Elance Blog

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Are You Killing Your Productivity? 6 Things to Watch Out For

Whether the work week is made up of two hours or two hundred, all freelancers, entrepreneurs, business owners, experts have one common goal: squeeze every last ounce of productivity out of time spent working. After all, time is money, and maximizing productivity is something that typically translates directly into bigger profits. But even the most experienced veterans of work can unknowingly fall victim to productivity killers and undermine their earning potential, or worse – willingly and actively participate in killing their productivity. Here are six productivity killers you need to watch out for to ensure that you stay productive, stay on point, and maximize your potential.

1. Weak or Absent Goal Setting: Are your goals well thought out and clearly defined? If not, your productivity will take a hit. Specific projects, job-hunting strategies, bidding practices, and your long-term career plans all need clearly defined goals and milestones to maximize output. Otherwise, you’re spending valuable energy constantly re-evaluating where you stand, how far you’ve come, and where to go next, robbing yourself of not only work time, but also a clear map to success.

Some people prefer the ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants’ method, but in the long run, this can be self-destructive. Yes, even with clear cut goals, there needs to be room built in for creative brainstorming and trouble shooting; two things that strive on the positive stress of winging it. However, using this model for an entire project, or worse, your entire career, can keep you in a constantly high-stress state causing burnout and health issues that will eventually sap productivity levels to nothing. Speaking of health...

2. Sacrificing Your Health: Health issues aren’t just a concern for providers who don’t set clear goals. Everyone can fall victim to this big productivity killer. Living the dream means setting your own hours and being your own boss, but the dark side translates to late hours, lack of much needed sleep, overworking, and other potential health issues. If you’re not sleeping enough, your productivity most likely will not maintain its optimal level.

And don’t forget diet and exercise. Long hours toiling over projects is hard on the body, so if you don’t make sure to eat well and exercise, it will show in your work. If you take the time out to take care of you, you’ll have more energy and sharper focus, making projects easier to complete in less time. This makes investing in your health very worthwhile for yourself as well as those you work with.

3. Freelance Style Faux Pas: Multi-tasking is a big buzzword and sets up many workers for a huge potential productivity trap. Some people thrive only while juggling a dozen or more projects at once. But what if you don’t?

Many freelancers and business owners feel pressured to juggle multiple projects as part of the lifestyle stereotype, but doing so is by no means a requirement and can actually destroy your productivity. It all depends on how you’re wired.

Multi-taskers need the heightened stimulation achieved by solving many unrelated problems at once. The downside is that motivation suffers when a multi-tasker is forced to concentrate on a single task. On the other hand, focused workers thrive on devoting all of their energy onto one specific task before moving onto the next, and juggling many can cause overload.

Both styles have their ups and downs. The trick to maximizing productivity is to know your style and work with it rather than try to be something you’re not. And for bonus productivity, build your team with a good mix of both styles to ensure everybody is performing at maximum productivity. Or if you’re a sole contractor, pair up with an opposite style freelancer to pick up or offload tasks to maximize both of your styles.

4. Playing the Victim: You lost the perfect deal, job, or contract you were sure was made for you. You’re crushed and can barely bring yourself to turn on the computer, let alone hunt down for more business opportunities. You mope around and do anything and everything you can think of to console yourself, except for the one thing that will actually cure you’re blues – land another deal. If you feed off rejection and let it sap time away from your end goals, you’re robbing yourself of time and money, starving your productivity in the process.

The (r)evolution of Work: How NextSpace, Elance & Freelance Camp Are Creating the Infrastructure for the New Economy

"Jeremy Neuner, co-founder and CEO of NextSpace Coworking + Innovation, Inc, likes to use this provocative turn of phrase: "In the future knowledge economy, everyone will be a freelancer."  In this post, he talks about how NextSpace, Elance, and Freelance Camp are driving this (r)evolution of work.

In September 2009, a report by the Pew Research Center confirmed what many of you reading this post already know: Self-employed adults, including freelancers, are significantly more satisfied with their jobs than other workers. The report, called “Take This Job and Love It,” also confirmed another fact that many of us are all too familiar with: Freelancers have less job security and feel more financial stress than people who hold more traditional jobs.

More than one in ten Americans are self-employed. The slow economic recovery, advances in technology, and a desire for a better work-life balance are causing more Americans to opt for self-employment every day. So as this sector of the workforce continues to grow, how do we get more of the good stuff in the Pew report (job satisfaction) and less of the bad stuff (financial stress)?

Our good friends at Elance are solving an important piece of that puzzle. Freelancers are always looking to do two things: find new clients and get paid by existing clients. By creating the largest online marketplace for freelance talent, Elance vastly increases the chances that a freelancer will have a steady flow of new work. And by managing and delivering that work through Elance's platform, freelancers are guaranteed to get paid by their clients. With Elance, they can spend more time doing what they love (providing great services to their clients) and less time hustling for their next gig or chasing payments. Voila! More job satisfaction, less financial stress.

The 10 Best Android Resources on the Web

You and I both know that Google’s App Market doesn’t boast the numbers of Apple’s industry-leading App Store, but with slick new devices, updated software releases, and a high carrier and manufacturer adoption rate, the Android platform is riding high on a wave of popularity that is attracting new developers, app creators, entrepreneurs, and most importantly, consumers.

And with Android making a 10-position jump in the most recent edition of the Online Talent Report, it clearly indicates a spark of heavy interest in development on the open-source platform. Regardless of if you’re an amateur developer, a veteran coder, or an entrepreneur looking to learn more, we’ve got you covered with our 10 best Android development resources on the web.

Android Developers Site:  In order to begin development for the Android platform, you’ll need to start here at square one. From this site, you can download the software development kit (SDK) and the tools required for Android development and testing. This is also the very same site that you will be coming back to when it is time to publish your app onto the Android market. The site also features extensive documentation on the APIs associated with the platform.

While the Android Developers site does in fact feature a forum for help with the Android Market, it doesn’t have a general purpose discussion area for new coders who may have development related questions. Instead, Google refers users to the second resource in this list, Stack Overflow.

Stack Overflow: Stack Overflow is an online discussion forum suited for a variety of programming questions across a variety of platforms. It’s chock full of stuff for Android developers because it’s the primary site recommended by Google for those looking for help with Android related problems. Rather than being broken down into sub-forums like many other online discussion forums, Stack Overflow is organized according to tags. It also allows visitors to vote on the best answer, similar to other question and answer sites like Yahoo! Answers.

The World Clock and Group Widget Now on Elance

Last week, we introduced the newly redesigned, feature-rich Provider Profile to Elance, but that’s not the only new addition that made it into the mix. Today, we’d like to highlight the new World Clock and Group Widget, both available for you to utilize right now.
 



World Clock



Thanks to increased broadband access across the world, developers, writers, graphic designers, business owners, IT managers, marketing firms, and more are all able to collaborate and get work done online through the Elance platform from all corners of the earth. This is the new way to work.

The new World Clock gives you the ability to check the time in different cities and time zones from one location. Whether you’re working with someone across the country or across the globe, this new feature will provide you with additional insight to help you effectively manage collaboration and your time when working with others online.
 


 

Group Widget

 


This handy tool allows you to highlight a specific Elance Group (jobs and providers) anywhere on the web. Simply plug in which Group you’d like to have widget-ized and the shape in which you’d like to receive it, and you’ll receive HTML code that you can embed on any standard blog or web page.
 



NPD Report: Android Now Outselling iPhone

Google’s Android mobile phone operating system platform is now outselling archrival Apple’s mega-popular iPhone device, according to new quarterly numbers published by the NPD Group on Monday.

Android claimed the number two spot with 28 percent of devices distributed in Q1 behind Research In Motion’s BlackBerry OS (36 percent) yet significantly ahead of Apple’s iPhone OS (21 percent).

Why the shift? Russ Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD, attributed it to carrier distribution and promotion. “In order to compete with the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has expanded its buy-one-get-one offer beyond RIM devices to now include all of their smartphones.” Additionally, one can speculate that the continued arrival of new, high profile devices at a frequent pace, such as the upcoming HTC Incredible and the HTC EVO 4G, are a key driver in Android growth in adoption rate.

The effects of this trend are palpable in the world of online work. According to the Elance Online Talent Report, which follows the latest trends in the world of online work, the growth in demand for skilled expert Android developers outpaced any other specific mobile platform throughout the first quarter of 2010 (up 10 positions), including the Apple iPhone (up 3 positions).

The Winners of The Referral Engine Book Giveaway

Today, we're announcing the winners of The Referral Engine book giveaway right here on the Elance Blog. The Referral Engine, written by Duct Tape Marketing founder and friend of Elance John Janstch, covers in detail why (and more importantly how) companies are developing new clients through word-of-mouth referrals as opposed to traditional, big-budget advertising and marketing campaigns. (For more information on the giveaway and the book, check out John Jantsch's guest blog post "The Role of Trust in Referrals".)

The winners, which were chosen by the trusty random number generator over at Random.org, all offered their tips for building trust with those you work with in business over at our Facebook Fan Page. Here are the winners and their respective tips:

Susan Ensor: “What I personally do to build trust is be real with my clients. Always remember that you aren’t a robot and that you are doing this for more than the money. Show that you love your job and that you have pride in your work. Give your clients a guarantee on your work to prove this since it tells them you have confidence in your work.”

Zainab Ahmad: “Trust is based on consistency: always promising only what you can deliver, then making sure you deliver. Our integrity is our greatest asset. Words uttered must be honored. No matter what.”

Sagayam Christopher: “Yes laying all the facts about a project to a potential client is the best way forward. Sometimes it may backfire but in the long run it is a surefire way to do business.”

Bill Meeks: “Work with reputable clients and give them quality work. Might seem basic but above anything else this is the most effective way to broaden your client base through existing clients.”

Tara Dean: “Under-promise and over-deliver - that's the key.”

Congratulations to our winners! If your tip was mentioned above, please shoot an email to alex [at] elance.com with your information including the best shipping address, and the books will be on their way.

We’d like to send a personal thank you to all those that participated and remember to keep your eyes peeled on the Elance Facebook Fan Page as there will be more fun stuff to come.

Links:
Elance on Facebook
The Referral Engine Book - Homepage

Become an Elance Affiliate and Get Paid

We’re pleased to announce the launch of our new, next generation Elance Affiliate Program. Our team has developed a program with the payouts, tools, and support you need to successfully monetize your most valuable asset: your traffic.

As an Elance affiliate, you're eligible to receive commissions when any of the following actions are taken by traffic you refer to Elance:

  1. First time post: When a visitor clicks through your link, registers, and posts their first job ever on Elance, you’ll receive a $50 commission.
     
  2. Repeat post: When a registered Elance user clicks through your link and posts a job, you’ll receive a $5 commission.
     
  3. Paid Provider membership: When a visitor clicks through your link and signs up for a paid Provider membership with a verified credit card on Elance, you’ll receive a $5 commission.
     
  4. Free Provider membership: Similar to number 3, when a visitor clicks through your link and signs up for a free Provider membership, you’ll receive a $1 commission.

We’re also in the process of creating an entirely new set of assets for you to utilize as an affiliate, including new text and banner ads (like the one featured at the top right), widgets, APIs, co-branded landing pages, and much more — all coming very soon.

If you’re interested in becoming an affiliate or you'd like to learn more, please visit the Elance Affiliate Program home page. Questions? Drop us an email at affiliates [at] elance.com, and we’ll get back to you within two business days.

Did Apple’s iPhone and iPad Kill Flash?

Rumors of Flash’s impending death have been greatly exaggerated, but according to recent headlines, the Cupertino mobile devices giant is looking to singlehandedly shift online rich media content from the Adobe Flash platform to HTML5, CSS, and Javascript with its mega popular iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad devices. But why?

Last week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs published a 1,500+ word article titled “Thoughts on Flash” highlighting his and Apple’s collective decision to continue to leave Adobe’s Flash technology off of their products. His argument details six main reasons, which include (from Apple.com):  

  1. Adobe Flash is a 100% proprietary product that is not open and is completely controlled by Adobe.
     
  2. While most online video is Flash based, H.264 is a more modern alternative that is widely available.
     
  3. Flash has significant reliability, security, and performance issues. (He even claims the number one reason why Macs crash is due to Flash.)
     
  4. Flash technologies require software decoding, thus eating an unnecessarily large amount of battery life.
     
  5. Flash was designed in a world when input devices simply comprised of mice and keyboards and not touch.
     
  6. The most important reason to Jobs: Flash is a third-party layer of software that hinders the progress of development and the platforms it resides on, like the iPhone OS, for example.
     

While most of these arguments can be seen as thoroughly valid points, several of them can be fiercely debated, and recently, some of them have been.

First, Flash is neither entirely proprietary or entirely open – according to an article from Fast Company. Certain aspects of Flash are open source, like the SWF and FLV video formats and the Flex SDK, and some are not, like Flash IDE. But why the accusation of open vs. closed? Fast Company writes, “The open-vs.-closed argument isn't really what we're talking about here, anyway: Jobs only mentions it to negate the accusations that iPhone OS is 'too closed.' His real problems are technological (like battery life and touch).”

Cisco, Box.net, Salesforce and More Join Elance Groups

After launching with roughly a dozen groups nearly one year ago, Elance Groups has flourished with 35 new groups, thousands of new members, and feature enhancements for both providers and employers.

What are Groups, you ask? Companies, like Adobe, Microsoft, PayPal, and dozens of others have worked with us to organize communities on Elance where qualifying providers gain membership to a “Group” after meeting specific criteria and enjoy the benefits of being officially recognized. Here are just a few of the new Groups since we’ve launched last year.

Cisco: We’ve worked with Cisco, the makers of “The Human Network”, to create the “Cisco Ready Contractors” Group. Once admitted after passing the required examination, providers will be placed in an exclusive group and have the ability to work directly with Cisco officially for contract work. For more, visit the Cisco Ready Contractors Group page here.

Box.net: The cloud content management and collaboration solution makes it simple for businesses to access, manage, and share a variety of content online through its website and its robust OpenBox API. Right now, if you are one of next 50 to join the Box.net Developers Group, send an email to developers [at] box.net and you’ll receive a promo code for three months of Professional membership on Elance. Join the Box.net Developers Group here.

HP & Palm: What Does It Mean for the Smartphone Market & Developers?

Yesterday, a bomb of atomic proportions was dropped into the smartphone market as Hewlett-Packard, one of the world’s largest electronic device manufacturers and the current reigning champ of the PC manufacturing arena, bought Palm for $1.2 billion USD. Palm, mostly noted for its recent innovations with the webOS software on the Pre and the Pixi, had been struggling to gain significant marketshare in the crowded smartphone market currently dominated by Apple, RIM, and Google.

It’s completely reasonable to make the logical assumption that the folks at HP HQ were after Palm’s crown jewel, the webOS platform, but speculations of the following ramifications regarding the purchase are starting to surface. Here’s my take (of course, take this with a grain of salt):
 

  1. More Hardware: This one is a no brainer. If you buy a shoe company, you’re probably going to sell shoes at some point and make it part of your core business. The purchase of Palm is no different. And since HP has largely been out of the mobile hardware market in recent memory (the last phone I can remember is the iPaq 910c) expect the obvious to occur: HP will pump out more new phone and device variations taking advantage of the slick webOS platform, as opposed to Palm’s limited number of offerings - the Palm Pre and the Palm Pixi (plus editions included.) Speaking of platforms…
     

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