Writing, whether it be copywriting, web content, blogging, or anything inbetween, is one of the most popular, most demanded, and most sought after skill sets in the world of online work. Don't believe me? Just look at a few of the past Elance Online Work Indexes and you'll turn into a believer.
And as a writer, don’t think for one second that all online tools and resources are just for coders, graphic designers, and web developers – there's a grip of writing-related tools out there on the web for you word-smiths to take full advantage of. Here are some of my personal favorites:
OneLook: Founded in April, 1996, OneLook describes itself as “a search engine for words and phrases.” The site offers definitions and translations from over 5 million words in over 900 online dictionaries and has a robust set of search query tools so you can properly narrow down your search results. If you can’t find your word on here, it’s likely because that word doesn’t exist… yet.
GoogleDocs: As an integral part of Google Apps, Google Docs is an cloud-based text editor that boasts a healthy feature set. One of Google Docs’ strongest features is its collaboration tools – meaning while on Google Docs, you can have up to 10 people edit a document at the same time, and you can also share a document with up to 200 people. If you’re looking for other options, SynchroEdit is another browser-based editor that allows for online simultaneous collaboration.
Write Rhymes: This one goes out to all my poets, and they all know it. Okay, obviously not the best rhyming skills out there, but if you’re just as bad as I am, then go ahead and bookmark Write Rhymes. All you simply need to do is begin typing, highlight your words, press the ALT key, and a window of 2-or-3 syllable words with rhyming elements pops up. There’s even an option to save, copy, and print your new limerick, song, poem, rap, or whatever else your zany mind conjures up.
The demand for social media, search engine optimization, and internet marketing skills as a whole has exploded in the world of online work. After all, why wouldn’t it? The internet provides the marketing industry a new, low-cost platform to distribute information (read: marketing materials) on a global scale in a variety of formats – video, still images, audio, text, interactive games, and more.
A Facebook Fan Page is one perfect example of one of these new marketing vehicles available for a business to utilize. After a recent redesign, these pages are now very similar to standard user profile pages in looks as well as functionality. These pages include a Wall tab that publishes your news feed as well as user comment posts, an Info tab that is populated with nibbles of your company’s information, a self-explanatory Photos tab, and several other default tabs. Additionally, you can add your own custom set of application tabs, some of which are completely customizable.
If your business doesn’t have a Fan Page yet, you better be asking yourself why you don't. These specialized Facebook pages offer a gaggle of benefits that would turn any entrepreneur, large business, or corporation's head:
1. Community Building: The Fan Page is a great platform for your loyal followers to come together for your product or service by utilizing the Wall feature or other available modular applications. Users can submit text testimonials, post pictures, create and upload video, hold discussions with each other – all supporting the growth of your online community.
2. Search Engine Optimization: As discussed in one of our previous posts, the benefits of creating a Fan Page also give you more footing in search ranking. By publishing backlinks to your business’ pages as well as having a Facebook Fan Page with your name in the title, your business will be receiving some big bonus points in the SEO department.
We recently learned that certain Elance user information was accessed without authorization. The data accessed was contact information -- specifically name, email address, telephone number, city location and Elance login information (passwords were protected with encryption). This incident did NOT involve any credit card, bank account, social security or tax ID numbers.
We have remedied the cause of the breach and are working with appropriate authorities. We have also implemented additional security measures and have strengthened password requirements to protect all of our users.
For more information on the security breach, visit our Account Security page in our Trust & Safety center.
For more information on the password change process, visit Elance Help.
The content management system (CMS) has been riding high on a tidal wave of momentum on the Elance Online Work Index, and now it's enjoying the spotlight with others big players in the top 10. Joomla! is also one of the few skills on the index that has risen in position every single month since the inception of the Elance Online Work Index and also ties the mighty WordPress for the highest ranking any CMS has ever reached. Holy Joomla!, indeed!
For those of you puzzled over what the heck a Joomla! is (don’t you dare forget the exclamation point), here’s the short version: Joomla! is an open-source, easy-to-use, modular content management system for publishing a variety of forms of content and applications on the web.
In addition, the core Joomla! software package also allows for modular installations of “Plugins”, “Components”, and “Modules”, which extend the feature set to fit your exact needs. Sound complicated? It really isn’t at all. Say you want to add a calendar to your web page. Yes, there’s a Module for that. Install it, and boom, you’re done. Easy peasy.
The calendar Module is just one of thousands of freely available extensions for you to use, and that means a huge amount of different functionality that can be slapped on to your website in a cinch. Don’t forget: Since Joomla! is open source, you’re freely able to view and modify the source code and create your own extensions to further customize your site to your specific needs.
As the Internet’s bellwether for online hiring trends, this month’s Elance Online Work Index once again demonstrates the corporate world’s insatiable demand for flexible access to skilled technical and creative expertise.
Drawn from data from more than 100,000 jobs that have been posted over recent months, the July Index reinforces the sustaining trends while surfacing several interesting fresh ones.
Holy Joomla! In the sustaining trend department, open source code expertise continues its dominant reign, with stalwarts PHP (#1) and MySQL (#4) being joined by Joomla! (#8) – skyrocketing 10 spots from June. You’ve got to love a phenomenon which is audacious enough to pull off a ‘!’ with such panache.
News *Flash* That buzz you hear in the newsroom is not that digital media itself continues to be on the mind of just every marketer on the planet, but more so the authoritative vault into the top 3 by both Graphic Design (#2 – leapfrogging 10 spots) and Adobe Flash (#3 – rising 6 spots). Because, as we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words.
The Word Is… Speaking of words, smart marketers continue to demonstrate their good sense for knowing that in addition to pixel perfect visuals, they’re desperate for effective Copywriting (up 11 spots to #23) complimented with copious amounts of keyword rich Web Content (#6) delivered by people good at Content Writing (#12) to keep their Search Engine Optimization (#21) consultant happy – whom, you should note, they’ve hired on Elance, hence the move up six slots by SEO in the Index.
What is "Cloud Commuting" and what does it mean to business owners and skilled professionals like you? Gene Marks, online columnist and author of the best-selling Streetwise Small Business Book of Lists, gives us his take on the rise of the cloud commuter, the recession and its impact, and how his business and others plan to adjust in this new age of online work.
Hmmm, maybe the recession hasn’t been such a bad thing after all.
Prices have been kept in check. Many of my competitors are either struggling or out of business entirely. Industries that have been failing for decades are now reorganizing themselves. Our bankers are picking up the phone when we call them. People have stopped buying useless crap on its way to the landfill. Being a cheapskate has even become vogue.
And business owners are no longer vilified for outsourcing. In fact, it’s not even called outsourcing anymore.
It’s called Cloud Commuting.
Cloud Commuting is a refreshing upgrade from the loaded term ‘outsourcing’ which suffered from a bum rap. For years, enterprising business owners like myself have been outsourcing work and subcontracting jobs to others in order to keep our costs as low as possible and to find the best people. In fact, ‘Division of Labor’ has always been right there on the top of the syllabus for Capitalism 101, right after "Lemonade Stands" and just before "Global Expansion".
Like every red-blooded opportunist, all we’re trying to do is to produce quality products and provide excellent services as cost effectively as we can. Once upon a time we faced the scorn of the media and others who looked down their noses at us. Well, a few quarters into the Great Recession, it’s now considered virtuous for business owners like us to do everything we can to keep our fixed costs low. And those same pundits who accused us of not employing people are now embracing us for bootstrapping our way back into the game by hiring our “cloud commuters”. Go figure.
Cloud Commuting is obviously a play on the buzzword “Cloud Computing” which is how the server-room nerds are unsuspectingly describing their ultimate obsolescence as more and more technology and data gets hosted by secured and reliable central servers in the sky. But, those server-room technicians will have the last laugh, as just as the technology is migrating to remote parts, so is the work. Configure a database from Maui? Aloha!
Talk about liberating. I’ve already started telling the world that my people are “Cloud Commuters”. Even my kids think it’s cool. Maybe they’ll even let me watch “The Hills” with them. OK, maybe, not.
Managing finances as a freelancer can be overwhelming, especially considering the fickle economic climate almost everyone in the world is facing today. Big financial commitments, like buying a home, purchasing a new car, or deciding to raise a child, requires a good amount of strategic financial planning. Shane Pearlman, founder of the popular Freelance Camp and partner at Shane & Peter Inc, lays out a mathematically sound plan that you should consider if big financial commitments are within your horizon.
Can You Afford To... Buy A Home / Car / Child?
I have until 3pm today to make a final decision on whether to buy a new house and turn my current one into a rental. Alternatively, I also have the option to use the cash to refinance my current home to lower my cost of living. It's a tough questions and I have been running the numbers and agonizing the choice for weeks.
Let me start by assuring you: if you take your freelance business seriously, learn how to sell, solve the right problems, understand your finances and hone your technical skills, odds are in your favor that you will far surpass any previous employment income. It took me three years of full time freelancing to hit that point. Ten years later, I would never consider going back. We have bought 3 homes and are putting profits from my business into rental properties (my retirement plan).
What makes big purchases such as a house challenging is that (as a freelancer) our income is somewhat unpredictable. The good news, smarter people than me have build formulas that let us make some very good guesses.
How Do You Measure Your Income?
How much profit will you take home in the next six months? Many freelancers I know freeze when asked that question. Since most of our work comes word of mouth and many times I write proposals that fizzle or come to nothing, I did not have the slightest idea how to answer the question when the loan officer asked me. That night at dinner, my family was in town visiting and my father laid out a formula. Before you go grab your Weegie board, get out a piece of paper.
Now that we’ve got all the BBQ-grilling, firework-exploding, beach-volleyballing tendencies out of our systems this past weekend, we’re back and we’re hitting you with a gang of 14 new Skill Tests ready to take you on. And they are...
If you haven’t heard of Google AdSense, try this on for size. AdSense is Google’s advertising platform that allows any old Joe-Shmoe-web publisher to display ads on his or her website in order to earn some bank for the traffic you bring to your site. Ads can comprise of text, images, and video, and these ads generate revenue on a per-click or pre-impression basis. And if you’re skeptical of the idea of earning income off of page views, get a load of this: Markus Frind, owner of dating site PlentyofFish.com, reportedly earned somewhere between $5 to $10 million a year by turning 1.1 billion pages a month with 45 million visitors. Do you know how much $10 million a year is? That equates to over $27,000 a day.
My, time does fly quickly. It’s already been over one month since the launch of the Palm Pre, and with the Palm’s Mojo Software Development Kit out in select hands, we’re starting to see the mobile apps population grow slowly but surely. If you're kicking around a few ideas as you’re waiting for the public release of the SDK, have a look at what’s surfacing in Palm’s app store right now – it can be a good place to get inspiration, look for improvements, and conjure up new ideas, and more importantly, they’ll give you a preview of what you’re up against. (You should be able to find all of these applications in the Palm Pre App Catalog.)
Here are some of the more interesting Pre apps I’ve come across while trekking through the Palm app universe:
Pandora: If you haven’t heard about Pandora by now, your ears are in for a treat. Pandora is a web-based radio station that can take an artist you like and serve you similar artists and sounds in a streaming fashion. Trust me, the word “neat” is by far an understatement. If you’re always out and about and away from the computer, set your sights on the mobile version of Pandora, now on the Palm Pre. Give it a go on your web browser, and if you’re intrigued, set your mobile to download immediately.
mCraig: I’m a self-admitted Craigslist fiend – after all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. mCraig, which is still in beta, is a mobile app that will allow you to quickly search Craigslist and auto updates by what location you are in via GPS. Of course, if you feel like doing it the old fashioned way, you can still search by zip code. Since the software is still in beta, users are reporting that there are quite a few bugs to be kinked out, but expect the software to be continually updated until it’s fully stable.
Flightview: This is one of those apps that I don’t myself or many others using very often, but the few times a year when travel season comes around or bad weather strikes, something like this might prove to be worth having downloaded on your phone. Flightview allows you to check the status of flights that are in the air, the status of airports and their congestion, and notifications and alerts in a simple, small software application.
Search Engine Optimization nowadays is far more than "title tags", "meta tags", and URL formatting. In this day and age, newer techniques have been discovered to give your search ranking a little bit of a boost. One of these new techniques, called social media bookmarking, is a blazingly-hot topic in the SEO world today. We've asked SEO expert Jason Gorham, CEO of SharkStrike.com, to give us a quick tour on why social media bookmarking needs to be a part of your search engine optimization strategy right now. And if Search Engine Optimization is a completely foreign string of words for you, check out our SEO blog post by Alex McArthur, VP of OrangeSoda for a little bit of an introduction.
Way back in what seemed like the stone age when I began my Search Engine Optimization (SEO) career, I remember having to create as many links and back-links I could in order to increase my position in all of the major search engines. The process of linking and back-linking is a long, drawn-out process – daunting is the first word that comes to mind. In order to create back-links, you have to complete this unsightly laundry list of chores. Don't believe me? See for yourself:
You have to understand who you want a back-link from. This is considered audience/website research.
In order to gain a back-link to that site you have to find out who the site owner is.
After the owner is recognized, you must contact the owner via email.
Propose your link trade/exchange.
Create a link to their site on yours.
Have them create a back-link to you.
Manage links and back-links to make sure your links are still active on their site.