Elance Blog

Mature Entrepreneurs And The Freelance Economy

Occasionally we invite Elance and Upwork freelancers and clients to discuss issues of importance to others who work in our marketplace. Here are some thoughts from Brian D. Jones, who recently released a his best-selling book, Over 50? Start Your Business!


Entrepreneurship is considered a young person’s game.

An under-appreciated facet of entrepreneurship is the number of businesses being started by people over the age of 50.

Research by the Kauffman Foundation found that over 23% of entrepreneurs who launched companies in 2013 were between the ages of 55 and 64. This is up from just over 14% back in 1996.

Also in 2013 the Nesta Foundation in the UK reported that 70% of companies founded by those over 50 were still in business after three years. Only 28% of companies founded by those under 50 could make the same claim.

What are the implications of these findings for the Freelance Economy?


Freelancers should welcome these Mature Entrepreneurs as potential customers for their services. Their numbers are growing. Their success rates are higher.

It is probably safe to assume that mature founders have a greater need for freelance services than more tech-savvy younger entrepreneurs. More “handholding” may mean opportunities to provide more value-added services. Higher success rates create opportunities to develop long-term relationships and the potential for recurring revenues.


Many Mature Entrepreneurs may become freelancers themselves. You know freelancing is an attractive option. Mature freelancers will learn this too. Especially those who choose freelancing as a “Side Hustle” for extra income. Or as a way to transition from their full-time position. Mature freelancers offer clients a wealth of experience that may tip the scales in their favor.

Mature Entrepreneurs might be more comfortable working with “one of their own” in a Mature freelancer.

Mature employees are in constant danger of being replaced by their employers. An economic downturn might force the acceleration of the ranks of Mature freelancers who are desperate to compete against YOU for business.


Time to get used to working with Mature Entrepreneurs. They represent an almost hidden source of potential business for you. But working with them may prove different than working with other entrepreneurs. Mature freelancers may have an advantage with this growing segment of the entrepreneurial market.

About the author

Brian D. Jones has been a home-based consultant for over 20 years. His new book, Over 50? Start Your Business! is available in the Amazon Kindle Store. His website is www.TheMaturEntrepreneur.com.

Apple tree photo courtesy of Ruth Hartnub

New job posts are redirecting to Upwork

Timeline: On May 30, 2016 all work will stop on Elance. To continue working together, freelancers and clients will need to open a new contract on Upwork.

After this date, freelancers will be unable to log hours with Time Tracker or utilize milestones or invoices through Elance. Similarly clients will be unable to utilize milestones on Elance. Clients have until June 5, 2016 to make final payments. All Elance users can withdraw funds and access messages, contacts and files on Elance into 2017. 


Now that we’ve completed sending clients, freelancers, and companies unique invitations to join Upwork, we’re taking the next step to wind Elance down. New job posts on Elance have now begun to redirect to Upwork. While not all clients will be asked to post their jobs on Upwork right away, you may be prompted to do so the next time you attempt to post a job on Elance. Eventually, all new job posts will be redirected to Upwork – excluding your active contracts on Elance, which will not be affected.

If it’s your first time posting a job on Upwork, you can refer to this guide for information about what to expect when you bring your profile over, including key differences from Elance. Freelancers can reference our handy Freelancer Moving Guide or take our self-paced online course for move-related information, and companies can refer to our company migration help article for important information to know before moving.

If you’ve already brought your Elance account over to Upwork, the next time you post a job on Elance we’ll send you directly to the Upwork job post form. Freelancers, we recommend you send your Elance clients your profile link on Upwork, if you haven’t already. As a reminder, when you begin a contract on Upwork with an Elance client, we’ll honor the fee you paid before.

If you haven’t brought your account over to Upwork yet, you can find your invitation to join Upwork on your Elance My Jobs page. Once you accept your invite, we’ll take you to the job post form on Upwork.

Active contracts will remain on Elance, but we encourage you to close those down, move them over to Upwork, and rehire your Elance freelancers on Upwork so you can hit the ground running before all future job posts are redirected.

We’ve also made it easy for you to repost and rehire in one click on Upwork. You’ll see your past Elance hires on Upwork after moving your account:

If you’re a Private Talent Cloud client, we will not be redirecting your job posts for the time being. You’ll have a unique transition plan your engagement manager will set up with you. Freelancers working with Private Talent Cloud clients will also be unaffected.

Don’t wait until your next job is redirected from Elance – start new contracts on Upwork today. We look forward to seeing more familiar Elance faces on Upwork!

New Book Outlines Starting A Business At 50+

Have you seen Robert De Niro's latest film, The Intern? If not, you should. It’s about a 70-year old former phone book vendor (De Niro) who decides to “get back in the game” after retirement leaves him unfulfilled. To do so he becomes an intern at a clothing retailer ... and the antics begin.

Over 50? Start Your Own Business book cover

But as fun as the movie is, the film’s premise brings up an interesting fact:

Entrepreneurism isn’t limited to 20-something millennials and Stanford MBAs.

In fact, starting a business today is a reality for anyone who sets his or her mind to it … regardless of age. And this is exactly the point author Brian D. Jones makes in his new book, Over 50? Start Your Business! Build Wealth. Control Your Destiny. Leave A Legacy. (available at Amazon’s Kindle store).

Jones (who continues the conversation on his website and blog, The MaturEntrepreneur) begins by debunking the myth that entrepreneurism is exclusively a young-man’s (or woman’s) game. This includes noting some of the many folks who started a wildly successful business later in their careers (Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald’s at age 52, while Ferdinand Porsche’s namesake automobile first rolled off the line when he was 56 years young). In fact, the complete list of late-blooming businesspeople and artists is inspiring and eye-opening.

The Over 50+? Start Your Business! book then goes on to provide readers with a step-by-step guide to starting a business. This includes detailed sections on: The 3 Foundations For Success, 5 Steps To Starting Your Dream Business, and a 90-Day Action Plan. You’ll also discover how to channel your passions into a successful business, rather than taking perhaps the road more travelled or expected. Plus you’ll get tips on how more mature business people can best tap into today’s Connected Economy.Chapter from 50+? Start Your Own Business by Brian D. Jones

The text also mixes in Jones’ insights on aligning your lifestyle and habits with success, geared specifically to those over 50 (but probably good advice for anyone of any age). Not coincidently, Jones also notes the importance of using freelance talent to accelerate business growth, as time-to-market is even more critical when you’re starting at 50+ (and probably have less technical skills than your average millennial).

An inspiring read for your parents? Colleagues? Friends?

If you’re an “experienced” talent and looking to start your own business, this an enlightening read. Or, if you know someone 50+ who has considered kicking off a startup or you feel might be a great candidate for entrepreneurism, you might want to surprise them with a copy or point them to the Kindle store edition. You might be amazed at what they’ll accomplish.

About Brian D. Jones

Brian D. Jones is on a mission to inspire and support people over 50 who want to start their own business. He enjoyed corporate success for over 10 years as an engineering project leader and management consultant. Since 1995, he has been a home-based independent consultant. Brian graduated magna cum laude from Drake University with a BA in Mathematics and Spanish. He later earned a Master’s degree from the Stanford School of Engineering, and also received his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. His website is http://www.thematurentrepreneur.com/

Update On Migration Process To Upwork

Addendum: Within the next two weeks, we’ll begin moving new Elance job posts over to Upwork. Don’t wait to transfer your reputation over to the unified Upwork, and to get set up for new projects. We’ve already invited your clients to move to Upwork, and when you and your client begin a contract together we’ll honor the fee you paid on Elance. To stay updated on the move, visit our forum.


We’re continuing to wind down Elance and move your reputation and work to our unified Upwork platform. As mentioned in our recent forum post, we extended the timeline to make some improvements to the experience, based on your feedback. This includes building the ability for agencies to merge their Elance and Upwork accounts.

Here’s an updated timeline:

·       Everyone in the Elance community will receive an invitation in the next several weeks.

·       Once invitations are complete, we’ll begin to limit the ability to post new jobs on Elance.

Thank you for your patience during this transition.  

Why migrate? Your business will benefit from moving to Upwork.

Freelancers and clients who have made the transition from Elance to Upwork are now realizing the benefits. Upwork has doubled the amount of jobs available to freelancers, which are resulting in 34% higher earnings than on Elance.

We’ve also launched major marketing campaigns to attract even more top clients, and we’re making it easier for search engines to find you through your Upwork online profile (Elance profiles will soon become less visible in search engines). Plus we’ve just introduced Upwork Enterprise, bringing you a world of new, long-term opportunities with large global clients.

You’ll find it easy to settle into Upwork.

While moving from Elance to Upwork may initially seem like a big departure, you’ll soon discover that things are quite familiar. You’ll still find clients from Elance, as well as new prospects now working on Upwork. There is also the protection you’ve come to know and trust, including Hourly Payment Protection and Fixed-Price Payment Protection (via escrow).

It’s easy for your existing Elance clients to find and hire you, and you’re able to keep your current pricing structure with these existing clients. Here’s an example of what your Elance clients will see on the screen when you’ve moved to Upwork:

We’ve prepared detailed documents to help you make the move (for clientsfreelancers and agencies), along with a self-paced course for freelancers to make it even easier to learn the ins and outs of Upwork.

We’ll continue to keep you posted on major milestones that get us closer to winding down Elance. In the meantime, we encourage you to accept your invitation today (available on your Elance My Jobs page), and start shifting your efforts to Upwork.



The Beginning Of Improvements To Agency Accounts On Upwork

We highly value what Elance companies and their members bring to our community. We look forward to welcoming Elance companies to Upwork, and we’re working to enable even greater success for them on the unified platform.

With this in mind, we’ll soon be rolling out several updates for agencies on Upwork, with more to come in the following weeks and months. Here is a sneak peek at the first improvements.

Updates to permissions.

In the Agency Roster you’ll soon see this modification:

· New Hide profile rate option: Select this box to limit a freelancer from seeing his or her profile rate and contract earnings, or contract rates and earnings on the agency’s profile. This will automatically limit the freelancer’s profile visibility to be “Upwork Users only” or “Hidden.”

Here are upcoming changes to existing permissions:

· Accepting offers: Agency Freelancers will no longer be able to accept offers unless they are also Business Managers (aka “Staffing Managers). You can designate Business Manager permissions to any freelancer. Business Managers submit agency proposals, accept agency offers, and communicate with clients.

· Submitting milestones: Business Managers will be able to submit milestones for any open agency contract. Previously, only hired freelancers could do this.

· Viewing Work Diary: All agency contractors with full Work Diary permissions can view the Work Diaries of other freelancers in their agency, across the agency’s contracts. Other permissions options include “View Self” or “None.”

To learn more, feel free to read details of upcoming permission changes in this help article.

This is only the beginning.

We have even more in store to help Elance companies be successful on Upwork. We’ll keep you posted on updates, and welcome your feedback on ways to improve your experience and success.


Fun Infographic On Organizing Your Workspace

When you're working crazy-long hours, it's important to be comfortable and productive in your workspace. Here's a cheat sheet shared by Emily Johnson, who also posts for our friends at Freelancers Union. While it focuses specifically on writing, these healthy insights apply to anyone who works at home or other environments they can adjust to their specifications. 

ways to organize your writing cabinet

One CEO’s Journey From Freelancer To Video Production House Owner

Occasionally we invite freelancers from our platform to discuss issues of importance to others who work in our marketplace. Here are some thoughts from Osama Khabab, CEO and Creative Director of MotionCue – a producer of video and motion graphics.


Whenever I tell someone that I have studied electrical engineering in a four year study program, the first thing that everyone asks is how come you are running a video production house?

Motion graphics was something that I grew interested in when watching brilliantly crafted videos online. After working on experimental projects for a year or so I decided to try my luck working as a freelancer. With some early success in freelancing I decided that I should pursue my passion and convert this hobby into my full time job.

One misconception that I bought down very early in my career was that Elance was only targeted towards clients that had low budget work or for individuals that don’t have full time job. But for me this presented an opportunity to create a video production house where today I now employ full time motion graphic artists and collaborate with the biggest brands of the world.

So how did it happen?

First thing that I focused was on honing my animation skills. You really need to be good to be selected by clients on Elance. I have learnt that the most important thing is to be the best at what you do. Being excellent at a skill that may not be the most trending is much better than being average at the most wanted skills/jobs out there.

So I started to take less work compared to other freelancers and tried to offer top-notch quality to my clients.  Through this measure not only was I able to earn more, as I was able to create business relationships with my clients that valued my hard work and dedication to quality.

Shift towards freelance work.

Working for the past six years, I have observed how big brands are moving towards working with online freelancers. This allowed me the opportunity to work with global market leaders through Elance.  One reason due to which I was able to work for them was my relationships with clients. Through word of mouth I was recommended to clients that ranged from global brands to startups needing mind blowing animated videos.

Build On Your Success At Upwork With Our New Online Course

Upwork has already proven to be a rewarding marketplace for freelancers, and you too can start taking advantage of the marketplace and new opportunities with both new clients and ones you’ve worked with before on Elance.

We’re committed to making the transition as easy as possible for our Elancers as we wind down the Elance platform. In addition to live webinars and rich community discussions, we created an online course that you can take at your own pace. The course is broken down into quick 5-10 minute modules where you can learn everything from copying over your reputation to building a strong profile on Upwork.  

Take the modules in order, or choose the ones that are most relevant to you:

Module 1: Welcome

(5 minutes) The keys to a smooth transition from Elance to Upwork.

Module 2: Moving to Upwork

(10 minutes) Seven steps to copy your account and reputation on Upwork.  

Module 3: What’s New on Upwork

(5 minutes) Upwork’s investments in increasing the quality of jobs available and improving tools boost your productivity.

Module 4: Best Practices for a Strong Profile

(10 minutes) How top freelancers on Upwork attract high-quality clients.

Module 5: Finding Projects & Clients

(5 minutes) Target your search and set up automatic updates through your Job Feed.

Module 6: Submitting Proposals

(5 minutes) Impress clients and win high-quality jobs with a clear, concise proposal.

Module 7: Managing Communications

(5 minutes) Leverage Upwork’s tools to communicate and collaborate with your online team.

Module 8: Getting Paid

(5 minutes) Get safe and secure payments for your great work.

Module 9: Your Reputation on Upwork

(5 minutes) Win repeat engagements and higher-quality jobs with a strong reputation on Upwork.

Thanks, we hope you enjoy these quick courses. The team looks forward to seeing you on Upwork, and to helping you accelerate your success.

Progress Continues In Creating A Single, Amazing Platform

Addendum: Within the next two weeks, we’ll begin moving new Elance job posts over to Upwork. Don’t wait to transfer your reputation over to the unified Upwork, and to get set up for new projects. We’ve already invited your clients to move to Upwork, and when you and your client begin a contract together we’ll honor the fee you paid on Elance. To stay updated on the move, visit our forum.


As we shared last month, the team will now begin winding down the Elance platform and inviting freelancers and clients alike to join the Upwork community.


New clients and freelancers looking to sign up on Elance are now being redirected to the Upwork registration page. This is another major milestone in our process of building one single, unified platform that dramatically improves how freelancers and businesses work together online.


The next step will be to limit customers’ ability to post new jobs on Elance, which should happen in late September of this year. Note that if you’re working on a job already open on Elance, you will be able to continue working on that project through early 2016.*


To keep people informed, and to help make for a smooth transition to Upwork, we’ll also be updating the Elance homepage to reflect changes.


Your success is our number one goal.


We can’t stress enough how important the Elance community is to our entire team. Our aim is to make the transition to Upwork as easy and rewarding as possible.


In fact, if you’re a freelancer, this includes automatically honoring your current Elance fee (typically 8.75%) on Upwork, for all clients you’ve previously worked with on Elance.


To help expedite the transition, I encourage you to begin all new projects on Upwork – and to move existing contracts to Upwork as soon as possible. When the two communities combine, freelancers will find a much larger pool of available opportunities. This includes more clients posting more jobs -- thanks in part to new marketing efforts that for new client acquisition, are now 100% focused on the Upwork platform. An example is our new Ideas Need People campaign and video. You’ll also find that Upwork projects offer 34% higher earnings than the average project on Elance.


Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you soon on Upwork. For more details on the move to a single platform, visit our Upwork FAQ.


Best Regards,

The Upwork Team


* Elance Private Talent Cloud customers will find the site open and fully operational through mid 2016.


3 Simple Ways For Freelancers To Improve Their Sales Skills

Here are some thoughts for freelancers, from Al Davidson -- founder of Strategic Sales & Marketing.


Freelancers and solo consultants don’t often think of themselves as “sales people” but the truth is, in addition to having solid skills in your professional craft, you also need to be able to sell your services and keep building relationships with clients to establish a solid base of ongoing business opportunities. Unfortunately, many freelancers never get any formal training in how to sell. Especially if you’ve never worked in sales before – if you’ve always had a corporate job where your work was part of a larger process where you might never have been responsible for managing customer relationships or closing deals – being a successful “freelance sales person” can be a bit of an adjustment.

Here are a few tips for how to improve your sales skills on Upwork and in “real life” outside of the Internet:

1. First engage, then sell.

When you post a bid on an Upwork project or send an email to a new client prospect, are you trying too hard to close the deal right away with the very first contact? This is a common mistake: freelancers often throw in everything but the kitchen sink into their first proposal, resulting in information overload for the client, and often, wasted effort for the freelancer.

Instead of launching into a 1,000 word epic about why you’re the right freelancer for the project, start by introducing yourself and responding to a few key points from the client’s project description to show that you actually read it and are paying attention and are eager to help address the client’s key challenges.