Elance Blog

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How To Screen And Interview Providers

Some job postings can attract a large number of proposals from qualified providers.  Receiving a lot of proposals is a great "problem" to have, but it can still feel overwhelming – so here are some tips to help you efficiently review, manage, and decide which provider is right for you.

Perform a first pass review
Rate your first-pass "keepers"
Ask questions
Consider more than just the answers
Fine tune reviews & make one last pass

Perform a first pass review.  If you can, try not to wait until the acceptance period is over to take a look at all the proposals you receive. Go to the workroom, check them out every day or so, and use your first look as a quick screening tool. 

When you read each proposal, check to see if it is:

Need Tips For Work? Follow These Feeds

Call a medic! I’ve been bitten by a bug, and now I've got a nasty case of Twitter fever. At Elance, we’ve been embracing (and experimenting with) Twitter in a couple of interesting ways: One, our standard Twitter account at @elance, and our 3 main Twitter job feeds located at @elance_jobs, @elance_web, and @elance_design.

But yelling out into the Twitter world what you fed your cat this morning isn’t the only way to reap its immense benefits. There’s a huge amount of information and data out there in the Twitter world waiting for you to receive – or in Twitter terms, “follow”. Here are my five favorite feeds that feature tips:

Vertex42: With only 178 followers as of now, Vertex42 is the least popular of any of the feeds on this list, but don't judge a book by its cover. Jon Wittwer, aka Vertex42, posts a new Microsoft Office Excel tip or trick every single day, making it a worthwhile, low-impact feed to follow.

My favorite tip so far: “#Excel tip: Compare two lists with conditional formatting… http://bit.ly/CompareLists

HashDesigns: HashDesigns is one of many, many “HashXXXX” type of Twitter feeds. It covers anything from Photoshop tricks to blog posts with design inspiration and anything in between. With multiple (read: a lot) updates a day, there’s no shortage of design-related goodness for you to keep up with.

My favorite tip so far: “A-Z of Free Photoshop Plugins and Filters - http://tinyurl.com/m29u95 #webdesign(via @JasonSpector)”

When The Outsourcing World And Comedy Collide

I recently stumbled upon an episode of ZeFrank's Hard Times comedy series taking on the topic of outsourcing. Give yourself a well-deserved break and give it a watch. Trust me, it's worth it.


Kudos to ZeFrank for the hilarious video.

Have a great weekend, elancers!


IT Managers: Welcome To The New Way To Get Work Done

As the pool of skilled contractors, free-agent professionals, and Cloud Commuters continues to grow, more and more hiring managers in businesses both large and small are adopting the use of contract-based professionals for jobs of any size. This is the new way to get work done.

Many managers and companies, especially in the IT field, have already started taking advantage of this immediate, cost-effective, and flexible way to get the work they need done fast. The following three examples are just a few of the tens of thousands of managers reaping the benefits of a 96,000-person workforce ready and waiting to work.

Tim Nicholson, IT Manager For Knight Protective Services

Knight Protective Services, a 2,000-person firm that provides contract security officers and security solutions to the federal government and various commercial organizations, was in need of professional website that could elevate the brand’s public awareness to the next level. Tim Nicholson, a representative of Knight Protective Services, was tasked to develop the site. He turned to Elance to hire skilled web development experts to get his website, www.knightprotectiveservice.com, done fast.

“Hiring online is how I can access the talent I need, when I need it. All the tools are there to find, evaluate, and hire a great person no matter where they are,” said Tim Nicholson. “I love Elance because it helps facilitate the entire process of working online. At any time, I can track the status of the work, and with Escrow, release payment when satisfied with the work received. With these tools, I feel more confident hiring someone on Elance than hiring someone in person.”

How Elance Uses Elance

96,000 experts. $200 million earned. 25,000 jobs just this past month.

All of you providers, employers, entrepreneurs, IT managers, marketers, business owners, and Cloud Commuters know that there is literally a ton of quality work that is consistently getting done around the world and around the clock.

And don’t think for one second that the team at Elance HQ doesn’t notice all of the great work going on right now – after all, it would be absolutely silly not to tap in to the awesome resources that skilled elancers provide. We here at Elance use Elance in a number of ways to grow our business and help keep our operation running smooth. For example:

Engineering: Some of the best developers around are elancers. We work with engineers from all over the world to augment our internal engineering team on multiple development projects. Elance software architects assign specific jobs to remote developers who then write code, and as pieces of code are checked-in, our engineering team at headquarters reviews, tests, and then integrates.

Customer Support: We currently contract 100% of our tier one customer support to experienced customer service professionals on Elance throughout the U.S. Using elancers allows us to ramp hours up and down as quickly as needed to match changing volumes of support cases. This not only gives us a flexible way to optimize our capacity but also helps us control costs.

Quality Assurance: Since Quality Assurance testing ramps up and down according to our release cycles, we leverage the same elancers as we do in Customer Support to do in depth quality assurance testing for two out of every five weeks. External elancers use the same QA tools (TestLink and Bugzilla) used by the internal QA team.

@You: Get Twitter On Your Mobile Phone Now!

With over 2.87 billion ‘tweets served and 25 million users expected by the end of 2009, the evidence is clear: Twitter is still the hottest thing on the Internet since sliced bread. Businesses, entrepreneurs, celebrities, socialites, software developers, musicians, and humans from all walks of life agree that there is huge value in the "micro-blogging" service. (Don’t agree? Check out our post on getting more business through Twitter.)

Sure, Twitter is a blast to use from your PC, but the real fun happens when you start ‘tweeting on the go. Here are the hottest Twitter applications available for your iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm Pre, Android, Symbian, or Windows Mobile device, all in one link-filled blog post for you to feast on.

iPhone: When it comes to Twitter + iPhone, you have quite a few software options to your disposal. Tweetie ($2.99 at the iTunes store) is a super popular paid client that offers features like the ability to handle multiple accounts, viewing of your timeline, replies, direct messages, and favorites, automatic link shrinking via bit.ly, picture upload to TwitPic, a secure connection, and more. For those looking for an option that has the low, low price of zero dollars, the robust TweetDeck (logo pictured to the right) and speedy Twitterfon are known to be the who’s-who of the free Twitter iPhone app world. If none of these fit your fancy, there are tons more Twitter applications available for your iPhone, like Gyazickr, Twittervision, NatsuLion, and Twitfire.

BlackBerry: If you’re a “CrackBerry” fiend like myself, adding a Twitter application on your keyboard-equipped phone is a total no-brainer. TwitterBerry offers the standard set of twittering necessities, like timelines, replies, direct messages, and friend lists, and it’s widely considered to be the most popular software choice for RIM devices. uberTwitter is another alternative available for BlackBerry users – it’s fast, it can integrate with your Google Talk status, and it brings non-GPS location-based 'tweeting to the table. Both are available for free. (Nice!)

Awesome Online Tools And Resources For Writers

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 Business Benefits Of A Facebook Fan Page

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.

Elance Security Upgrade

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.

Elance Online Work Index: Holy Joomla!

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.