Saturday, November 8, 2008

Know your buyer

Oh wait. You mean you can actually make money online by working? By putting in a full eight hours at the keyboard and collecting a paycheck at the end of the day? You mean online marketing is not all about finding some mysterious Make Money Now & Instantly by PPC'ing your way to Cash Heaven?

Yeah - it's possible, and it's called Elance and I've been working as a Provider on Elance. Elance is an online marketplace that matches up Buyers and Providers; people who need things done and people who have the ability to do those things.
When you go to a cocktail party and someone asks what you do, you say, "Well, I run PPC to specially designed landing pages of affiliate offers, all of which I rigorously analyze and make tweaks, and..." By that time, you've lost them. But Elance is the kind of thing they can understand because it's part of their world. Do something, get paid for it. It's a good way to make a living, and it beats commuting every day to a shitty cubicle job you hate.
Beware of these Elance Buyers

You can get far ahead in the Elance game simply by avoiding certain types of Elance buyers. Some are outright scammers; others are just naifs. Either way, stay away from them.

"Learn New Software (or Skill)"
What sparked this entire article was this numbskull Buyer on Elance who says, "I need to convert [manuals]...into an ebook using the Desktop Author software..." Oh really? Thanks. Just what I need -- more software to learn.

"I Retain the Copyright"
And usually they end with "...and want you to sign a document to this effect." OK. I don't give a rat's ass about your subject. This is work for hire. The minute you pay for it, it's yours. Let's not make this complicated.

"Work Goes Under My Name"

No crap. Tell me something I don't know.

"I'm Looking for a Group of Writers/Coders/Designers, etc...."

Usually, they aren't soliciting for a specific project. They just want to shake the trees and have a bunch of people come to them.

The Know-it-All Newbie
Nothing wrong with being a newbie. We all were at one time. But if you're smart, newbie, you'll take advantage of the expertise the Provider has -- in addition to just coming to them for labor.

15 Projects Posted - 0 Awarded
In the Buyer Profile, you can see how many Projects the Buyer has posted...and how many they have actually followed through on. I, and other Providers, typically pass right by any Buyer whose Posted/Awarded ratio is reaching the 1:5 or 1:7 mark. All they want to do is check out market prices; they aren't serious Buyers.

"I Will be Checking with Copyscape..."
Copyscape is a program that allows you to see if work is plagiarized. I should think that it is understood that if you are soliciting for people to produce original work, you will get original work. No, I'm not saying that you will get it. But just don't mention this aspect in your proposal -- it's stupid. It's like specifying that your new car have wheels on it. If the work you get is plagiarized, then simply don't pay.

"Send me a Sample / Write on Spec"
Click on Profile, then Portfolio. That's all you're getting.

Characteristics of Good Elance Buyers
Now that you've knocked the bad Elance Buyers out of the picture, what do the good Buyers look like?
The Veteran Buyer Who Knows What He or She Wants
You don't need to spend time educating this type of Buyer. You connect instantly because you both speak the same language. Very little admin time wasted because this Buyer delivers his requests in a concise manner, and you pick up on it quickly.

The Newbie Who Wants to Learn
I have forged great relationships with newbies who didn't know their ass from their elbow. I probably spent more time with them than I should have.

15 Projects Posted - 13 Awarded
Hot damn. This is a sign of character, more than anything. But we don't expect Buyers to award every single project they post.