Elance Blog

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How To Make A Living Blogging

Companies like tumblr.com and wordpress.com are making it even easier for anyone with an internet connection to start a blog. Some people have had huge success and turned a writing hobby into a full time job. However, the Perez Hilton’s of the world are far and few between. Today at SXSWi I listened to the founder of Nerve.com and many enthusiastic audience members share their tips on how to make money by blogging.

Advertisements. Adsense is one of the easiest ways to add a revenue component to your blog website. Most websites can make money but very few can make a living through advertisements alone. In reality, you'll be in a good position if you can make a few hundred dollars through click-through advertisements a month. As web users become savvier they are more likely to ignore irrelevant side banner advertisements. More targeted advertisements have higher rates of success. Websites like AdBrite.com and OpenX.com provide the tools to post more tailored advertisement solutions. Great if you have a smaller fan base or want more control over the advertisements posted on your site.

Guest writing. A blog is a great platform to showcase your writing ability and the subjects you're passionate about. Online and print publications are constantly seeking passionate experts to freelance or contribute content. Writers can seek out paying freelance opportunities on broad or niche topics on websites like Elance or directly on a publication's website. In some cases, if your blog has a large or very targeted following a content publisher may reach out directly to request your writing. Although the articles you write are not published on your blog they still add to your blogging brand.

Sponsorship. Blog brand building is essential as your readership grows. Once you've packaged what differentiates your blog from others it is easier to make the case for stronger advertisement and partnership support. For example, HerBadMother.com is a parenting blog from a busy Mother's perspective written by Catherine Connors. Connors’ was able to leverage her large mother fan base as a selling point for advertising sponsorships. She pitched a story about taking her children on a trip to Disney World and landed an advertising sponsorship from a vehicle company that supplied use of a car and monetary compensation to be included in Connors’ coverage of the trip.

Write a book. People start blogs as a way to write or share about a topic they’re interested in. Growing the fan base of readers and views shows proof that the writing and topic are interesting to attract an audience. This proof of concept is a great jumping off point to expand coverage of a topic into a book. If you have a large user base or an interested publisher than it will be easier to get your book into stores across the country. If you’ve got something to write about for a smaller or more niche market then selling an online e-book can be another monetary option. Even better, you can use your blog to further promote your book or e-book to new customers.

The Power of Responsibility

If you read my first blog from SXSW Interactive, you’ll know I barely escaped a horde of rampaging technogeeks by rolling, Indiana Jones-style, into the Screenburn Panel discussion With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: The Future of Video Games, hosted by Discover magazine’s Amos Zeeberg and co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

As I smoothly collapsed into a chair, heaving and sweating, the discussion commenced as if they‘d been politely waiting for me (a somewhat pleasant fiction). A row of highly-intelligent-looking folks began sounding off about the work they’d done in video games, and a very impressive group they were too; Tiffany Barnes, Ann McLaughlin, Jim Bower and Lucy Bradshaw.

For an hour, as the discussion evolved, it became apparent this was a get-together designed to rag on the politicians, parents, clergymen and other interfering busybodies who deign it necessary to disparage the fine pursuit of video gaming and the participants thereof.

Now, I’m one of those participants. There’s nothing I like better than meeting new people in an artificially-created online environment and blowing them up with high explosives or viciously dismembering them with a bladed object. And it appears I wasn’t alone in the room.

The academics on the panel scoffed at the perpetual layman’s claim that video gaming creates mindless automatons with lacking social skills. Indeed, they suggested quite the reverse. Online gaming actually gives people with underdeveloped socialization abilities an outlet that, without video games, would be unavailable. The panel created compelling arguments with reference to their gaming work involving children and the elderly. The gist of their point was that people learn by play. We’re psychologically geared towards doing so. It’s natural. The concept (and conceit) that real people should actually learn from books is a relatively new one that’s only been around since the invention of the printing press 600 years ago. This tiny blip on the human learning history oscilloscope pales in comparison to the legacy of the interactive play we’re supposed to be engaging in, and did so for the preceding millions of years (and continue to, albeit now under duress from the busybody crew). Sure, they didn’t have video games then, but play is play; our toys are simply slightly different.

While gamers may look like all they’re doing is staring blankly at a screen (which is, frankly, where the technophobes derive their objection), there is actually a whole hive of activity frenetically buzzing beneath the surface, sharpening such things as reaction times, hand-eye co-ordination and spatial awareness. Skills are being acquired. The nature of the skills is not as important as one might think; the sheer act of acquisition keeps the brain ticking over and is particularly useful in preserving the neural pathways of the elderly.

The discussion moved onto the advent of internet gaming and social media sites such as facebook and twitter, and veered towards the social (albeit online) interaction such platforms encourage. A question was asked of the audience if any members felt they had been made socially awkward by online interaction. While a somewhat facetious question, no one raised their hand. This was not an indication of audience apathy, you understand, as they were quite lively throughout the discussion. A poignant and fitting result at an interactive conference, all in all.

Build a Web Company - No Experience Necessary

SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) pulls together some of the brightest minds and most-promising businesses in the technology field. Although almost all attendees seem to know their way around an iPhone or a MacBook, most of the players in tech start-ups are not programmers. Sahadeva Hammari and Suzanne Xie are two great examples that you don’t have to know how to code to build a successful online company.

Hammari is a graphic designer, the creator of the successful PrintSociety.com, has been featured in BusinessWeek’s Best of the Web but he doesn’t know to code and did not start with a Tech Co-founder. Xie on the other hand was an ex-wall street investment banker who founded Weardrobe, the largest online fashion community for street style and fashion photos, without any knowledge or experience of the tech world. How could they create a successful web business without any experience? The answer is sourcing project-based talent.

Learn To Sell Your Milk After You’ve Given The Cow For Free

After arriving in the land of cattle and cowboys, beyond the herding of attendees for a badge, I felt it only fitting to learn how to sell milk after giving your cow away from free. No, this is not a lesson in dairy farming; this is SXSWi’s look into making money on an open-source online product.

The large attendance at the panel reflected a common question in the online world- monetization. Open source is beyond the land of making money off of a social community, it is about websites like LiveJournal and Wikitravel that allow users access to the product’s code. In the internet world, it is the equivalent of publicly sharing a product’s blueprint. If everyone knows how to make your secret sauce, why would anyone pay you to make it?

Competitors have free access to a product you built. Brad Fitzpatrick of LiveJournal- an open source journaling website- had many competitors take what he built and copy it. The other websites even offered more features and targeted LiveJournal’s user base. However, after a few months of the competitor websites crashing and no response to complaints, users came back to LiveJournal. In addition to the strong user base that LiveJournal already created, the website succeeded because the copycats didn’t build the quality service underneath. Competitors can take the code but that doesn’t mean they’re equipped to run the business.

Badges, Mugshots And A Foot Chase

I arrived at the Austin Conference Center for the SXSW Interactive Festival trepidatious of the upcoming cattle-herding that invariably heralds the opening of such swollen, unwieldy events. Mugshots were taken. Badges were speedily created and appropriated for the price of a small used automobile. IDs were suspiciously glared at by obviously unqualified volunteer personnel. Much mirth was generated by the pronunciation of my name.

After shuffling along in a line with thousands of other attendees I received my Adobe®-sponsored tote bag of goodies. It was a lovely sunny day outside, so I hauled my new luggage outside to a quiet, leafy spot and trawled through the contents like a vagrant looking for a morsel, making a neat pile of interesting bumph to leisurely investigate later. The other, not-so-interesting pile got scattered by a sudden breeze. In a brief panic I darted hither and thus, gathering up as much as I could before the surrounding gang of disapproving downtown Austin hippy-billy onlookers amalgamated into a sufficiently vicious mob to physically work me over.

One thing really grabbed my attention in the interesting pile. It looked like an over-wide book of matches, but upon opening I discovered a pad of small, adhesive-backed barcodes and the name Stickybits®. Intrigued, I investigated further, exploiting the free SXSW wi-fi through my five-year-old, stylus-driven PDA as the passing youngsters spryly danced around its onerous bulk. I met questioning smirks with a defensive, “Oh, you find this funny? It’s got a foldable keyboard! Ha! The joke’s on you! Let’s see your iPhone do THIS!!” reaching into the pertinent pocket of my cargo shorts to find I’d left my wow factor foldable keyboard at home. The tweenies started texting each other, some of them within talking distance. I absconded rapidly in a direction I hoped would contain less up-to-date technology, which, I found, ain’t easy at the SXSW Interactive Conference.

Three Companies To Watch At SXSW 2010

Every March, bloggerheads and tech-lovers alike gather in Austin to check-out some of the best emerging music, film and interactive ideas. SXSW is the festival where great new companies make the leap from nobody to the next big thing. In order to prepare for what will surely be a whirlwind of great ideas, I've picked the top 3 companies I'll be watching at this year's SXSW festival.

Glass - How many times have you shared a website, an article or a picture online? Blogging and micro-blogging sites like Twitter or Stumbleupon have made this a lot easier, but what if you could write notes on the items you share? Glass is a new company that allows users to "write on top of the Internet."

Beyond just adding notes in a comment section like you do today, you'll have more flexibility to share thoughts as you would on a piece of scrap paper in a boring meeting. What if you could see exactly what Guy Kawasaki thought of a marketing article? What would advertisers pay to see all the viewer reactions to their online ads? Glass has a lot of potential if they can show users the power of real-time notes; it is definitely a company to watch at this year's festival. Learn more at www.writeonglass.com.

Pocket Tales - E-readers like the Kindle and the newly launched iPad are changing the notion that a book is paper and ink. In the near future, books will more often require batteries than extra space on your bookshelf. Whether you like the idea or to embrace this movement or not, the literary landscape is changing, and Pocket Tales is embracing the new wave to get more kids excited about reading.

Young readers earn points in the social reading game by completing quizzes, activities and providing recommendations to other users. It also rewards children for reading and keeps them coming back for more. I think interactive reading has a huge future which puts Pocket Tales in a great position to bring in a young fanbase an potentially expand the appeal to an older tech-savvy crowd. For more information check out Pocket Tales at www.pockettales.com.

Payoneer Now Available For All Providers

As a provider, one of the most important and most gratifying parts of working online is getting paid for delivering high-quality work. Currently, one of the options to withdraw your funds from your Elance account is through the Payoneer Elance Prepaid MasterCard, but only if you're a provider with a paid membership plan.

Today, that's going to change. Now on Elance, the Payoneer Elance Prepaid MasterCard is available to all providers, both with free or paid memberships, as an approved way to withdraw your payments after delivering work.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Elance Prepaid MasterCard is a debit card that has a prepaid limit and can be used everywhere MasterCard is accepted. Simply withdraw your funds electronically into your Payoneer account, and then you are free to use your Payoneer Elance Prepaid MasterCard at any location or ATM that accepts the MasterCard logo.

And don't forget: On Elance, you always have access to a variety of ways to get paid, like Automated Clearing House bank transfer (U.S.), check, PayPal and wire transfer (outside of the U.S.).

For more information on how to withdraw your funds, visit the "Withdrawing Funds" section of the provider guide.

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Simple Ways To Spruce Up Your Workplace

Work. Whether it’s online or offline, corporate or work-from-home, we all do it at some point in our lives, and as a matter of fact, we spend a lot of time doing it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those that are employed and between the ages of 25 to 54 with children spend nearly 8.8 hours a day on work-related activities.

Let's do the math: Nearly nine hours a day, five days a week – that equates to over 25% of your adult life. Since you’re spending such a significant amount of time working, a comfortable place to work isn't just a nice benefit to have – it can also improve your productivity and overall happiness. Here are a few ways to spruce up your work area for a happier and more efficient you.

Get A Plant: Adding a little bit of greenery to your workplace isn’t just aesthetically pleasing to the eye -- it can also reduce your work stress and actually increase your productivity. According to a Texas A&M University study, both women and men demonstrated “more innovative thinking, generating more ideas and original solutions to problems in the office environment that included flowers and plants.”

Additionally, a plant in your work area can improve the air quality of your indoor work area and consequently improve the health and safety in your workplace. According to another study by the Environmental Laboratory of John C. Stennis Space Center says that “rooms with plants contain 50 to 60 percent fewer airborne molds and bacteria than rooms without plants. The indoor plants clean the office air by absorbing pollutants into their leaves and transmitting toxins to their roots, where they are turned into food for the office plant.” And don’t worry if you don’t have a green thumb – there are plenty of plants that are easy to maintain and retain all of these benefits.

Ergonomics: Ensuring that you have an ergonomic workstation to use isn’t just to improve your productivity – it’s also to protect your health. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 34 percent of all lost-workday injury and illness is caused by repetitive stress injury and costs up to $20 billion annually.

The 10 Best Websites And Resources For iPhone Development

Mobile application stores like Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market are open for business, and business is clearly booming. The demand for talented developers is going at a fast pace, as evidenced by the Online Talent Report (dollars earned in the Mobile subcategory grew 180% in just 12 months). If you're a new iPhone developer looking to get your feet wet or are a seasoned veteran looking for some online resources, we've rounded up 10 different websites, forums, blogs, and tools that can help you jumpstart your next iPhone app.

Apple Developer's Site: This is the first stop that any potential iPhone developer will need to visit when getting started. From this site, you can sign up for the developer program and download the necessary tools required to build iPhone apps. There is a developer fee of $99/annually in order to submit your newly built creations to have them appear on the app store, but you can download the tools and play around with them with a free account.

The site also features the entire reference library for the iPhone SDK, which although not as instructional as a tutorial, is still an indispensable resource for those who have already gotten comfortable with the iPhone development process. In addition to the reference material, you will find developer forums at the site which allow you to ask questions to other developers. Most developers are willing to help new coders learn the ropes, as long as you show that you've made some effort to learn on your own or to find the answer for yourself. The forums at the official Apple site have the added benefit of being frequented by Apple engineers.

iPhone Dev SDK Forums: The forums at iPhoneDevSDK.com are another great resource for all developers. The community is robust and offers advice on everything from coding to promotion techniques and even job postings. One thing to be aware of is that there are frequently posters popping in trying to capitalize on developers. Be wary of business offers, especially from people with a low number of posts. Consider bringing the potential client on to Elance so that you can not only be protected by Escrow but you can also use it to build up your feedback and job history.

iCodeBlog: iCodeBlog.com features some of the best tutorials on the web, both on beginning and more advanced development concepts. It should get the novice beginner off to a good start as well as teach the established user a few things about parts of the API that they may have not explored yet. The blog is updated on a regular basis and would make a great addition to any iPhone developer's bookmarks.

Tim Ferriss, Guest Bloggers, Special Prizes, And More At SXSW

With just over one week before the annual SXSW 2010 conference, we’re gearing up for an awesome event taking place March 12 through March 16 that will feature play-by-play coverage from two special Elance guest bloggers, a number of prizes and giveaways at the show, and an intimate book signing with the author of “The 4-Hour Workweek” Tim Ferriss.

Tim Ferriss At The Elance Booth
First, for those of you that are fans of “The 4-Hour Workweek”, author and friend of Elance Tim Ferriss will be stopping by our booth (booth number 908) in the Austin Convention Center at 2:00 PM on Sunday, March 14 for a book signing at the show. Don't have a copy of the book? We'll also have copies of the book that  we will be giving away at our booth. Be sure to be there at 2:00 PM – you definitely do not want to miss out on this opportunity.

Blogger Coverage
Next, let’s talk bloggers. Fast-paced coverage of the show will be provided by the two winners of our SXSW Blogger competition Brittany Laughlin and Stefan Abrutat. Congratulations to the winners!

Brittany (Elance profile), a marketing and press release expert from New York City that fancies travel, fashion, design, and technology, will be making her way down to Austin with Stefan (Elance profile), a writer, editor, content specialist, and professional humorist from the UK. They’ll be there to cover new emerging technologies, fresh companies to keep an eye on, and hot events from this year’s conference. Be sure to start checking out their posts at the end of next week, right here on the Elance Blog.

Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator
Additionally, as you may have heard before, we'll be participating in the Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator program at the Hilton Austin Downtown on March 15 and 16 to check out 32 different, fresh companies to duke it out for the title of the next big thing in Tech. Our very own CEO Fabio Rosati will also be in attendance as an expert judge for one of the panels taking place on Tuesday, March 16 at 11:00 AM. If you see him, be sure to stop by and say hi.

"The New Way To Work Kit" And More
And finally, all weekend long, we will be hosting a raffle for a very special kit at booth 908 – “The New Way To Work Kit", to be exact – valued at approximately $1,500. While I won’t divulge what’s in it just yet, I will say that it’s chock full of techie gadgets and prizes perfect for the mobile professional that’s always on the go. (Hint: It rhymes with Shmapple.) Remember, you must be in attendance at the show to enter the drawing.

If you’re going to be in the building at this year’s SXSW Interactive, be sure to stop by and check out what we've got in store for Elance in 2010. We look forward to seeing you!