Elance Blog

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How To Find And Invite The Best Providers

Whether you’re a seasoned employer here on Elance or a fresh face posting a job for the first time, one of the most crucial parts (possibly the most crucial) of conducting online work is selecting the expert provider that fits your job best. Everyone has their different methods when perusing through the tens of thousands of providers on Elance, but if you’re feeling a little lost, this guide will help you find and invite the provider you need for your next project.

Before We Proceed…

If you’re relatively new to Elance and haven’t gotten much hiring under your belt, be sure to familiarize yourself with our post, “How To Review A Provider Profile”. This guide covers the most important factors you should consider when reviewing and selecting a provider, including skills information, feedback, portfolio, keywords, and summary. Properly vetting your providers during the selection process will ensure you get the highest quality work and help you immensely when you’re conducting work online. Now, on with the show!

Job Posted And Ready To Rock

Once you’ve posted your job, you’ll probably see an influx of proposals from providers surfing through listings that include yours along with the thousands of other job posts on Elance. That's all fine and dandy, but it isn’t a bad idea to do a little surfing yourself – search is your friend, and it’s the first step in finding THE provider that fits your needs. Let’s say I have a killer idea for a new iPhone application, and I need an expert right now that will take the utmost care with my top-secret project. Simply type in “iPhone Application” in the search engine, and you’ll get a ton of providers delivered to you instantly:

As of right now, the term “iPhone Application” yields a whopping 914 professionals. You and I both know that you don’t have time to look through each and every one of the 914 profiles, so we need to cut this list down to size. By using a variety of filtering tools available on Elance, you can easily whittle down a big number of providers to a more manageable size.

Without Further Adieu, The Palm Mojo Development Skill Test

Beating sales expectations with 300,000 units sold to date, Palm’s strong Pre-release looks to have initially won the hearts of techies and web developers nationwide. But if you think the dust has settled, think again – we’re only in the quiet before the storm.

The pool of developers is expected to increase quickly with the upcoming public release of the highly-anticipated Software Development Kit, and the second it's out in the wild, we want you to prove to the world that when it comes to the Palm Pre and WebOS, you are the expert. We’re the only place around that's got the Palm Mojo Development Skill Test, so brush up on your HTML 5, JavaScript, and CSS, and show that you’re one of the first skilled experts that can handle their Mojo.

Itching to get your hands on the SDK? Palm has expanded access to the Mojo SDK — head on over to Palm's developer site and apply now.

Elance - Palm Mojo Development Skill Test
Elance - Battle Royale: iPhone, Pre, Android, BlackBerry, And Windows Mobile
Palm - Palm Developer Network

Want To Be Part Of Something? Join An Elance Group

Saying you’re a professional provider at such-and-such technology is one thing. Differentiating yourself as an affiliated expert provider in an officially branded group is another — a totally different animal, to be more precise. With the introduction of Elance Groups, the latter is now a reality.

Here’s the rundown: Nearly a dozen companies at launch with many more on their way have worked with us to organize sub-communities on Elance where qualifying providers gain membership to a branded 'group' and enjoy the benefits of recognition. Each group has its own membership requirement, which can vary from passing a specific Elance Skill Test (e.g. Microsoft Office Access) to providing proof of a 3rd party credential (e.g. PayPal Certified Developers).

Here’s an example: Say you’re a graphic designer very well-versed in Photoshop. Your skills are sharp, and you decide you want to join the Adobe Photoshop Experts group, which in this case requires passing Elance's Adobe Photoshop CS4 Skill Test. You pass, join the group, and next thing you know, you have a shiny new badge on your provider profile page for all to see.

Let’s check the flipside of the equation: As an employer, one of the features of groups is that you’ll be able to instantly recognize providers who have made the effort to demonstrate their specific skills, making it easier than ever to find somoene with the skills you are looking for.

Check out the groups directory in the new 'Browse' section, where it's easier than ever to shop for talent that you need. Got an idea for a new group? Drop us a note at groups (at) elance.com.

Elance Online Work Index: The Need For Killer Content

One of the larger overarching trends we’ve noticed since the inception of the Elance Online Work Index several months ago was the steadily rising increase in the need for written content in a number of forms.

The data speaks for itself. Article Writing has moved up three out of the past four months all the way to the number two spot, while Web Content has maintained a footing in the top 10 for the past four months. Online Writing, Content Writing, Copywriting, and Academic Writing have hung around in the top 50 for the past four months as well.

But why the sudden gold rush for high-quality written content? As someone who obviously spends a lot of time stringing a few words together in an online fashion, I can break down the sudden thirst for internet content in three main points:

1. Community Building: Having a noticeable presence online is almost as important as having a noticeable presence in the real world. Publishing online content in the form of blogs, newsletters, and more gives your customers, patrons, and readers a humanizing perspective of your business and also provides a channel for you to build a relationship with current and prospective customers. Online content also offers something for your client base to discuss with each other, creating a buzz that can reach even farthest corners of the web.

Countdown To $200,000,000 And The Arrival Of ‘Cloud Commuting’

Two hundred million dollars. This is one of those 'odometer moments' that remind me of being a kid and eagerly awaiting our 1963 Volkswagon beetle's odometer to flip over to all zeros after reaching 99,999 miles, wondering what would happen — only to look the other way and miss it.

In our excitement, the cubicle dwellers here at Elance HQ have a friendly wager on who can predict when the “Provider Earnings” counter officially flips over the $200,000,000 mark. (The 'smart' money appears to be on Thursday, June 18, but don't take my word for it.)

With this milestone, we're announcing to the world the official arrival of ‘Cloud Commuting.' This is no longer 'the future of work' as online work is happening now. Let’s focus on the underlying importance of this event. Think of it: $200 million, earned for work delivered from one stranger to another.

Three big trends have converged to make this all happen.

  1. Companies are constantly seeking greater flexibility and efficiency
  2. More professionals than ever are choosing to be self-employed
  3. Managing online work has become easier than ever with the evolution of the Elance Work System.

10 Things To Consider Before Quitting Your Job To Freelance Full-Time

"I don't like my job." "The cube walls are closing in." "I'm walking out of this job right now." "I need to get out of here!" You know you've thought it at one point or another, and suddenly, the life of a free-spirited, self-made freelancer sounds all the more appealing. Before you rush and type your resignation letter, there are a few things that you will have to consider. Pamela Slim, a former corporate manager turned entrepreneur and author of the book Escape From Cubicle Nation, weighs in with 10 important questions you need to ask yourself before you make the jump.

I wish there were a secret formula to ensure that the freelance business you have been madly working on is going to generate enough income to compensate for your current salary as an employee, if not much more. Unfortunately, there are many, many factors that go into determining business success.

To get some insight into your readiness to say goodbye to your day job, read over this checklist and see how prepared you feel.

1. Chest-Bursting Enthusiasm

In order to birth your business idea, you are going to have to have a tremendous amount of energy and stamina. When you are totally enthusiastic about an idea, you don't have to worry about "staying motivated" or "dealing with procrastination," concerns voiced by many prospective entrepreneurs. Here are your enthusiasm checkpoints:

When you think about the work you do on a freelance basis, do you get a big smile on your face?
If you had your daily expenses taken care of, would you work on this business anyway because it is so exciting to you?
Do you see how this business fits into your overall life plan?
Would being successful in this business give you the kind of life you want? Would you be happy while doing it, not just once you were making money?

2. A Solid Business Case

Passion without a business model or viable market is a sure road to perdition. Business case checkpoints:

Have you prototyped and tested your idea with real people in your target market?
Do you have a viable business model? Could it survive if the market shifted?
Can you describe what makes you different, more effective or more appealing than your competitors?

Battle Royale: iPhone, Pre, Android, BlackBerry, And Windows Mobile

With Palm’s latest move into the mobile phone and application arena, the smartphone plot involving the big five thickens. Although each of these players have their respective Software Development Kits, there are clear pros and cons of each that can effect the application development process for you as both a skilled provider or enterprising employer.

If you’re sitting on a golden idea for a mobile application yet are completely clueless on all of your accessible choices, don’t just jump into fray without preparing yourself. This guide will provide you with a quick and dirty overview of each of the five main mobile platforms available for you develop on today.

Apple iPhone: Today, Apple has pretty much become synonymous with “mobile apps”. With the release of the Apple iPhone SDK in March 2008 combined with the iPhone’s unprecedented popularity, the tech giant has been riding a wave of success to the top of the mobile applications hill. The benefits to developing on the iPhone are obvious: There are literally millions upon millions of phones already out there in the wild, the developer community is already very strong (with over 50,000 applications already in existence with 1 billion apps served), the platform has matured and already proven itself, and with patented multitouch technology and a built in accelerometer, the iPhone impressive iPhone hardware can power very high quality games and applications.

However, there are some tradeoffs to developing for iPhone. First, although the Software Development Kit is free, in order to release applications, you must join the iPhone Developer Program, which costs $99-$299 a year. Additionally, there is only one possible way to release software, and that is through Apple’s iTunes distribution channel. Although solid, iTunes will only publish software that passes Apple’s somewhat-controversial approval process, and they’ll take a 30% commission fee on top of that as well. One other key consideration: Apple is still struggling to compete in the business-centric market, which is currently dominated by BlackBerry.

Palm Mojo Software Development Kit:
The excitement surrounding the Pre’s recent launch has both the hardware and software world buzzing, and with good reason. (Check out our recent blog post about Palm’s Pre-release.) In what looks to be a direct attempt to embrace the mobile application development world, Palm has specifically designed the Pre to be an extremely flexible platform with a quick learning curve by utilizing existing web technologies (HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS). Here’s what is important: The Linux-based, multitouch smartphone has a few aces up its sleeve when competing directly head-to-head with the Apple iPhone. It offers simultaneous running of multiple apps, access to calendar and contact information for third-party applications (which the iPhone does not), and the ability to install applications over the air through the app store or through a USB cable, sans controversial approval process (supposedly).

Essential Tools And Sites For Every Web Developer

As a web-developer hobbyist, I can say without hesitation that one of the most gratifying experiences known to mankind is finishing up your code, publishing your website, and seeing your work live on the Internet for everyone to peruse.

However, the journey to a completed, fully-functioning, aesthetically-pleasing website is a long and arduous one, even for the most experienced developers. Oftentimes, the process of putting a web destination together can be riddled with researching, inefficiencies, testing, and more.

Net Tuts+, a great source for web development tricks and tutorials that I frequent, recently published a fantastic article that showcases “20 tools to make the life of a web developer easier”. This isn’t just some list of “neat” programs – this list has a number of robust, efficient, time-saving applications and extensions that will definitely save you a boatload of your valuable time. Web heads, take note!

The list features a few heavy hitters that many web developers like yourself have probably already heard of, like Firebug, which allows you to make live edits to CSS, HTML, and JavaScript code in real time, and Web Developer Toolbar, which adds an extra menu item and toolbar chock full of web development tools . There are, however, a few really awesome tools on this list that I haven’t run into before and are ones that I believe are truly essential.

The Palm Pre Shakes Up More Than Just The Cell Phone World

In an era with a countless number of iPhone-toting twenty-somethings and BlackBerry-obsessed businessmen, no company, corporation, or single human has ever come close to denting Apple and RIM's stranglehold on the smartphone market.

However, June 6, 2009 may go down as the day where the cell phone world changed.

Palm, struggling to reclaim its throne as the go-to device for the connected citizen, is releasing a new device to the masses dubbed "Pre" and will attempt to do what no other smartphone has ever done before — shove the iPhone and the BlackBerry to the side and claim the top spot rightfully as its own.

The Pre touts an impressive number of hardware and software features that make it a definite contender in the arena. The hardware is powered with a 3.1-inch LCD screen, 3-megapixel camera with LED flash, Stereo Bluetooth, Multi-touch, 8GB of storage, GPS, accelerometer, and a proximity sensor. However, the software side of the Pre looks to be the most intriguing.

WebOS, Palm’s completely new operating system based on Linux, is what the manufacturer is betting will take the company back to superstardom. The sleek, gesture-based user interface features a unique, universal search, a contact information compiler aptly named “Synergy”, and the ability to multi-task with background-apps running. All of this is built on top of an open platform that uses a number of existing web technologies, such as HTML 5, JavaScript, and CSS. This development platform, dubbed “The Palm Mojo Application Framework” provides the huge pool of existing developers an easy way to transition to the platform without having to learn an entirely new programming language.

And this is where it gets really interesting: Developers can build applications that have full access to the Pre’s gesture system, calendar, GPS, and contacts list, allowing for an impressive level of third-party application integration.

June Elance Online Work Index: Experts Crack The Code

The trends marked in this month’s Elance Online Work Index state it plain and simple: Right now, businesses are in need of people who can code, people who can design, and people who can write.

The June edition of the Elance Online Work Index marks a new shift in which skills are the critical components when it comes to maintaining success in today’s business world. Here’s what the tens of thousands of skilled experts are doing when working online: