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Freelancer Pricing Strategy

After doing some research, I feel confident in my understanding of oDesk norms. Low-paying clients hire low-paying contractors. It's economics. I understand it. But higher-paying contractors still exist, and they're hiring experienced oDesk freelancers. As someone late to the game, I'm left at a crossroad. Would I be better off doing some "cheap" gigs to garner ratings from questionable clients? Or should I maintain a reasonable wage considering my own value as a professional? This is obviously an answer I have to find for myself, but do any experienced oDesk freelancers have tips on earning those essential first contracts? I appreciate the help!

You'll find several topics about this on the forums so I won't go into too much detail, but I am a firm believer that if you have a service that a client can see value in, you DON'T need to discount it. Getting started can take some time, but at the end of the day it's all about selling yourself. Selling yourself through credibility that can come from verifiable previous experience. Let them talk to references, get on Skype chat & video for that personal touch, provide sample work through your portfolio and an unusable partial sample for individual projects to land jobs. A lot of people refuse to give any samples unless they are paid because there are so many scammer clients out there that people are jaded to the idea now... but also consider than companies who bid on high end project pretty much always provide a sample to land a contract. An architect for example may be one of 3 or 4 up for consideration, and they spend piles of time and money putting together concepts and models. That's a part of doing business. On the lower end of the pay scale, just getting to know your client and getting them on the phone is 90% of the battle. In order to get them on the phone, you'll need to figure out how to catch their attention among the other 50 applicants... that's the part you'll be well served to spend some tie searching the forums for :) Hope that helps!

Hello Melissa, Welcome to oDesk. I know exactly what you are talking about and its a dilemma for those with years of experience. What i can do is share my approach and why i feel its working right now. I work in the Internet Service Provider sector which is ever changing, for years one worked in Networking and over the last few years its switching to Software, i could write pages on my work experience yet my freelancer rating would still be zero. With one always studying to keep ahead and skilled, I choose to dedicate a portion of my studying time to lesser paying oDesk work for now, like an internship where i am starting to invest in a new future. The moment i started to think differently about oDesk i noticed a big change - yes right now its an internship in my mind. The reality is i can not quit my day job yet. My family / friends might be upset with the long hours i am putting in , yet the moment i explained it like an internship they were supportive. Even today i have had to learn to not send emails back and forward with people who have not verified their payment method yet the reverse for a client is also true i am sure. Without me investing the time and that includes small jobs i can not be part of the unknown potential in the future.