Karen Swim, an Elance provider in the Writing & Translation and Sales & Marketing categories, has built her freelance business with the help of Elance buyers and the Elance platform. A marketer with 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Karen joined Elance because she wanted to be in business for herself.
"When I first visited Elance, I saw that there was this whole secret underground of people making a living outside of corporate America, and that's when I knew corporate America was part of my journey, but not the end," said Karen.
And that's when Karen decided to start her freelancing business. "I just signed up for Elance and started bidding on jobs," Karen said. "Elance really started my business."
Mark Archer has been an Elance buyer since 2005, having posted dozens of projects and managed many different providers as a virtual boss. Mark is also a former Navy fighter pilot, real estate investor, and now a serial entrepreneur.
I met Mark by accident during my first week at Elance when I called buyers to learn about their experiences on Elance. During our conversation, I discovered that Mark really believes in the 'pay it forward' philosophy - something he calls, 'get what you give'.
When you think of the word freelancer, you may think of someone working alone. That can be true … but only some of the time.
What's also true is that freelancers team up with each other to get more work, hone their skills, and add value to their clients. Elance calls this kind of teamwork, 'teamlancing', and it's not uncommon on Elance.
A few years before Elance came to life, Daniel Pink wrote a book about the rising relevance of independent workers and wrote an article with the same title which appeared in Fast Company at the end of 1997:
"There's a new movement in the land. From coast to coast, in communities large and small, citizens are declaring their independence and drafting a new bill of rights. Meet some of the 25 million residents of Free Agent, USA".
Today, the free agent movement is global and uses the Internet as its workplace.
We all know the importance of first impressions - especially when trying to win jobs. Now, you can take advantage of the new profile video feature to make your provider profile more personal, sell your services better online and let buyers know who you are. Similar to the experience of providers who have already taken advantage of this feature, you might even have fun doing it!
If you have been using Elance over the past year, you've probably noticed some changes. We've recently added enhanced provider and project search, enhanced profiles including video, click-to-call, chat, the Water Cooler discussion forums, Elance University, and more I haven't mentioned with more yet to come.
These changes have been received very positively - the proof of the pudding is that the number of jobs available for Elance service providers has increased substantially this past year. I'd like to take a moment to tell you about what we are working toward at Elance, so that (hopefully!) you'll be as excited as we are about the new workplace we are building.
Ryan Norbauer calls himself an entrepreneurial dilettante. Read his bio and you'll quickly find he's quite a bit more, and all at 26 years old. We're big on supporting entrepreneurs, and meeting Ryan, even over email, was a refreshing experience in a world where "entrepreneur" can sometimes be a loose term.
Among Mr. Norbauer's many accomplishments, he's a writer, and guests writes on a few blogs including 43folders - a family of websites about personal productivity and simple ways to make your life a little better. I highly recommend checking it out for some handy advice. Ryan recently wrote about Enlightened Outsourcing on 43folders (see parts 1 and 2) after reading "The 4-Hour Workweek" by best selling author, Tim Ferriss, and we wanted to ask him a few more questions about his personal outsourcing experience and entrepreneurship.
We launched a new community section called the Water Cooler last month. While the name may seem banal to some readers, we wanted to take a minute to explain how we chose the name because it definitely means something to everyone at Elance.
We see our community of buyers, providers and Elance employees as co-workers in our virtual workplace. And just like typical offline workplaces, we wanted a gathering spot - like the company kitchen, water cooler (or Flavia coffee machine in the Elance office) - where we could meet each other, ask questions, get help or just hang around and catch up on the weekend chatter. (Sidenote: I still haven't figured out what the "WellBeing" button on the Flavia machine is for…)
Last week, I attended an “Innovator’s Dinner” hosted by the customer experience consulting firm Creative Good. The presenters from Creative Good mentioned that often times, the most interesting takeaway from an event comes from an unplanned, random meeting. And while I caught up with a few friends and colleagues, I did hear something quite novel from someone I met randomly.
This was a serial entrepreneur who has sold a few companies and, as it turned out, started using Elance in 2000. He has periodically used Elance ever since then, most recently hiring a full-time researcher to gather competitive information every week. Today, he is working on a mobile phone startup.
As part of our Sept 12 release, we added a new Elance "Call" (click-to-call) feature, which lets Elance buyers call service providers for free directly from their provider profile page. Just click the Contact Me button and access the "Call" tab to get started.
We added the feature so that buyers on Elance can get instant access to providers, which is helpful to the hiring process on our site. With instant access, buyers can conduct interviews, determine a provider's availability and discuss project needs in more detail. After that, buyers and providers can determine together whether or not to move forward with a project. Also, buyer phone numbers remain private, so sharing contact information is a choice.