Elance Blog

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8 Rules To Turn $11,558 Into $100 Million

According to some, finding success isn't overly complicated – all it takes is adding a few simple rules to your working life. Robert Pagliarani, author of The Other 8 Hours: Maximize Your Free Time to Create New Wealth & Purpose, shares how a few rules turned one movie on a micro budget into a multi-million dollar success.

Life comes down to the decisions you make. Oren Peli was faced with a decision not too long ago. Fortunately for Oren, he decided to take a risk. Even though he didn’t live in Hollywood, had nothing more than an idea, and was working as a videogame programmer, he decided to make a little movie.

You can watch Oren’s movie if you’d like. It’s not on YouTube though. If you want to see Oren’s film, check your local megaplex.

Oren’s film is called Paranormal Activity. It’s been called “One of the scariest movies of all time,” but the most shocking thing about this movie doesn’t happen on the screen. Nope, the most shocking thing about this film is that it cost $11,558 to make and it has grossed over $100 million. I’m writing this late at night, but that is not a typo. If I tried to figure out the return on this film, I think my trusty HP 12C calculator would start smoking.

I bet you’ve got an idea. Maybe not for a movie, but you’ve got an idea for something. A software application? An eBook? A website? An invention? You’ve probably had it for some time. You think about it often, especially after a tough day at work. You cling to it, fantasizing that someday you’ll get around to it.

I know what you’re thinking . . . “Sure, I’ve got an idea, but I’m not Oren.” You’re not Oren, but you can learn from what he’s done. Follow these rules:

First Time Jobless Claims Rise Unexpectedly – Hmmmm!

What's the story with the job market in 2010? Although there are employment numbers flying everywhere each month, one thing is for certain: More people are working online than ever before. Julie Trade Levitch, a skilled marketing, public relations, and content creating provider and finalist in the New Way To Work contest, shares her insight on the job market and what she predicts might be down the road in the future. (Republished from TheEntrepreneurialMom's Blog)

With today’s Labor Department announcement that unemployment claims rose by 8,000 last week, the writing on the wall for workers becomes even clearer. Layoffs are continuing, and jobs are still hard to come by.

As a freelancer, I have a unique perspective on the recession and unemployment. From where I sit, there is still plenty of work out there, but it’s going to us freelancers, contractors, and temporary employees. Companies are choosing, in increasing numbers, to hire people like me to work on projects over hiring full-time personnel who require benefits, offices, equipment, and steady salaries.

I’m almost embarrassed to say that I’m busier now than before the recession started. I receive inquiries from potential new clients every week who need website content, public relations assistance, or brand development. However, this bounty of work isn’t just for marketing or public relations folks like me. I peruse the freelancing site Elance everyday to search for new business opportunities and what do I see? There are more open projects out there than ever before. Work is widely available for administrative assistants, web developers, accountants, and writers. I often wonder if all of these out of work individuals have considered this option as opposed to simply sending out resumes and hoping for the best.

I can tell you from first-hand experience that the quality of freelance projects that I take has jumped up dramatically in the last two years. I have connected with some fairly large clients via Elance, including a top university needing some branding assistance and one of the world’s largest telecom companies that needed an email drip campaign. My guess is that these clients would have produced this work in-house before the recession. Now with smaller staffs and budgets, they see the value in hiring a cost-efficient contractor like me to get the job done quickly, efficiently, and with the same or higher level of quality that they would receive from an employee. Why wouldn’t an organization choose this over hiring a full-time person?

Elance On The Road: March 2010

We're hitting the road to attend some very special upcoming events next month, and we'd love for you to join us. First, as you have probably already heard, we’re heading down south during spring break to attend the SXSW 2010 Interactive festival in Austin, Texas.

South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive, taking place March 12-16,  is known to be an annual “convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies.” A lot of high profile internet companies as well as soon-to-be-high-profile startups all represent their offering to the digital world here at one of the world’s largest emerging technology conferences out there. And this year, we’re in the mix.

This year, we’ll be hosting a booth at the main conference hall, located at the Austin Convention Center in downtown Austin, with prizes and special events that you will definitely not want to miss. We’ll also be participating in this year’s Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator program by being a guest judge as well as offering special prizes to the winners.

If you’re going to be close by during the festival, feel free to stop by and say hello. And don’t forget – if you’re looking for a way to stay on top the latest action from SXSW Interactive while getting some blogger-cred, be sure to enter our SXSW Interactive blog contest here.

A Look Into The iPad SDK

In the second week of February, Apple, in it’s usual stealthy fashion, released the beta 2 version of the iPhone 3.2 SDK specifically designed for the upcoming Apple iPad hardware. Although public information regarding the new iPhone 3.2 SDK is scarce (beta developers are only allowed to access after agreeing to an NDA), there are a few known tidbits regarding the SDK that you should know if you’re an Apple developer, enthusiast, or hardcore fan.

1. For those of you thinking that the iPad looks like an overgrown iPod Touch, you’re not too far off the mark. According to many reputable sources around the ‘net, the iPad is confirmed to be running the iPhone OS, version 3.2 to be specific. However, in it’s current state, the iPhone 3.2 OS and software development kit (SDK) are specifically designed for use only on the upcoming iPad, so don’t expect to be using it on your iPhones or iPod Touches.

2. The new iPhone 3.2 OS appears to have quite a few iPad-specific features that might not ever make it to the little brothers. Since the device will be carrying a much larger screen at a higher resolution (1024x768), there are several user interface elements that will be specifically designed for the iPad.

The first, called split view, allows you to view both your email list and the message in your inbox while in landscape mode, similarly to most software and web-based email clients out there today. The other, called popovers, allows you to see a context menu which operates very much like your standard right-click (or option click for you Apple fans) on your desktop computer.

Additionally, according to Gizmodo, there appears to be a few new gesture-based interactions in iPhone OS 3.2, like two- and three-finger swipes and new touches and drags (tap and hold, tap and drag, etc.) And also in the UI department is the addition of rich text support, which allows for different fonts, sizes, and more.

PayPal Update

For a brief time on Friday, February 5, 2010, all PayPal withdrawals to India were rejected by PayPal. Elance worked closely with PayPal until the issue was resolved by close of business Friday. Since that time, all withdrawals to India have been processing normally. We are continuing to monitor the situation closely and will keep you informed of any new developments.

Elance Help

Rocket To The Top Of Google!

Everyone, and I mean everyone, wants to move up in Google. However, understanding how search engines rank websites in search results has reached a status of unsolvable enigma for a large percentage of the population. Rich Sloan, co-founder of StartupNation, and SEO expert Zeke Camusio of The Outsourcing Company share some search-engine tips and tricks in their just-released eBook series “Google Rocketship", which you can check out here.

When shopping for a product or service, 73% of consumers use search engines to find local businesses from which to buy. With more than 6 billion searches every month, who wouldn’t want their website to rank at the top of the search engines?

Gaining real estate at the top of Google and other engines is like lightening in a bottle. It can drive a boatload of traffic to your website and generate new customers for your business. Considering that 68% of searchers don’t go past the first page of search results and that nearly 40% of searchers automatically assume that high ranking businesses are leaders in their market, the business case for optimizing your website is a straightforward and convincing one.

One of the key points made in the series is that there is no magic or voodoo to search engine optimization. Instead, the best thing that you can do to juice your website’s rankings in Google is to create an amazing website that your audience loves. If you provide useful and compelling content, centered on keywords that your audience is already using when they conduct online searches, your site is bound to do better on the engines.

Let’s assume you run an appliance repair business in Seattle and you want your website to do better than its current page 15 listing in Google. What should you do?

Elance @ SXSW 2010, And We Want You!

You heard it right! Elance is heading southbound to Austin, Texas, home of longhorns, legendary bar-b-cue, live music, and the world renowned South By South West conference. We’ll be in full force hosting a booth at the main conference hall at the Austin Convention Center as well as participating in this year’s Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator program as judges and sponsors taking place at the Hilton Austin Downtown.

But this year, we won’t be able to make SXSW a success without you. Every year, new faces, cutting-edge technologies, and smarter applications surface to the world at a breakneck pace, and we need some help from some elancers to cover all of the fast-paced action. That’s why were offering two full-access SXSW Interactive badges (valued at $500 each) to two very talented blogger/social media/journalist-types to perform in-depth, hard-hitting coverage of the show as members of the Elance Team. We'll also be providing you with $300 stipend as well for your stay in Austin.

So, are you interested in attending SXSW Interactive this year? Do you have the writing and reporting chops to compete with the rest of the media? Do you eat, breathe, and live all things tech? Write a 500-750 word blog post anywhere you'd like on which technologies, companies, and influencers will be making big waves at this year’s show and send us the link at alex@elance.com. Don’t forget to submit your name, the dates you plan on being in Austin for the show, and a picture so we know who to look for if you win. Please only enter this contest if you have arrangements to attend the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas during the duration of show, and remember that we'll be looking for 2-3 blog articles per day of coverage during the Interactive festival as well as several posts of preview and after-show coverage. 

We’ll be taking entries throughout the rest of February and will be announcing the two winners and highlighting their winning entries on the Elance Blog on March 1, 2010.

Good luck, and we hope to see you in Austin!

SXSW Conference 2010
Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator at SXSW

How To Ditch Distractions And Stay Focused When Working Online

While the Internet is one of the most powerful tools to facilitate communication, distribute information, and most importantly, enable work, it’s also chock full of sports scores, viral videos, tweets and wall posts, email chain-letters, and a ton of other distractions that can negatively affect your productivity and work output. (Trust me, I know.)

Here are a few tips you can follow to help better manage your work time to stay productive while also keeping yourself happy.

1. Set The Time: Bucketing your time into various categories can really help you stay focused and become more efficient with your day. Typically, I set my work into three different groups.

First, there’s standard “work” time. While working on my general projects, I'm also available to be contacted through standard email (Outlook or your software or web client of choice), instant messenger, Skype, the Elance Workroom, work-related social media, telephone, web cam etc. This is when you get your primary communication done before getting started on your main projects.

Second, there’s “solo” time. This is where I close Outlook, close all Internet browsing windows, set my IM status to "busy", and get down to business. Some others suggest completely unplugging to get away from Internet distractions (oh YouTube, you always come calling), but I stay connected just in case there is any online reference material I need access to or if there is some emergency contact that needs to be made regarding a project. Use the combination that fits your work life best, but remember to make sure you designate some time alone to get to work.

iPad Strikes, And Elancers Are Ready

It’s been a busy week in the tech world. While some of the rumors turned out to be more fact than fiction, some other rumors failed to materialize at this week’s Apple announcement.

Yes, the iPad is real. Very real. The “magical and revolutionary device”, as Steve Jobs puts it, features a 9.7-inch LED-backlight Multi-Touch display, Wi-Fi, a custom 1GHZ processor, and a ton of other standard Apple amenities you have grown to expect.

The device, which some say is just a giant iPod Touch, is designed to present the web, email, news, apps, e-magazines, and books in a new, even more-touchable form factor. And another bonus – right out of the box, the iPad will support all 140,000 apps available at the Apple App Store.

Speaking of apps, when the newest technology, devices, and platforms strike, the Elance community is right behind it. With the Droid and an army other Android devices joining the party in 2009, there’s no doubt that mobiles have been making huge news. And it shows. The Mobile category on Elance has grown nearly 200% in payments made throughout the course of last year, and it doesn’t show any sign of slowing down, especially with the announcement of the iPad.

Consequently, within mere moments of the announcement of the iPad, we began seeing iPad related jobs being posted, and that number is continuing to grow. Within 24 hours, we saw over 20 clients posting jobs looking for skilled iPad professionals, and as of right now, we have highest number of iPad-specific job posts out there on the web.

This just goes to show you – when cutting edge technology hits, Elance is where businesses, entrepreneurs, and skilled professionals go to get work done.

The New Look And Feel Of Elance

At Elance, we’re always striving to provide you with a faster, more elegant, and more efficient platform to hire and manage over 100,000 talented online professionals. Keeping that in mind, the internal team here has been hard at work upgrading the site with new elements that will not only update the look and feel but also improve ease-of-use across Elance.

As some of you perceptive elancers may have already noticed, today, we’ve introduced a new, streamlined global navigation with a number of visual and functional improvements.

First, we’ve increased the font sized used in the main navigation as well as added several color elements to make it easier to read and quickly identify where you are currently on Elance.

Secondly, we’ve created a new “Community” drop down menu that can quickly take you to the Blog, Water Cooler, Groups, Elance University, Trust & Safety, and Trends pages. We've also added links to our Facebook and Twitter pages so you can interact with us via our favorite social media sites.

Lastly, we’ve streamlined the navigation by reducing the number of main tabs by moving the Inbox tab to the top right corner by your username, and we've replaced the Explore tab with How It Works to improve clarity. Please keep in mind that the Inbox link will only appear when you are signed in.

Give the new navigation a test drive and tell us what you think by dropping us a line in the comments below. And before we go, one more thing: As you continue working online on Elance, some of you may run across a newly designed homepage. Throughout the next couple of weeks, we'll be testing with a small portion of users several different variations of a new homepage we've been working on, so be sure to keep your eye out for it. We look forward to hearing your thoughts!