Elance Blog

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The New Way To Work Highlight: Victor Cheng

It’s October, and that means we’re about a third of the way in to our “The New Way To Work” contest. Our Facebook Fan Page and the #new_way_to_work hash tag are heating up, and we’ve already seen a number of great submissions come through (expect a lot more highlights coming soon.)

Today, we’re spotlighting an entry from “America’s Business Coach” Victor Cheng. His written blog entry dissects what The New Way To Work means to him personally, how it affects the “Traditional Success Paradigm”, how you can define your own new way to work, and how you and make the transition. Here’s an excerpt (from www.victorcheng.com):

A New Way to Work – Shatters the Traditional Success Paradigm

If money doesn't buy happiness and money doesn't even buy more free time, then what's the point of focusing exclusively on making more money? And if it's pointless to focus only on making more money, then what else should one focus on instead?

After reflecting on this one for a while that I came up with the concept of the Lifestyle Business — which is really an entirely new way to work.

In a traditional business, the entrepreneur works like a dog and whatever time and energy she has left over is devoted to her personal life. And surprise, surprise, the entrepreneur has the rude awakening one day that she has no life!

San Francisco Meets "The New Way To Work"

This past Tuesday, the Elance team took the 50-minute trip up highway 101 to go from sunny Mountain View to the bustling city of San Francisco for two very special events.

The sixth floor of the Small Business Administration building in downtown San Francisco was where we held our first event of the day, otherwise known as Elance 101 – How To Find, Hire, Manage, and Pay Online Experts To Get Work Done. The event was a two-and-a-half hour working session showing potential users the benefits of using Elance to get the work they need done as well as a real-live demo.

Jackie Pettus, founder of productivity / e-commerce site Habitudes.info, volunteered her business to be under the microscope and be the case study for our workshop. After searching high and low for answers, Jackie was in dire need of a revamped Search Engine Optimization strategy. Together, we performed a real-time play-by-play of how to post a job on Elance, what happens immediately thereafter, and how you use the features of the Workroom to manage and pay experts to get the job done.

Immediately after, we packed our things and headed down to the SOMA district for our first-ever Elance “Meet and Tweet”. Providers, employers, and fresh faces all joined us at Varnish Fine Art to unwind, have a glass of wine, and talk about “The New Way To Work”. Check out the festivities over at Flickr. (Huge thanks to Michael O ‘Donnell for the fabulous photography.)

Miss out? The Elance Team is planning on hitting BizTechDay later this month. For more information, visit the BizTechDay homepage – you won’t want to miss it.

A Message To Our Community

Many of you in our community are already aware of the several natural disasters in Southeast Asia affecting millions, namely the recent earthquake in Indonesia and the series of typhoons hitting the Philippines and other countries in the area.

As the Elance community truly is a global one, events like the recent natural disasters are felt all over the world, online as well as offline.

To all of our Elance providers currently in the region: Our thoughts are with you in this unfortunate time. We hope that you and your family are safe and unaffected by the natural disasters.

We have notified your clients that there may be a disruption in communication this week due to the disasters. If you have access to the Internet, please log in to Elance and let your customers know of your status.

To all of our Elance employers currently engaged with providers in the region:
Due to the recent natural disasters, there may be a disruption in communication with your provider.

We have sent a message to providers who have potentially been affected requesting that they contact their clients. However, on the behalf of affected providers, we request your patience during this time. If you are experiencing significant delays in your project, please contact us directly and we will do whatever we can to assist.

Our hearts and thoughts go out to all of those affected in Southeast Asia.

Fabio Rosati
CEO, Elance

Authenticity: A Key Trend In Marketing

In a world where market trends change by the millisecond, it's difficult to stay on top of what technologies, services, and other external forces are affecting business trends today. Rich Sloan, co-founder of StartupNation and its "Home-Based 100" contest, gives us a quick peek in to his latest findings in the StartupNation Q3 Marketing Trends e-Report.

One of the hallmark trends we’ve highlighted in the just-released StartupNation Q3 Marketing Trends e-Report is the value and effectiveness of “authenticity.” People are tired of being “marketed to.” Instead, they want to connect with real people and real companies that care about the world and care about people.

Part of this may be driven by the plummeting economy, providing people an opportunity to reflect on what really matters in their lives. With an economic downturn, it’s natural to hunker down, spend less and look for real meaning in what we do.

And with the proliferation of social media and social networking platforms, the online conversation is growing louder and louder. In such an environment, it’s difficult for any company to hide behind its walls and present a faceless voice.

Instead, you would be wise to adapt to the trends of openness and authenticity and to show your customers the real you.

This trend is evidenced in the way that company leaders are getting involved in the online discussion through Facebook, Twitter and other similar online vehicles. As examples, look at the success of Tim Berry, President of Palo Alto Software, or of Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, both of whom blog and Tweet regularly.

Similarly, look at the success of StartupNation member Heather Nolte, founder of the baby clothing company Glamajama. Heather is the face of the company, appearing in numerous YouTube videos, maintaining a Twitter feed and Facebook page, and blogging for StartupNation and Mom’s Can Launch.

Microsoft Ignites Elance Web Pros

Web architects, Web development teams, and Web designers, lend me your ears. Today, Microsoft brings WebsiteSpark to Elance, a new program designed to provide the latest Microsoft software development and support solutions for those who need it most: you.

As a WebsiteSpark member, you’ll have access to a software package worth thousands of dollars that includes the latest Microsoft Web development tools available on the market, like Visual Studio 2008, Windows Web Server 2008, and more. Also included in the WebsiteSpark program is access to a robust support program, which provides both live and online support for technical and non-technical issues.

There are a number of great reasons to join the WebsiteSpark program, but the best one is that it’s free to participate. Yes, free. If you and your web development business qualify, you’ll have access to everything mentioned above and a whole lot more at no cost to you.

Are you interested yet? Visit the WebsiteSpark program page for more information.

Elance Work System Part 5: The Workroom

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 4.

One of the best parts about doing a job with Elance is using the Workroom, a virtual workspace that you can use to collaborate with others to get your work done. Think of it like this: It is a way of taking the 20, 200, or 2,000 miles between you and your provider and putting them in the workspace next door.

Using the Workroom, you can do a number of things like post messages, share a large number of files, and even chat in real time. Now, not all jobs are going to require all of the features available in the Workroom, so you are free to pick and choose whichever you see fit. I suggest using each feature at least once to see how it could help you for your job.

The feature used most often is the Workroom Messages system. This is where you can message your provider directly with information or instructions and also upload relevant attachments from your computer along with the messages. Any messages received from providers (depending on your settings) are forwarded to your email address on file where you can respond from your email client directly to the Workroom. This is a very nice feature as you can respond to Workroom messages through whatever you're most comfortable with, like Outlook, Hotmail, or even through your BlackBerry.

Last night, amstudio did his first take at a full mockup of the site and sent it to me via a Workroom message. He had a few questions and wanted to get my input on it before moving forward on developing the site. I looked at it and thought it was pretty good, but I felt like it wasn't going the direction I was looking for. There were a couple things that didn’t come out the way I had imagined, so I messaged him back with my comments to make my according changes.

The file share area lets you upload files that you can put in a private folder (for you to see) or a shared folder (for you and your provider to see). You can also view the files from the original proposal and terms here. In addition to this, anytime you send a file to the Workroom, it is automatically placed in the public folder of the file share area. You are given 500 MB of free storage place per project to store all of your necessary files, which should be more than enough space for any job.

The New Way To Work Highlight: Qittle

If you haven’t heard already, we’ve kicked off celebrating The New Way To Work in a big, big way. Throughout the next several months, we’ll be following and highlighting awesome stories sent to us for our "The New Way To Work" contest (via Facebook and #new_way_to_work on Twitter) by posting them to our blog.

One entry that really caught our attention here at Elance HQ comes from a young mobile phone-based marketing company out of beautiful Aspen, Colorado. Casey McConnell, CEO of Qittle, takes us through his journey of founding the company back in 2008 by utilizing skilled, online professionals through Elance to create the Qittle logo, to design the company's website, and to help him turn his idea into real, fully-functioning business.

Casey's entry demonstrates The New Way To Work in two ways. Not only did he find success using Elance to find the skilled professionals he needed to complete his work online but how he truly embraces the concept of remote work with his employees. Let's hope for a blizzard of powder days in Aspen this winter!

Here’s Qittle’s take on The New Way To Work:

Survey Says: Showcase Your Skills

All skilled providers on Elance will have one thing in common – they wouldn’t mind having a little more knowledge on what makes a client tick. What do potential employers look for when choosing a provider? How important is feedback, Skill Tests, or portfolio items? How do they end up making their final choice?

While no one may have know all of the answers, what we do have some really great clues. We’ve recently polled over 300 active employers on Elance and asked them what influences their decision when hiring on Elance.

Skill Tests are a big factor to potential employers on Elance. When asked “What are the most important criteria you consider in hiring an online professional,” half of the those polled responded that having tested skills was “Very Important” or “Extremely Important.

Additionally, over 76 percent of the respondents are more likely to hire a contractor professional with tested skills that are relevant to their job. That’s nearly 4 out of every 5 clients!

If you’re ready to add some tested skills to your profile, you can view all of our available Skill Tests in one easy location, otherwise known as the Elance Skill Tests page. We are always working hard to keep our tests fresh and up to date, so be sure to add that page to your bookmarks.

September Elance Work Index: Back To School? Back To Work!

September is here, and for many that means kids back in school, days getting shorter and vacations in the rear view mirror. In other words, time to get back to work, or better yet, time to get some help getting your work done.

This month’s Elance Work Index, the Web’s leading indicator on contract hiring trends, provides insight into the minds of business managers everywhere as they look to accelerate their businesses and enter the coming decade with wind in their sails.

Notable trends from this month’s Index include:

  • Increase Your Attendance. Why pay for visitors when they can find you? Article Writing, Content Writing and Search Engine Optimization are all popping this month as companies strive for that elusive “Page 1” placement in search results. And with new entrant Social Media Marketing entering the conversation, well, you might agree we can see an emerging trend here.
  • “C’s” Are Above Average. According to new stats from BlackDuck, C is the first programming language to exceed 1 billion lines of code. No surprise that C and its cousins C++ and C# have vaulted into the Index joining the juggernauts that are Java and JavaScript. We give C an A+.

Win More Jobs On Elance With These 7 Tips

Now that you’ve learned the ropes around the Elance Work System, it’s time for you to push the pedal to the metal, crank up the volume, and get awarded more jobs than ever before.

After personally spending quite a bit of time studying the Elance universe, I’ve learned that there are a few ways that you, as a provider, can stand out and shine from the rest. So before you jump the gun and send off your next proposal, familiarize yourself with the following tips.

1. Keep Your Profile Up To Date: Your Profile page is one of the most important assets for any provider on Elance to maintain. Having a well-written, fully-completed, typo-free page shows your potential client that you will take meticulous care of their work, similar to your profile page. Additionally, take the time to fill out the Summary and Keywords sections in detail as these are two key areas that attract the eyes of many employers. DongoDevTeam and Yourtravelgirl are examples of great profiles.

2. Write Awesome Proposals: Making a great first impression is key. Proposals are a lot of times the very first communication your potential client will see from you, so be sure to spend some time preparing your proposal. Aside from replying with just, “I can do this in one week,” ask thoughtful, poignant, and relevant questions, prepare a detailed timeline, establish a standard communication channel and frequency, and spec out your milestones. This will clearly state to your potential client that you mean business. You’ll show that you have put serious consideration and thought into the job as well as understand the requirements and have foresight into the project. For more on proposals, check out our this blog post: Make Every Proposal Count.

3. Take Skill Tests: If you’re debating on investing the time in Skill Tests, consider this: A recent Elance survey identifies that 77 percent of prospective clients found that Skill Tests and Verified Credentials to be important factors when making the hiring decisions on Elance. That’s nearly four out of every five employers on Elance! If you’re still debating on taking Skill Tests, remember, you aren’t playing the odds, my friend.

4. Join Groups:
By joining an Elance Group, you are showcasing your talent and professional skill that is officially recognized by a sponsoring company – for example, Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Excel. Talk about real street cred. Your Group affiliation is prominently displayed on your profile page as well, which helps employers quickly identify the cream of the crop of a specific skill and expertise in no time.