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
Now and again we like to invite clients and freelancers to this blog, asking them to discuss their real-life experiences and offer insights they’ve gleaned from a world of online work. Today we’ve slated Ronald van den Hoff, who will explain his views on Society3.0. Ronald is co-founder of CDEF Hodlings, a collection of companies in the hospitality and social media space.
The present economic difficulties in Europe will more than likely persist, and may well be felt for a long time.
Many countries within and outside Europe will have to endure a great deal of strife in the next few years. In my opinion there is nothing being done about these conditions, except a lot of hot air being blown -- which will convert into financial disillusions.
Just think of the enormous rise of the ageing population in Europe and the fragile situation of the welfare state, the pension system and the connected level of spending of our municipalities, the rising costs of our health care and the inevitable depletion of our natural reserves. We are yet to experience the effects of these developments. Hot air, after all, is intangible. And, intangibility translates into financial depreciation.
The old economic, financial & politic systems, not being capable of delivering the answers to these dynamics, are in a zombie-state, meaning we are in ‘transition’, moving from the industrial era to, what I call ‘Society3.0’.
We see more and more people who have clearly chosen how they want to define themselves, their environment and their relationships with other people.
They are the people I call global citizens: People of the new world. These Society3.0 citizens cannot and will not deal with the thinking of the establishment anymore. They want to add value in their work and life in a significantly different way, namely by creating value instead of growth. Most of all, the global citizen wants a sustainable society. The Society30.
Through the fast growing network of inter-human contact (thank you Web1.0, 2.0, 3.0), a permanent connectivity comes into being between the organization, its people and its other stakeholders. This social exchange of information and knowledge leads to collaboration and eventually results in “doing business” with each other in real time-virtual-value networks.
The most important value creation players in the new global Interdependent Economy are no longer large organizations, but increasingly small to medium sized networked enterprises, complemented by an army of independent professionals – the Knowmads (Moravec, 2008). We’re talking about a new generation of people who consider virtual social communication to be normal and find sharing even more common good; they find the use of the Internet common practice. The collapse or even the disappearance of large traditional organizational entities will accelerate this process.
These new value networks need virtual and physical locations to meet and to collaborate. The office as we know it is gone. The traditional school, library, and meeting centre will follow. Besides virtual platforms to do business, like Elance, we need new physical locations in new geographical locations where people can meet, work, exchange information and more.
Nobody loves a well-deserved success story more than Elancers.
And this particular success story centers on a wonderful wordsmith in her own right: Writer and Editor Kristine M. Smith of Tacoma, Washington (located up in the picturesque Pacific Northwest of the USA, for those unfamiliar with that neck of the woods).
What makes Kristine’s story so enlightening is not only how successful she is working on Elance (her earnings just topped the $100,000 mark!), but how much she loves her work and the passion she brings to every project.
Long story short: Each morning Kristine wakes up, looks out her window at Mt. Rainer, and puts her fingers happily to the keyboard. Or as Kristine so eloquently explains, “I’m dancing with words on the topic at hand, engaging my heart and soul.” (Yes, she is a truly creative person).
Kristine has been self-employed and working on Elance since 2008, but was hesitant to make the jump at first. Although she had worked for an on-hold company as a copywriter (earning Employee of the Quarter the last two quarters she worked there), she didn’t feel confident she could strike out on her own as she had only written on-hold copy—short 10-12 second sales and marketing pieces that were professionally put to music and voiceover artists to complete the puzzle. Almost a year after she left the company Kristine took the leap to a full-time career on Elance. Now she’s enjoying life more than ever and earning great money.
“If you’re just barely making ends meet,” Kristine stresses, “you’re either not charging enough or you’re not working enough. Step it up!” (Yes, she is a truly driven person too).
Kristine also loves advising other Elancers about how to be more successful as an online freelancer. Here are some insights she has passed on to other freelancers:
1. Charge what you’re worth. “Don’t low-ball your rates; you’ll lose access to the clients you need most – the folks who know what great service and results are worth,” she notes. In fact, it wasn’t until she raised her rates substantially that she began to attract Elance clients who, as she says, “know the rock-solid, evergreen value of a wise wordsmith.” Kristine also recommends factoring into your quoted price your health insurance costs, the time you spend clarifying the project, and other the other career-related expenses you need to re-coup.
2. Always strive for great Feedback. “You live and die by your client Feedback,” Kristine notes. “Only submit job proposals you know you can ace, so your Feedback is always top-notch.” She suggests researching clients first, and avoiding clients who say “Great Job!” in their written feedback but then leave low ratings. “This is a red flag,” Kristine advises. “Don’t risk your reputation on clients who leave anemic ratings for exemplary work.”
3. Love your work. “Fortunately, I get to choose the projects I work on, so I’m always passionate about the projects,” Kristine reveals. She does a wide variety of writing, from web pages and eBooks to brochures, social media and video scripts. She especially loves working on “cause” projects, and recently completed two crowd-funding campaigns to help deserving entrepreneurs raise money; on relating to early child education, the other to help homeowners, campers and disaster recovery first responders take care of one of their common challenges: precisely getting a rope high into a tree or across a creek to gain a reliable set point.
When we asked Kristine what allows her to be so successful on Elance, here’s what she had to say: “Lots of great projects to choose from, dogged determination, a compelling Profile page, certified Skill Tests results and – of paramount importance – terrific client Feedback. “
The Elance team couldn’t agree more. When they coined the phrase wordsmith, they must have had Kristine M.Smith in mind. We’re excited to be part of her success in her life and livelihood because, as she’s quick to point out: “With Elance, Home Sweet Home and Work Sweet Work can be one in the same.”
Being a part of our European Elance team I am based in Oslo, Norway. As Talent Marketing Manager, Europe, I am managing our worldwide team of Mobilizers who conduct trainings for freelancers in how to build a career online and show entrepreneurs how to find the right freelancers for their projects.
Besides that I also get to travel quite a bit, mainly within Europe, speaking at events, conferences and meetups to spread the word about Elance.
2. What do you like most about working at Elance?
At Elance our whole team is passionate about what we are doing and it is very rewarding to see that we have the opportunity to change individual’s lives. It’s also nice to broaden my mind, and working together with people who share my passion and vision about how to Work Differently would not have been possible if it wasn’t for Elance. All in all, I love being part of a great team and pioneering the new way of working.
3. How do you Work Differently?
I enjoy the variety: Most of the time I work from our new office in Oslo. However the best ideas and new inspirations I usually get when I’m away from my desk (on the train to work, the lounge area of our office or during travels to events or conferences). I also like my to-do-lists on paper – they keep me structured and help with prioritizing the things I am working on.
4. What songs are now on heavy rotation as you’re working-away?
I enjoy music in all forms, however, while working I am more of the “I-like-it-calm-and-quiet” type as this is when I concentrate best.
5. When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?
I love traveling, especially exploring my new home Norway (I am originally from Germany). Now that summer is slowly approaching, I like spending as much time outdoors as I can, enjoying bright summer nights by the fjord, hiking tours in the Norwegian woods, weekend trips with the motorcycle and a tent, finding the best swimming spot at the Oslo fjord, laughing with friends or sometimes just reading a good book.
6. (Bonus question!) OK, ask yourself anything. No subject is off the table.
My question and answer:
Katrin, I’d like to learn more about the Elance Mobilizer Program you’ve mentioned. How can I join your team?
Great question! Yes, we are continuously looking for Mobilizers to join our team in all parts of the world. If you are passionate about the new way of working, enjoy hosting workshops and organizing events, check out our Mobilizer info page.
With the recent release of our Women in Technology survey, the folks at Huffington Post asked Elance VP of Operations Elizabeth Tse to pen a relevant and timely article for their popular website. Given that today is all about Mothers, we figured it apropos to share her story with all Elancers (especially those who are Mothers). Enjoy her story below, and Happy Mother’s Day.
As a woman in the technology field, I’m excited to see that the tech gender gap is gradually narrowing – with online work helping to support a satisfying career path throughout the different phases of our lives.
A working mother myself, I too experienced the stress so many women feel in trying to balance work and family. However, I also differed quite a bit from many mothers, as I was already a VP at eBay when I had my child. Also I had the advantage that my husband works from home. This allowed me a level of professional, personal and financial flexibility few women have. For example, a few years back as I was returning from the office at 11 pm after yet another day of not seeing my son during his waking hours, I decided to step back and take a five month hiatus from my job. This break, spent with my small family travelling the Southwest by camper and helping my son learn how to play soccer and swim, is something I will cherish forever. When I returned to work, I actually started in a more senior role with agreed upon “on/off” times.
However, as I looked around me, I noticed that many other mothers experiencing similar stress levels were simply abandoning their careers. Sheryl Sandberg notes this unfortunate trend in her best-selling book Lean In, where she explains that 43% of highly-qualified women with children are at some point taking leave of their full time jobs. The fact is, we were losing many of the best minds in technology simply because women were unable to meet, to their own satisfaction, the demands of both a career and a family.
But what to do about it? For me personally, a few years ago I began mentoring women to help them achieve more success in their careers. But I must admit my guidance was hit and miss. Given my personal circumstances, my “secrets to success” simply weren’t applicable to many women in the workforce.
What I kept seeing were women who wanted to progress, but they found that the strains on their families from a 50+ hour week simply weren’t worth the frustration or paycheck. And if they did stay on the job, women were not feeling good about it.
Given these mixed emotions, it’s no wonder today’s growing movement to online work and freelancing is such an exciting development. Now women who want to continue working while spending time with their children can find jobs that allow them to not only make money, but continue developing their skills and remain competitive – especially important if they plan to re-enter the workforce fulltime. Freelancing and online work can help prevent women who decide to “fallback” from falling off the career ladder forever.
At the online workplace Elance, where I’m now VP of Operations, there are a plethora of technology jobs in many different areas from which to choose. A recent global survey of 7,000+ freelancers on Elance shows that women are as optimistic as I am about the future of online work. The study reveals that online work allows women more opportunities and offers a greater diversity of projects, keeping their skills relevant and sharp.
Today as I continue my mentoring with young women and girls, I can now tell them that yes, technology is a great career option because it can accommodate our changing life priorities. Although there is still much work to be done, I am optimistic. With online work there is now the freedom and flexibility to build and maintain an engaging tech career and have a happy family life. It’s a work/life balance that is worth a little extra celebration on Mother’s Day.
If you’re a serious hacker, AngelHack is heaven on earth.
And we should know, as Elance had a fantastic time sponsoring a recent AngelHack in San Francisco. Plus we’re also looking forward to sponsoring several upcoming AngelHack events in cities around the world.
To fill you in, AngelHack organizes hackathon competitions for web developers,web designers and other entrepreneurs. Called AngelHacks, these events give budding startups a chance to bounce their ideas off others, crystalize their thinking, learn new development tools and receive funding and mentorship. They also have access to great freelancers from Elance, who can help bring their ideas to life during the weekend competition.
Oh, they also meet new friends and have a blast all weekend long.
This year AngelHack is organizing even more hackathons than ever, bringing together over 15,000 developers in 50+ cities. Each is a competition (with noted judges), with winners of each city’s AngelHack entering a 12 week AngelHack Accelerator Program to prepare them for a trip to the Silicon Valley to meet investors.
If you want to be a part of an AngelHack Elance is sponsoring, here are some upcoming dates:
For those who attending the even in San Francisco last weekend, you know how fun AngelHacks are. And congratulations to overall S.F. winner Livabetes (a positive take on DIEabities). They’re plan is to make an iPhone app that can monitor your blood glucose level with an add-on device, as well as track your insulin shots and other diabetes-related treatments.
Also a big nod to JamHive, which earned a special prize from Elance. They’re developing an online music collaboration tool for musicians, and they’re one of the many teams who used Elancer during the S.F. event. This includes hiring Irish graphic designer Alan, who worked through the night (Irish time) to iterate and create a rockin’ logo for JamHive.
Good work to all, and we look forward to more great work in the weeks to come.
Of course, we’re talking about the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math skill sets (or STEM, as it’s affectionately known in the workforce).
And this dramatic growth is duly reflected in Elance’s latest Global Online Employment Report. The results show that freelancers with critical STEM-based skills have increased on Elance 153% from this time last year. Similarly, our clients are asking for more-and-more STEM-skilled workers. Posting were up 258% for Windows Azure jobs, 97% for iOS jobs, 71% for Android jobs and 38% for Amazon Web Services, to highlight a few.
But then again the report reveals growth in many areas, as the network of Elance online professionals is up 52% from last year, and hiring on Elance increased 60% in Q1 2013.
Jobs are getting filled increasing faster online too.
Another interesting find in the latest Global Online Employment Report is the rate at which jobs are being filled on Elance. While traditional jobs remain vacant for an average of 23 days (according to the Labor Department), the average time-to-hire on Elance is now a mere 3.3 days.
Emerging skills are on the up-swing as well.
Not to steal the thunder from the report itself (which you can read here), but it’s interesting to note how we’re seeing big growth in budding skills. The demand for Bitcoin skills is up 433% and 3D printing has grown 206% from last year. If these trends continue, it won’t be long until Elance is the go-to place for Google Glass skills as well.
Answer: I’m a software engineer, primarily responsible for what happens on Elance after a client and freelancer find each other. This includes payments, timesheets, Tracker, tax compliance and many other things that we collectively call the “Online Workplace.”
2. What do you like most about working at Elance?
Answer: Apart from obvious things a web programmer finds appealing in a Silicon Valley company with a startup mentality, I really like the impact that Elance does in our niche. Elance is different from many other innovative businesses, which are mostly about entertaining users. Elance does one thing and does it well – it facilitates online work across the globe. Online work is one of the things that turn the Web into something more serious than just place to share kitten pictures with friends. The online work market is still at its early stage so Elance and our users are early adopters – pioneers of this new disruptive trend. It’s exciting to be among them.
3. How do you Work Differently?
Answer: Maybe somewhat contrary to expectations, I really prefer the office to do my job. Of course, if required, I can work from some remote tropical beach too (and I did that in the past). But office space, if done right, can be a great enabler for me. Minimal setup: desk, chair, computer – that’s pretty much all I need. I also use a plain paper notepad to write task lists and draw designs, but it mostly serves as a concentration tool.
4. What songs are now on heavy rotation as you’re working-away?
Answer: Whenever I listen to music at work it’s usually something simple, to the point of being ambient. Currently it’s Chromatics “Tick of The Clock”.
5. When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?
Answer:I enjoy time to be with my beautiful family. Also, a good book is my popular pastime since childhood. And of course, I take the opportunity to hike and enjoy the gorgeous California scenery to the fullest (redwood forests are the best).
6. (Bonus question!) OK, ask yourself anything. No subject is off the table.
My question and answer: What did you do before joining Elance?
I actually was using to Elance to run my small consulting firm in Singapore. And one of my clients was Elance itself. At some point Elance became my biggest client and that’s how I ended up working full time. They do eat their own dog food.
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 usually address questions from our LinkedIn Group, but this week, a member of the group has asked me to review his profile to provide specific feedback.
On occasion, I will review a profile and provide feedback in hopes of helping them, and other Elancers, to improve their odds of winning jobs. Hopefully, others can glean information from this as well.
The Elancer that has requested a review this week is vCache System. They have agreed to allow me to share their name with you. My first stop on my review of their profile is the About the Company section. Beginning with the company description, there are some basic problems. The first issue is formatting. The individual has chosen to use a “list” model to illustrate their main points. On one line, Innovation, the description does not immediately follow the colon as all of the others do. This may sound nitpicky, but consciously or unconsciously, a client will notice that extreme care was not taken to make the description perfect. In addition, there is a sentence that has an unnecessary capital letter after a comma and one that is missing a word(s). A violation of Elance’s Code of Conduct exists with contact information in the form of Skype details. Communication details should not be provided until after the job is awarded.
VCache System is not a US company. This is no problem, because Elance is a global service. The problem exists in the writing errors within the entire About the Company page. Most of them are small, but a client is looking for perfection. If your company does not have a native English speaker to proofread your content, it is worth hiring one to check spelling and grammar. A client who sees errors in writing, no matter what category the Elancer is working in, will pause to consider whether the Elancer is going to make errors in the job they have been hired for.
The enormous list of technologies is overwhelming and it may help to simply include the types of tech they work with, rather than all of the applications. They can explain their experience with a certain program/language as it pertains to a job in their proposals.
I also disagree with the payment model. Elance escrow is our way of making sure that funds are available when our work is finished. By asking for advances, a client may shy away. Escrow protects them as well. Simply use the milestone system and the escrow program. I certainly don’t pay 100% in advance for any service, and I don’t expect my clients to do so.
Most of this carries into the Overview section, but I want to add the skills tests. It’s fine to have some self-rated skills, but a few Elance tested scores give a client confidence in what you can do. This is particularly true of teams who have certain individuals with specialties.
To sum up my recommendations: Have a proofreader, who is a native English speaker, go through and correct the spelling, grammar, and formatting of the entire profile; Remove Skype contact; Reduce the list of technologies to their overall types e.g. Java, Application Server, GUI Development, Databases, and so on. Include the specifics in proposals rather than a huge block of text in the profile; Use Elance escrow – do not ask for payment in advance; Take some Elance skills tests to show that you can prove some of the skills you are listing.
I don’t know what this company’s proposals look like, but I recommend (as always) that they be proofread carefully and written specifically for the job that is being bid on. This is the time to say that you have an expert in Oracle or Drupal or CSS and how it pertains to the client’s job. Always write a proposal specific to a job and explain what you can bring to the client.
Thank you, vCache System, for allowing us to review your profile. With a few tweaks, it will be great and you will be winning jobs in no time!
Elance CEO Fabio Rosati is a regular contributor to the American Express OPEN Forum, the financial giant’s online site powering small business success. Below is a recent column from Fabio discussing how companies are no longer limited by their size. See the original post here.
As the referee says before players take the field, “May the best team win.”
In the business world, however, the “best team” has traditionally been at companies with the deeper pockets, most-recognizable brand and best hiring location. Although small businesses frequently have better ideas and more inspired leadership, they’re often hamstrung by their inability to find the skilled talent needed to pull off the upset.
Fortunately, a change is afoot in today’s workforce. Growing at twice the rate of traditional employees, America’s freelancers, consultants and temps now make up to 25% of the workforce. Armed with a laptop and web connection, the 21st century workforce can connect with businesses around the corner and across the globe with a few keystrokes, lending their skills as needed.
Small businesses can take advantage of this game-changing shift to out-maneuver the big boys. Any small business can go online and instantly gain access to a much bigger talent pool - from designers to coders and app developers, creative writers and editors, researchers and social media marketers, customer service agents, data analysts and myriads of other specializations.
This new landscape is also the result of changes in lifestyle. Just a generation ago a typical employee could land a job right out of college with a large company, and reasonably expect to stay there for his or her entire career. Contrast that with this startling statistic from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: As of 2010, the average time an American worker will stay at any job has plummeted to less than four and a half years.
Embracing the new workforce is critical for any business competing for talent. It’s also a home run for businesses in remote locations or areas with a struggling local economy, as they can now find talent anywhere.
When accessing talent online, the playing field is more level: Xan Hood, Founder of the outdoor clothing company Buffalo Jackson Trading Co. is a case in point. “I started with $300 and a dream,” said Xan. He then went on to build and grow his popular outfitter company almost exclusively by hiring people online. “I was able to build my company by building an entire team virtually,” he says.
Buffalo Jackson Trading Co. is just one of thousands of small businesses now discovering how to compete better by extending their workforces online. The result is a true meritocracy when the best entrepreneur wins the race to talent, regardless of location, size or stock price.