Elance Blog

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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.

Elance Blog - The New Elance Search: Smarter And Faster Than Ever
Elance Blog - The New Look And Feel Of Elance

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!

The Best Cloud Apps You Need To Know About

The “cloud” – you’ve heard the term, and chances are, you’ve probably already hit the sky and touched the clouds before. As a matter of fact, if you’ve using the Workroom on Elance to chat, post messages, upload files, and manage revisions of your work, you've been working in the cloud on a regular basis. You’re more cutting edge than you know!

While Elance offers an online platform that allows more than 100,000 active experts and businesses to store work, collaborate in real time, and get work done, there are tons of different cloud-based software applications on the web that satisfy a multitude of varying needs. Here are a few cloud-based services you should keep your eye on that may help you and your business in when in a pinch.

Office Suites
Dying batteries, broken laptops, and forgotten flash drives can make last minute changes to documents, spreadsheets, and presentations a challenge to even the most seasoned road warriors. However, there are a variety of document editors available on the web that you can access from any Internet-connected computer to not only edit but also store your work. Give each one a test drive and see which one fits your needs best.

Google Docs, one of the most popular free online document editors, allows you to create and edit documents online with the added bonus of real-time collaboration with other users and also supports a majority of popular file formats. Unlike its competitors, Google has also created a mobile-friendly version of the app, allowing for pocket-sized editing of documents on the go.

Zoho, a competitor to Google Docs, offers many of the same features, including simultaneous collaboration between users, and also features various plug-ins for Microsoft Word, Excel, and OpenOffice. Additionally, Zoho has additional applications for database management, reporting, project management, customer relationship management, wiki, chat, and more in its suite, making it one of the most robust online office suits available. (Currently free for personal use.)

A new entrant into the arena is Office Web Apps, an online and free version of Microsoft’s mega-popular productivity suite. It features web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, and allows you to share documents with others. Currently, you can access Office Web Apps through Windows Live SkyDrive, a cloud storage service by Microsoft.

While having a robust office suite may sound enticing to some, others may just need a place to put small or large amounts of data in a place that can be quickly accessed by any computer connected to the web.

The New Elance Search: Smarter And Faster Than Ever

Whether you’re a seasoned provider or a first time employer on Elance, one of the most important tools that you’ll use when working online is search. Today, we’ve added several new features and a number of new graphical elements to our search tool that will make browsing through more than 100,000 active providers or tens of thousands of job posts a faster and easier process. Here are a few of the highlights.

Saved Searches: First, if you spend a lot of time searching for a very specific provider or job, this one’s for you: We’ve added a new saving function that will allow you to come back to your favorite customized search queries without having to re-enter your corresponding filters or search terms – you can even have your search results automatically loaded when you set your favorite saved searched to be the default . Additionally, your saved searches along with the "applied filter" elements will be stored at the top of the left-hand navigation, allowing you to get a quick snapshot of what you've searched for and how you got those results.  

For example, if you’re a Virtual Assistant looking for an hourly job with a budget over $1,000 that was posted within the past 24 hours, instead of applying each individual filter every time you search, you’ll be able to store your exact query and come back to it at any time. The same applies to employers – if you’re an international business always looking for someone to translate documents into Italian with Tested Skills, 95% feedback, and over 5 reviews, you’ll be able to enter the appropriate filters and save this specific search to come back to. Do tons of searching? You'll be able to store and manage up to 20 different saved searches at any given time.

Refinements To Search: Secondly, we’ve made some adjustments to the layout and functionality of filtering your search results. We’ve removed the sliders for Feedback, Reviews, and Hourly Rate and replaced them with one-click links. Instead of dragging a slider up and down to adjust your results, these new filtering links will allow you to quickly trim your list with only a few clicks.

You'll also notice that we've made some aesthetic updates to our drop-down menus that make them easier to use, and we've simplified the location filter by using a radio button.

Email And RSS Upgrades: Finally, providers can now conveniently stay on top of the freshest job posts by enabling an option to receive an email update with your saved search results on a daily or weekly basis. You'll be able to configure the notification settings for each saved search, allowing you to have the highest level of flexibility.

And if you prefer using an RSS reader, you'll notice that we've also upgraded our job feeds to provide more information, including job type and budget, amount of time left, number of proposals, client name and location, and more. Once you customize the query according to job parameters that's right for you, you can subscribe to that feed.

Other Enhancements: With these new upgrades added to search, we're confident that hiring on Elance will be smarter and faster. However, this isn't the only thing we've upgraded. We’ve also added the much-requested ability for a provider to void an invoice after it’s been submitted to a client. For the full list of changes, check out the Release Notes in the Announcements section of the Water Cooler, and for more information on how to take advantage of these new search tools, visit the search help topic here.

Analysts: Android To Pass iPhone By 2012

According to Gartner, a technology analyst firm, Google’s Android mobile phone operating system will surpass the Apple iPhone and RIM BlackBerry in market share by the year 2012 (from Practical Ecommerce).

The report states that in the third quarter of 2009, Android only represented 3.9 percent of the market share, landing it far behind Symbian, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Windows Mobile. Analysts however are predicting a huge shift within the next three years as momentum continues to build behind the release of devices like the Google Nexus One and the Motorola Droid and the anticipation of future 4G-capable Android devices.

The data released by Gartner predicts that by 2012, Android will move into second place with 14.5 percent of the total market share, surpassing both Apple and RIM yet second only to Symbian.

However, a closer look at the chart shows that while the rankings will significantly change over time, Android, iPhone, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry will all be hovering in very close proximity of each other in market share – between 10 and 15 percent – and is something that should be considered when deploying your first, second, or 100th app.

How To Find Keywords For Your SEO Article: A 5-Step Primer

Keywords are one of the most important components of any successful Search Engine Optimization campaign. However, before you quickly skim your website and round up a few less-than-stellar keywords, you should invest time in performing some in-depth keyword research. Salma Jafri, online content development specialist and New Way To Work finalist, shares her 5-step guide on finding the right keywords to get your search rank jumping.

Oftentimes, buyers give you a brief description of the title of an article or its main topic and let you determine the appropriate keywords to use. Whether you're doing an SEO article project for a client or wish to rank your website or blog higher, you'll need to pick and find the right keyword combination to attain that all-elusive high-ranking keyword niche. This article will provide you with a primer on getting started with keyword research.

Step 1: Think Like Your Reader

When I was writing an article about buying ergonomic chairs, I started thinking about why anyone would want to buy this item. Here's what I came up with.

People who'd want to buy ergonomic chairs: 

Trading Careers For Gigs

The U.S. labor market continues to mystify economists. U.S. GDP (gross domestic product) is growing briskly, but the Labor Department reports 20,000 jobs were eliminated last month alone. How can employers keep pace with increased demand for goods and services without adding to the payroll?

The not-so-simple answer: they can’t. Businesses are hiring; they simply have to given the current rate of economic growth. But the kind of workers they are hiring and the way in which they are hiring them has changed.

Consider this piece of data from the Labor Department’s recent report: the number of self-employed Americans grew by 126,000 in the last quarter. Add to that another telling statistic: the number of temporary jobs has increased by 250,000 in the last quarter. (The Labor Department consistently under-reports the rate of temporary job growth.)

Our so-called jobless recovery is nothing more than an illusion. What we are experiencing is a long-predicted structural change in the job market. In the span of a single generation, we’ve gone from “company man” to being our own man or woman, thanks, in part by, to advances in computer and telecommunications technology.

And it was made possible by changing attitudes toward work. Roiled by globalization, the rapid pace of technological change, and a boom and bust economy, many of today’s workers have found security in the idea of free agency. Job uncertainty has bred a worker that is more resilient, adaptable and entrepreneurial than his predecessors. People have traded in careers for gigs.

Employers, facing the uncertainty that comes with a downturn, have seen the advantages of a flexible workforce. With the Internet, the search for talented employees is no longer limited by geography.