Summer’s here (at least in many places), and the living is easy.
For a majority of people in the business world, that means a relaxing week or two at the beach, camping among the redwoods, or maybe a trip back to the old country. But it’s not true for everyone.
If you’re a nose-to-the-grindstone startup or owner of a small business, chances are you’re saddled with too much to do, not enough hands on deck, and zero wiggle room for a well-deserved vacation.
Fortunately help is near, in the form of online freelancers from Elance. And right now many startups and small businesses who hire on Elance are telling us that Hourly Jobs are the preferred way to go as both summer projects and summer get-aways heat up.
Why Hourly Jobs make sense this summer.
Flexibility. With you and your team being in-and-out of the office all summer, Hourly Jobs allow you to scale up or down at a moment’s notice. If you’re planning on tackling a project yourself but the lure of the sea is too strong, go. Within minutes you can hand the job over to a skilled Elancer and it will continue as if you’re there.
Get started ASAP. With Hourly Jobs there’s no need to finalize all details at the onset. You simply outline the project and approve a certain number of hours. By the time the hours are up, you will have had plenty of time to better assess the situation. From there you can extend the job or whatever makes most sense.
From anywhere, view real-time screenshot of work in progress. You want to spend your vacation gazing at the rising tide, not your laptop. But it’s good to know that at any time you can login to Elance and see how the project is advancing. It’s all part of Work View’s Tracker tool for Hourly Jobs.
What skills are in most demand this summer?
While talking to startups and small business, we’re noticing that this summer the STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are in hot demand. This includes web programmers and mobile app developers. We’re also seeing a spike in demand for video production and photography, as startups and small businesses look to promote their wares through YouTube commercials and product tours.
But whatever job you have looming, rest assured there are teams of Elancers ready and willing to lend a hand this summer. Post your job and take the first step to a fun vacation away from the office.
UPDATE: The 6 Finalists from our Bold Idea Pitch Competition have now presented their startup ideas to our esteemed panel of judges. We recorded the event, so watch their presentations.
With June upon and sweltering weather lurking (many places, anyway), we figure it’s time to pay homage to the red-hot startups who are so fun to watch and deserving of help. With that in mind Elance is stepping up for startups in June.
Startup month begins with a “Bold” competition and a Startup Toolkit.
Elance wants to fuel your bold idea for a startup. And to help bring your entrepreneurial dreams to life, we’re holding a fun online contest.
Called the Elance Bold Idea Pitch Competition, it’s your chance to win one of 10 startup-friendly prizes (including a whopper of a First Place Prize: $5,000 in Elance credits plus an online meeting with two major Silicon Valley venture capitalists: Elance investors Paul Hsiao from NEA and Dan Marriott from Stripes Group). The contest is limited to startups less than two years old, with less than $250,000 in outside funding.
Drooling? Here’s how to enter our startup contest.
To get started simply submit a 90-second video explaining your idea for a startup. The video doesn’t have to be a slick Hollywood production, in fact merely speaking into your laptop’s webcam is fine. We’re only interested in the bold idea behind your startup.
Just make sure your video: 1. Tells us what your startup is all about, 2. Tells us what makes your startup so unique, and 3.) Tells us a little about you and your team. Also make sure your video is 90 seconds or less and note that there’s a June 16 (11:59 pm PDT) deadlineto post your video.
We’ll then post qualifying videos online, and from June 17-23 people can vote on favorites (tell friends, family and colleagues to cast their ballot once per day). Popular vote will narrow the candidates down to 10 deserving finalists, and the Elance team will further narrow the field to six.
Then on June 27 the Top 6 Finalists will each have 5 minutes to pitch their idea online to a panel of distinguished judges, via Google+ Hangouts. They will decide the order of the top 3 winners. See details
Check out the prizes:
First Place: $5,000 in Elance credits and an online meeting with Elance Investors Paul Hsiao from NEA and Dan Marriott from Stripes Group
Second Place: $2,500 in Elance credits.
Third Place: $1,000 in Elance credits.
Fourth through Tenth Place: $500 in Elance credits.
In the highly-competitive world of web hosting, you need every advantage possible to stand out from the crowd.
For WebNet Hosting of Arlington, Virginia, a big part of their gaining a competitive advantage to attract (and retain) customers is hiring Elancers to lend a hand.
With 14 full-time employees, WebNet Hosting President PJ Taei notes that their team hires Elancers for a variety of positions. “Originally we started with data entry positions and that went very well,” he says. “Then we began looking for more technical positions, including web designers and web developers for our own website and for the websites of our customers who need assistance.”
PJ estimates that Elance has saved WebNet Hosting upwards of $20,000 in the last year alone, plus they’re able to find great candidates for jobs they might not otherwise be able to fill. “Elance has been an excellent solution for finding experts to help us with technical requirements,” he adds. Most recently WebNet Hosting worked with a talented Elancer to develop a dedicated server page to promote their newest offering. Needless to say, the team was more than happy with the results.
As well as finding top talent quickly, PJ appreciates Elance’s simple-to-use and intuitive user interface, which allows him and his team to easily manage multiple candidates and jobs at one time. He also appreciates how effortless Elance makes tracking the time billed by each freelancer.
If you’re looking for sage advice from a seasoned client on how to best use Elance, here is a great pointer from PJ Taei:
“Post a good job description that thoroughly includes your requirements. Make sure to explain your needs and expectations initially with the freelancer. Manage the contractor just as you would any other worker, as they too need guidance and motivation.”
Today WebNet Hosting continues to grow steadily, providing small and medium sized businesses around the world with various hosting solutions ranging from managed hosting and cloud hosting to dedicated server solutions. They plan on using more and more Elancers in various technical and non-technical positions to tackle opportunities that arise.
“We have multiple positions and requirements that we’re looking to fill with Elance,” PJ points out. Which means it’s going to be another great year for the team at WebNet Hosting.
Occasionally we invite professionals to wax poetic about issues of importance to clients who hire on Elance. Here are some thoughts from David Bakke, a small business owner who writes about money management and productivity on the blog Money Crashers Personal Finance.
In small business ownership, cutting costs is key. While you can certainly benefit by marketing your business through social media free of charge, there are many other ways that you can save - and one major way to save is by enlisting the services of affordable, productive freelancers.
Make a good choice, and your small business will benefit significantly. To help you choose wisely, here are five tips:
Be sure to read each freelancer’s feedback on Elance, and ask for references from people you’re consider hiring. Also be sure to contact references to learn how well the candidate performed on previous projects. Inquire whether all deadlines were met, and how well the candidate performed on specific areas of a similar project that are most important to you.
3. Institute a Stringent Interview Process.
Once you narrow down your search to two or three candidates, you must begin a comprehensive interview process. This is especially important, since you're unable to meet face-to-face with the individual. Phone interviews make a fine starting point, and you can also schedule video interviews via Skype. Prepare a detailed set of open-ended questions, and don't be afraid to ask for more information or for the candidate to expand on his or her answers.
4. Explicitly Define Your Goals.
You'll never hire the right person for the job unless you clearly outline what you expect. This explanation should include a time-frame and any other specific requirements you may have. If a freelancer doesn't clearly understand what is expected, they can't provide satisfactory results.
Elance loves, loves, loves startups (oh, did we mention that we love startups?).
The passion and creativity of startups is the hallmark of what it means to Work Differently. We also admire all the frothy beer that startups drink.
That’s why we’re now hosting startup-focused events throughout the country, giving hopeful entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges and their own boisterous peers. In return they’ll have the opportunity to win cash (in the form of Elance credits good towards freelancers, which given today’s rate of inflation is better than cash to a startup). And yes, beer is served.
Called Ignition Pitch Nights, these events give people a chance to grab the microphone, share a few PowerPoint slides, and explain why their idea is the next big thing. The first Ignition Pitch Night was in early May Legends Sports Bar Skyroom in Long Beach, California. Watch a quick video recap.
Elance is hosting additional Ignition Pitch Nights this summer, including ones slated Tuesday, June 18 for Austin and Thursday, August 8 for Chicago. The events are most-often held in local water holes and co-working spaces to encourage a spirit of, ummm, gusto. In fact, the first beer is on Elance.
As well as winning the admiration of fans, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place winners will receive $1,500, $1,000 or $500 in Elance credit. That’s not chit-change, when you’re looking to hire great freelancers to begin ramping up your startup.
Here is sign-up information if you want to join in the fun of an Ignition Pitch Night, either as a presenter or fan:
For most people, building one successful business would be plenty.
Not true for Colette Barry, who launched her business Yoga Trends a few years ago (working with many Elancers to get up-and-running and maintain her site). Plus she has now seen the opportunity for working as a freelancer/business and has opened her other company Creative Website Pro, helping businesses build their websites.
And what makes Colette’s story even more inspirational is that she is unable to hear. “Being deaf since birth, I realized the only way I could succeed in life was to avoid serving a boss,” she says. “Not being able to hear, I knew I could only answer to myself. LOL!”
“After many years of teaming up with such great Elancers, I eventually set up my own web designing company and hired the best writers, designers, IT managers I could find.” Colette notes. “I know what exceptional service is and this is how I run my online website business.”
But back up a few years, and the story begins with the Ohio-based Colette working with Elancers to bring her vision of Yoga Trends to life. Yoga Trends is a successful fitness and rehab center offering classes locally, as well as web-based classes across the country.
“Elance has been an instrumental solution in helping me materialize my visions both locally in my studio and also virtually,” Colette explains. “When I first started building my company years ago on Elance I hired everyone from video editors, writers and even business advisers to lawyers. Having access to such amazing talents and personalities around the world, made me feel that I am able to connect to the top talents in the freelance industries.”
Colette loves the freedom and opportunity Elance gives her: “I have this relentless desire to create, share and grow. Elance gives me this opportunity to express these desires without boundaries or limitations. When do you have a career where the world is at your finger tips?”
While building her two businesses, Colette has discovered what many Elancers know as well. The platform allows you to test several Elancers to find the perfect freelancer for your specific job. In her own words: “The beauty of Elance is that that it allows clients to interview candidates and post small "experimental" jobs, in order to explore which freelance is the perfect fit for their online goals and visions.”
A big thank you to Colette for sharing her story with us all. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you have the talent and drive to succeed. Nice job (two actually).
Elance is excited to sponsor a National Day of Civic Hacking (NDoCH) this weekend (June 1-2).
The event brings together thousands of citizens, software developers and entrepreneurs from across the nation to collaborate on ways to help our neighborhoods, cities, states and country. During NDoCH civic-minded “hackers” will use publicly-released data, code and technology to do what Americans do best: Roll up their sleeves, get involved, and work together to improve our society.
Examples include creating new methods and tools to reduce commute times, improve healthcare, digitize library books, promote farmer’s markets, advance education and more.
There are already hundreds of planned events and challenges set from coast to coast, ranging from block parties and hackathons to brigade meetups and more. Or you can also organize your own civic hacking event. Either way, simply sign up to start the wheels in motion of leveraging your skills and entrepreneurial spirit.
Elance team members will also be attending select NDoCH events.
As a sponsor we’ll be sending representatives to as many NDoCH events as possible. They’ll lend a hand training entrepreneurs on how to best-leverage our talented freelancers to make their hacks even better. We’ll also be giving teams Elance credits to hire top talent, from web programmers to bring your idea to life and mobile app developers to do some iOS or Android coding, to graphic designers to craft an eye-catching logo or whatever. If you’re at an event and have questions, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re a freelancer on Elance, be ready for some work to come your way. NDoCH will be bringing plenty of work to Elancers this weekend.
Join the fun this weekend, see how Elance can help entrepreneurs and startups make things happen quickly, and make a difference as we all work together to strengthen and improve our society.
Although we’re not usually ones to pat ourselves on the back, the team here at Elance was just so honored to be among Red Herring’s Top 100 entrepreneurial companies in North America.
We had to tell someone, so forgive us for our momentary self-absorption.
This prestigious award recognizes leading companies who exemplify that true entrepreneurial spirit, bringing boundless innovation and technology to the startup community. With past winners ranging from Twitter and Facebook to Google and Skype, Elance is proud to be selected.
In the words of Red Herring:
“In 2013, selecting the Top 100 achievers was by no means a small feat” said Alex Vieux, publisher and CEO of Red Herring. “In fact, we had the toughest time in years because so many entrepreneurs have crossed significant milestones so early. But after much thought, rigorous contemplation and discussion, we narrowed our list down from hundreds of candidates from across North America to the Top 100 Winners. We believe Elance embodies the vision, drive and innovation that define a successful entrepreneurial venture. Elance should be proud of its accomplishment, as the competition was very strong.”
Thank you Red Herring for recognizing the impact Elance is having in people’s lives and livelihood. As Elancers we all know the incredible opportunities of online work, but it’s inspiring to see that others too are embracing the call to Work Differently.
Welcome to Advice From An Elancer – a place to ask your Elance questions (through Elance’s LinkedIn page) and get them answered as thoroughly and personally as possible. My name is Dorothy D. and I have worked with Elance as a freelancer since April 2009. I have always tried to help other Elancers understand how things work and how to accomplish more. In Advice From An Elancer I will address as many questions as I can each week. In some cases, questions have been edited for clarity.
How can I write an eye catching proposal and portfolio? All of my currently saved works are freelance/for hire gigs that don't have my byline on them.
Advice from an Elancer:
Do all of your works have agreements that you cannot use them for other purposes? For example, I write for teachnology and they allow me to use my work for them in proposals. You may need to write some pieces that are not specifically for clients to use in your portfolio. I generally do not write as much fiction, and what I have written is ghostwritten and I do not have the rights to use it. I have written a few short pieces that I can use as examples in proposals. As I said before, I do not keep a portfolio because of the risk of plagiarism. I provide examples for clients based on the type of work they are looking for. This gives me peace of mind and the potential client receives samples that are more targeted to their job.
A client posted a job, had a brief discussion and then was away for 2 - 3 months and did not reply. What should Elance do at this stage or what are the steps freelancer must take now that the client is back?
Advice from an Elancer:
That is something to discuss with the client. Elance has nothing to do with it. If escrow was funded, and you did the work and marked it complete, Elance will notify the client. If, after 30 days, the client has not responded, Elance will release the funds. This only applies if the job is complete. This is why Elancers should never work until escrow is funded.
If you were not informed that there would be an extended waiting period and you chose not to wait, you could have canceled the job. Next to the job, there is an Action dropdown menu, you could have clicked on Refund, Cancel, or Dispute, which will take you to the dispute process. You would have been able to cancel the job from there.
What's the best way to target compatible projects without paying additional fees? I want to bid on a job in "Design and Multimedia, but, I'm "Writing/Translation"?
Advice from an Elancer:
Elance allows you to indicate what category you wish to work in. The Basic (free) plan does not allow the Elancer to add additional categories. Individual, Small Company, and Large Company memberships allow you to add categories for $5/month for each category.
If you consider it from a client perspective, searching through multiple provider categories can be a chore. For example, an Elancer who is feeling pressured to land a job may indicate that they belong in both Writing and Translation, as well as Design and Multimedia, and Admin Support even if they do not have the full complement of skills for all of those areas. This fee encourages the Elancer to consider what category or categories they are most skilled in prior to listing themselves in each area. This narrows down the proposals from unqualified or not fully qualified providers, so that clients can consider those who are best qualified for each job.
In my next entry, I will be doing another profile review. Check back for some real-world advice!
That’s enough for today. If you have questions or want to follow the conversation of other Elancers, visit the Discussion page of our LinkedIn page.
We want everyone to know about the incredible group of people who make up the Elance community, and how we are working together to create economic opportunities for millions of businesses and freelance professionals through online work. This includes spelling out our vision and mission for Elance, as well as sharing real-life stories that celebrate the ingenuity, talent and diversity of Elancers around the globe.
With this in mind we created our first-ever Annual Impact Report. Naturally, many members of our community were a huge part of this endeavor, and we thank everyone who took the time to participate. We asked Fabio, our CEO, to make a quick video introducing the report.
The Annual Impact Report defines what it means to Work Differently.
The report brings to life many dimensions of online work: From a glimpse into the spirit, passion and lives of individual Elancers to a broader look at the impact of our entire community. To get the most value from our Annual Impact Report, we worked with an independent third-party organization based in New York, Imperative, and utilized statistical and measurement frameworks such as the PERMA methodology. This approach has allowed us to contextualize and benchmark the results of the study, and has helped us set measurable goals for improvement over the next year.
In other words, our Annual Impact Report is an expression of how we all Work Differently and an exploration into ways we can make online work better. Thanks for being a part of the story, and pass this report on to others to share the virtues of our community and the tremendous value of online work. Watch Fabio’s video introduction