Elance Blog

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The Best WordPress Plugins Available Today

Over the years, WordPress, one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) in the world and highly in-demand skill on Elance, has evolved into something far more powerful than just a simple blogging platform. The amount of theme customization that you can do truly allows for limitless possibilities when creating your website.

Some of these customizations come in the form of "Plugins". They're modules that you can add onto your WordPress installation that can extend the functionality of your blog in both mechanics, interaction, and usability, and there are literally tons of plugins out there that you can sift through to customize your blog. I’ve compiled a short list of very informative blog posts that cover the best and most useful plugins for WordPress you can find.

Nicholas Cardot at Site Sketch 101 has an excellent, excellent post covering “The 15 Best WordPress Plugins To Use In 2010”. My favorites on this list include WP Super Cache, Akismet, Wptouch iPhone Theme, and Thank Me Later. Check out all 15 over at Site Sketch 101 now.

Joseph at VisionWidget.com has put together an incredible list of 48 high-quality WordPress Plugins for “branding your perfect blog”. Favorites include All in One SEO Pack, Community Cloud, What Would Seth Godin Do, Yet Another Related Post Plugin, and GD Star Rating plugin. Lots of stuff to go through here, so be sure to check it out.

If you’re someone who frequently handles images, Robysottini’s Blog has just posted a great article on "10 WordPress plugins to work with images". I personally like Watermark Reloaded, WordPress Media Flickr, and Faster Image Insert.

Ajaxline.com recently posted an article suggesting WordPress plugins that you should take a look at as well. Global Flash Galleries, Bulk Delete, WP to Twitter, Login With Ajax, and My Quote are some I’m going to give a test drive today.

If social media and promotion are your thing, then check out Webexpedition18.com’s article “Best WordPress Plugins To Promote Your Site”. Nikola Lazarevic suggests plugins like Digg Digg, a button generator for your site, to generate more social awareness and consequently drive more traffic to your site. While many of the plugins might overlap in terms of functionality, it’s good to know what’s out there so you know what will fit your blog and use case the best.

And as always, if there isn't a plugin that does quite do what you need it to do, there are thousands of skilled, professional WordPress developers on Elance to deliver what you need. Do you have any plugins that are your favorites? Shoot 'em to us in the comments below.

Elance Blog - A WordPress Development Framework Makes Themes Easy
Elance Blog - 5 Technologies Your Business Needs In 2010
Elance Blog - The Best Technology Platforms For Bloggers
Elance Blog - 10 Ways To Produce A Winning Blog
Elance - WordPress Providers

The 7 Reasons Why Traditional Financial Planning Is Dead

Have you been searching for financial direction but have yet to turn up any real solutions that apply to you? Robert Pagliarini, author of "The Other 8 Hours: Maximize Your Free Time To Create New Wealth & Purpose" and financial expert, stops by to tell us why traditional financial planning just doesn't apply in today's world.

I have a real problem with traditional financial planning. Early on in my career I did a financial plan for a client. I told them that all he had to do was to cut his cable bill, stop going on vacations, eliminate eating out, and bring a sack lunch to work every day, and that he would have enough to retire in 40 years. I said this with a straight face. He looked at me like I was a moron, and I was. I was basically saying, “Sacrifice your life for the next 40 years and then you’ll have enough money saved that you can quit working and live the same lifestyle.”

Here are the top 7 problems with traditional financial planning:

  • Sophie’s New Choice. The limitations inherent in traditional financial planning run deep and have created the dilemma I described above. It’s what I call Sophie’s New Choice. Should I skimp and save for the next 40 years so I can then squeak by in retirement or should I enjoy life a little now and pray I hit the lottery when I retire? These are your options? The choice is as subtle as Vinny asking, “Would you like it in the head or the chest?”
  • Age-related issues. You don’t have to be Dr. Oz to know that the older you get, the more health issues you face. During your prime years—the years when you are the most vibrant and healthy, you’re working. And that when you retire your health begins to deteriorate. As your years increase your energy decreases. You won’t have the same bounce in your step as you age. One retiree said, “Now that I’ve finally got the ability, I don’t have the mobility.”

Tax Deductions You Should Know About

With April right around the corner, tax season is in full swing here in the United States. While some Americans have already put the annual tax task to rest, there are millions of others, like me, who have yet to file in preparation for the April 15 deadline. Before you storm through your taxes at the last minute, take a moment to review this handy quick-list of deductions that you can make as a small business or freelancing consultant.

Deduction: Your Home Office
If you’ve set up a home office or a specific portion of your home that you regularly and exclusively use for working or as a place to meet with clients, you can claim deductions on that space. Deductions include a percentage (based on the percentage of space used in your home or apartment) of your real estate taxes, mortgage interest, rent, insurance, painting, repairs, and depreciation.

Additionally, you can deduct a portion of your utilizes for the amount you use them for work, such as Internet access, cellular phones, electricity, heat, etc. Remember, the area you claim must be exclusively used for business for it to be a deductible. For more information, visit the Form 8829 page at IRS.gov.

Deduction: Elance And Other Fees
If you’re using Elance to earn a portion or all of your income, you can actually write off any of the fees as they are a “cost to do business.” This includes monthly memberships, add-on Connects, and Elance’s service fee (6.75% to 8.75%).  Also, if your business frequently utilizes other services, like Skype or PayPal, you can also deduct those expenses as long as they are primarily used for your business.

Deduction: Travel Expenses
While you are currently unable to deduct the expenses associated with commuting to work, you can deduct costs associated with traveling from your office (or home office) to other work-related locations, like a coffee shop to meet a client, your local office supply store for business supplies, or an airplane ticket across the country for a business conference.

Get Your Company Launched At Web 2.0 2010

EDIT: The submission deadline has been extended to Monday, April 5, 2010. For more information, visit the Web 2.0 Expo Launch Pad website.

Elancers! Are you looking to get your company or idea in front of the right people at the right time to gain the support you need for success? The Elance team is sponsoring a special event at this year’s Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco dubbed “Launch Pad”, which is looking for new companies or products that will make people notice.

Interested? Here’s what you need to know:

March Provider Spotlight: Teams Of Multimillionaires

Today, in this month’s edition of the Provider Spotlight, we’re highlighting several provider teams that have passed an incredible multimillion-dollar milestone by providing a top-notch set of skills to a satisfied global client base on Elance. 

Name: Ignacio Galarraga
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Lifetime Feedback Rating: 97%
Earnings on Elance: $2.15 Million

Ignacio Galarraga and TheNetMenCorp team are an online graphic design firm that specialize in working with small businesses and start up companies to offer customized and high-quality design services. Starting on Elance back in 2002, TheNetMenCorp has crossed the $2 million dollar mark after an increase in jobs in 2005.

“We signed on Elance in 2002 and starting getting projects regularly by mid 2003. Our business really took off in 2005 when we became the top provider of the graphic design category. At the same time, we expanded into the website design and development category which added a new revenue line to our company.”

Landing Page Optimization Is The Quickest Way To Increase Revenue

A headline is just a headline, right? Not exactly. When building your website, choose your words wisely, as it may make a huge difference in your revenue stream. Beth Kirsch, Elance team member and in-house Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing expert, shares some of her insights on the mysterious world of landing page optimization, why it's so important, and tools and resources you can use.

Landing page optimization is the quickest way to increase your web site’s revenues. A visitor arrives at your web site and decides to either buy something or not. It doesn't really matter what the page looks like, and you just think the user will make their decision based product features and functionality, right? WRONG!

Did you know a couple tweaks of a headline or a simple change of a button could double your conversion rates? So, as a marketer, you can spend a lot of money doubling the number of targeted visitors arriving at your site or you can conduct some simple tests and double your landing page conversion rate. (In internet marketing, conversion rate is the ratio of visitors who convert casual content views or website visits into desired actions based on subtle or direct requests from marketers, advertisers, and content creators.)

Let’s take the example from www.whichtestwon.com by Anne Holland. Look at these two landing pages.

The only thing that changed was the headline:

2010 SXSW Highlights

South by Southwest Interactive 2010 was a place for new ideas, new connections and a whole lot of packed parties. Attendees may be overcoming their SXSW hangover that comes after days of networking, attending 9:30am panels and taking advantage of the multiple nightly happy hours. After the fog cleared and the ideas slowed enough to focus on a few I realized there were a few key takeaways for conference attendees.

Focus on Community
Every panel and convention hall conversation was incomplete without mentioning the community. The current market favors service companies that bring people together. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are useless without the thousands of users who use and promote their service. The future of web business is providing a platform to bring users together to share content. These platforms are setup so that the sum is greater than the parts. However, the big watch out for collective social media businesses is customer service.

As Gary Vaynerchuk advised, anyone in business is by default “in the customer service business.” The core of the social web is people; if you don’t serve these customers then you’re out of business. Bad care is further amplified by broadcast through channels like Twitter where a customer complaint can go viral. Potentially poisoning your company’s brand and reputation overnight.

SXSWi: The Review

I was struck, immediately upon entering the Austin Conference Center for SXSWi, that I was way behind the curve when it comes to technology. See, I’ve always considered myself somewhat tech-savvy. Although I was continually knocking passers-by about with my bulky Swiss Army laptop backpack on sudden (apparently unnervingly aggressive) pedestrian turns when a perpendicularly flashy icon would attract my flighty attention-span, I still figured I was switched on enough to intellectually navigate the figurative intricacies of the tech mob.

I’ve replaced video cards and power supplies on my desktops. I’ve upgraded motherboards. I’ve figured out driver problems all on my lonesome with no training or previous experience. Operating system reinstallations are a breeze. The brief flash of pride I undergo when I accomplish such lofty digital heights spur me on to explore new dimensions of physical intimacy within the mysteries of technology.

SXSWi taught me I actually knew nothing. It was simultaneously depressing and swarming with elation; the level of technology on display both shamed and inspired me.

Networking While Rome Burns

Bruce Sterling, the closing keynote speaker of the SXSWi 2010 Conference, is a very interesting man. A renown Hugo Award-winning science-fiction author, leader in the “cyberpunk” literary revolution, speaker, futurist and design instructor, he was born in Austin, Texas, but currently lives in Turin, Italy.

His first novel, Involution Ocean, was published in 1977 when he was but a pup of 23. Since then he has published over a dozen fiction and non-fiction books, been the instigator of three influential projects; The Dead Media Project, The Viridian Design Movement, and Embrace the Decay. He was appointed Professor at the European Graduate School in 2003, and “visionary in residence” at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California in 2005.

After briefly describing his life in Italy, he explained his belief that the current tech generation’s children are possibly the best behaved in the history of the generational concept (primarily thanks to the prevalence of social media):

“Depression, two land wars, zero in the way of predictable future and they’re still confident, and cheerful, and kindly. By the standards of the 20th century we shouldn‘t be surprised if they were setting fire to the core of every city on the planet.”

He described his love of Brazil. Brazil has a disproportionately large internet footprint when one considers their low average tech level.

The Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator Finals

Tuesday’s Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator Finals sponsored by Elance brought together a very talented and differentiated group of businesses. After thirty-two finalists went through the two minute-pitch round on Monday only twelve moved onto the finals. The presentation format jumped to five-minutes per presentation with ten minutes of question and answer. The categories and semi-finalists were:

Innovative Web Technologies: Skimble, RecycleMatch and Siri
Entertainment Technology: PocketTales, BandCentral and ShopSavvy
Business Social Media: MobileRoadie, SpredFast and GuruStorm
Personal Social Media: Bump Technologies, FoodSpotting, NutshellMail

The judges in the finals took the liberty to dig deeper into issues like scalability, competition and revenue. I had the opportunity to talk to one of the guest judges after the panel. When asked, “what makes a successful business pitch?” Famed author, social media guru and marketing expert Guy Kawasaki said, “Businesses need to address revenues.” Online social companies need to have one of two things, “either boatloads of users or a strong revenue model.”

Another word to potential pitch-contestants next year, if you have a really cool demo of your product, show it in at the beginning. Siri, the interactive personal assistant company made a 2-minute pitch before showing a real example of what their application provides. After the “oohs” and “aahhhs” of the crowd quieted down, a panelist asked the obvious question “why didn’t you start with that?” If you’re going to pitch a room full of tech-savvy entrepreneurs, demo eye-candy never hurts.