Thursday is yet another blooming enormous day for entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom, as the sovereign state has wisely decreed November 21st National Freelancers Day.
All day (and into the wee hours of the night, we suspect?) National Freelancers Day Festivities are happening around the region. This includes a major event hosted by the UK’s Professional Contractors Group (PCG) – an organization strong in championing freelance work in the area. They’ll be hosting their Main Event in London with a panel discussion including many A-list speakers, such as former Birmingham City Football Club Managing Director Karren Brady and local radio host Nick Ferrari. The discussion is happening at the London Symphony Orchestra’s historic concert venue, LSO St. Luke’s.
If you’re in London drop by the National Freelancers Day Main Event as the fun gets started at 18.15 pm. Elance’s own Country Manager UK Hayley Conick will also be on hand at the event. If you can’t be there Hayley will also be tweeting during the event, so join the conversation with #NFD2013. You can also follow PCG’s live feed.
While those of us in the Elance community are already well aware of the many benefits of the freelance life, folks in the UK are getting onboard at a record pace as well. It’s estimated that there are some 1.7 million freelancers in the UK alone, contributing in the neighborhood of £95bn to the world economy this year. This helps to explain why freelancing is more than worthy of a National Day, if not a National Week or even Month. Check out these comments about National Freelancers Day and entrepreneurism, gathered from UK heavy-weights ranging from Prime Minister David Cameron to Mayor of London Boris Johnson. Also here’s a recent article in The Telegraph on the surge in freelancing in general, and National Freelancers Day in particular.
Naturally there are lots of other fun and valuable activities happening across the UK on National Freelancers Day, including at co-working spaces, home offices, coffee shops, pubs and wherever freelancers work. Have a great day and enjoy your independence. This day is yours.
Just switch on the old 50” flatscreen HDTV, or drop by the local mall, and you’ll see that the holiday season is just around the corner. Actually no -- it’s here in full force, like a howling blizzard. And for most businesses this means two things: Stress levels go up, Up, UP and productivity goes DOWN, Down, down. Not a good combination for you or your business.
As year-end deadlines loom, you and your team are unfortunately facing an increasing number of distractions. This includes everything from holiday parties and Cyber Monday shopping deals ($400 for a 55” flatscreen HDTV!) to inclement weather and runny noses. Gesundheit!
But if you plan correctly, the holidays don’t have to be nerve-wracking and fruitless. In fact it’s your opportunity to gain ground as your competition spins their wheels (sometimes literally) in the holiday slowdown. Here’s some food for thought on how to make it a joyful and prosperous holiday season.
1. Despite the c-c-c-cold air, don’t forget to breathe.
Yes it’s going to be hectic, bordering on frantic. You have so much left to accomplish and so little time – all the more reason to relax and stay positive. Take a quick 15 minute break now and again to clear your mind. Heck, even reward yourself with some fruitcake or a cup of eggnog.
2. Jot down your holiday Wish List, and stick to it.
Setting goals is paramount to a successful holiday season. Decide what really needs to be accomplished and focus on that handful of projects. Whether it’s sprucing up the website or bringing added cheer to your mobile app, keep your eye on the prize. Don’t spread yourself too thin and get left out in the cold.
3. Give yourself a holiday bonus: Do what you love doing.
Do you remember why you got into this line of work in the first place? Think back, and recall what it is you love about your career. Then do that job and little else from now through the end of the year. If you love writing code, write code. If marketing is your bag, market. Let others tackle the rest. Focus on the fun.
4. Bake something amazing for the holidays.
Now that you’re focusing, it’s time to move ahead with that awesome idea that’s been baking in your head for who knows how long. Delegate the day-to-day operations to others and concentrate on that game-changing idea that will take your business to the next level. Shine like the North Star and amaze the world!
5. Hire talented elves with really specialized skills.
Try as you might, you can’t do it all by yourself. Fortunately, a world of skilled helpers are ready to lend a hand. Post your job and hire freelancers ready to tackle your important end-of-year projects. You’ll be glad to know that people outside your snow globe are able to work at a moment’s notice (yes, even on major holidays).
The online freelance movement continues to build momentum, as our October 2013 U.S. Employment Report shows that a whopping 55,000 new U.S. freelance jobs were created last month. That’s a 30% growth from the same period last year, and a clear sign that workplaces are increasingly turning to online talent for the skills they need.
The report also highlights that 24,000 new U.S. based freelancers entered the Elance marketplace in October, which means even more top candidates are realizing the career advantages of online work. And no wonder, as U.S. freelancers earned $7.3 million on Elance in October (up 63% from last October).
Our monthly report provides an important (and too-often overlooked) component of the true picture of the overall health of the U.S. job market. As a recent NPR article addresses, the U.S. Labor Department’s
Bureau of Labor Statistics report fails to take into account the multitude of freelancers now working from coast to coast. In the words of the NPR article, the most-recent government employment report has some “head scratching” results.
To give you a clearer picture of how employment is really stacking up in American, we’ll continue to provide our reports each and every month on the status of freelancers. We hope you find the information useful and enlightening, as you browse the data gleamed from Elance’s U.S. employment report. For more details – from breakdowns by state and more – see our Press Release. Also check out a summery below:
If you’re just getting started on Elance, there are a variety of things that you can do right now to build up your profile to create the best representation of yourself to clients worldwide. If you have not yet familiarized yourself yet with the Elance profile, please visit our User Guide here.
Clients using Elance realize that there is often more to selecting a contractor for work than their Elance Level ranking or total earnings. As a contractor, it’s important to create a profile that best showcases your skills and qualifications, regardless of whether you’ve been using Elance for five days or five years. In this article, we’ll be reviewing the follow key areas: Skills, Portfolio, Keywords, Service Descriptions, Groups and Photos/Logos.
Skills On Elance, skills play an important role in differentiating yourself by demonstrating your actual skills and expertise to prospective clients. Based on your membership plan, you can enter up to a particular number of skills to your Elance profile. They are an excellent way to showcase your standing in a particular area, whether it be HTML5, English to Dutch translation, Microsoft Excel 2007, or any of the you may have in your arsenal.
Skills can either be self-rated, meaning you can evaluate yourself, or tested with one of our over 300 Skill Tests, which show how a candidate scored relative to all the other individuals who took the same test. Once you’ve completed the Skill Test of your choice, you can see your percentile and rank among everyone who has taken that particular test, and if you score well as a top performer, that’s another part of your profile that stands out as a highlight and as a key differentiator. Lastly, if you’ve posted a high score, you can share your results on your favorite social media outlet or email. Remember, over 76 percent of clients are more likely to hire a contractor with tested skills that are relevant to their job.
Tip: Determine your strongest skills and take the Skill Tests for them. Also, taking language skill tests like English Speaking/Writing/Grammar/etc. tests is something you may want to consider if you believe you are qualified to do so.
In today's evolving workplace, portfolios are not limited to graphic artists and visual designers anymore, and they don’t only come in leather-bound presentation cases either. On Elance you can build an online portfolio of your standout work, everything from a series of articles you've written to a website you’ve developed or mobile applications that you’ve built.
Elance provides a filmstrip-like interface that gives you the ability to quickly skim through portfolio items and jump to individual pieces with a simple click. Additionally, you can switch to a “Gallery” view that shows thumbnails of all items for even more convenient browsing. Workers on Elance have uploaded over 1.4 million assets to their portfolios, and that number is growing each day as more contractors are seeing the advantages of having their work samples ready for instant viewing.
Tip: Have at least two (preferably more) examples of your work for each major skill you have advertised in your profile. For example, if you are offering content writing and graphic design, have at least two articles and two visual design pieces in your portfolio.
Keywords One of the first things a client will do is to utilize keywords, which are the skills they are looking for in contractors (and vice versa) through search. This is one of the most important elements of your profile; including particular keywords can ensure that you appear in certain search results, and can posititvely affect your rank in searches that come up. There should be a handful of important keywords related to your particular skillset, which will be visible to potential clients. Don’t leave it to chance and make sure you make the effort to build your keywords list.
For details on how to add keywords to your profile, please visit the Help article here.
Tip: Don’t overcompensate by adding too many keywords—that may affect your perceived credibility. Spend some honest time compiling 10-15 essential keywords to your particular skillset.
This is where you market yourself as a complete package and cover items that may not fit in the other profile sections—the open-ended “essay” portion, if you will. You can give clients a better feel for your professional background, range of services, personality, and communication and work preferences, while also giving them a better feel for who you are as a person.
Mention any credential or achievement that reflects positively on you – graduating from a prestigious university, working for/with a Fortune 500 company, achieving something noteworthy in your field. If you wrote an article for a national publication, make sure to mention that as part of your description. If a website you designed gets millions of hits, make sure you bring that to the forefront. As jobs become competitive, each and every little plug for your skillset can make a huge difference.
Tip: Don’t go straight into bullet points about your accomplishments. Start with at least a one paragraph summary of you, your talents, and your overall work philosophy before you start listing things. Summarize yourself as if it was the only thing potential clients could read about you.
Groups Potential clients appreciate someone who demonstrates expertise in their field, and Elance Groups are among the most prominent ways to show off your skills on your profile. There are over 80 different groups on Elance, each sponsored by a different company or organziation, and each with their own membership requirements. Requirements range from passing the Elance skill test for a particular area, to achieving a specific level ranking on Elance, so clients can be assured that group members are among the cream of the crop.
Photos/Logos While it may not seem like it to some, uploading a photo of yourself adds credibility to your profile. Clients are looking for online talent with qualified skills, but despite great collaborative tools available (like Workroom messages) a human connection can ease their concerns about remote work.
Tip: If you are particularly camera shy, consider hiring a graphic design professional on Elance to create a logo for you/your company. It won’t be free, but it at least shows that you are serious about your “brand” and ultimately the services you are offering.
Sample Profiles If you happen to need some inspiration, here are some more examples of great contractor profiles:
Occasionally we invite our partners to discuss issues of importance to businesses and freelancers who work on Elance. Below are some thoughts from Brad Zomick, Chief Content Officer at SkilledUp. Here at Elance we’re excited to announce that SkilledUp is our strategic partner in delivering online course to the Elance community.
In the past couple months there have been some nice enhancements to Elance University. This includes the educational content on Elance, which has been supercharged.
You’ll now find some 25,000 online courses at Elance – each ready to help you upgrade your skillset, while helping you land higher-quality and higher-paying gigs.
Online courses are a great way to upgrade your existing skillset. Here’s why:
They let you focus - Hone in on a niche subject and master it. I.e. Ruby, SEO, Photoshop.
They go where you go - Sign in from home, Starbucks, your laptop or iPad.
They’re affordable – Many courses are free and most retail for $100 or less.
So are you are ready to “Get the skills to pay the bills?”
Not so fast. With 25,000 courses to choose from, selecting the right courses is of paramount importance.
Online courses are wildly popular right now and platforms like Coursera (free college theory classes) boast enrollments of over 5 million students. However, the quieter story is that only 10% of students are completing their coursework. With premium courses, you are spending your hard earned money and the last thing you want to do is pick the wrong course and kiss that money goodbye.
Do not let this deter you. Much of your success is contingent on proper course selection.
5 crucial factors worth considering in your hunt for the optimal course.
To help you pick the right course, I’ve highlighted some insights we’ve learned here at SkilledUp:
2. Is there Actionability? Will you be able to apply the learnings of the course immediately? If you don’t have any related project, it will be difficult to apply in a practical situation. For instance, if you don’t have a website it will be hard to follow a class in Google Analytics. Maybe you’ll take the course and still complete it, but as time passes you’re less likely to put that insight to action.
3. Does the format fit? With the recent explosion in online education, courses come in many shapes and sizes. It’s important to know what you’re getting and test the goods.
Do you prefer to learn via reading or video? Content is a factor as well. Subjects like graphic design are better learned by watching video.
What if any exercises and testing is available? For beginners, learning a technical subject like web development is easier with an embedded interactive code editor.
Do you need a one-off course or a full-blown learning library? A one-off course will satisfy a very narrow demand, but if you need a structured learning path or help in other subjects, a larger library of content is helpful.
4. Is the price right? The obvious consideration here is your budget. Fortunately there are many great options at a reasonable price point. There are even many courses on Elance that are 100% free. Although, without any investment, you may be less likely to take the learning seriously. With zero marginal cost, it’s easy to just stop going (which is why the dropout rate of free coursers is 90%).
5. Does it meet your final needs? The ultimate consideration is whether the course provides you with the skills you need to land a gig and successfully complete the job. Make sure to research the provider and look for course reviews. If you can’t find reviews, look for forums, discussion on Reddit, or even questions on Quora about the course.
Make the right first step.
Online courses can be invaluable to upgrading your skills and helping you get the best gigs. But it all starts with appropriate course selection. Follow the guidelines above, and you’ll be well on your way. Over the next few months I’ll be posting here again, bringing you more strategies on how to get the best out of your online courses experience. In the meantime, happy hunting.
Brad Zomick is Chief Content Officer at SkilledUp, our strategic partner in delivering online courses to the Elance community.
If you watch the brainy quiz show Jeopardy!, you probably know the incredible processing power of IBM Watson. If not, IBM Watson is the “cognitive computing platform” that outsmarted the TV show’s two top human challengers (and earned a cool $1 million, which IBM donated to charity).
Today IBM and Elance are announcing a strategic partnership to fuel creation of a new generation of apps for the enterprise, powered by IBM Watson. IBM has tapped Elance as their inaugural talent partner to build a Watson Talent Platform.
The move comes as a part of IBM’s larger announcement today that it is opening up IBM Watson as a development platform for entrepreneurial software application providers (ranging from start-ups to established technology leaders). The goal is to create apps in the cloud leveraging Watson's cognitive computing intelligence.
Based on technology that helps break down the barriers between people and machines, Watson now bring the Elance community an incredible opportunity to find talent that’s perfectly matched to jobs.
“Elance is proud to partner with IBM help fuel an ecosystem that leverages the ingenuity of smart people all over the world, to bring to life myriad Watson-powered applications," said Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance. “We are also excited to build our own Watson-powered applications to better serve all our clients."
Watch a quick video of Fabio Rosati and the IBM Watson team, discussing the future of cloud computing and the dynamic online workplace we’re helping them build. See why the future of work is happening now, and why we’re excited to be partnering with IBM to bring unmatched intelligence to online work.
Faster is cool. Faster is in fashion. Faster is the talk of the town.
Faster is what we all shoot for (although when browsing YouTube, notice that most people shouldn’t go faster when strapped to wheels – ouch!).
But in the business world, faster is better. Period. That’s why we want to help you reach your hiring goals faster. Here are some tips on reducing the time it takes to get your next project started.
1. Send Out Job Invitations.
Posting your job is a great way to get the ball rolling, but you don’t have to stop there. Take a few extra minutes to invite qualified freelancers to submit their proposals.
How to find them? A great place to start is with our recommended freelancers. Thanks to some number-crunching we do behind the scenes, during your posting you’ll see next steps for viewing freelancers that match your needs.
You can also use the Elance search bar to find qualified freelancers on your own. Just type in the job title or skill needed (be sure to toggle to “Freelancers”). On the left side of your results page, you can also narrow results by choosing from a host of options – from Work Types and Tested Skills to Location, Hourly Rate and more.
2. Use Multiple Paths to Interview Your Candidates.
The Elance Private Message Board (our email tool) gives you an efficient way to correspond with freelancers. However, if you want to more-quickly get an idea for the job a person can do, there’s no substitute for direct human contact.
If the freelancer agrees, you can Skype them to ask real-time questions and even host a quick video conference (through Elance) with the candidate.
When you communicate openly, you get a better idea (sooner) of what the candidate can do and how they will approach your project. You can also use your project Workroom to document key decisions.
3. Invite Freelancers From Our Pre-Screened Elance Groups.
Elance Groups are where you’ll find pre-qualified candidates en mass, each with specific skills.
For example, if you’re looking for freelancers to tackle a mobile application job, invite members of our iPhone Development Experts group or Android Development Experts group. We have a world of Groups (with more being added often), from technical and creative skills to attorneys, architects, CPAs and more. It’s an A-to-Z in skillsets (literally, from Adobe Flash Developers to Zoho Creator Experts).
Elance Groups are a great way to cut-to-the-chase and find cutting-edge professionals.
4. Open an Hourly Job.
Hourly jobs have a distinct advantage over Fixed Price jobs when it comes to ramp-up time.
When you have a complex job or long-term project and aren’t quite ready to nail-down all the details, you can simply open an Hourly job and start working in minutes. You can still use milestones to create check points for the job, and modify the hours later if you want to keep it as an on-going relationship.
When an ideal candidate jumps off the page at you, and is ready to start working, just set up an Hourly project and get up-and-running that day.
5. Quickly Test-Out 2 or 3 Top Candidates.
Another tactic that many of our successful customers use to speed up their decision making is to test-out 2 or 3 online freelancers.
When you find multiple candidates that look great (and you can’t quickly decide on one single person), narrow your selection to 3 candidates. Set up an hourly job and give them each, for example, a 2 hour job. Chances are a brief project like this will give you a good idea of which person is right for the long-haul.
Then simply thank the others for their hard work, and ramp-up full throttle with the winner.
Does This Help? We Hope So.
That’s a lot of information to absorb, but reading a few insightful hints can save you considerable time when you’re hiring your next freelancer. Time well invested. Now post your job and put some of these tips to work for you.
Answer: Originally from France, I am a software engineer at Elance in charge of the Trust and Reporting subdivision. This subdivision encompasses the famous MyStats feature. In case you didn’t know it, MyStats is used to analyze freelancers’ important data for computing their Elance level, points and ranks.
While working in close conjunction with our OPS team, I also laid the foundation for several improvements to our platform. Some examples are guaranteeing the timely processing and delivery of emails, the handling and scheduling of recurring payments and the constant updating of user content. In addition, I assist the Customer Service team to promptly handle user requests.
2. What do you like most about working at Elance?
Answer: I definitely most like Elance’s global impact. Our platform simply empowers people. On one hand, an individual with a great start-up idea does not need to know how to design, how to program, how to advertise or how to place cold calls! Our platform will simply present the best candidates possible in order to bring his or her idea to life and to allow it to finally succeed.
On the other hand, the technological exodus has already started. More and more jobs are moving online; thus, the physical presence of employees is less pertinent. Most of the time you simply need to have an internet connection, in order to be hired and to be paid on our platform. Your skills are valuable and will make a difference on our platform.
3. How do you Work Differently?
Answer: Despite my long commute, I enjoy starting my day early while the office is still quiet. It is a great way to take a fresh look at the purpose of my job and to contemplate how I can improve things. Carpooling is ideal for me to meet new people and to get home early on a regular basis.
4. What songs are now on heavy rotation as you’re working-away?
Answer: I let Huka, our African Grey parrot, decide on our playlists. He takes pleasure in imitating my voice. He then impersonates me to my lovely wife, who is the love of his heart, too. To answer your question, I like to hum and sing a mixture of French and English electronica music. Electronica is the music computers would sing if they could.
5. When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?
Answer: California is practically ideal for me! I hike at the Pinnacles, in Yosemite and in redwood forests. I like spending time on the beach with my wife picnicking at dusk. Watching sea otters, sea lions and seals in the Monterey Bay is pretty fun, too! I enjoy visiting art galleries, especially when my wife is one of the featured artists. I love to taste wine in local wineries and to improve my pallet. However, I do miss French food. If it weren’t for my wife’s delectable cooking, I probably would not have stayed in the U.S.
6. (Bonus question!) OK, ask yourself anything. No subject is off the table.
My question: What is little known about you and where you came from?
Answer: I grew up in the Jura Mountains near the Alps in France on a dairy farm. Our milk is used to make the delicious Comté cheese. My home village has only seventy inhabitants, yet it is populated with almost one thousand cows. Nozeroy, where I attended grade school, is the smallest city in France. A few kilometers away lies the coldest city in France, Mouthe, otherwise known as “little Siberia”. I grew up cross-country skiing and even competed at the national level for a time.
Our region is famous historically for the industrialization of eyeglasses in Morez. Also, Louis Pasteur and his family were native to the area. I am proud to share roots with Pasteur whose unprecedented breakthroughs in medicine, science and technology are still widely known and in use today.
I studied at Iowa State University where the Atanasoff–Berry Computer was the first electronic, digital, computing device. Algorithms were my favorite subject to study. Throughout college, I dreamt of working in Silicon Valley. Now, here at Elance, I am sure that we are certainly writing history by transforming the lives of millions of people around the globe.
Here in America today is Veteran’s Day, celebrated from coast to coast with parades and other emotional congregations.
But far from limited to merely in the U.S., “Veteran’s Day” is celebrated globally (with different names on different days and in different ways). But in all locations each holiday has a similar ring to it: Thanking military personal for serving the people. And an amazing job the world’s military is doing in this regard.
A case in point is the global military personnel in the Philippines, now helping those in need as the country tries to cope with the devastation left in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan. It’s a tough road to hoe and the world’s military has always tackled the job with courage and compassion.
And as their time in uniform winds down and they leave the military, here at Elance we’re finding more and more that military personnel are turning to a life of entrepreneurism. From working freelance jobs to starting their own businesses, veterans are finding that Elance is a great career option.
We’re proud to note that freelancing has always been a positive job path for military veterans, who here in the U.S. have traditionally had a higher unemployment rate than others. According to the Bureau of Labor Static’s recent release, military veterans between the ages of 18-24 have a 20.4% unemployment rate. That’s more than 5% higher than others in the same category. Also of note is that military personnel often have difficulty adjusting from the public to private sector. A recent survey by the Center for a New American Security (CNAC) found that 60% of veterans reported that translating their military service into the civilian market was difficult.
This seems odd, since veterans have such extreme skills garnered for their military service – from leadership to technical adeptness. Here at Elance we’re proud of the many veterans who freelance in our marketplace and we invite you to seek them out for projects when you hire freelancers. They’ll often mention their military experience in resumes and when discussing work experience. Look for them on your next project. And be sure to thank them for making the world a better and safer place for us all.