1. Create a really good profile. Don't simply post a resume. Imagine what your ideal client would want and explain why you are the best person to give it to them. Remember, this isn't about you, it's about the clients.
2. Put up a few reasonable samples. Not too many, because you'll use targeted samples later on.
3. Set aside an hour a day to bid on projects. You don't want to rush it, but you don't want to spend your entire day on it either.
4. Read through the projects in your category. Only bid on jobs you can do well on. Don't just bid on everything. Look at the budget the client has listed - if it's too low to be worth your time, skip it. Doing cheap projects just to get ratings will damn you to cheap projects forever.
5. When you find a project you want to bid on don't give a generic bid. Instead write a bid that shows you have read their project description and understand what they need. Imagine you are replying to someone's online personal ad. You wouldn't give them a generic response, would you?
6. Attach relevant targeted samples. These samples should relate directly to the project you are bidding on.
7. Look at bidding history. Elance tells you what the lowest bid is, what the highest bid is and what the average bid is. Your bid should be slightly higher than the current average bid.
8. When the potential client contacts you with questions respond to them as quickly as possible. This is your chance to make a great first impression.
9. Before you sign the job talk to the client about milestone payments. Even on the smallest job you should always get a deposit. You need to know that their credit card works and you have a right to ask for some money upfront to block out your time. In general, a client should be willing to fund and release at least 25 percent of the job cost, and usually 50 percent of the job cost to you before you start the job. If it is a long job, set reasonable milestone payments along the way.
10. During the job, keep in touch with the client every day or every other day. They need to know that they are on your radar. Don't be afraid to ask questions if they crop up.
11. Assume that revisions are part of your package deal. Clients like to meddle a bit, so let them. Doing a couple of revisions makes it much, much more likely they will want to hire you again.
12. Once the job is done and they've paid you, leave them great feedback - and ask them to leave you feedback as well. Your feedback will get you more and more jobs as time goes on.