Until you get experience on Elance, you will be relying on your proposals and profile to get business. This will work fine, it just takes a bit longer. The key is to show how your strengths fit neatly into the job requirements.
Although you will always be promoting your strengths as you market your freelancing business, you have to do more of it yourself in the beginning. You don’t have as much free advertising in the form of the feedback page.
As a new contractor, you have three main avenues for marketing yourself. Think of it as three legs to a stool:
• The proposal
• Your profile
• Communication in the bidding process
Within each of these you have more goodies, like specialties, references, work experience, training, ...