Elance Blog

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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.

Elance Introduces The Online Talent Report

Freelancers, contract professionals, entrepreneurs, business owners, and large corporations are utilizing a variety of technologies to connect with others, collaborate on projects, and complete jobs all through the web. This is online work.

Since its inception, the idea of working online and collaborating with others through the Internet has been growing at an immeasurable pace. This is why we're introducing the Online Talent Report, a compilation of data and statistics that displays the impact of online work, the hottest skills in demand, and the latest geographic hot spots for hiring online.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of people who are self-employed increased to roughly 42 million at the end of 2009. Data introduced today by Elance shows its online talent pool made more than $70 million in 2009 – a 45 percent increase for US service providers alone since the beginning of last year. Businesses hiring on Elance grew at a dramatic rate – up more than 40 percent since 2008 while total earnings by people working on Elance passed $245,000,000. The trends demonstrate that online talent is an important employment segment. The labor market increasingly involves flexible work arrangements, self-employed workers and a shift to online workplaces.

The findings reveal that in the U.S., all 50 states are now earning income digitally through the Internet. California, Texas and New York rank as the top three states for US provider earnings in 2009, while New York, San Francisco and Dallas were featured among the top high-earning cities. While online work has officially gone coast-to-coast, the variety of skills available in this talent pool is just as expansive. In 2009, the top three skill categories on Elance were IT, Creative and Marketing. In January of this year alone, businesses posted more than 32,000 new jobs reflecting an increasing demand of skills in these areas. Some emerging trends for skills in demand so far in 2010 include:

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.