Elance Blog

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July Elance Online Work Index: Shakeup In The Top 10

As the Internet’s bellwether for online hiring trends, this month’s Elance Online Work Index once again demonstrates the corporate world’s insatiable demand for flexible access to skilled technical and creative expertise.

Drawn from data from more than 100,000 jobs that have been posted over recent months, the July Index reinforces the sustaining trends while surfacing several interesting fresh ones.

  • Holy Joomla! In the sustaining trend department, open source code expertise continues its dominant reign, with stalwarts PHP (#1) and MySQL (#4) being joined by Joomla! (#8) – skyrocketing 10 spots from June. You’ve got to love a phenomenon which is audacious enough to pull off a ‘!’ with such panache.
  • News *Flash* That buzz you hear in the newsroom is not that digital media itself continues to be on the mind of just every marketer on the planet, but more so the authoritative vault into the top 3 by both Graphic Design (#2 – leapfrogging 10 spots) and Adobe Flash (#3 – rising 6 spots). Because, as we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words.
  • The Word Is… Speaking of words, smart marketers continue to demonstrate their good sense for knowing that in addition to pixel perfect visuals, they’re desperate for effective Copywriting (up 11 spots to #23) complimented with copious amounts of keyword rich Web Content (#6) delivered by people good at Content Writing (#12) to keep their Search Engine Optimization (#21) consultant happy – whom, you should note, they’ve hired on Elance, hence the move up six slots by SEO in the Index.

Maybe The Recession Wasn’t So Bad

What is "Cloud Commuting" and what does it mean to business owners and skilled professionals like you? Gene Marks, online columnist and author of the best-selling Streetwise Small Business Book of Lists, gives us his take on the rise of the cloud commuter, the recession and its impact, and how his business and others plan to adjust in this new age of online work.

Hmmm, maybe the recession hasn’t been such a bad thing after all.

Prices have been kept in check. Many of my competitors are either struggling or out of business entirely. Industries that have been failing for decades are now reorganizing themselves. Our bankers are picking up the phone when we call them. People have stopped buying useless crap on its way to the landfill. Being a cheapskate has even become vogue.

And business owners are no longer vilified for outsourcing. In fact, it’s not even called outsourcing anymore.

It’s called Cloud Commuting.

Cloud Commuting is a refreshing upgrade from the loaded term ‘outsourcing’ which suffered from a bum rap. For years, enterprising business owners like myself have been outsourcing work and subcontracting jobs to others in order to keep our costs as low as possible and to find the best people. In fact, ‘Division of Labor’ has always been right there on the top of the syllabus for Capitalism 101, right after "Lemonade Stands" and just before "Global Expansion".

Like every red-blooded opportunist, all we’re trying to do is to produce quality products and provide excellent services as cost effectively as we can. Once upon a time we faced the scorn of the media and others who looked down their noses at us. Well, a few quarters into the Great Recession, it’s now considered virtuous for business owners like us to do everything we can to keep our fixed costs low. And those same pundits who accused us of not employing people are now embracing us for bootstrapping our way back into the game by hiring our “cloud commuters”. Go figure.

Cloud Commuting is obviously a play on the buzzword “Cloud Computing” which is how the server-room nerds are unsuspectingly describing their ultimate obsolescence as more and more technology and data gets hosted by secured and reliable central servers in the sky. But, those server-room technicians will have the last laugh, as just as the technology is migrating to remote parts, so is the work. Configure a database from Maui? Aloha!

Talk about liberating. I’ve already started telling the world that my people are “Cloud Commuters”. Even my kids think it’s cool. Maybe they’ll even let me watch “The Hills” with them. OK, maybe, not.

Tips To Manage Your Finances As A Freelancer

Managing finances as a freelancer can be overwhelming, especially considering the fickle economic climate almost everyone in the world is facing today. Big financial commitments, like buying a home, purchasing a new car, or deciding to raise a child, requires a good amount of strategic financial planning. Shane Pearlman, founder of the popular Freelance Camp and partner at Shane & Peter Inc, lays out a mathematically sound plan that you should consider if big financial commitments are within your horizon.

Can You Afford To... Buy A Home / Car / Child?

I have until 3pm today to make a final decision on whether to buy a new house and turn my current one into a rental. Alternatively, I also have the option to use the cash to refinance my current home to lower my cost of living. It's a tough questions and I have been running the numbers and agonizing the choice for weeks.

Let me start by assuring you: if you take your freelance business seriously, learn how to sell, solve the right problems, understand your finances and hone your technical skills, odds are in your favor that you will far surpass any previous employment income. It took me three years of full time freelancing to hit that point. Ten years later, I would never consider going back. We have bought 3 homes and are putting profits from my business into rental properties (my retirement plan).

What makes big purchases such as a house challenging is that (as a freelancer) our income is somewhat unpredictable. The good news, smarter people than me have build formulas that let us make some very good guesses.

How Do You Measure Your Income?

How much profit will you take home in the next six months? Many freelancers I know freeze when asked that question. Since most of our work comes word of mouth and many times I write proposals that fizzle or come to nothing, I did not have the slightest idea how to answer the question when the loan officer asked me. That night at dinner, my family was in town visiting and my father laid out a formula. Before you go grab your Weegie board, get out a piece of paper.

Skill Test Update: 14 New Tests Ready To Take You On

Now that we’ve got all the BBQ-grilling, firework-exploding, beach-volleyballing tendencies out of our systems this past weekend, we’re back and we’re hitting you with a gang of 14 new Skill Tests ready to take you on. And they are...

Central Desktop
Google Adsense
Google Website Optimizer
Negotiation Skills
Programming Aptitude
RSS 2.0
Spanish Sentence Structure
Yahoo Developer Skills – Data API’s
Yahoo Developer Skills – YAP
Zoho Creator
View All

If you haven’t heard of Google AdSense, try this on for size. AdSense is Google’s advertising platform that allows any old Joe-Shmoe-web publisher to display ads on his or her website in order to earn some bank for the traffic you bring to your site. Ads can comprise of text, images, and video, and these ads generate revenue on a per-click or pre-impression basis. And if you’re skeptical of the idea of earning income off of page views, get a load of this: Markus Frind, owner of dating site PlentyofFish.com, reportedly earned somewhere between $5 to $10 million a year by turning 1.1 billion pages a month with 45 million visitors. Do you know how much $10 million a year is? That equates to over $27,000 a day.

What's Hot In The First Wave Of Palm Pre Apps

My, time does fly quickly. It’s already been over one month since the launch of the Palm Pre, and with the Palm’s Mojo Software Development Kit out in select hands, we’re starting to see the mobile apps population grow slowly but surely. If you're kicking around a few ideas as you’re waiting for the public release of the SDK, have a look at what’s surfacing in Palm’s app store right now – it can be a good place to get inspiration, look for improvements, and conjure up new ideas, and more importantly, they’ll give you a preview of what you’re up against. (You should be able to find all of these applications in the Palm Pre App Catalog.)

Here are some of the more interesting Pre apps I’ve come across while trekking through the Palm app universe:

Pandora: If you haven’t heard about Pandora by now, your ears are in for a treat. Pandora is a web-based radio station that can take an artist you like and serve you similar artists and sounds in a streaming fashion. Trust me, the word “neat” is by far an understatement. If you’re always out and about and away from the computer, set your sights on the mobile version of Pandora, now on the Palm Pre. Give it a go on your web browser, and if you’re intrigued, set your mobile to download immediately.

mCraig: I’m a self-admitted Craigslist fiend – after all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. mCraig, which is still in beta, is a mobile app that will allow you to quickly search Craigslist and auto updates by what location you are in via GPS. Of course, if you feel like doing it the old fashioned way, you can still search by zip code. Since the software is still in beta, users are reporting that there are quite a few bugs to be kinked out, but expect the software to be continually updated until it’s fully stable.

Flightview: This is one of those apps that I don’t myself or many others using very often, but the few times a year when travel season comes around or bad weather strikes, something like this might prove to be worth having downloaded on your phone. Flightview allows you to check the status of flights that are in the air, the status of airports and their congestion, and notifications and alerts in a simple, small software application.

Why You Need Social Media Bookmarking In Your SEO Strategy

Search Engine Optimization nowadays is far more than "title tags", "meta tags", and URL formatting. In this day and age, newer techniques have been discovered to give your search ranking a little bit of a boost. One of these new techniques, called social media bookmarking, is a blazingly-hot topic in the SEO world today. We've asked SEO expert Jason Gorham, CEO of SharkStrike.com, to give us a quick tour on why social media bookmarking needs to be a part of your search engine optimization strategy right now. And if Search Engine Optimization is a completely foreign string of words for you, check out our SEO blog post by Alex McArthur, VP of OrangeSoda for a little bit of an introduction.

Way back in what seemed like the stone age when I began my Search Engine Optimization (SEO) career, I remember having to create as many links and back-links I could in order to increase my position in all of the major search engines. The process of linking and back-linking is a long, drawn-out process – daunting is the first word that comes to mind. In order to create back-links, you have to complete this unsightly laundry list of chores. Don't believe me? See for yourself:

  1. You have to understand who you want a back-link from. This is considered audience/website research.
  2. In order to gain a back-link to that site you have to find out who the site owner is.
  3. After the owner is recognized, you must contact the owner via email.
  4. Propose your link trade/exchange.
  5. Create a link to their site on yours.
  6. Have them create a back-link to you.
  7. Manage links and back-links to make sure your links are still active on their site.
  8. Rinse and repeat.

What Are You Celebrating This Weekend?

Scorching weather, the smell of charcoal burning on BBQ grills, and the booming explosions of fireworks can only mean one thing: Summer is officially in full swing, and with that comes the Fourth of July, a day where Americans nationwide will be celebrating our nation’s 233rd birthday and independence as a sovereign nation.

But our nation’s birthday isn’t the only cause for celebration on the fourth – it’s the idea behind independence that has professionals worldwide celebrating.

Providers, here’s some food for thought: In the U.S. job market today, roughly 42 million workers are independent contractors, part-time or temporary staffers, and/or are self employed, and with over 300 million people alive in the states, that means almost one out of every eight Americans holds one of the aforementioned titles. If you’re a freelancer, contractor, consultant, or anything in between, this means you!

The shift to online work as a professional job becomes more apparent with each day that passes. As communication and internet technologies continue to become faster, more stable, and more ubiquitous in society (and as the economy continues to prove that it’s not the most stable of entities), one can only expect the 42 million to grow at a brisk pace. And when you consider the advancements in online work tools, maybe the word “brisk” will be too much of an understatement.

How To Find And Invite The Best Providers

Whether you’re a seasoned employer here on Elance or a fresh face posting a job for the first time, one of the most crucial parts (possibly the most crucial) of conducting online work is selecting the expert provider that fits your job best. Everyone has their different methods when perusing through the tens of thousands of providers on Elance, but if you’re feeling a little lost, this guide will help you find and invite the provider you need for your next project.

Before We Proceed…

If you’re relatively new to Elance and haven’t gotten much hiring under your belt, be sure to familiarize yourself with our post, “How To Review A Provider Profile”. This guide covers the most important factors you should consider when reviewing and selecting a provider, including skills information, feedback, portfolio, keywords, and summary. Properly vetting your providers during the selection process will ensure you get the highest quality work and help you immensely when you’re conducting work online. Now, on with the show!

Job Posted And Ready To Rock

Once you’ve posted your job, you’ll probably see an influx of proposals from providers surfing through listings that include yours along with the thousands of other job posts on Elance. That's all fine and dandy, but it isn’t a bad idea to do a little surfing yourself – search is your friend, and it’s the first step in finding THE provider that fits your needs. Let’s say I have a killer idea for a new iPhone application, and I need an expert right now that will take the utmost care with my top-secret project. Simply type in “iPhone Application” in the search engine, and you’ll get a ton of providers delivered to you instantly:

As of right now, the term “iPhone Application” yields a whopping 914 professionals. You and I both know that you don’t have time to look through each and every one of the 914 profiles, so we need to cut this list down to size. By using a variety of filtering tools available on Elance, you can easily whittle down a big number of providers to a more manageable size.

Without Further Adieu, The Palm Mojo Development Skill Test

Beating sales expectations with 300,000 units sold to date, Palm’s strong Pre-release looks to have initially won the hearts of techies and web developers nationwide. But if you think the dust has settled, think again – we’re only in the quiet before the storm.

The pool of developers is expected to increase quickly with the upcoming public release of the highly-anticipated Software Development Kit, and the second it's out in the wild, we want you to prove to the world that when it comes to the Palm Pre and WebOS, you are the expert. We’re the only place around that's got the Palm Mojo Development Skill Test, so brush up on your HTML 5, JavaScript, and CSS, and show that you’re one of the first skilled experts that can handle their Mojo.

Itching to get your hands on the SDK? Palm has expanded access to the Mojo SDK — head on over to Palm's developer site and apply now.

Elance - Palm Mojo Development Skill Test
Elance - Battle Royale: iPhone, Pre, Android, BlackBerry, And Windows Mobile
Palm - Palm Developer Network

Want To Be Part Of Something? Join An Elance Group

Saying you’re a professional provider at such-and-such technology is one thing. Differentiating yourself as an affiliated expert provider in an officially branded group is another — a totally different animal, to be more precise. With the introduction of Elance Groups, the latter is now a reality.

Here’s the rundown: Nearly a dozen companies at launch with many more on their way have worked with us to organize sub-communities on Elance where qualifying providers gain membership to a branded 'group' and enjoy the benefits of recognition. Each group has its own membership requirement, which can vary from passing a specific Elance Skill Test (e.g. Microsoft Office Access) to providing proof of a 3rd party credential (e.g. PayPal Certified Developers).

Here’s an example: Say you’re a graphic designer very well-versed in Photoshop. Your skills are sharp, and you decide you want to join the Adobe Photoshop Experts group, which in this case requires passing Elance's Adobe Photoshop CS4 Skill Test. You pass, join the group, and next thing you know, you have a shiny new badge on your provider profile page for all to see.

Let’s check the flipside of the equation: As an employer, one of the features of groups is that you’ll be able to instantly recognize providers who have made the effort to demonstrate their specific skills, making it easier than ever to find somoene with the skills you are looking for.

Check out the groups directory in the new 'Browse' section, where it's easier than ever to shop for talent that you need. Got an idea for a new group? Drop us a note at groups (at) elance.com.