Marketing for Freelancers: Get Inside your Client's Head

Using Elance (Upwork), I will show you how to win the RIGHT clients - the kind who pay top $$$ and are fun to work with!
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Instructed by Salma Jafri Business / Home Business
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  • Lectures 75
  • Length 3 hours
  • Skill Level Intermediate Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 11/2014 English

Course Description

This course is not about freelancing.

This course is about marketing.

The best freelancers are NOT those with the best skill set or even the ones with the most education or experience.

Ultimately the best freelancers are those who can market themselves effectively.


Course Updated as of Jan 2016

30+ Excellent Reviews! Join 800+ Highly engaged students!

Get access to private FB group where course students share actual winning proposals!!


"This course is a master class! All of the important factors of marketing and salesmanship that are necessary in all fields, presented for the Elance platform." -Barry Reitman

"Salma is an expert at winning jobs on elance. So many valuable tips in this course. It's great even if you never plan to sell on elance but just want to sell yourself better anywhere else online." -Scott Duffy

"The course gives great insights into the workings of the mind of the buyer and how to align yourself with her needs and feelings." -Thrandur Arnthorsson


If you've ever hit your head against making a healthy recurring income on freelancing sites such as Upwork (formerly called Elance), Freelancer, Guru, etc , then this course is for you! In it you'll learn that freelance success is all about how to market yourself so you leave a positive & memorable impression on the client. You'll also learn how to stay away from horrible clients & work only for the best ones who can pay your full market rates.

We'll go through key areas such as:

  • How to find your "Ideal Client" & pitch to them
  • The science behind why people say "YES" & how to use that to differentiate your proposals
  • How to become the Most Favored Freelancer (MFF) so that clients choose you by instinct
  • Practical examples of my own winning proposals with awesome feedback
  • How to write proposals based on one of the 4 Proposal Templates
  • How to stop hustling after clients & instead make them come to you
  • How to always charge your market rate prices & not get bullied by low-balling clients


  • 4 Proposal Templates (with sample templates filled out)
  • Buyer Persona Development Template & Questionnaire
  • Pre-Bidding Checklist to Identify your Ideal Buyers & Projects
  • Proposal Writing Checklist


  1. BUILD A BUYER PERSONA for your Ideal Client
  2. SHORTLIST 3 PERFECT PROJECTS according to buyer & project checklists
  3. WRITE A WINNING PROPOSAL & share it with the course community for feedback

START working smarter, not harder by identifying who you really want to work with

START wowing your "Ideal Client" with unique insights into what will make them say yes to you

START charging what you're worth & making at least $2000 per client

START enjoying the freedom and flexibility of freelancing

STOP wasting your time writing bid after bid & getting rejected

STOP feeling bad working with horrible low-paying clients

STOP hustling for clients on a daily/weekly basis

What are the requirements?

  • Have an existing Elance account
  • Know what kind of work you can do and what skills you have
  • Ideally have a complete Elance profile page containing your work history, references, skills and education

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Earn at least $1000 per month on the side using your existing skill set
  • Understand the 4 types of buyers on Elance and how they make purchase decisions
  • Stop wasting time writing proposals for dud buyers
  • Apply the Pareto Principle - how to choose the 20% of projects that will bring in 80% of the income
  • Write winning proposals according to the Psychological Triggers that make people say “yes”
  • Become the Most Favored Freelancer so that clients intuitively choose you
  • Discover the secret weapon that virtually guarantees you won’t hear the words “you’re too expensive” again

Who is the target audience?

  • This course is for you if you’ve been on Elance a while now but you’re just not getting the traction you deserve, if you have in-demand skills, if you’ve submitted a few proposals but have no clients yet, you got some initial clients and then things dried up, you have inconsistent earnings OR you have no or low (less than 25%) repeat customers.
  • This course is probably NOT for you if you are confused about how to sign up on Elance, you have never been on Elance and are not a fast learner, you don’t have any marketable skills or experience or education in your chosen field or your skill set is not one of Elance’s categories to get work on. This course will not cover basic administrative and logistics tasks on Elance, like choosing a membership plan, setting up your bank account information, getting paid, filing for dispute, etc. You can get all this info for free from the Elance website or by using their customer support options.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction to Freelance with Elance

This course will teach you how to write better Elance proposals - proposals that win you clients, jobs and more money. The key to writing winning Elance proposals is to understand how to market yourself on bidding platforms such as Elance, oDesk, Freelancer, and others.


I make over $2000 per Elance client. I also have a 45% repeat client ratio which is instrumental to making more money without constantly having to find clients. I am a trainer for Elance's Mobilizer Program - where I scripted, filmed and edited training videos for Elance Mobilizers across the world. I am also the 2nd place winner to Elance's New Way to Work competition.


This course is for serious freelancers who are looking to supercharge their freelance income and make more money by getting higher paying clients, and not necessarily by doing more jobs.

Section 2: Understanding the Elance System

How does the Elance system work and how can you use it to bid effectively.


Elance facilitates both freelancers and buyers/clients and acts as a middleman. Learn why this is crucial to keeping both freelancers and clients secure and provides a safe platform for the exchange of information, products and services, and money.


Success on Elance boils down to one crucial factor: your ability as a freelancer to market yourself. How well you can sell your expertise is what constitutes how biased the client will be in your favor/favour.


Elance helps freelancers earn more and showcase their abilities by offering a variety of tools and resources: skills tests, verified credentials, references, watchlists, and most importantly, ESCROW!


Elance provides outsourcing tools to clients/buyers such as Featured Proposals, inviting specific freelancers, shortlisting by skills and groups, etc. It is free for anyone to post up a project on Elance.


To succeed on Elance as a freelancer, you need to take advantage of all the tools and resources on offer. And you must be able to market yourself effectively and differentiate your offer.

Section 3: What Kinds of Buyers and Projects Does Elance Attract?

Elance attracts many types of buyers/clients. But you have to be super careful about who you want to work with and why.


The Pareto Principle states that 80% of your freelancing income will come from just 20% of your Elance clients.


You need to find the 20% of the clients that will keep coming back to you for more work and will become your repeat clients. These repeat clients will bring in the majority of your income.


Once you identify your Ideal Client, it's easy to find great Elance clients over and over again. And working with your Ideal Client gives you joy, freedom and flexibility as a freelancer.


All Elance buyers/clients can be categorized into 4 distinct types. Each of these types has their own quirks and pros and cons. It's essential to identify the types of buyers so you can find which type you are ideally suited to work with.


Content farms and design farms typically want the best quality for the lowest price. It's usually a good idea to stay away from these if you want to earn more money. Above all, don't indulge in price wars and low-balling which these types of clients are wont to do.


Here are the 10 phrases in a project description that should alert you to a less than ideal Elance client. Stay away from people who use these phrases! In time, you will develop your own buyer radar that will alert you to legit vs. non legit clients.

1 page

Download the buyer red flags checklist - my checklist for ensuring you don't ever work for a dodgy Elance client again!


Learn what skills and compatibility you need to work with Elance clients who are small business owners.


Learn what skills and compatibility you need to work with Elance clients who are entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and risk-takers.


Learn what skills and compatibility you need to work with Elance clients who are companies, corporations, enterprises. What do companies look for when hiring independent contractors from freelance platforms such as Elance?


What is a buyer persona and how can developing one help you choose better Elance clients to work with - ones that will pay you more money and be a pleasure to work with?


Here is my Ideal Client's buyer persona - honed after many years of work experience on Elance and understanding who I'm best suited to work with.

2 pages

Download the kind of Elance client I like to work with above all others. Use this buyer persona template to make your own!


Developing a detailed buyer persona saves you time and hassle. See how it helps you work smarter, not harder.


This is a tutorial on how to use Elance's tools and resources to search for projects that meet your Ideal Client profile! A neat little trick that will save you countless hours of shortlisting and agonizing!


Before you decide to bid on a project, stop and consider: will you love doing this work? How do you know if this project meets your career as well as your financial goals?


With so much choice on the freelancing platform, why wouldn't you choose clients who respect you, put up interesting projects, pay you on time, and are your partners in every sense of the word?

1 page

Use this buyer persona template to make your own Ideal Client on Elance profile.

2 pages

How to find great clients on Elance - use this downloadable checklist!

2 pages

Using the information learned thus far, shortlist three projects that meet your project and buyer/client criteria.

Section 4: Psychological Principles to Use to Become the Buyer's Most Favored Freelancer

How you can use basic human consumer psychology to gain an advantage in writing Elance proposals.


Elance clients are human - so the study of psychology on how they make decisions will help you understand their psyche better.


What is more powerful than logic in decision-making?


A bias isn't good or bad. It's what you do with it that's relevant.


Most freelancers believe they have an equal chance at winning a project as the other guy with similar credentials. Learn the surprising secret to why this isn't so!


As a freelancer, how can your proposals bridge the first gap and get clients to know you?


How can freelancers make themselves more likeable to a client in the limited space of a proposal? And why do you need to be likeable in the first place?


"People do business with people they trust" Knowing how to establish trust with your future client is imperative to getting started off with a project on a positive note. Learn the simple way to establish trust with your client right from the first message.


You know that as a freelancer you need to stand out. You need to be different in a positive way for clients to choose. You need to be unmissable. Here's a really easy way to differentiate yourself from the competition - and the best part is that requires you to be yourself!


In this lecture you'll learn why "you" is the most important word for a client to read. You'll also learn how to position your expertise/qualifications/skills from the client's perspective to appeal to their ego.


Do you know how many words of your proposal are visible to an Elance buyer? Do you know how crucial those words are? Do you know how easy it is for a buyer to not even read your full proposal? Learn how to start your proposal with a bang so that it will actually get read!


What happens when freelancers hold themselves to a higher standard? What happens when you limit the amount of work you'll take on? What happens when a client perceives you to be super valuable? All good stuff, I promise. View the lecture to see how.


Elance buyers - like most other people - behave in consistent, predictable patterns. If you can learn what makes them tick, you're miles ahead of your competition. I'll show you how to do that in this lecture.


A round up of how using psychology-based marketing will position you to succeed as a freelancer on Elance, oDesk, freelancer and similar freelancing platforms.

Section 5: The 4 Types of Winning Proposals

This section of the freelancing course contains examples, templates and guides on how to write the perfect Elance proposal.


Many freelancers (mistakenly) believe there's a way to write that perfect proposal. But more than perfect, you should be looking to make a connection with your future client. And the way to do that is to write a proposal that fits.


In all my years of writing winning Elance proposals, I've found that these 4 types are the most useful kinds of elance proposals to write!


You can write an expert proposal to position yourself as the most qualified freelancer who is bidding for the job.


Download this template to help you write an Expert Proposal on Elance

1 page

Download this template to help you write an Expert Proposal on Elance


You can write a coach or teaching style proposal to show your knowledge set and position yourself as a mentor/guide


Here is a sample Coach Proposal to use as reference.

1 page

Download this template to help you write a Coach Proposal on Elance


You can write an assistant proposal to position yourself as a helper freelancer who has systems in place to achieve results faster and with greater efficiency.


Here is a sample Assistant Proposal to use as reference.

1 page

Download this template to help you write an Assistant Proposal on Elance


You can write an enthusiastic proposal to show your love, passion and energy for the project.


Here is a sample Enthusiastic Proposal to use as reference.

1 page

Download this template to help you write an Enthusiastic Proposal on Elance

1 page

Keep this handy checklist as a reference (and print it out) to help guide you in writing winning proposals.

Section 6: Converting Leads Into Clients

This section is all about following up with a buyer after they respond to your winning proposal. What should you say and how should you say it to ensure you nab the project?


What should you talk about and discuss with a future client once they are intrigued enough by your proposal to contact you?


What kinds of responses and messages might you encounter as clients begin the negotiations stage of the freelance process. My best tips on what to say to future clients to start the relatiosnhip off in a positive, healthy way!


Why you shouldn't be too concerned about positive or negative messages at this stage - they are both indicative of the exact same thing, which is.... (view the lecture to find out!)


There's a fine line between holding your ground and being rude. Learn how to stand firm behind your value proposition while negotiating prices and other details with clients.


See why I advocate neither letting clients know your final price nor hiding your pricing. My best tips on how to introduce price negotiations that work in your favor!


What you need to know about Elance's terms and agreements...


Oh pfft! If a buyer says no to you at this stage, it can only mean one thing....and that works in your favor too!


A round up of negotiation best practices to make the most of converting a lead into a repeat client.

Section 7: Maintaining Business Relationships by Getting Repeat Clients

This section focuses on ensuring your clients keep coming back to you for more work.


The best emails are those from older clients who always remember your work and speak highly of it :)


Most freelancers assume that to make more money, they need more jobs. However, to really make more money as a freelancer, you need repeat clients. Learn why!


How to make sure your clients are happy to hear from you in the future and you stay on their radar.

Section 8: Closing
2 pages

A PDF listing of key takeaways from this course and how they can transform your freelancing business.

18 pages

A selection of my winning proposals on Elance - word for word! Use these as samples to learn from and fine tune your own winning proposals.

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Instructor Biography

Salma Jafri, Content Marketer to Entrepreneurs | Trainer | Speaker

Salma Jafri is a content marketing strategist, trainer, writer, video blogger and speaker. She left 9 years of corporate work to start her own online marketing consultancy in 2009. She currently writes for premier industry publications such as Search Engine Watch, Aurora and more and speaks internationally on topics spanning freelancing to content marketing to women's entrepreneurship.

Her online course, Marketing for Freelancers, is an introduction to how anyone can get started with a freelance business using Upwork (formerly called Elance) by incorporating crucial principles borrowed from marketing and consumer behaviour psychology. In it she has distilled her own years of successfully using the platform as a launch pad to a bigger business.

Salma is also the Team Lead for Google Business Groups (GBG) Women (Karachi chapter). In this role, she provides and facilitates online training for women entrepreneurs.

In her previous life in the corporate world, she worked as an Instructional Designer and course writer as well as a marketing consultant at Deloitte & Touche.

Salma's inspiration to work from home came after the birth of her first child. Today she works and lives with her husband and 2 precious daughters.

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