Elance Blog

Simplified Connects and New Member Features.

As you probably know, we’re working to make Elance the world’s most trusted online workplace. Our goal is to help freelancers get the best work, and clients the best online teams for the job. A recent blog post touched on the advances we’re making, and you’ll continue to see more.

Today we continue the progress, as we’re excited to announce that we’ve now simplified and improved how you use Connects. Plus we’ve also added new features and enhanced the benefits you get for paid membership, rewarding freelancers who are committed to being successful on our platform.

Your Connects model is now simplified.

We recently increased the number of Connects freelancers receive each month. Today’s new Connects model is designed to help you be even more successful when you’re working online. This change applies to all freelancers, making it easier to calculate the number of Connects you’ll need.

Check out the chart to the right to see how you can apply your connects, beginning today (August 26, 2013).

Click here to see our new Connects model in more detail, including examples.

We’re also adding new premium membership features for freelancers.

As mentioned, beginning today there are even more benefits of becoming a premium member. This includes increasing your visibility to clients, and exclusive insights into pricing when submitting your job proposals. Check out this updated features chart:

Specific changes include:

1. Add work samples directly within proposals – Now you can include portfolio samples directly into job proposals, allowing clients to view your samples without leaving your proposal. This feature is only available to freelancers on premium membership plans, giving you a competitive advantage.

2. Gain competitive visibility - Previously, all freelancers could see the minimum, average and highest proposal price to help determine their own rate. Starting August 26, 2013 these amounts will only be visible to freelancers with a paid membership plan.  With this change you’ll now have extra insight over much of your competition.

3. Large Company monthly membership cost of $60 – The monthly fee for Large Company Membership is increasing to $60. This increase will help us to continue to develop new features to make these members even more successful on Elance, while improving the service we provide.

4. More updates to follow – These are just some of the feature changes we’re working on, exclusively for premium members.

We hope you’re as excited about these changes as we are. As we continue to make Elance the most trusted online workplace, thanks again for being an important part of our growing community.

 

Comments

I honestly don't have a problem with the changes; think of it as a cover charge. We don't really see it as contractors, but think of the incredible amount of spam and bogus proposals that prospective clients must get. By increasing costs, we weed out those who aren't serious about Elance, and who really aren't adding anything to the site except wasting peoples time. I think it's a move in the right direction to give Elance a more "premium" feel. $10/month is nothing, unless of course you never win jobs, in which case you should ask yourself if freelancing is really your cup of tea.

First of all, thank you for your service to our country!

However, secondly, I couldn't agree with you less. If HR knows what they are looking for, as any HR person or department for any business should, HR would know whom to look for and what skills to search out. Each freelancer fills out a profile and a portfolio (if they know what they are doing). If HR can't be bothered to check into that information, then hiring the bogus proposals is the fault of bad HR. Trying to make elance your HR department when that is not what elance is here to do is part of a faulty business model. Elance is here as a clearing house for proposals that freelancers can bid on; it is not here to be a substitute for an HR department.

Oh, I forgot to address the comment that you made about freelancing not being for you if you never win jobs. There are so many external factors that play into it like when you bid, where you appear on the list of bidders, how many people bid on the project, etc. that you really cannot make this claim. If all the information that was shown to the client was how much money you made, your completion rate, and your rating, and your price, then I would agree with you. But there are too many variables outside of the freelancer's control to say that freelancing isn't your cup of tea because you can't land a job.

"Budget: Not Sure" require 2 connects...
Its not good specially when So many jobs are never awarded

The Competitor Pricing Change:
To disagree with several of these comments, I really don't think this is a case of trying to increase revenue. I'll give Elance that benefit of the doubt. The intention is probably to keep the bids on a project from spiraling down to a staggeringly low amount. While I agree with the intention, I don't think that's the result we'll get. There are contractors on Elance that live in countries with a much lower cost of living than the US. In India for instance, one can maintain the same standard of living that they would have in the US for nearly 1/4 the cost. The solution isn't hiding who can see competitor pricing because the problem is that the world runs on different currencies and economies. This can't be fixed, hence, this discrepancy can't be fixed. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to submit a proposal on a job and seen low bids for $4 or $5 per hour, or $50 on a fixed price job that I couldn't think of charging less than $500 for. How can a US contractor (for instance) compete with that? I have nothing against the foreign contractors for bidding so low. That's just the economy they live in. Elance provides an opportunity to make a very good living to those who live in these economies with a much lower cost of living. If someone from India only needs to make $5/hour to live comfortably, they're going to continue to bid that amount, regardless of whether or not they can see their competitor bids.

All that to say, I really don't care about the feature change. I've come to accept that Elance is just an avenue—one of many avenues that every designer/contractor should have—to connect with new clients. It's not a perfect system and it never will be.

I agree with you, JordanFlower, that cost of living in India is much lower than that in US. But there's no comparison when it comes to the quality of living. I have lived in both countries, but have you?
"If someone from India only needs to make $5/hour to live comfortably, they're going to continue to bid that amount", do you really believe that yourself? If your earn $5000 a month and you are offered $1000 for the same, would you rather stick to the former amount? Just look at the job postings in the writing and translation section. One would think a full-fledged apartheid is going on! "Native English speakers only", "US or UK contractors only", " Don't apply if you are from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc." Almost every job that pays $1 per 100 words or more have these stipulations! Quoting abominably low rates is a survival tactic here, not out of comfort as you seem to think.

The ability to add portfolio items directly from the proposal form is a basic common sense feature that should have been there from the beginning. I think it's kind of funny it's being touted as this new premium feature. It's like going to buy a car and the salesman saying "we'll even throw in the windshield if you buy today." By adding this feature, Elance is saving money by reducing their server usage, and on top of it, they're charging for it. I used to attach items to my proposal that had already been uploaded to my portfolio and wondered why I was doing it. That means the same file was being hosted by Elance in multiple instances whenever I decided to use that item as part of my proposal. I know servers aren't the most expensive thing on the planet, but take a few 1MB files that have been uploaded 50 separate times in my proposals. That's maybe 200MB of unnecessary storage on Elance servers from just me. There are 600,000+ freelancers on Elance. That's a fair amount of unnecessary server upkeep that has just been reduced by adding a few bits of code to the proposal form. But who knows, maybe my math is way off.

I'm disappointed with the new changes. I'm a new freelancer on Elance for 2 months; however, I've been freelancing for years and have worked on other freelancing sites. The jobs we get are competitive; talent and skills are only the half of the success of proposing a job, pricing, professionalism, and customer's trust are the rest of the success of getting the job. I know some unprofessional freelancers are even way under pricing in order to get jobs; in such case, when I see the high, average, and low price are way too low, I won't waste my time, efforts, and connects to propose the job. However, it does help a little bit to evaluate the price in a reasonable manner in general, but it's not a necessity for the upgrade. If the general price is hidden to all freelancers regardless the membership, it's fair to all. Some of the other freelancing sites hide individual freelancers' price, which only can be seen by the client and the freelancer. However, Elance is too pushy for this move to open it to paid membership freelancers, it is not fair to basic membership freelancers. Honestly, I'm testing the services on Elance, so far, I like most of the services here, and i think the service charges per each job is fair for the services. However, I don't see the needs for the upgrade unless I need more connects and "premium" services for each month. I understand it's a business, everyone here needs food on the table; however, this bad move may not be able to push basic membership freelancers to upgrade but to force them to leave for another alternatives.

I hope Elance will reconsider the change and go back to the original, and spend more time on providing better services on premium membership, which will attract more professional freelancers to get the right services they need.

New features is great, but 4c for featured proposal is not great. Now the competition will not fair. I usually waiting new proposal and hope become the first bidder that using featured proposal because it just only 3 featured proposal per job and it really help me to get the job. But now 4c per featured proposal is to expensive. 4c is like $1.
It will help big companies to get more jobs because they have enough budget to buy more coin, but it will make new companies lost more jobs because now they just have small opportunity.

good

Not fond of the changes, they are more likely to make me submit proposals for fewer jobs than they are to make me shell out 10 dollars a month (especially when in order to have any chance of getting the proposal chosen anyway the bid has to come in well below 'professional' rates and Elance is already taking 8.75 percent of that).

My first thought was "wow that sucks" to pretty much everything 'new'.

On thinking a little more though, these changes might not be so bad. Right now, the signal to noise ratio for jobs posted is pretty bad. If someone posts a gig looking for a Widget Maker with 20+ years experience, residing in Los Angeles, the job post will be quickly cluttered with a whole pile of proposals from companies and individuals that don't meet the basic requirements of the job.
"Hi, I make good widget one time in Kansas."
"Our team is the top blah blah blah in Cheapbekistan"
And on and on. If the policy changes reduce that clutter, they could turn out to be a good thing, especially for the person who actually is a Widget Maker with over 20 years experience and lives in Los Angeles. I bet this very clutter contributes significantly to so many jobs going unawarded. Several clients have told me how hard it has become to find solid and competent contractors on Elance, and I bet this clutter factor has much to do with it.

Do I like the new changes? Not at all. But maybe, just maybe, the end result might be positive.

Generally a new Freelancer has to struggle a lot to find jobs than an established freelancer. Elance is making so many seminars to inspire new comers. But this kind of decisions will definitely create negative impact on new comers to join Elance because to make a competitive proposal he/she has to pay $10/month. Other decisions are also not fine.

Yes, I have to agree with most of the comments entered below. I am a translator, and very aware of price-gouging practices, particularly underbidding, in my field, which have negative effects on ALL my colleagues. Many clients are not even aware of the skills and knowledge needed to do good translation work, and will jump on the lowest bidder, just to "get it done"...And now Elance has just made it harder for us to maintain decent standards of remuneration....Not a good move, and very unwelcome to a whole lot of people, too, as evidenced by the large number of negative comments below, which I support. If it ain't broke....

Good day, boys and girls -- I've read your comments regarding the Elance chage (mostly negative, I might add.) I agree with those comments for the most part, however, eacept for a few bleeding hearts, do you think Elance will relecant becuase of our dissatisfaction with there new platform"
I don't think so! Just thought I'd jump in to support you. Will they relent? Think about it---!!

Oh yeah, I like those fantastic "new features" so much, too!
This is all annoying, but what I "liked" most is that they call taking more connects "a more simple way". Well-well, 4 connects instead of one to sponsor a standard proposal - yep, it's so simple! Simple to force people buy more connects!

cclover, you just stole the words from my mouth, my next comment was to be about the topic you had concerned...
Well yes, underbidding is another problem, and yet another one so difficult to struggle against...

I am quite disappointed with the changes. The number of Connects change does not bother me as much as the change in the visibility of the low, average and high bids. As others have mentioned, I feel that Elance is earning a fair amount through the 8.75 percent deduction from our pay. I sincerely hope that Elance listens and rolls back at least this provision.

Marketing plays the major role in all kind of business, Now we don't have a feature to do marketing on elance to get a new jobs, we spend our few connects to bid on a job post also few extra according to the job type and type of proposal we post, I mean sponsored proposals. This is according to how much connects we want to spend to get awarded.

I feel the workroom should be open to all as it was before and make the marketing process easier, so that a provider can initiate the meeting with the client. He/she should know when a client is online on the jobs they had placed the bid and able to initiate a meeting online. Let them make a live negotiation and fix the deal.

From my point of view once a provider placed a bid on any jobs he/she should be able to communicated with the clients unless this proposal got declined.

Most is the freelancer are not 24/7 so sending a proposal and waiting for a client respond is not a good choice.

Now provider is spending so much on placing the bid but the scope for marketing is totally zero.

Hope elance consider this feedback and providers support this.

I have no problem with this new policy. It will at least filter some low quality bidders and force you to think and work even harder - just to compensate the fees.

And for the sponsored proposals - make it +5. Wrapping nothing in a pretty paper is still nothing at the end and it only decreases the chances for the serious contractors, here at Elance.

When I look at it; what started as a time killer and a hobby, became the obsession and I'm getting to the point where I spend more hours each day, scouting for the possible jobs, and further improving the quality of my service - all due to the fact that I'm now a premium member. It forces you to push even more.