Elance Blog

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5 Best Online Swift Courses for Developers

With the launch of the Apple Watch and a new operating system, there’s a whole world of opportunity for iOS developers to integrate wearable technology with other mobile devices.Apple store and swift products

Behind all this potential lies Swift — the new programming language from Apple that could quickly replace Objective-C as the iOS coding language of choice.

Introduced in June, Swift is a programming language for Apple’s Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks that’s set to make a big shift in OS X and iOS design.

“Swift isn’t just a language. It’s a language that’s tightly woven with everything developers need to build their software,” explained Wired Magazine.

“This includes not only an integrated development environment, or IDE — an interface where coders can actually write their software — but also various other tools, such as a debugger that can help weed errors from their code.”

Swift works with Objective-C, which means developers have options. The TIOBE Index of programming languages — an interesting way to gauge developer mindset — already places Swift in the #18 slot. With iOS 8 set to roll out on Sept. 17, use of Swift is only expected to pick up.

How can you add Swift to your programming skills? Start by downloading the reference eBook directly from Apple, free on the iTunes store: The Swift Programming Language. Then, check out one of these five great courses:

Bloc: Learn Swift, Build Your First iOS Game [FREE]

Bloc is offering Swiftris, a step-by-step process that takes you through the basics of Swift in 11 segments while you build your own 2D puzzle game.

Udemy: Swift – Learn Apple’s New Programming Language by Examples [$99]

Udemy offers a self-guided course, taught by iOS developer Rick Walter, with 65+ videos divided into 11 sections.

Thinkful iOS Course: Intro to iOS Programming in Swift [$500 /mo]

Thinkful programs are delivered one-on-one with a mentor, and are designed to take three months to complete. This program aims to take you “from your first ever line of code to your first app in Apple’s App Store.”

The Mobile Makers Bootcamp: Online iOS Bootcamp [$4,200]

Online iOS Bootcamp is a full-time eight-week program. Led by instructors and working with peers, Bootcamp is an intense course that goes from coding to building an app. There are online and in-person class options.

Treehouse: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Swift [FREE]

Treehouse has a Swift course in the works; in the interim, this lengthy DIY blog post describes the basics: fundamentals, collection types, control flow, and functions.

Is there another Swift course or resource you’d recommend? Tell us about it in the comments below!


Health Benefits And Financial Programs Now Available For U.S. Freelancers

Health and finance benefits are important issues for entrepreneurs around the globe. Here is an important message from Caitlin Pearce of Freelancers Union.Health benefits website for freelancers


The world of work is changing quickly, evolving into a global economy where freelancing is the norm. Now more than ever, freelancers need a support system to help build lives of meaningful independence, where their health, finances, and the safety of their families are protected.

In the United States part of this support system is the Freelancers Union—a non-profit organization that has partnered with Elance-oDesk to launch the National Benefits Platform. This program offers benefits like health care, 401(k)s, and life, disability and liability insurance to freelancers.

Caitline Pearce of Freelancers Union

To get started, enter your zip code to search the National Benefits Platform now.

Fully searchable, the National Benefits Platform allows U.S.-based freelancers to search by zip code to see what benefits are available in their area.

This platform is being built by, and for, independent workers. We aren’t just trying to create better careers and more flexible lifestyles—we’re collaborating, connecting, and supporting each other. And together, we’re leading the way towards more stable, healthy lives.

Check out your National Benefits Platform.


About the author:

Caitlin Pearce is Senior Manager of Strategic Initiatives at Freelancers Union, the nation's largest group representing the growing independent workforce. Overseeing partnerships and new initiatives for the 250,000-member union, Caitlin is a guiding force in the union's drive to help the new workforce build a more sustainable, mutualistic society.

Summer Camp Unites Entrepreneurs and Freelancers

A summer camp for grown-ups? In August Elance-oDesk paired up with the NYC-based coworking community WeWork and their annual Summer Camp — a weekend-long event for entrepreneurs, freelancers and members of the WeWork community.WeWork and Elance-oDesk Summer Camp


With a good dose of outdoor activities, Summer Camp is part festival and part start-up/freelancer bootcamp. This year’s camp featured talks from UPS, Coach and Restoration Hardware. They spoke about everything from small company logistics and the power of brands, to creating the perfect startup culture for teams.


Hosted in upstate New York at an actual Boys & Girls Club campground, Summer Camp brought nearly 1,500 entrepreneurs and freelancers together for a break from work. It also gave them a chance to be a kid again. And, just like childhood, it was a weekend of experiences that allowed people to bond for life.


Naturally Elance-oDesk had to get in on the fun too. We organized one of the most coveted competitions at camp: the Human Skee Ball Competition. It’s a super-sized slip-n-slide, with bragging rights for the team that traveled the furthest in the air! The winning team was “Almost YouTube Famous,” who took home the trophy for the competition.


Here’s a quick video of this year’s camp:




Want to learn more? Visit http://summercamp.wework.com/ or check out #WWCAMP14 on Twitter for this year’s highlights. Plus check back for more information about how you can be a part of Summer Camp 2015.


53 Million Americans Are Freelancing, New Survey Finds


More than 53 million Americans are freelancing, according to “Freelancing in America: A National Survey of the New Workforce,” a landmark study released by Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk.

53 Million Americans Are Freelancing

The old way of working isn’t working and these professionals -- and the businesses hiring them -- are showing a new way.

Interested in reading more insights from the most comprehensive sizing of the U.S. freelance workforce in almost a decade? Find more information here:

Press release

Study results   




Wakeup Call: Surprising Tips for Surviving the New Economy

As you pour that second caffeinated beverage and focus on your upcoming workday, add this article to the top of your “to-read” list.  

Jaleh Bisharat, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Elance-oDesk, pens a regular Huffington Post column about the ongoing evolution of work. This week, she looks at surviving and thriving in our new sharing-based economy.  Here’s a sample:

“Corporate loyalty is dead. A recent survey shows that nine out of ten Millennials say they expect to stay in a job for less than three years. This translates into 15-20 jobs over the course of their working lives! Now it's about employability as opposed to employment. What does that mean? The concept of static roles is fading into the past. They will be thinking, "what skills do I need?" instead of "what role will I have for the next 10 years?" And will constantly ask, "Am I at the top of my game, or is the field shifting?"

Go here to learn more about the five disruptions that are driving the talent-sharing economy, and how they’re changing the way we work and live.


About Jaleh Bisharat, Senior Vice President of Marketing

Jaleh Bisharat, Elance-oDesk’s Senior Vice President Marketing, is a seasoned marketing executive with a history of growing startups into vibrant brands that inspire passion in their customers. Before joining Elance-oDesk, she was the Vice President of Marketing at several innovative companies including OpenTable, Jawbone, and Amazon.com, and also served on the Board of Directors at OpenTable and Homestead Technologies. Jaleh received a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Government from Harvard-Radcliffe and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Free eBook: Your Launch Pad To World-Class Distributed Engineering Teams

Looking to win the talent war? Distributed engineering may be your ticket to success.

Which is why we’re thrilled to introduce Hire Fast & Build Things, a new eBook written by Elance-oDesk Senior VP of Engineering and Product, Stephane Kasriel. A comprehensive guide on how to find, hire and manage a top-notch team of distributed engineers, which you can download as a PDF for free or grab it to go on Kindle for just $2.99.

Step-by-step guide to distributed engineering teams.

Businesses are abuzz over distributed engineering as a way to hire world-class developers, blending teams of full-time onsite staff with freelance engineers spread out across the globe. And because Elance-oDesk was built using engineering talent from around the world, distributed engineering is baked into our corporate DNA—making this a natural subject for Stephane to write about.

Hire Fast & Build Things features a plethora of valuable information, including:

• Advantages of a distributed engineering team

• Structuring your remote team

• Building a shared infrastructure

• Examples and case studies

• Top insights and tips for instant success

The informative eBook goes into great detail on how to put your team together, gleaned from Stephane’s real-world experience building teams on Elance-oDesk. Get your free copy.

Advice From An Elancer (Volume 24)

Welcome to Advice From An Elancer—a place to find answers to your burning questions about Elance. My name is Dorothy D. and I have worked with Elance as a freelancer since April 2009. My goal is to help fellow Elancers understand how things work and how to accomplish more.

LinkedIn: Join a Group and Make Connections

Many people think LinkedIn is merely a place to rack up connections with colleagues, professionals in various fields, and, of course, friends. Beyond that, they have no real idea of what the benefits are, or what to do with their membership. Let’s talk about that, beginning with groups.

One of the most important and beneficial options on LinkedIn is groups. There are literally thousands of groups related to every business you can think of, including web programmers, developers, app developers, and more. If you search “Elance” in groups, you will find more than one entry. The Elance Professional Network is the only official group. Elance monitors this group and often assists with issues that people encounter.

The group is comprised of Elance members, including clients and freelancers. The result is intelligent conversation, advice, and a great networking tool. You will find that questions are answered with thoughtful replies and that everyone is very respectful. I personally am very active in the group and often try to offer my knowledge.

If you are looking for a new way to find out more about Elance, go to The Elance Professional Network group and ask to join. I believe you will find it very useful, and a good companion to the Elance Water Cooler.

In general, LinkedIn groups are great places to interact with others who share your professional skills and interests. I have earned jobs on Elance from my connections on LinkedIn, and have met a huge number of professionals through my connections in the Elance group!

LinkedIn has a free membership option and offers a great page for you to highlight your professional experiences. It is menu-driven and has sections to add volunteer work, certifications, and more. Once you complete your page, you will find that you can use some of the information to update your Elance profile or resume. It is very thorough. You can complete, or skip, any of the optional sections.

A few hints: Use a professional-looking image for your photo. A selfie on the beach or posing with duck lips just won’t work here. Also, join several groups and post in those that interest you. This will lead to connections with others. Definitely join in the conversations in the Elance group. Do not request to connect with people you do not know. Too many of these requests will result in complaints and suspension of accounts. If you are in a group together, it is considered appropriate to “link.”

The best way to get started is to create your LinkedIn profile (if you don’t have one already) and join the Elance group. You will find the group welcoming, the information useful, and the conversation interesting. Join us and say hello.

Safeguarding for a better workplace


Dear Elance Community,


About a year ago I introduced myself to talk about some of the programs the Trust and Safety Team was developing. Our charter is to continuously improve and maintain a safe and trusted workplace. Over the coming months I will be reaching out to share updates that will help our community continue to grow and thrive.


I’m writing to let you know that this week we will begin closing the accounts of a small number of community members with a history of consistently poor performance, and will initiate the review of additional accounts. Careful consideration went into the decision to take action against these active members' accounts. We evaluated the entire work history of freelancers who had multiple contracts that resulted in client concerns, poor feedback and disputes. While we recognize that satisfying all clients all the time is not realistic, consistently poor performers weaken the reputation and growth potential of our entire community.Jeff Chen photo

Ultimately, we feel these actions will benefit the vast majority and maximize opportunities for the many great members of our professional community. Freelancers who continue to deliver good client experiences and follow the Elance Code of Conduct will not be impacted. For freelancers in the affected groups, please know that we did not make this decision lightly. Notifications will be sent via email and you can find more information here.

We understand that no process is perfect, including this one, and always welcome your feedback on how we can improve.

Thank you for helping us build a trusted workplace. Please stay tuned for more updates from my team.




Fishing For Great Clients? Why Freelancing Makes More Sense Than SEO

Occasionally we invite entrepreneurs to discuss issues of importance to our community. Here are some thoughts from Matt Keener, author of the book, Executive in Sweatpants: A Handbook for Launching Your Work from Home Career.


As a highly talented solopreneur with awesome skills, you shouldn’t waste time and money on SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

There, I said it. As someone who spends his day helping businesses achieve better rankings on search engines, this may come as a surprise to you.

Sure, being #1 on Google can help you yield huge rewards. But do you know how to get there? If so, do you have the resources needed to capitalize on the situation?

There’s a better way to find clients: Online marketplaces such as Elance and oDesk. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at lead generation from SEO vs. online marketplaces.

The problem with SEO for solopreneurs

Getting your business found on Google, Bing, and Yahoo! isn’t an easy process. In fact, it’s extremely challenging in today’s tech-driven business environment.

There are many factors that contribute to appearing in search results, including the need for a high-performance website (quick load time, mobile-friendly design, well-written code), tons of original, useful content (blog posts, videos, guides), backlinks from high-visibility websites, and continuous optimization (indexing analysis, keyword tracking, SEO testing) from your webmaster. In addition, many experts believe that your website’s age contributes to where you appear in the search results. Older and more proven domains typically get preference over newer ones.

As you might imagine, it takes a significant investment in time and money to do all of this the right way. If you’re just getting started as a self-marketer, you’ll probably have more time to invest than money. And if you’re not an expert in SEO, you’ll have to become one to be found online.

For example, let’s imagine you’re a mobile app developer. If your strategy is to attract clients via SEO, here are the minimum steps you’d have to follow to have a chance:

·       Acquire a web domain

·       Decide on your preferred content management system (WordPress, Joomla, etc.)

·       Purchase a web template (or have one designed from scratch)

·       Research keywords to find out what clients search for when looking for graphic designers

·       Plan out and write your web page content (on-page content, meta information, URLs)

·       Purchase stock photos to make your site interesting

·       Create a portfolio to show past examples

·       Take your site live

·       Submit your site to Google and Bing webmaster accounts

·       Install Google Analytics to track traffic trends

·       Plan and commit to a blogging strategy (content is what attracts new prospects)

·       Continuously optimize the performance of your website

·       Monitor traffic and keywords for new SEO opportunities

Is that how you want to spend your time? Probably not. The goal is to win clients, not win an award for online marketing prowess.

A better solution: Online workplaces such as Elance-oDesk

Freelance marketplaces streamline the client-winning process. Instead of wasting time trying to attract people to your own website, you can instantly connect with hundreds of prospects actively seeking professionals like yourself. Whether you use Elance or oDesk, you can be up-and-running in a few hours or less. In a nutshell, here’s what you need to do:

Raising Startup Funds? Here’s Food For Thought

Occasionally we invite clients to discuss issues of importance to those who work with freelancers on Elance-oDesk. Here are some additional thoughts from Nicholas Wright. He frequently hires freelancers and is one of the founders of AppInstruct, an online course that teaches people how to make an app utilizing the Elance-oDesk platforms.


Earlier posts in this series have looked at:

How to turn your idea for a new mobile app into an working app

Exploring the concept of minimum viable product

Tips on how the start-up fundraising process works

Equity and control options

This week we’ll run through the two main methods of fundraising for your startup—shares (equity) and convertible notes (debt). We’ll also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

Shares and equity

Equity (or shares in the company) is the most common method of raising investment for a startup. It’s also likely to be a concept you are familiar with. In exchange for investing a certain amount of money, investors are issued a set number of shares at a certain value per share—such as $1 per share. 

The principal problem faced by founders and investors alike with this approach is agreeing what the company is worth—especially since the startup is yet to launch its product, much less earn any revenue. This valuation is critical, as it determines how large a piece of the company everyone (founders and investors alike) will own, once the investment is received and the shares issued. 

By way of a simple example, if the company raises $500,000 (a standard-sized pre-launch investment ‘seed’ round) at a pre-money valuation of $2 million, after the investment your investors will own 20% and the founders 80% (the seed money is added to the valuation, meaning a post-money company valuation of $2.5 million).

If the company raises $500,000 at a pre-money valuation of $4.5 million, then those same investors will only own 10% of the company post-money. Hence, they would own half the portion of the company at the lower valuation.

This means that there may be a need for a significant amount of negotiation between the founders and investors. This negotiation will consume valuable time from the founders—energy that could otherwise be focused on getting the company’s product perfected.

The other factor with equity is that upon issuing it, there will normally be significant negotiation as to who has control over the company and its decision making. While there are accepted parameters around these negotiations, the need for them often means that an equity investment might take 6-8 weeks to finalize once the investors commit to investing by signing a term sheet. In most cases, during that time period there remains a risk to the company and the founders that the investment will not be finalized and the funds not released.

Convertible notes—debt

Convertible notes differ from equity in that they are a debt instrument. That is, they don’t immediately confer on the investor a share in the company. Instead, they provide the investor with a right for the note to be converted into equity (upon the occurrence of a pre-determined event—normally the company raising a certain amount of funding by way of a share issue). Essentially, they provide a future right to a share in the company, but not immediate ownership of that share.