Elance Blog

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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.

Amp Up Your Blog With These Add-Ons

The first step to creating a blog for personal or business use is the obvious: Get the thing up and running in one piece. However, it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) stop there, as there are tons of widgets, plug-ins, add-ons, and more that not only increase the functionality of your blog but can also help you retain users, bring new ones, and monetize more efficiently.

Here’s my shortlist of blog must-have elements:

Social Media Integration: If you take a look at the right side of the very blog you’re reading this post on, you’ll notice that we’ve incorporated the “Facebook Fan Box” widget as well as an aggregated Twitter feed. The benefits of integrating social media elements is two fold. First, you’ll be providing an easy way for readers to engage your online communities by joining your Facebook Fan Page as well as follow you on Twitter. Secondly, on the flipside, by posting your content on to various social media channels, you’ll be adding supplemental traffic to your site. Who would say no to that?

Most Viewed: Let’s say you published a link to your article on Twitter, and lo-and-behold, you nab yourself a visitor. Now, once your reader has finished digesting your article in its entirety (as they should), the absolute last thing you’d want them to do is simply leave and go off to Google land. The Most Viewed widget placed strategically on your page will give your visitors that have landed on your page additional dynamic content for them to click through to, thus retaining readers on the site and turning more page views. These widgets also surface your best content to readers with statistics to back them up. Since these types of widgets are usually automated, they’re very low maintenance but can make a huge impact in terms of page views.

Recent Comments: This is another fantastic feature. One of the fastest ways to increase your readership is to entice users with ways to voice their opinion and hold discussions with each other in your comments section. A Recent Comments section gives your readers a hint of the action with one quick glimpse – they’ll be able to quickly see what topics and posts are all the rage on your blog right now and will be enticed to jump in and share their opinion. Yahoo! Shine has great examples of both this and the "Most Viewed" module on their front page.

Avoiding Injury And RSI In Your Home Or Office

As a person who has done both the office nine-to-fiver as well as freelancing from home, I'll tell you one of the most important elements of having an healthy work environment is making sure your workstation is safe and ergonomically sound.

Throughout my college years and my early professional career, I was the college "dude" taking my laptop to the couch to overload my brain with the Food Network while mindlessly chugging through my work in the most non-ergonomic positioning ever. I never took ergonomics, Repetitive Strain Injury, and workstation health very seriously – that is until I noticed some serious lower back pain that felt like a monkey wrench twisting my spine into a pretzel.

I then started to pay attention to the numbers: In the case of a professional, 40-hour-a-week work environment, you’ll spend close to three months behind the glare of an LCD screen in one calendar year. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 34 percent of all lost-workday injury and illness is caused by RSI. Combine that startling statistic with the reported $20 billion in costs annually, and you’ve got yourself a serious headache. (Let’s not get started on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Computer Vision Syndrome either.)

And don’t think for a second that RSI only affects your only your hands or lower back – it can affect the neck, shoulders, upper arm, forearm, upper back, and wrists as well. Symptoms of pain can also come in a number of forms for different areas. Typically, you should watch out for soreness in your neck, upper back, and shoulders, while tingling, numbness, loss of feeling or grip can be signs of RSI in your hands. Also, keep an eye out for tense muscles in your arm and should region.

Here are a few pointers I use that have really improved my workstation and overall health:

9 Tools For Multi-Browser Web Development

With the positive reception of Opera 10, the importance of cross-browser testing for web developers is more important than ever. Taking the time to test your new pages in each individual version of Opera, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer (and possibly others) can be an insanely time-consuming process.

Regardless of if you’re a young, fledgling web developer or the most seasoned veteran on Elance, these tools will save you valuable time when testing your website for cross-browser compatibility. After all, you wouldn’t want to leave any of your potential market share out now, would you?

Now, on to the tools!

Cross Browser Testing: Cross Browser Testing is one of the most popular tools for testing pages in a huge number of environments. Although it is a pay-as-you-go service (you are free to use it up to five minutes at a time, however), the sheer number of configuration options available make it worthwhile to check out.

BrowserShots: If “free” is something more your speed, the very popular BrowserShots can provide you with screenshots of many different operating system/browser configurations. One thing to remember: BrowserShots only provides exactly that – non-interactive snapshots in different browsers.

Adobe BrowserLab: From the software giant known as Adobe comes the new kid on the block called BrowserLab, a highly-anticipated website testing tool that offers a wide variety of useful tools, such as Dreamweaver CS4 integration and an “Onion Skin View” feature that overlays one browser over another to quickly detect any differences. It’s currently free right now for testing, so head on over and give it a shot.

Microsoft SuperPreview: Expression Web SuperPreview is an application that you download in order to test multiple Internet Explorer versions on your desktop with robust tools, like multiple resolution support, DOM highlighting, zoom, and more, to ideally save you some time and headache when making your webpage's transition from Internet Explorer 6 compatibility to 7 (or version 8, you early adopters.)

IE Net Renderer: If your only concern is Internet Explorer, IE NetRenderer is a quick, fast, free online tester that allows you to test any page in Internet Explorer 5.5, version 6, version 7, or version 8. Seeing how Internet Explorer almost has three-quarters of the Internet browser share, having a fast tester like this can prove to be handy.

Tweeting 101: How To Use Twitter Effectively For Your Business

Using Twitter is easy. Getting people to care is the hard part. Here are 8 tips on how to effectively use Twitter for your business. (Yes, that intro is less than 140 characters!)

Like the rest of the always-evolving social media world, finding the most effective way or ways to utilize Twitter for your business’ benefit is still a game without a clear-cut winning formula. However, I’ve put together a quick list of basics, tips, and other relevant information that will help you, the uninitiated Twitter user, get humming right away.

1. The Basics: Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know to tweet. Your message or status, which goes in the “What are you doing?” box, must be shorter than 140 characters. Once you click “Update”, your short message gets shouted to all of your followers. People you “follow” are the people who you hear when they submit a tweet, and your “followers” are the ones that hear you when you tweet. Got it? Good.

2. Slightly More Advanced: Writing is fun, but reading other people’s tweets is where the real fun begins. Read a tweet you like and want to pass it on? Copy the tweet and add a “retweet” marker (RT) at the front to spread the word. Want to reply to someone’s message? You can publicly direct a message by adding an “@” symbol in front of their username, and they’ll be able to review their @replies once they log in. (Same goes for you as well.) Using a hash tag in your message, like #laborday, hyperlinks the word and allows users to quickly follow all updates that contain the same hash tag – think of it as an open chat room. These are great for getting up-to-the-minute commentary on any topic out there.

3. Use Search: Twitter’s search engine is absolutely fantastic. You can quickly find what the entire Twitter universe is saying about your business (or your competitor's) in a split-second -- really important stuff here.  You can also respond to any message directly from the search results page with one single click, allowing you to thank your loyal fans or help your angry customers. Search results are updated in real time, so bookmarking your search results page and fiendishly checking is one of the best points of advice for a business owner.

The Nuances Of Translation And Why You Should Hire An Expert

Don't get me wrong – online translation tools are fast, powerful, and extremely useful in a pinch, but in reality, they will never, ever replace the level of quality found in human expert translators. Dynise Basore, content creator and Italian translator on Elance, explains why you should avoid online translation tools for your business' next steps onto the global stage.

The ever increasing globalization of the job marketplace is leading to a growing need for businesses to find qualified translators for their web content, their marketing material, their contracts, and their customer service. Growth of international sales is dependent on the ability to reach your target market, identify with them, and service their needs. So, what do you do to ensure the translations you receive will have the results you are striving for?

Priority number one is to find a high-quality translator. This is an area in which you very much get what you pay for, and finding a native speaker or one who is completely fluent is absolutely essential. The money spent pays for itself exponentially, and quickly, a return on investment that is well worth a few extra dollars. But why?

When marketing to other countries, your focus is to increase your bottom line, and doing so requires that your content be geared towards not only to the language but also to the culture. And I have to reiterate: A native speaker or completely fluent translator is a must, and translation tools should absolutely never be used. Cultural differences make non-literal translations necessary for a number of reasons. The most obvious is idiomatic expressions, but beyond that, certain symbols or references have different significance in different cultures. A non-native speaker, or someone who has not lived in the country, may unintentionally commit a cultural faux-pas even if the meaning of the words are correctly translated.

Why spend the money for human translation over using a translation tool?

Contest: What Does “The New Way To Work” Mean To You?

Work is evolving right in front of us. Skilled professionals are now able to provide their skills to clients in a global marketplace. Entrepreneurs and small businesses can access talent and pursue ideas and goals never seen before. Companies big and small are taking advantage of contract professionals worldwide to supplement their staff to satisfy real-time demand. You and I are the leaders of this new movement, and we’re uniting under a new mantra. We here at Elance have put a contest together with a prize of $10,000, and together, we’ll going to show the world that this is The New Way To Work.


1. Answer this question: What Does “The New Way To Work” Mean To You? If you’re a writer, write a story that tells us how you are a part of this new world of work. If you’re a graphic designer, design something. Videographer? Video something. Developer? Create an app. You get the picture. As an entrant, you are free to enter your Submission in any format you choose so long as it can be published to the Web.

2. Publish your submission (complete with email address) to where you see fit – this may be your personal blog, a YouTube page, a Flickr account, Facebook profile – anywhere you think your message will inspire and excite the community.

3. Once your submission has been posted via the method of your choice, announce it to the world! Use Twitter, Facebook, Digg, MySpace, Vator.tv, or any other channel to share your creative work and message to the world.

Elance Work System Part 4: Awarding The Job

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 3.

You’ve posted a job. You've searched, filtered, and invited. You’ve reviewed proposals in depth. Now, you’ve narrowed down your list and have that one skilled professional picked out in your mind. It’s time to award the job, make it official and start working.

After receiving 17 proposals, I finally found my perfect provider who goes by the name of “amstudio” out of the Ukraine. There’s a few reasons why I decided to go with a team from over the pond. First off, their feedback is an incredible 100%; although they have only done 12 projects on Elance, doing 12 projects perfect out of 12 ain’t bad!

After browsing through their portfolio, I saw that they are more than capable to a site this simple, and they have a huge list of sites they have built that all look great. And they were cost effective, doing the whole site for $300. On top of that, I have worked with amstudio in the past; they were extremely professional, and due to my previous experience, I know they would deliver quality work.