…for example, the listing of previous sites. To be honest, I’ve never even contemplated a video proposal…I’m definitely going to start implementing that!

    In summation: This post will be receiving some ‘Returning Visitor’ stats on Google Analytics from me!

  • sunyya

    Daniel, I have more than 6 years of experience as web graphic designer. I have my portfolio website http://www.sunyyasyed.com

    I work on Odesk, Elance, and Freelancer.com

    After sending proposal, clients specially Odesk.com Clients message me that they liked my work a lot but want to see mockup before awarding job. I don’t want to design any mockup without awarding job for anyone because it takes my time and efforts. So how can i make their mind to award me job without designing mockup from my side before awarding job?

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    If they want to see a mockup first – after seeing your portfolio and hearing your pitch, there was something wrong with your pitch.

    Are you using the video proposals and doing the research like I suggested in the article?

    Your pitch should be so strong they’re itching to hire you.

  • Carol

    Hi Daniel,

    I saw this post on elance.com yesterday https://www.elance.com/j/logo-design-website-design-corporate-brand-identity/48377519/

    - is this you or someone using your dummy approach?

  • Guest

    I agree sunyya. I don’t think designers should develop mockups without being hired. A potential client could take more mockups and have someone else do it for cheaper. That’s called “spec work”. Your portfolio and video should be strong enough to whereas they’re compelled to work with you. Your portfolio should show the range and diversity and your video should convince them that you are the best for the job. Too, if you’re declined, don’t worry about it. Every client is not for every designer. It’s a way for you to determine if a client is even worth working with. If they can’t see your talent and shine, funk ‘em.

  • http://www.skyemediagroup.com/ Toni

    I agree with Daniel, sunyya. I don’t think designers should develop mockups without being hired. A potential client could take your mockups and have someone else do it for cheaper. That’s called “spec work”. Your portfolio and video should be strong enough to whereas they’re compelled to work with
    you. Your portfolio should show the range and diversity and your video should convince them that you are the best for the job. Too, if you’re declined, don’t worry about it. Every client is not for every designer. It’s a way for you to determine if a client is even worth working with. If they can’t see your talent and shine, funk ‘em.

  • Brian Gregory

    Great post! Thank you for sharing you technique and tips! Good luck!

  • http://www.PriscillaPWood.com/ PriscillaPWood.com

    I wanted to ask you, is it possible to watch one of your 90-second videos?

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Ha! Thanks so much for reading, Jonathan. Glad I could help!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Not sure, been a while since I posted!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Thanks so much for reading, Brian.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    I may post some later :)

  • Mario

    You’re the BEST! Whoow!! you just made my day. Men, that was so cool! Though I find this blog quite long but I cant stop reading it. I would be glad to read more blogs from you. Now, I am so inspired to “think out of the box” just like what you did. God bless you more Daniel for sharing your knowledge and ideas to us. No wonder how you earn that much in just 4 weeks. altum elatae!

  • Chris

    Hi Daniel!, amazing article. I never thought about doing video proposals. The simplicity of it is amazing and I understand why its a good root to go. I have a question though, when it comes to portfolios….I am a coder that is all backend (C#, C#/ASP.NET, MSSQL, JavaScript, Ajax, and CSS), I have done front end but it was for intranet applications. What are your thoughts and opinions on just showing code in a portfolio? or is the portfolio only for front end? I have been asked outside of the freelancing sites if I had a portfolio ( I explain and offer code samples ) and how do you explain just code in a portfolio? Would it also be ok to do mock ups of concepts?

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Prospective clients, especially non-coders, don’t care about code. It means nothing to them. They care about the applications. Show them the app, and explain in detail how your work made it possible.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Thanks for reading, Mario :)

  • Reid

    Wow…incredible info here. This makes so much sense to me!

    I’m an iOS developer and have been trying unsuccessfully to get work on eLance, on and off, for a while now. I get a reasonably good response rate, but *every* client so far has balked when they see that I don’t yet have any work in the app store (I’ve been unlucky enough to work on collaborative projects that die.) Do you have any advice for convincing people to just give me a shot? I’ve taken several relevant tests on eLance and scored in the top 20% range. I’ve offered to do coding interviews (if they have an in-house developer), a small “test project” or even some very small part of *their* project (a half-day’s work or so) for FREE, just to prove I can hack it. But everyone wants published work…it’s frustrating because I don’t know how I’m meant to build up a portfolio if nobody will hire me. I’m not an “idea guy” who’s going to put out a bunch of his own apps. Would appreciate any tips and thanks for this post!!

  • Chris

    Perfect, thanks for explaining. I understand what you are saying, it was always something I thought about.

  • Matt O’Brien

    Love how you combine both video and content. I also dig understanding that not every client is a good mutual fit. Finally our time and efforts are valuable so don’t deflate them. If we compromise once then we run the risk of potentially being forced to do it again.

  • Sawaira

    To Get Elance First Project Just Follow some easy steps and enjoy unlimited projects

  • Zohaib

    Very Useful Post…. Thanks Daniel

  • http://www.CastleForgeMedia.com/ DennisDuty

    I found this SO helpful. What do you suggest is the best time in the cycle to apply to gigs? When they’re first posted so you’re seen before it gets crowded? When they’re about to close so you save the day closer to their deadline, ebay style?

  • growthguided

    What a very creative post. Very in depth.

    Thank you for taking the time to put this all together for us!

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  • sakkal

    I loved your post. I am Elance mobilizer for Pakistan. and have been freelancing myself.:) to tell you the truth.. i will , like Jonathan , ask you to join elance as well :) you did great!
    Real Estate

  • Priyam Ghosh

    Hi Daniel,
    Really excellent article.I am also a freelancer in elance for past 2years. Whatever you have said ,can be realized after huge research. It shows that how much you have followed. Thanks form this and this is really a nice blog. So please continue giving this sort of good advice and inspiration to all of us..


  • Sarah

    I am the read-and-run type. But I just need to tell you this Daniel – You are sexy!!! Thanks for a very informative yet highly entertaining post!

  • Dilip Srivastava

    Maaan this is pure gold. I had been on Elance since a couple of years and I have not been able to do much. This is just amazing! Gonna try everything that you had mentioned above, gonna give this a shot! Thanks Dawg :)

  • Iccio

    Sorry, after having seen the videos I would not have hired you.

    This whole article smells fishy, maybe it’s Elance sponsored …

  • Iccio

    Pity because I actually use and like Elance a lot

  • Codeforges


  • Codeforges

    I will first try on a russian freelance , as it is closer to me , but for sure your article have opened my eyes, no blind biding now!

  • John

    Hi Dainiel,
    Seriously awesome post. I was intrigues the whole time and your tips seem like they would really work.

    I’ve been having trouble doing freelance work as, since i lave in a first world country, i have to charge more than designers in Asia.
    Thanks again for you tips and all the best in the future.

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  • Cody

    Wow, thank you for the tips man!
    Seriously, this really puts a different angle on things.
    It’s kinda hard to compete against all the Big Company’s on Elance, but this information really helps.
    Thank you so much for sharing!

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  • http://vagabondians.com/ Glenn Dixon

    I’ve been bidding on all the major freelance sites for several weeks now, with very little success. This article is great! Lots of good tips. I’m even sharing my notes on Google+. Thanks for this

  • Jenson

    @danieldipiazza:disqus Your research LOSSES it’s value once you publish it for everyone to see…If you think a “video proposal” makes you stand out from the crowd,why would you reveal it?….so that everyone else can use that trick and make it even more difficult for you…I thought this article was about how you lessen the competition…BUT you would infact see more people using your tricks to compete with YOU….So what’s the “REAL PURPOSE ” of this article?.

  • Hem

    Hi I am new to Elance – I am bidding on many projects but still haven’t received any positive response ( I have set all criteria for good profile as well as I am sending the personalized response aster studding the client requirement. Can any one please suggest how can I do followup with all clients ( currently I am not able to followup with client if he/she have not send me the message). Please Advice

  • Avyukta Odc

    Hi I am new to Elance – I am bidding on many projects but still haven’t received any positive response ( I have set all criteria for good profile as well as I am sending the personalized response after studding the client requirement.) Can any one please suggest how can I do followup with all clients ( currently I am not able to followup with client if he/she have not send me the message). Please Advice

  • Syed Sohaib

    Great one bro, I appreciate your courage to share good knowledge with other fellows (your competitors), you seem to be a very talented person with a vision to make things happen, count me in anytime you need help with anything, thumbs up for you (Y) (Y)

  • Syed Sohaib

    and consider me as a back bencher of your class, I would love to follow your blog, I find it more interesting than facebook or linkedin (hope I can find some chicks in the class too :D)

  • leila

    Extremely helpful post, Cant believe i read through the end.

  • Simon Lee

    Hi Daniel, very nice article. One thing I’m curious about is your technical ability when it comes to building websites. You say in the intro that you can build a simple website, yet you are bidding for jobs which ask for more than a simple website. Do you ‘dive in the deep end’ and learn as you go, or do you go for jobs that you know you are capable of doing?

  • Nate

    I stumbled across this blog by accident in the depths of a google search for nearly unrelated content. I was immediately drawn in and look forward to exploring the rest of your blog. Thank you for the great read and the excellent advice. I plan to utilize your technique to help maximize my client responses on Elance for my own web design projects. That being said, if you ever need another designer on your team, I am available for immediate work ;)

    Thanks again!

  • rehenazelreyhan

    You totally did your homework. I’m not so sure about the unconventional approach to writing proposals, though. “WHOA DADDIO” would be totally unnatural to me. Maybe I’m just too middle-aged, but I’d be put off by that kind of correspondence in a business context. There’s got to be a way to cut through the crap and catch the attention of those who are hiring. At any rate, I’m going to experiment with this method. The takeaway and closing points (“Your opportunity: How to use this info”) are especially solid and are relevant for anyone. I too am going to check out the blog. I could likely use the youthful, energetic influence!

  • Impero Media

    Wow. Really informative stuff. I keep walking away from elance because the format and the low Indian/Asian bids turn me off of the experience, but I’ll have to go back and try some of this to hand pick what I’m looking for. Thank you for this.

  • TheManOnFire

    Possibly. I freelanced on Elance for 3 years and maintained an excellent profile. Work ON DEMAND. Then a couple of months ago I closed my account, because, as a self-respecting developer, I refuse to degrade myself any longer by feeding their system.

    Other developers should not be blinded by the quantity. There is MUCH better work/clientèle elsewhere. Stop bidding and start networking.

  • Santo

    These ideas worked even a couple of years back; now, what sells is low-balling.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    ummm, I’d encourage you to try it. Definitely still works

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    No prob. Enjoy!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Sometimes I just get silly with the intros because at the end of the day, prospective customers are intrigued by something different…and something clearly human. Glad you found value :)

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Excellent! Thanks for reading, Nate!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Both. I’ve learned as I went along, but when things got too hard, I would hire a designer and pay them a portion of the money I’d gotten for the job.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Haha. Good posts will do that.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Haha! Excellent, Syed. Thanks for the kind words and thanks for reading!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    LOL. 99% of people will see this, say “good idea” then never implement. Plus there are 1000′s of ppl looking to hire online. There’s no scarcity. I don’t operate from that mindset.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Awesome, Glenn. Good luck!

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    My pleasure

  • Joshua Hatcher

    I’ve had such BAD luck with elance in the past – submitted hundreds of bids and never landed a gig. I think your advice is excellent, and I’m going to try it! I look forward to seeing where this goes!

  • Andrea C.

    I agree with Iccio, the videos are way to fishy. If I were a buyer I would skip you after seeing the videos and the exaggerated and over-enthusiastic talking. That said much of the article is very interesting and good clues on buyers side is offered.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    You don’t have to like the style – but you can’t knock the results

  • jhonalex

    have to be honest. I usually skim over most blog posts, especially if
    they’re long. But I read every piece of this. Thanks so much for sharing
    your secrets in such a detailed manner…most people would keep this
    information close to them. I’m definitely going to check out your blog. blog commenting service

  • http://tylerwhitworth.com/ Tyler Whitworth

    Thanks for the article. I’ve been trying to figure out elance for a few months now. I see tons of people from the Phillipines, India and other places being awarded jobs, but also alot of people from the US making decent money there. These are some really good suggestions and give me something to think about for sure.


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  • Parag B.

    Its a very good post for the starters. I have seen many of Indian Companies on the top 10 list on Elance. I have been reading lots of scams from India. Feel sorry for that. I’m a Indian Motion Graphics Freelancer. I work on my own. I think just because of these kind of people we are getting declined on elance many times. Even I saw the guys who bids unrealistic low prices, and I don’t wanna do the same. I have more than two years of experience, but making real good reputation need time. And that’s why I don’t completely rely on Elance :)
    Thanks for the great tips.

  • Mike Olivia

    My Name is Ms. Olivia mike, I was married to my husband for 13 years and we were both bless with three children, living together as one love, until 2009 when things was no longer the way the was [when he lost his job]. But when he later gets a new job 6 months after, he stated sleeping outside our matrimonial home. Only for me to find out that he was having an affair with the lady that gave he the job. since that day, when i called him, he don’t longer pick up my calls and he nothing since to come out good. Yet my husbands just still keep on seeing the lady. Until I met a very good friend of my who was also having a similar problem, who introduced me to a very good love spell caster. But i told her that if it has to do with things that i am not interested, but she said that it has nothing to do with pay first. but the only thing he was ask to do was just to go and buy the items to cast the spell, and that was what she did. And she gave me the spell caster e-mail address and phone number. When i contacted him, i was so surprise when he said that if i have the faith that i will get my husband back in the nest three [3] day, and off which it was really so. but i was so shock that i did not pay any thing to Dr.Justus, but my husband was on his knells begging me and the children for forgiveness. This testimony is just the price i have to pay. This man Justus is good and he is the author of my happiness. His e-mail phone number ,drabeljustus@gmail.com,

  • Adam Lundquist

    Hey Daniel,
    is there any chance you sure the Google Doc and I can see how you track your progress?
    Thanks, Adam

  • Designer023

    Hey Daniel,

    Thank you for taking the time to share your results and techniques. I’m hoping that the market hasn’t changed much since your post. This will be gold :-)



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  • gido

    this is good

  • guest

    Not everyone is charismatic and instantly likeable, so if you are hard-working , talented, honest, which i’m sure you are, but instead don’t have that charisma that gives the edge to stand out from the mass then the rest doesn’t matter, very discouraging for those that may not have it but it’s the truth, you describe it very well and it’s no surprise ,just like in the real world the same applies to the online world. Even when the contact is only a written message for a job bid and nothing else.

  • http://toshibaonline.info/ Toshiba Burton

    Damn Daniel, you definitely broke it down & rocked it out here in this article! Plus you’ve given people like myself some insight on how to add personality into what we’re doing which makes it even more interesting! Love how unique you are.

  • http://toshibaonline.info/ Toshiba Burton

    Agreed! That’s why people search the NET! They are looking for answers & guidance on how to do something so why not give it to them. This is why the Internet is for!!!! Great job Daniel & you’re right you can lead the horse to water but you can’t make him drink it.

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  • Maggie Hopkins

    Daniel, thanks for the great info! I’ve been an admin for seven years, and I’ve been lucky to get referrals to jobs, which has kept me busy outside of corporate America. But I’m trying to break into virtual assisting, and it is TOUGH with all the competition out there. I’ve been trolling top selling Elancers, trying to pin down what makes them sell. And, it’s helped but I still haven’t landed that first elusive gig. After reading this, however…I’m creating a dummy client account and probably going to have to shoot some video too. *sigh* No more jammies at “work” I guess. ;o)

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Don’t use that as a barrier to instantly discount yourself. The idea is to stand out. Don’t like doing face-to-face video? Get creative. What about a whiteboard video, etc.

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  • Gavril

    I found an easy way to increase my income with this: http://www.neobux.com/?r=boceto96 it is hard in the beggining and you have to be patient but its worth it.

  • Jane Doe

    Foreigners are lowballing you for jobs? Sheesh, whoever said Elance is solely for Americans? Just because the bids from most people in India or Asia is significantly lower that what you would normally propose, that doesn’t mean they’re lowballing you. What makes you think you’re the only one with skills? These people bid what they bid because to them, it’s close to what they normally charge in their respective countries. Cost of living is another factor. So don’t you dare say they’re lowballing you. Sheesh.

    And oh, the main reason Americans are on Elance is because they want to source it to save on costs. Duh.

  • Jane Doe


  • CelticsYOLO

    Why would you call it lowballing? IF to you $5 is nothing, to others, in poorer countries, it’s GOLD. Get your head out your ass man.

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  • adastra

    Lol. Currently there are at least 3 total or partial copies of your “fake ad” running on elance, ostensibly from people who have read this and are trying to hack exactly like you.

  • threenorns

    I read your article. I was already *kind of* doing some of your methods but reading the blog made everything come into focus. I had six invitations to bid yesterday and by using your methods, I’ve gotten positive responses from four, two of them I’m pretty sure will accept.

  • threenorns

    how are they “fishy” – what is he trying to sell that isn’t legitimate?

    so the style isn’t to your taste – that doesn’t invalidate it. personally, i smiled – which means that were i a client, i’d be more inclined to at least ask for more information and i’d definitely be remembering him more than some Mister Sobersides in a grey button-down.

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  • K

    Dan, you are simply awesome and easily a sea of knowledge. I loved each and everything you wrote here. Thanks big time, cheers!

  • Amy

    Inspiring post! I am extremely interested in knowing how you picked up design and development skills(especially best practices). I know basic photoshop, can convert it to html and css and I’ve just started fiddling with JS. I still have to get really comfortable when it comes to tweaking WordPress themes though I’ve used wordpress extensively enough on my own site to take it’s alexa ranking to the top one lakh.

    My dream is to offer full stack development,design,UX and content services(Call me greedy but I love the web and I am hungry for learning new things).

    I want to ensure that I can offer great quality before I move to odesk (primarily because I understand the pain of clients since I myself have been delivered poor services by half-assed developers more than once).What is the minimum number of things that I should be proficient at before I can start earning on odesk/elance?Thanks once again for your awesome post!

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  • Shabee Dinal

    Hi Daniel,
    Thanks for sharing your techniques, I appreciate you. Normally people do not share their sales techniques, they keep them secrets. Thumbs up for helping the community.


  • Shahzad Murad

    Wonderful blog Mr.Daniel i will treasure this information forever and by
    the way i don’t think so i would do a video , i have good business
    skill’s ,rather use the skill’s writing them!!

    Thank you Good luck

  • Daniel Colossus DiPiazza

    HAHAHA Excellent!

  • _KJ__

    Daniel is not even leading… he is simply providing the water for the horses to find. If they can’t drink it it’s their fault!

  • Joe Hassis

    Really like your approach! Very good research, and helped give some great confidence to the obvious problem that I saw years ago when looking at eLance, and now revisiting them again.

    Your interviewing skills, and direct interaction are spot on. As a business professional, I hear from others in many aspects from UPS delivery drivers, to you name it. I have heard the statement, “You sell yourself first, and then the project.” I think that is clear in your presentation.

    Your success in landing $24K in one month is impressive! Having lots of experience working retail, I would have to say customers need that feeling of “safety” and being taken care of throughout what they are doing. When I deal with Asia & India call centers for products, the language barrier is difficult.

    The only feedback that I would give being 46 myself, and working in larger institutions throughout my life, is dress a bit for the part. The hat, shirt, and quick flips between subjects make me feel I have to depend on your previous work more than necessary. I want you to really connect with a 35-45 year old crowd. Appearance in a video can be boosted my simply wearing a button down oxford white t-shirt, or having a more professional background – perhaps even a cool ergonomic workstation with projects similar to the ones being developed on-screen.

    Overall your research is spot on, and your ability to sift through the many obstacles is spot on, and impressive. Getting back up to speed for myself can be tough, even with 30,000 hours in computer technology from advanced database, systems analysis and design, and multiple languages both related to application and interface development.

    Great set of advice. Thanks!

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  • Cammie Leon

    I am very impressed by your process and your accomplishments on Elance. If you haven’t had sales training it is clear that you are certainly employing it. Establishing personal rapport, the likability factor, telling stories, and connecting on a personal level are all well known interviewing techniques as well as sales techniques, such as handling objections. HOWEVER, after I saw your videos, I couldn’t turn them off fast enough. Whatever happened to professional appearance and professional speech? It makes me think that the people who hired you were other 20 somethings running startups where this type of “hiphop” talk is all the rage. To me it’s unacceptable. You said the word “cool” 3 times in the first 20 seconds. As a busy professional looking to hire, I don’t have the time to listen to your “look at me, i’m so casual, and cool, and hip, and in the know non-techie tech guy!” Barf. Really. I’m sure I’m not alone in this reaction. I’m in my mid 40′s, I’m very computer saavy, I’ve been around the corporate block more than a few times. Don’t handle me. Don’t patronize me. I see right through you in your attempt to disarm me with your casual and “hip” way of speaking. People who are looking to hire also have to sift through dozens of resumes and proposals, and sift thru the shit. Your babbling in your videos only adds to that. It’s like, “shut up, and get to the point, I don’t have time for this.” Click. Next. Buh-buy. Look it’s obvious that you’re a very capable and intelligent guy, but the minute your speech, whether in writing or in video, starts sounding like you’re a high school dropout scateboarder or whatever that type of speech is called…sorry, I just tune out. It’s goblygook that has no place in business.

  • Tricia Diaz

    YOU my friend, are a smart guy! Thanks for this post, for the longest time I have been trying to figure Elance out – it seems so overwhelming with the low-ball projects and billions of designers. The insights you have shared with the creation of a project are priceless! I’m gonna give it a try and see what happens.

  • Yusuf Hussain

    what are other better places where clients are available?

  • Virginia

    I loved your post. Thank you very much for all this tips. I was looking for something else, trying to understand something from elance and I found your post.
    I’ve been looking for jobs there for a month and I’ve got some, some better and some worst but I ended up concluding a few things (some of them you have included here), but your search has helped me find out others, so thank you.
    My area is not IT, but writing, so it is a bit different, but still I think most applies. I think it is about finding your own style and trying to stand out. I am a psychologist, I used to work recruiting people and helping people write their resume. I always told them to put something in it that would stand out, like maybe a strange hobbie or having lived abroad or something. It makes the employer remember you. I know it is not the same here, but still, trying to show your style, choosing maybe one or two examples of your work that you consider apply for this search (for me, I write travel and health articles. So if it is a blog I choose more catchy, funny pieces, and if it is an article o anything more formal I chose something on that line).
    Well, I guess my comment is getting a bit long. Anyway, thank you!

  • Daniel Colossus DiPiazza

    Haha, well I hear you! And it’s good feedback – I certainly could have tested different approaches. Although, in the end, I ended up booking so many jobs that I literally couldn’t handle the volume. So I guess my approach wasn’t THAT bad :)

  • Daniel Colossus DiPiazza

    Please let me know :)

  • http://www.techtint.com/ Gowtham

    Man! This blog post is a gold mine to people who are sincere about building their career as a freelancer in sites like Elance and Freelancer. I really do appreciate you for taking the time to write a detailed piece. A lot of people who are killing it don’t care to share such information. You the man!

  • Oskar

    I have bad start at Elance with bids,zero for two months for now.
    After this post finally i can see where i make mistakes with biding …

    Thank you for sharing this post ,you will help to all people who read this :)

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Please tell me how this works for you :)

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    Thanks, my friend. Are you using any of these methods? Which ones are working?

  • http://tianacameron.com Tiana

    Wow…just wow! I’ve looked at Elance and ODesk a few times to expand the professional horizon, but so many times but was discouraged because of the cheaper overseas bids. I’ve been a graphic designer for 12 years and have always been lucky enough to get work through word of mouth so I’ve been comfortable with that for years. But your article just breathed LIFE into a new branch of biz for my company! This will help me get the EXACT type of clients I’ve always wanted rather than hoping it comes along through referrals! Thanks for sharing your refreshing prospective and samples! This is the good valuable stuff the internet needs!!

  • Jared

    Great idea for testing by setting up a dummy account but unfortunately, setting up projects without the intention of hiring is grounds for getting your account terminated at Elance. http://help.elance.com/entries/20978901-policies-for-posting-jobs
    It is possible to work successfully on Elance without dishonest tactics. One thing I learned from this is to stay away from posts that look like your testing post. If I see you on Elance I will definitely report it.

  • Daniel DiPiazza

    LOL ^^

  • Mikel Keli

    Damn this post rocks dude

  • doodle

    Thanks for sharing this good tips with us. Please tell me a good approach in this scenario:
    You ask the client for more details, analyze what he wants after his reply and propose a price. After this little chat, the client doesn’t reply anymore. How do you leave an ”open gate” when you propose the price to ask the client what he thinks about your proposal without looking desperate? Or you should give up if you don’t get a reply?

  • bernille

    You are welcome to the wonder land of hacks, want to know how to hack an ATM MACHINE OR BANK ACCOUNT?

    You can hack and break into a bank’s security without carrying guns or any weapon.


    First of all, we have to learn about the manual hacking of ATM MACHINES AND BANKING ACCOUNTS before introducing the software.


    If you have been to the bank, you find out that the money in the ATM MACHINE is being filled right inside the house where the machine is built with enough security.

    To hack this machine manually, get an ATM card, wether valid or not, as long as it can freely enter into the machine. Then get a candle, light the candle and use the wax to cover the panel on the ATM CARD, covering that panel will make the card look defualt to the machine.

    Now, go to any Bank near you and try this trick, but if you are caught, thats your own wella ooh! not mine. When you get to the machine, insert the card and enter a default pin which is 0000. Done that? Wait and see the action. The atm machine will dispense cash. But some times the machine would say card not smart or it would just eject your card. The reasons is because some atm machines are upgraded while others are not.


    For you to know an upgraded atm machine, you will observe that most times when you use a particular atm machine, as the machine is dispensing the cash, the bank will also send you a debit alert. If the machine is not upgraded, it may take up to 30 minutes before the bank sends a debit alert. The candle trick is 60% efficient on a machine that is not upgrade but it may not work on upgraded machine because of its sensitivity.


    From our studies on the manual hacking of the atm machine, you will agree with me that its affects the bank alone but using the software affects the individual or organisation that owns the bank account.


    Like I said, the software is very easy to use, but you need a prepaid debit mastercard and a knowledge on how to hide your browsing ip (your location) on your pc. The money you hack will be sent to your prepaid debit mastercard not your bank account, this is for security reasons but afterwards, you can go to the nearest atm machine close to you and withdraw the money using your mastercard.

    NOTE: I advice that you should not use your correct house address on your mastercard billing details to avoid probs for yourself.

    Having known this, you download the software, install it, launch it and enter every information required on start. After this, logon to the control panel and click on transfer funds, then you will be brought to a page where you will enter the details of the bank account you want to hack. Details like account name, account number, name of bank, country and zipcode. After entering the informations, click submit and the person’s bank account balance will display, then enter the amount you want and click send to card, the money will be sent to your prepaid debit mastercard.


    I am currently selling this software at a give away price of $300 to serious minded people. If you need this software, contact me with this email jameshacker157@gmail.com

  • Jessica Pariah

    Looks like your link is broken — I’m a graphic designer on Elance and would have loved to read your article!

  • big_mars75

    Wow,,,tell him how you really feel

    Not THAT Serious!

  • fred

    Maybe he should make a video to report it :)

  • http://brad.raiche.com/ Brad Raiche

    I must say, it really is both amusing and bemusing to read unreasonable criticism from so many.

    While I would not record a video quite like yours, I am not you, so why would I record a video (or present myself in person) the same way someone else would?

    The most important ‘technique’ is to be oneself, which is precisely what you advocate time and time again. Perhaps in a society where too many are more concerned about being someone they are not than just being their self such criticism should be expected. It is not possible to be everything to everyone, which is why it is important to concentrate on finding the right client with the right job to fit with you than it is to try to be universally appealing.

    My opinion (worth perhaps what you’ve paid for it – nothing) is, I think your blog is very constructive, useful to anyone who has the capacity to digest the essential concepts as well as some of the substance of your post and apply it to ones own self, abilities and opportunities. Your post, as I see it, is not an instuction manual or a rigid template but guide based on your personal perspective but applicable to anyone.

    Thank you, Daniel, for sharing your ideas. You have provoked thought and consideration which has lead me to act differently than I would have had I not had the benefit of having read your blog.


  • http://www.techtint.com/ Gowtham

    Sorry for the late reply. I am kind of shy to try the video method. But I’m creating proposals following your tips and I’m getting good responses. Thanks for taking the time to reply to my comment. I just make sure that I pick the right clients and sincerely write a customized proposal, rather than spamming a template.

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  • Mafia1469

    Really Great Article Buddy. Also I have 1 Question that If I want to Rank for Another Country from which i haven’t belong. How Is it Possible to do that ?

  • George mathew

    I read everything here. Thank you so much. Shows that a little creative thinking can go a verrrry loooooooooong way

  • Paul

    A better way to find clients is to search high quality job boards i.e. Authentic Jobs. Clients pay good money to place these ads, therefore they have budgets and willing to pay if you have the skills.

    You don’t necessarily have to apply to that particular job, but you can send over your information to them and let them know you are a freelancer and that you are available.

    You may not get a job right away, but if you catch the employer’s eye, they may be contacting you.

    Most companies on Elance, oDesk, etc.. are bootstrapped entrepreneurs or just downright cheap. If you don’t have a portfolio or you’re just getting started, using Elance can be a good way to build one. Just realize that unless you live in Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe, you’re not going to make a livable wage and your time is spent better trying to find high quality clients.

  • Adeel

    Just same here, It’ll be probably first blog post in my 7 years that I read full. I never tried to read anything which is so long… It gave me more ideas and better approaches for my freelancing.

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  • james

    can you tell me how to get maximum awarded the job , which think important? proposal or portfolio?

  • james


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