First off, everyone here on the Elance team wish all of you a happy new year and a wonderful 2010. We’re all back in action and are firing on all cylinders here at HQ, and we’ve added 18 new Skill Tests for you to master and add to your profile page.
Also, if you’re a developer, be sure to check out our new PHP and MySQL Code Tests that we launched at the end of last year. These new Code Tests are timed tests that require the test taker to work with actual code to solve a problem. The test taker will not only be required to solve the problem in the allotted time, but the code is scored based on how concisely written and how efficiently it uses system resources.
We’ve seen quite a few posts come through here on the Elance Blog covering a wide range of topics. Now it’s time to take a look back and see which stories that you, the Elance community, found to be the most compelling.
Now, I present to you the best posts of 2009, in reverse chronological order:
5 Signs You Need A Website Redesign Now: If you can't tell whether or not your website is outdated, chances are it probably is. Here are 5 telltale signs that your website is in need of a redesign. After all, a modern makeover doesn’t just look nice – it could increase your bottom line.
5 Ways To Drive More Traffic To Your Website:You know your site has something to offer, but getting the right people to show up at your doorstep is the hard part. If you’re stuck scratching your head with low traffic numbers, check out these 5 basic tips to start bringing in more traffic.
The day the entire world moves on from the "oughts" is nearly upon us. Since we entered this decade ten years ago, technology, work, and society on a micro and macro level has evolved to a level no one could have ever predicted. Before we can look forward to the future, we must take a look at the past to see just how far we’ve come.
Think back to the year 2000. George W. Bush and Al Gore were the front runners in the Presidential election. Microsoft had just released Windows ME, the recently-launched Playstation 2 was the hottest holiday item, and the term “Y2K” and its associated panic had just been retired. Monochrome screens on cell phones were standard, and smartphones were only for the earliest of adopters. Broadband was adopted by less than 5% of the population while dial-up services were the method of choice at 35%.
Today, broadband has moved from luxury to necessity, while Internet connectivity has moved from the home to pockets and purses. People from all over the world are now able to connect digitally in a blink of an eye to communicate, play, share ideas, inspire, and work in ways never thought before.
Although no one truly knows what’s in store for the upcoming decade, one thing that is certain is that work will continue to evolve at a break-neck pace. Here are important trends to follow that will expand online work to new heights by the year 2020.
The Technology Trend – One could only begin to fathom what type of technology will be available after the following decade. Moore’s Law states that “the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has doubled approximately every two years.” With the first 2-billion transistor chip on the way in Q1 2010, using Moore’s Law, we should expect to see the first 32-billion transistor chip in 2020, or alternatively, a computer processor with 32 times the power of the fastest chip on Earth today.
Mobile technology will also continue to evolve at a rapid pace. Data that’s currently available on cellular networks will go from high-speed to even higher-speed, while network coverage will leave no deadspots across the globe. Visual displays and web cams will move into the 3rd dimension, providing a virtual, near-accurate representation of a person through a web conference, and broadband access will have near-ubiquitous penetration in all populations of the globe. And that’s just the beginning.
There’s no doubt that technology and business go hand-in-hand. Advancements in tech have processed and packaged information of all types in formats that are becoming truly on-demand from any location in the world. It's played a huge role in spurring the global and societal adoption of online work in the past 10 years, and expect it to truly send online work to the next level in the coming decade.
The judges have weighed in, and the scores have been tabulated, but first off, we’d like to thank all of those that shared their stories in the New Way To Work Contest as well as those that continue to be a part of this global movement to online work.
Someday, people are going to look back at cubicles with the same sense of disbelief that today’s kids have when they look at phone booths.
When was the last time you used a phone booth? (When was the last time you even saw a phone booth?)
It sounds absurd, right? Who needs a phone booth in this day and age, when everyone carries phones in their pockets? Imagine, having to sit in one specific spot and use one specific phone just to make a call!
Well, someday – probably sooner than most of us expect – people will look at cubicles the same way...
With the New Way of Work on Elance, we can work for clients worldwide, and we can do the work from anywhere. Who needs a cubicle?
Freelance writer Benjamin Gran won the grand prize with his message of workplace innovation and change, likening the end of the era of cubicles to the end of the era of phone booths. His entry showcases how the world of work is changing dramatically and old constructs are being challenged with the new way to work. Just as the mobile phone replaced the traditional phone booth, cubicles are being replaced by the online office.
Congratulations to Benjamin for winning the top prize for the Elance New Way To Work contest! But we’re not done yet. We’ve received such an overwhelming response to the competition that we are going to award a 2nd and 3rd place prize valued at $1,000 and $500 respectively.
As the calendar year comes to a close, we here at Elance have come to one conclusion: 2009 is the year of IT.
The Elance Work Index revealed its December rankings along with a year-end snapshot of top hiring trends for 2009. In contrast to recent data showing that technology job loss has risen in the last quarter to 5 percent, technology hiring continues as the strongest and fastest growing category on Elance, with IT managers posting more than 100,000 IT jobs and more than $30 million of IT services delivered on Elance in 2009. The “IT Top 10” skill list include PHP, HTML, Joomla!, CSS, WordPress, MySQL , AJAX, Adobe Flash, Java and Google Website Optimizer.
Meanwhile, with revenue growth weighing heavily on each marketer’s mind this past year, marketing managers posted more than 150,000 jobs across the Design, Writing and Marketing categories, as more businesses hire talent on Elance to boost customer acquisition. Graphic design, content writing and online marketing have consistently
been amongst the most sought after marketing skills on Elance in 2009. The demand for technical writing, blog writing, and translations also continues to gain momentum, particularly as businesses realize the strong talent pool available to them across numerous specialized subject areas.
Despite the difficult economic environment, hiring on Elance continued to grow in 2009, with employers posting 300,000 new jobs and Elance service providers earning nearly $70 million through the Elance workplace. Key trends for December include:
The 2009 MVP – PHP’s domination of the Elance Work Index continues in December as it maintains its number one spot while also cementing its status as the most sought after skill for 2009.
You’ve asked for it, and now it’s here: One of the most requested features here on Elance is the addition of “rollover” Connects. Effective today, if you have a paid provider membership, your unused Connects will rollover to the next month up to the number of Connects in your base membership plan. And that’s not the only upgrade we’re making today – we’re adding a number of changes to our membership plans that you’ll really enjoy.
Before we dive head first into rollover Connects, let’s briefly cover some of the other feature upgrades we’ve made tonight. First, we’re increasing the number of Connects available to providers right off the bat for both Free and Individual memberships. Free memberships enjoy a jump from 3 to 10 Connects per month, while our Individual Professional membership moves from 20 to 25 per month. Additionally, if you’re invited to a private job posting on Elance by an employer, it will no longer require Connects to submit a proposal.
As part of this change, starting January 14, 2010, jobs with budgets greater than $1,000 require between two and four more Connects. Please review the updated Connects Help page for more information. Also at that time we'll be rounding the membership prices to a flat $10, $20, and $40 per month as opposed to $9.95, $19.95, and $39.95, respectively.
How Does Rollover Work?
If you’re unfamiliar with how rollover works, here’s a quick rundown: Let’s say you sign up for the Professional membership. You start December off with 25 Connects, and over the course of the month, you’ve only used 10 and you realize you won’t be able to use them all.
In January, Microsoft will be officially launching the Windows Azure platform, a "cloud services operating system that serves as the development, service hosting, and service management environment." In a nutshell: You’ll be able to create, host, and run your online application all in the “cloud” with Azure.
To celebrate the launch of Azure, we here at Elance have partnered up with Microsoft to bring you the Windows Azure Challenge so you can get skilled, get work, and get paid. (This program is initially for U.S.-based providers, but we hope to offer a similar program for international providers soon.)
Get Work – Throughout December, US based providers are invited to submit a $50 proposal to one of our Windows Azure Challenge job posts here on Elance. We will accept up to 500 qualified proposals during the challenge. The work simply requires that you develop and demonstrate an Azure sample application that you have created using the Windows Azure token we provide.
Get Paid – All submissions will get $50 and the benefits of having a completed project, earnings, and feedback on your profile. But it gets even better! The best 6 applications created during this challenge will receive a total of $15,000 with the top application taking home $10,000. Entries will be judged on innovation, functionality, and use of the Windows Azure platform.
After you successfully create your first sample application, you can participate again by using a new token and creating a different sample, improving your odds of winning the top prizes. You’ll also become eligible to join the Windows Azure Experts group here on Elance, a future destination for Azure work.
The winning entries will also get publicity from both Elance and Microsoft, firmly establishing you as one of the first Windows Azure experts on the web.
Michael’s lighthearted and easy-to-grasp video showcases his interpretation of the New Way To Work: Let Smart People Work Hard for Your Business. Sit back and watch how Mike took advantage of elancers to take his small business to the next level.
A New Way To Work – Mary Baker
I firmly believe that small, independent family businesses are the backbone of America. We are the ones that create original products and services, we set the bar for personal and friendly service, we supply true craftsmanship, and we are the ones that create new jobs, new concepts, real price competition, choices for the consumer, and new hope for the future...
Until recently, small businesses and independent contractors have been limited by their regional focus and reach—but now the internet provides national visibility to even the smallest family-owned company. The downside to navigating this vast new landscape is that small businesses, and in particular many of the small wineries I work with, sometimes feel overwhelmed when it comes to choosing and hiring web site developers, graphic artists, e-commerce and point-of-sale solutions, public relations firms, hospitality and architectural consultants. They generally feel they are limited to local providers who command high prices...
The regional isolation of small business in America is over, forever.
Mary Baker, blogger and social media expert for wineries in California’s central coast region, writes an smart, elegant, and compelling look at how wineries and other small businesses can empower themselves by utilizing an online workforce for the resources they need.
After reviewing nearly one hundred blog posts, YouTube videos, websites, images and more all over the web, we’ve gone through the difficult process and narrowed them down to our top 10 finalists. We judged all of the entries on three criteria: Creativity and Innovation, Quality of the Message, and Inspiration to the Community.
Back in September, we launched the New Way To Work contest to put the spotlight on you, the trailblazers of this new movement towards online work. Skilled professionals are now able to provide their skills to clients in a global marketplace, entrepreneurs and small businesses can access talent and pursue ideas and goals never seen before, and companies big and small are taking advantage of contract professionals worldwide to supplement their staff to satisfy real-time demand. And in the past three months through your expressions, you've showed the world how it's all happening.
Here are your first five New Way To Work finalists!
Pamela Swingley's creative usage of Prezi.com’s innovative presentation system to give us an inside look on their operations, their story, and the tools they use to connect and build software that helps you to remember when your next health checkup is. Give it a spin right here.
My New Way To Work – Salma Jafri
Salma Jafri, a content creator based out of Pakistan, tells her story of leaving the corporate world and turned to the online world to start her own business after her daughter was born and her husband’s production company begain to suffer.
Qittle Elance Video
One of the earliest entries in this competition comes out of Aspen, Colorado from the mobile marketing company Qittle. CEO Casey McConnell and his team takes us through some of the business history behind Qittle while also telling the story of how location doesn’t matter in the New Way To Work regardless of if you’re on the slopes of Aspen or out in Wisconsin.
One of the most crucial elements in creating or receiving the highest quality work is having a successful relationship with those you work, collaborate, and share with. As technology and communications continue to evolve, more and more people are moving to the online world to get the work they need done. However, many of the timeless tips that were once used offline still apply today, albeit slightly differently, when working online.
Before you hop back on your PC and get back to work, check out these six tips to have and maintain a successful working relationship online.
Build a Human Relationship: Considering that most people conducting work online spend a good chunk of their time behind a computer screen, it’s easy to forget that those on the other side of the network are human just like you. Be sure to spend some time building a more human relationship with those that you work, online or off. For example, when exchanging Workroom messages, it doesn’t hurt to add a friendly greeting or ask how the other is feeling for the day.
You’d be surprised at how much a simple “thank you” can affect attitudes as well as your business. According to a study conducted at The University of North Carolina Business School in 1999, people that “experience rude behavior on the job quit their jobs (12%), lose work time (52%), and deliberately decrease their work effort (22%).” (via Smashhits)
And this one goes for employers: Give your provider the trust and freedom they need to complete job tasks. The people that you work with are the experts in their respective fields and have the credentials to prove it – it’s the reason why you hired them in the first place. And remember, over-micromanagement is almost always counterproductive for both parties involved.
Set Up Office Hours: This is a big one. Just like any other brick and mortar business or office, both the provider and employer need to have a standard set of office hours that they can be consistently reached. Having this will not only help facilitate smoother communication on jobs in progress but will also allow you to rest a bit easier at night knowing that the other is just a phone call/chat/Workroom message away. Remember: You don't necessarily have to be working in the same time zone or same continent for that matter -- just be sure that there is a set time that both parties are aware of.