Elance Blog

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Introducing Portfolio Samples Search … Explore Away!

Freelancers and clients alike are now happily throwing search parties, celebrating the newest Elance search tool: Portfolio Samples search (beta).Portfolio Samples search bar

Portfolio Samples search is a handy new tool allowing businesses to pin-point the best candidates by searching for specific Portfolio samples. For example, if you’re in the market for a mobile app developer for your business, just click the Portfolio Samples tab and type in:  Business mobile app for the iPhone

Our search engine will comb through Elance Portfolios and serve-up the most relevant results.

Clients will quickly find concrete examples of fitting work, making it easier than ever to choose among various people.

Freelancers love Portfolio Samples search too, as it gives everyone a way to showcase their talents to those looking for that exact work experience and expertise.

To get the ball rolling we’re starting Portfolio Samples search with two categories: IT & Programming and Design & Multimedia. We’ll also be adding more categories later, so be sure to check back.

Note: If you’re a freelancer and want to make sure your Portfolio is optimized for client searches, here are some words of wisdom from the sages of search:

• Be sure to upload your latest and greatest samples to your Portfolio.

• Edit all samples (new and old), giving each a unique tag, description and title (remember, these are the search terms clients will be searching for).

• In your description, describe your role in the project as well ... be specific about what part of the project you worked on how you tackled the assignment.

• Review samples to make sure they look great (we’ve automatically created thumbnails, but you can use the simple editing tool to adjust as needed).

Pretty cool, eh?

Our new Portfolio Samples search is just another way we’re helping you Work Differently and be more successful. So check it out, play with it, find things and enjoy. Also be sure to tell us what you think. On each Portfolio Samples search results page you'll find a link for feedback.

Tips From A Pro: The Tax Benefits Of Properly Structuring Your Business.

With tax time coming in the U.S., we thought the time was right to get everyone thinking about how to best prepare your business (or freelance operation) for tariff time. To get the ball rolling, here is a guest blog post from Nellie Akalp of CorpNet.

………………………………………………………Tax time

Have you ever wondered if your business is legit? Is there a way to reduce self-employment taxes? If so, read on to learn more about business structures and freelancing.

By default, you’re a sole proprietorship.

If you’ve never actually chosen a business structure, then your business is a sole proprietorship. As the simplest business structure, the sole prop doesn’t separate your personal and business finances. That means that if your business is sued or can’t pay its debts, you may be required to tap into your personal savings and property.

A lot of small businesses transition to a formal business structure like an LLC or Corporation. These structures will help protect your personal assets from any liabilities of your freelance business. And in some cases, there can be tax benefits as well.

Business structures: an overview

Three common U.S. business structures are: the LLC (Limited Liability Company), S Corporation, and C Corporation. Each structure has pros and cons depending on your specific situation. However, in most cases the C Corporation is overkill for a freelancer. For several reasons (including tax structure), the C Corporation is a good option for bigger companies who plan to go public, seek VC funding, or invest profits back into the company.

The LLC and S Corporation are popular choices for the small business/freelancer. Both give you the option for “pass through” taxation where the company doesn’t pay taxes, but all profits and losses are passed on to your personal tax report. That probably sounds a lot like how it works with a sole proprietorship, but there’s a big difference.

If you’re a sole proprietor and pay your taxes on a Schedule C, you’re subject to paying self-employment tax in addition to income taxes. This can leave you scratching your head wondering what happened to your hard-earned money.

However, Bert Seither, Director of Operations at Corporate Tax Network, explains that many freelancers will set up as an S Corporation or LLC that’s taxed as an S Corp in order to reduce self-employment taxes.

“When you have an S Corp or an LLC that’s taxed like an S Corp you can be paid a good portion of your money from the entity to yourself in distributions (think of distributions as bonuses). The distributions are not subject to any self-employment taxes,” said Seither.

“However, keep in mind that you cannot take all of your money in distributions and are required to pay yourself a ‘fair and reasonable’ salary,” he added.

Other considerations:Nellie

While taxes are typically at the forefront of everyone’s mind, you need to consider other aspects that can have just as big an impact on your bottom line. If you incorporate as an S Corporation, you’ll need to set up a board of directors, file annual reports, hold shareholder’s meetings, etc.

With an LLC, there’s a lot less paperwork and fewer ongoing administrative formalities to follow than a corporation. For some people, the S Corporation can be too burdensome.

Take some time to learn about the different business structures; talk to a tax advisor about your particular situation. It’s easy to set up and you’ll be protecting your personal assets and giving your business more legitimacy.

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Nellie Akalp is a passionate entrepreneur, small business advocate and mother of four. As CEO of CorpNet, a legal document filing service, Nellie helps entrepreneurs start a businessincorporateform an LLC or set up Sole Proprietorships (DBAs) for a new or existing business. 

 

 

 

Elance Protection: Dead-Bolting The Door To Your Intellectual Property and Copyright Protection.

Here at Elance we realize how important your best ideas and copyrighted materials are to your business.

In a nutshell, to gain a competitive advantage, it’s critical that you protect your intellectual property from others in your space. And that’s why Elance is dead-set on making sure your great ideas remain right where they belong: Safely in your possession.

Whether it’s a game-changing product you’re creating, the logo for a new service you plan to unleash on the world, or whatever is going to distance you from the others, your Intellectual Property and copyrighted materials are what separate you from the masses. Here are some of the things we’re doing on our end to help ensure that your best ideas remain exclusively with you.

1. Our no-nonsense Terms of Service.

First, all Elancers agree to our Terms of Service when they register. These rules are the foundation for staying protected on the platform. Then, after your job is accepted, you’re further protected by Elance’s default Independent Contractor Services Agreement. This goes even deeper to stipulate your rights to ownership of intellectual property.

If you have supplementary terms you’d like to add to this agreement, you can upload an additional terms document to your projects Terms & Milestones page. Naturally, your freelancer will be required to agree to this as part of the project’s terms.

2. Our Non-Disclosure Agreement documents.

In situations when you need to disclose confidential information before your job can be accepted, you can request that your potential candidate accept a non-disclosure agreement.

In fact, as part of our service, Elance offers you a variety of binding contracts in our Help Center. Simply download a contract and personalize it with your specific information (each is a Word documents, making these sample contract easy to customize). You’ll find many sample contracts – from a variety of Non-Disclosure Agreements and Client/Freelancer Agreements to an Engagement Letter.

3. Our due diligence in screening freelancers.

Elance knows that transparency is key to building long-term, trusting relationships. With that in mind we work hard to make sure you know for sure who you’re hiring. We verify each freelancer’s email address, phone number and geographical location. For U.S.-based freelancers we also confirm W-9 and Tax ID information.

4. Our commitment to fostering online reputations.

Another way we protect your intellectual property is through Elance’s platform that’s based on reputation. Freelancers know that to earn jobs they’ll need to perform well. By looking at each freelancer’s Profile page you’ll see Ratings and Reviews from previous clients, as well as their job history. You’ll also see each freelancer’s Level. This is a ranking we apply, based on a number of factors (including size of jobs and number of repeat hirings). By reviewing all this material and speaking to the freelancer, you’ll get a good idea of their commitment to partnering with you.

From Fortune 500 companies to red-hot startups, businesses trust Elance.

Again, in the business world, ideas are king. Ditto for copyrights.

And perhaps the best testament to how we protect your private information and copyrighted materials is the list of companies who return to Elance again and again. Businesses of all sizes realize that our freelancers are here to support you with the same passion and commitment of your full-time staffers. Probably more so, because they know that every job is another test to earn more opportunities to work with you.

To learn other ways Elance works to keep you safe, check out or blog post on Elance Security. Read what we’re doing to safeguard everything from your Workrooms to your money.

Elancers Share Stories & Rub Elbows with Execs At Work Differently Summit at Elance HQ.

If there’s one thing the team here at Elance wishes we could do more often, it’s meet face-to-face with Elancers. We love hearing what really matters most in your lives.

With that in mind, we were excited to host a Work Differently Summit at our Mountain View, CA headquarters Tuesday night to highlight what “Work Differently” means to our community and employees.

It was a chance for local Elancers to drop by as the sun set, getting to know the leadership team and other staffers. They also heard from successful Elance clients and freelancers, plus there was plenty of time to network with fellow Elancers and simply enjoy some hors d'oeuvres and refreshments.

Well over one hundred Elancers braved a surprisingly rainy night to join us for the summit. Event activities ranged from networking and socializing to presentations by successful Elancers. Elance CEO Fabio Rosati kicked off the program with an introduction to working differently, followed by other members of the leadership team discussing some great new features and hidden gems.

We would like to thank Corrina Stasik for her well-received presentation that gave insights into an online professional. And another big hit was a panel discussion featuring three Elance clients: Kevin Zittle of GoVoluntr, Jon Acosta of Acosta Productions and Jonathan Fleming of Jonathan Fleming & Associates. A big thank you to each of the panelists, as well as everyone who dropped by for an enjoyable evening. We enjoyed spending time with you.

For those not in Bay Area, fret not. We’re planning similar events around the country soon. And our European team will be hosting more Work Differently Summits on the other side of the pond too. Stay tuned for details, as we’ll be sure to let you know when an event is coming to your neck of the woods.

New Arvixe Partnership Means Smarter Web Hosting + Free Perk.

Arvixe

 

If you create websites for Elance clients, we have great news for you. We’re now partnering with fast-growing web hosting service Arvixe to make your job easier and your clients happier.

 

Plus as a special perk for Elancers, you can now design your client’s website in Arvixe’s Hosting Sandbox Application free for 6 months. Their handy app is powerful, secure and easy-to-use (it’s ready to work with 260+ scripts – from WordPress and Drupal to Joomla and OpenCart), and it's available now in Elance's collection of applications. It's even been customized to work seamlessly with the Elance platform, including its look and feel.

Once your website development is finished, just hand off ownership of the hosting environment to your client. There are zero transfer issues. The client simply begins paying for Arvixe’s monthly hosting services. But with low rates and awesome features, your client will thank you for steering them in the right direction.

Check out the Arvixe Hosting Sandbox and enjoy your bonus offer for Elancers.

Can’t Find Local Employees? New Trend Helps You Hire Outside The Box.

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 to their local economies. See the original post here.

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Brad Simmons was eager to hire employees for ClearMechanic, his mobile app development firm for the automotive industry. But he encountered one major obstacle: Because he’s based in San Francisco, he was competing for the talent and attention of workers who have an eye toward the Googles and Facebooks of the area. Fabio Rosati, Elance CEO

Rather than straining to find employees in that market, Simmons turned to the great equalizer: online work.

“Living in an area where the cost of living is high, the time and money I save with online freelancers helps me be more successful and focus on what’s most important for our growth,” Simmons says.
Businessperson drinking coffee
These days, being bound to a region with too much competition or too few resources doesn’t mean you have to settle for mediocre work. It’s possible to be successful wherever your business is, regardless of what project you need to hire for, by tapping into the wealth of freelancers who work online. 

That is especially helpful not just for areas that are highly competitive, but also for areas that suffered the most in the economic downturn. According to Elance’s most recent report of online hiring, in U.S. regions hardest-hit by unemployment, total freelancer earnings were up tremendously last year. This includes Rhode Island (+89 percent), Mississippi (+67 percent), New Jersey (+58 percent), Michigan (+54 percent) and California (+41 percent). The same goes for Eastern Europe, where Poland, Bulgaria and the Ukraine levered their strong technical skills to significantly drive 2012 earnings.

Though she’s far from the competitive streets of San Francisco, Alisha Fuller also decided hiring online rather than locally was the best solution for her Jamaica wedding venue, Hummingbird Hall. “Being from a rural area, it can be hard to find talent at the right time and price,” Fuller says. “Using online workers is like having an extended team of specialists, everywhere, who I can use when needed.”

Small businesses that are seeking online workers are finding a surprising level of talent, as skilled employees choose to forgo the corporate world or industry hubs to work freelance jobs from wherever they happen to live. For example, Remington McElhaney, a 19-year-old worker from remote Idaho, specializes in animation graphic design for clients around the world, all from his Coeur D’Alene home. Online workers like McElhaney bring opportunities for small businesses. Even though high-profile companies and startups are scooping up much of the available programming talent within 500 miles, with online workers, you’re never shut out from building your own talented teams. 

In fact, small businesses are counting on these employees to help them compete with larger companies. The biggest needs that they’re seeking to fill online include the technology talent gap (Web and mobile app development and programming), as well as a recent surges in online content needs (writers and editors) and design needs (from Web and graphic designers to Photoshop and Illustrator experts).  

As a small business seeking talent, rest assured you can escape your local economy and run free in a market unhampered by geography. It’s the key to economic growth wherever you live, so take the opportunity and run with it.

Note: This article originally appeared on American Express OPEN Forum.

Third-Party Tool Improves Communications Between Elancers.

While Elance provides you with many handy tools for communicating and collaborating, sometimes teams have specific needs and opt for third-party solutions. One software program that’s gaining a lot of traction is Doodle, an online scheduling tool. Below is a quick guest blog post from Doodle’s CEO, Michael Näf, explaining the product.

------------------------------Doodle homepage

Communication is something that’s essential for any project to be a success. As an Elancer, you’ve surely experienced the truth of that statement in a personal way.

With that said, finding a time to have a meeting with one or more people can definitely be a challenge. Just because a time works for you doesn’t mean that it’s going to work for everyone. That may be obvious, but it’s still a frustrating reality to deal with.

We created an online scheduling tool, called Doodle, to help solve the problem of getting people together at a specific time. If you’d like to make scheduling less painful, then I’d encourage you to use Doodle alongside Elance to take your collaboration to the next level.

Benefiting from better communications.

Most of the products that we offer through Doodle are completely free, and we also provide extensive time zone, language, and calendar support. This means that collaboration through an international online platform like Elance will be effortless.

Included below are some of the core features you can leverage:

Group Scheduling - Registration isn't required to use the basic free service, so getting started is quick and easy. To schedule a meeting, you just select some possible dates and times and let the participants specify what works best for them. With a quick look, you'll see everyone's availability and be able to make a final decision that satisfies the entire group.

Premium Doodle - This ad-free professional version of Doodle offers premium functionality and customizable branding options.

MeetMe - With this personal scheduling profile, your Elance contacts can see when you’re busy and available and will then be able to submit meeting requests to get on your calendar. 

BookMe - Designed to help service providers streamline their booking process online.

Being more productive on Elance.

While Doodle can be used to make your project communication on Elance more productive, we’ve also found that Elance has helped our business become more productive. Just like with any other company, specific projects randomly come up from time to time, and while our team could handle them on their own, this activity can take time away from other established priorities.

In order to keep our employees focused on their usual tasks and avoid burdening them with additional tasks, we’ve used Elance freelancers to help us with things like user support and market research, and our experiences have been very positive.

In the end, it’s all about getting work done in an efficient way, and I hope you’ll be able to do that with Doodle in the same way that we’ve done that with Elance. 

About the Author

Michael Näf is the CEO of Doodle, which is the world’s leading online scheduling service. Doodle is based in Zurich, Switzerland and is used by more than fifteen million people per month.

For This Elancer, SEO Stands For Sheer Excitement Optimization.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts are among the most-demanded on Elance.

For Yahia Khan this spells exciting opportunities he couldn’t have imagined just a few short years ago. Especially since Yahia is both an SEO freelancer and a client who hires other Elancers for his company, G.I.T. Expert.Yahia Khan

Born and raised in Bangladesh, Yahia moved to the U.K. a while back to study computing. After graduating he took a full-time 9-to-5 job in the U.K., working for a U.S.-based tech company.

But Yahia’s heart was still in his homeland of Bangladesh. So he returned to his hometown of Sylhet and soon found Elance (and the many benefits of working online freelance jobs). “I love freedom and I love being my own boss,” he says. “And I hope to continue making my business bigger and bigger.”

Today Yahia’s business is growing fast, as he and his team of SEO and link building professionals help companies get more traffic and more leads from their websites. He even hires Elancers himself, working with a stable of 15 freelance content writers and SEO experts to create articles, blogs and other online properties to make his client’s websites more successful.

Yahia’s clients, mostly based in the U.S., love that G.I.T. Expert is able to deliver great results quickly and at a reasonable price. “My Elance writers are at the heart of my business,” he notes. “Finding people with great English writing skills in my country is difficult, and keeping them is expensive. With Elance I get quality freelancers on a pay-as-you-go basis and pass the savings on to my clients.”

Yahia has one great tip for Elance clients searching for quality work: Test runs. “I hire multiple freelancers on the same project, sending them a small amount of work first as a test,” he explains. “Then I measure the quality of the work and move forward with the top performers. It’s the perfect way to work with a variety of the very best people in a very cost-efficient way.”

He also has an astute tip for fellow freelancers: “Deliver exceptional work on every project and earn great feedback.” As an Elance client who also hires, Yahia is quick to add: “Terrific feedback is certainly something I look for when searching for the best people to work with.”

Needless to say, Yahia’s clients (and freelancers) appreciate his insightful approach to optimization. And it’s why they keep coming back to G.I.T. Expert again and again for more awesome SEO work.

 

 

Advice from an Elancer (Volume 4)

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.

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Question #1: Category Confusion

Every time I click on the job post I am instructed to subscribe to a certain category to apply. Why?

Advice from an Elancer:

When you signed up for Elance, you were asked what area you would be working in. You may have indicated Writing & Translation, Admin Support, Sales & Marketing, or one of the many other categories. Jobs are listed in categories and you may only bid on those in the category you have signed up for. You may change or add categories at any time by clicking on your name in the upper right hand corner and going to your Membership. The Membership page summarizes your membership. If you need to edit any information, click the edit tab and you will be presented with the opportunity to change information. If you wish to change your category, you may do that with no fee. If you wish to add a second category, you may do so for a fee.

In this example, the Writing & Translation tab has been clicked. The results will include only jobs in this category. As you can see, the jobs can be narrowed even further if you like.

Check what category you are subscribed to and make sure it is the right one for you!

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Question #2: Not Getting Jobs!

How come I have completed the processes of Elance, but am still not getting any jobs.

Advice from an Elancer:

Go to the Help Center or Elance University.

The Contractor Guide, located in the Help Center at http://help.elance.com/forums/30971/entries/34157 has a step-by-step guide to using Elance. It goes from creating your profile to getting paid and more. I suggest starting there. Your second reference guide is Elance University at https://www.elance.com/q/elanceuniversity/buyer/index.html . The videos in the University outline the process of finding jobs and clients, doing great work, and getting paid.

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Find The Elance Bus At SXSW. You Could Find Yourself $100 Richer.

Boy howdy, the Elance Work Differently™ Bus is on the road again!

Yes the Elance-manned (and womanned) bus has now rolled on, pulling out of San Antonio and continuing on the exciting Startup Bus 2013 tour. Next stop: The South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in nearby Austin.

If you spot the Elance bus on the highways, byways or city streets of Texas between now and Saturday, March 9th you could earn $100 in Elance credits (good for hiring your next freelancer). Simply snap an original picture of the Elance bus and tweet the photo to us @elance – be sure to include your username.Elance Bus

There are a few rules for lassoing-in your $100 credit: All qualifying photos must feature the Elance bus pictured here, with the writing on the side (Elance Work Differently) clearly visible. All qualifying pictures must also be original, no duplicates accepted. And Elance reserves the right to disqualify any submissions.

Plus, don’t hesitate to flag down the Elance bus if you see it rolling in Austin (carefully, please). You might earn yourself some special treats from the ever-generous Elance team.

So get your camera ready and snap into action. Austin, the fun is headed your way.

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