Elance Blog

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Elance Goes To Freelance Camp

On August 15, amidst the fires raging in Santa Cruz California, over 220 freelancers braved the smoke and the flames to attend FreelanceCamp Santa Cruz. With dusty concrete floors, unfinished drywall, and flame retardant material hanging from the ceilings, this unconventional venue fit perfectly with the informal and unassuming conference.

Elance was a proud sponsor of the event, which is dubbed an “unconference” because it is almost entirely user generated. What's an "unconference" you ask? Someone takes the lead in coordinating the event (in this case Shane Pearlman), but all topics discussed are created and voted on by the attendees. Once the topics are decided, everyone splits up, huddles in various corners, and draws upon the collective experience of each other.

I ran one session on how to win new clients in an online marketplace. Starting out online with no track-record can be tough, so we discussed ways to win those initial clients. This included great discussions on topics like bidding early to get listed on top, asking relevant questions that demonstrate expertise and engage the prospective client in a dialogue, focusing your proposal and profile in a very specific niche where you can differentiate, starting small to get some early wins and feedback, and not necessarily competing on price as less than 10% of the overall spend on Elance was initially awarded to the lowest proposal – although it may be necessary to compete more aggressively at first.

We also studied some use-cases of providers that have established such a strong online reputation with great feedback and repeat clients that they receive many of their jobs directly from clients inviting them instead of through the competitive bid process. But the start-up phase can be tough and does require that up-front investment to get established. Another strategy discussed is bringing your existing clients to Elance to start building that track record and online reputation.

I also attended sessions and listened to the issues and challenges that freelancers face in their businesses on a day-to-day basis. Topics varied as widely as the attendees themselves; from marketing your services and finding clients to pricing to managing projects effectively to collecting payment when due. Other sessions focused more specifically on leveraging social media in your business, object-oriented programming, retirement planning, and taxes. It seemed every field was represented from web development professionals, to accountants, to writers and editors, to graphic designers, and many more.

Step Up Your Web Typography With These Tips

As a Multimedia Journalism major way back in my college years, part of the required curriculum was to take a semester long course covering one single topic: Typography. At the time, I thought to myself, “A WHOLE semester? On just typography?”

I learned very quickly that there’s a lot more to learn in the world of typography than “Times New Roman” and “Font Size”.

With blogging and user-generated content constantly growing on the web at record pace, the importance of typography is grows as well. You could have the most relevant, pertinent information on the web, but if it doesn't look good (or at least half decent), no one will want to read it. Michael Owens over at Net Tuts+ recently published a fantastic article that provides a solid crash course on improving your web typography. Now, I won’t say this will replace a semester long course at your favorite alma mater, but this list is definitely handy for web developers or anyone else that wants to make their web text pop out a little bit more.

Here are my two favorite items from the article (via Net Tuts+):

1. Typographic definitions: This section covers a ton of the basic definitions and lingo you need to understand before moving forward. This section covers ascenders, baselines, cap height, descenders, kerning, leading, letter spacing, ligatures, line height, measure, rendering, weight, word spacing, and X-height. (Whew!) All these definitions should be etched into your memory, so break out the flash cards if you have to. Trust me, it’s worth it.

How $800 Turned Into Thousands For Jessica Abroms

If you’re anything like me, you can’t help but smile at a good story, and boy do I have a story for you.

While stumbling around the Twitter-verse, I came across a story titled “How Jessica Abroms Made Thousands from an $800 iPhone App” (via Yappler). I clicked through, intrigued.

It turns out that the entrepreneurial Jessica Abroms had combined her Computer Science and Human Computer Interaction skills, 8 years of work experience at Pixar animation studios (yes, that Pixar), and a skilled provider on Elance to make one of her ideas for an iPhone app a reality.

The idea is a new, digital take on an old fortune-telling game many of us used to play in our adolescence: M.A.S.H. (Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House.) While working on her project, she encountered a roadblock, and looked to Elance for some help.

From Yappler: “The interface was up and running after two weeks work, however Jessica says 'I was at a point where I was a little stuck and although I knew I could finish it, I figured it would be better if I got help.' This is when she went to Elance.com, a website where freelancers bid on projects, and placed an advert for a developer to help finish M.A.S.H.”

Elance Work System Part 3: Reviewing Proposals

This is a continuation of the Hands-On With The Elance Work System by Matt Katsaros. To read the previous part, follow this link here: Hands-On With The Elance Work System: Part 2.



Review Process

Within just ten minutes of posting my job, I started to receive proposals (1) and messages from many different providers all over the world, and so my homework begins…

This step is extremely crucial in the process of getting your job completed. It can sometimes mean the difference between just getting it done and getting it done right, so do your research and fully qualify your provider before moving forward.

Since every project is different and has different requirements, what you want to look for in your provider may be a little different than what I may looking for, but there are a few common areas that you should look through. Here are some of the key things I look for in my provider. (For more tips on reviewing provider profiles, check out this blog post - How To Review A Provider Profile.)


How To Manage Multiple Freelance Projects

Ahhhh, the life of a skilled contractor or freelance professional is a great one, but before you know it, things can heat up quick. Soon, you're getting awarded job after job from a crowd of clients ready and waiting to pay you for your skills. Sound hectic? Sometimes, it can be. Christopher Null, a freelance writer that contributes to Yahoo! Tech, Filmcritic.com, Drinkhacker.com, Wired, PCWorld, and more, gives us his tips on how he stays sharp and on top of his hectic work life.

In a perfect world, you'd take a single assignment, work on it for a month, collect your fee when you turn it in, and move on to the next job. But realistically that kind of stability is rare – and largely unheard-of – in the freelance world.

Jobs come in at unpredictable intervals, deadlines change, projects are abruptly postponed or canceled, and you're stuck in the middle of it, trying to figure out how to manage it all.

Managing multiple and complex projects can overwhelm some people, but it doesn't have to. With careful attention to organization, you can keep your assignments on track, hit your deadlines, make your clients happy, and still have time for the occasional cup of coffee.

Different techniques will work better for different types of workers, so I can't offer a one-size-fits-all solution to keeping multiple projects on track. Still, here are some strategies and technologies that have worked for me and which I hope will also help you.

Leveraging Your Calendar

Calling All Writers! Get Featured On The Elance Blog And Get Paid

We’ve been hard at work making improvements to our blog both in the features and content department, but for some reason, we here at Elance have a feeling in our gut that we’re still missing something.

You!

Starting now and happening once a month, we’ll be publishing a blog article written by you, the true experts of getting online work done. Not only do you get a little time in the limelight (and some promotion in the monthly Elancer and links back to your profile page), but we’ll also be paying you for your hard work by giving you $200 per article in cold hard cash.

Now before you fire up your trusty word processor and start crafting words together, there are a few things you should know before you get started.

Elance Work System Part 2: Finding And Inviting Providers

This is a continuation of the Hands-On With The Elance Work System by Matt Katsaros. To read the first part, follow this link here: Hands-On With The Elance Work System: Part 1.

Fork In The Road

Now that I've got my job posted on Elance and ready to go, I'm feeling pretty good, but at this point, I have two options. The first is to sit back and take a breather – proposals to take on my job should start rolling in within hours (and sometimes minutes.) The proposals are coming from providers surfing the site 24 hours a day from all over the world. However, if you want to take full advantage of what Elance has to offer, you should spend some time searching for that perfect provider for your job. This step isn’t necessary as you will receive plenty of high-quality proposals on your job post, but finding and inviting people to submit proposals is definitely time well spent.



Now, there are many different ways to go about searching for providers, so learn about all of your options, play around with all of the tools, and do what feels best for you.

August Elance Work Index: Return Of The King

Elance, where companies find, hire, manage and pay contractors online, today released its August edition of the “Elance Work Index”, ranking the Top 100 skills in today’s online labor market. Derived from data from more than 100,000 jobs posted on Elance in recent months, the Elance Work Index is a leading market indicator for online work tracking the hiring trends of the 60,000-plus companies that actively hire contractors on Elance to get work done.

This month’s Elance Work Index reinforces the insatiable need for IT and marketing expertise with graphic design, open source technologies, and online marketing skills topping the charts. Notable trends from this month’s Index include:
 

  • Design of the Times: Graphic Design (#1) has regained the top spot in the Index trumping PHP (#2) which had held the pole position the past four consecutive months.
     
  • Tech Still Trumps: Technology hiring trends continue to reaffirm the open-source movement with PHP (#2), MySQL (#3), Joomla! (#8) firmly entrenched in the Top 10.
     

Microsoft Heats Up The Mobile App Wars

With Apple, Palm, and Google claiming their share of the lucrative mobile application pie, it’s easy to say that little apps equals big, big business.

Then there’s Microsoft.

Currently sitting on the outside, the big M is looking in with hungry eyes, and its intentions are clear. In addition to developing an upcoming mobile application store, the software development giant recently published a new case study on the Microsoft Developer Network website that details the process of porting a complex iPhone app onto the Windows Mobile platform.

The application detailed in the project, “Amplitude”, is an iPhone app that takes any sound in the phone’s surroundings, quiet or loud, and amplifies it while displaying a graphical waveform of said sound. According to PCWorld, Amplitude can pick up sounds not normally audible to the ear and amplify them, such as heartbeats. Inspector Gadget, eat your heart out.

Hands-On With The Elance Work System: Part 1

Hi. I'm Matt Katsaros and I've been using Elance to get work done online for quite some time. Today, however, I'll be doing something a little bit different. You and I both know how Elance works to some extent, thanks to documentation and word of mouth testimony. Post a job, find a provider, complete the job, pay for the work, leave feedback... you know, the whole nine yards. In reality though, it's one thing to know how something works, and it's a another thing to see the beast in action.

This is where I conveniently come in.

I'll be taking you through my personal experience getting a job done on Elance, step-by-step in a multi-part blog series. You'll see everything I encounter from day one to day end, whenever the job wraps up. Now, a little background about myself.

I founded and currently run a company helping small-to-mid sized businesses gain exposure online mainly through the development of websites. I found Elance and quickly realized I could tap into a huge force of people when needed; Elance has thousands of web developers that I could hire at any time that could help me build the sites my clients need.

Recently, one of my long time clients, Jim Willenborg, founder and chairman of Cloud Telecomputers, called me for a new project. He explained that they were preparing to publicly announce their new product, The Glass, a new Google Android-based IP phone for the office. Their current website was in need of a major a face lift as well as some fresh new content to mark the event of this product launch. Business has been busy for myself and my company, and unfortunately, all of our programmers are occupied with other jobs. However, I didn’t want to turn Jim away since he’s been a long running client of mine, so I decided that this was the perfect job that I could source out to Elance and manage the progress of it to make sure we provided Jim with a great site.

When I took a peek at the old site, it reminded me of prehistoric cave drawings meets the Internet. Loading up the homepage brings up some basic Arial text, a logo, and a snooze-worthy picture of a cloud-filled sky. For a company launching what could be the next big technological innovation, a site that looks like it’s from the ‘90s isn’t going to cut it.

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