Chumming the Upwork shark tank

Ever see those “Shark Week” commercials where a scientist dumps buckets of bloody mackerel over the side of a boat until the water is frothing with Great Whites?

This weekend I felt a lot like the bait…

I needed some data collection done. There’s an online directory of 400 companies in a market that I’m pursuing, and I wanted to get the names and addresses “scraped” into an Excel file.

Simple stuff, really. Anyone with an Internet connection and a copy of Microsoft Excel can do this task.

I don’t really care who does it for me, as long as it’s done reasonably well.

That’s the very definition of a commodity.

Anyway, I typed up a quick description of the job and posted it on Upwork (which used to be oDesk).

$75 to go through the directory and pull the names and addresses into a spreadsheet.

And the sharks went BERZERK…

Within 20 minutes I had 64 applicants to choose from. An hour later I had 118.

How the heck was I supposed to make a choice?

Price wasn’t really a factor. The $75 I was offering was already a huge bargain for me, so the freelancers who bid under my price didn’t necessarily have an advantage.

(In fact, the low bidders made me nervous about the quality of the work they’d produce. I’d rather pay $75 and have the job done right than save $20 and wind up redoing part of it myself.)

I can’t possibly read all these applications, so I just scanning.

Then one reached right off the screen and grabbed me by the eyeballs.

Here’s the first line:

“I am a Directory specialist.”

Now, think about this logically.

What is a “directory specialist,” anyway? If anything, going through an online directory and pulling out contact information is EASIER than tracking down contact info from websites scattered all over the Internet.

Still, his “specialty” matched my needs exactly, and he shot right to the top of my shortlist.

Suddenly I found myself comparing every other applicant to this guy—even though he had LESS experience and lower rankings than the others.

That’s the power of specialization.

Most people miss this entirely. They see what others are doing and then try to do the same thing, only cheaper and better.

Don’t do that.

Instead,find some tiny little hill that no one has claimed.

Climb to the top, plant your flag, and declare yourself king.

Email is one of the best ways to do this.

Why? Because when you show up in your customer’s inbox day after day, you’re taking the stage alone.

You get 5 or 10 or 30 seconds to make your case.

And there’s NOTHING your competition can do about it.

I can help you get started here: