Not everyone is suited for the daily 9-to-5 grind – especially not Dennis Hackethal. This Berlin-based Web programmer was in school and on the fast track to a successful IT career when he realized that the corporate life is unfulfilling (in his words, “boring”). Realizing that clients don’t really care if their programmer is in Berlin or Belize, he quit his “day” job and began working online at Elance. With his active life, this often means working at night after enjoying a full-day of fun activities.
Fresh from his high school graduation in North Carolina, Daniel Borba faced a startling reality: Finding that first professional video job straight out of school is a difficult task – a challenge further compounded by Greensboro’s alarming 11% unemployment rate. However, following several unfulfilled months working part-time restaurant work, Daniel discovered Elance and traded in the apron for a keyboard and his “dream job” of freelancing.
We’re constantly looking for ways to help great-performing freelancers stand out. Today we’re pleased to announce two upcoming additions to freelancer’s My Stats: New metrics for rewarding consistent delivery of great services, and changes to the existing benchmarking group for freelancers.
The two new metrics are intended to help differentiate freelancers who consistently deliver high-quality jobs and build long-term, lasting relationships.
Similarly, the enhanced benchmarking will provide more-relevant information to help freelancers understand what other freelancers are doing differently, and how to improve your own rankings. However, My Stats will continue to be visible only to you – although these changes will allow you to grow your Levels rating (and reap the benefits associated with achieving higher Levels).
Here are more details on the up-coming changes:
New “Repeat Clients” metric.
This metric awards more points in their Level calculation to those freelancers who have been able to partner with clients for long periods of time. It’s a great indicator of your ability to build relationships and to successfully meet your clients’ changing needs.
New “Earnings Percentage” metric.
This metric rewards freelancers who consistently complete awarded jobs. A successfully completed job is defined by two factors: 1. Did you complete the job and get your expected payments (or more)? and 2. Has the job gone well? When these conditions are successfully met, it lays the foundation for the type of consistent job delivery that differentiates high-performing accounts. Freelancers who achieve higher than average Earnings Percentage rates will accelerate growth in their Level.
To provide freelancers with more visibility, we’re changing the benchmarking group you’re in to include only the freelancers with similar Levels and Categories. This will give you an opportunity to review what some of your peers are focused on as you grow your own reputation on Elance.
When is this all happening?
Changes to your benchmarking group are already happening for Elancers. As mentioned, only you will be able to see this information since it will only be in your My Stats page.
The two new metrics, and some other smaller changes to My Stats, will be rolled out soon. Don’t worry, we’ll come back here to update you when this change goes live. In the meantime we want you to be aware of what’s coming, so you can begin thinking about how best to take advantage of these new ways to grow your reputation on Elance.
If you’re looking to meet a rugged man with a pioneering spirit and commitment to old-world quality, look no further than Xan Hood.
Founder of the popular clothing outfitter Buffalo Jackson Trading Co., Xan is cut from the same cloth as Teddy Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway and John Muir. He’s also a devoted and long-time Elance client – which helps greatly to explain his passion for high-end work and superior craftsmanship at every step of the way. It’s the same rough-and-tumble excellence you’ll find in his collection of dress shirts, outdoor jackets, leather goods, shoes and other fashionable sundries.
As Xan shares, “One of the greatest success stories of our business is working with contractors on Elance. Our business couldn’t have grown without them.”
When Xan originally set out to build his clothing company three short years ago, he knew he couldn’t settle for a handful of so-so employees with general skills. That’s not the way Teddy would have manned an army, or Pappa crewed a deep sea fishing expedition. Xan wanted the best of the best, and that’s why he turned to the highly-specialized professionals available at Elance. To build Buffalo Jackson Trading Co. and to get his business up and running quickly, Xan hired-on an entire team of top-notch experts – from product developers and accountants to graphic designers, artists, website developers and customer service reps.
“I literally bootstrapped my company using Elance teams,” said Xan. “I started with $300 and a dream.” He is quick to point out that he looks only for the finest and most passionate workers, rewarding them fairly for an honest day’s work. “I love my team,” Xan notes. “They’re like employees to me, or even family. I had the opportunity to send some extra money to a trusted programmer in India when he went down with Dengue Fever and was in bed a few days.”
The physical location of Buffalo Jackson’s Elancers spans from across the globe in the Ukraine to around the corner from his North Carolina home. Xan currently works with 10 freelancers, but that number can rise at the drop of a hat. When the demand is there, Xan simply invites more Elancers to help him tackle the job. “I was recently talking with a much larger company on some collaboration and they estimated I had 15 or more employees working around the clock,” Xan explains. “But nope, it’s just me and Elance right now.”
But when you’re one tough field general committed to honor and integrity like you’ll find in Xan Hood, nothing is going to stop you from blazing new trails and realizing your dream. Especially when you have an army of Elancers there to support your every move. Giddy-up.
The clock’s winding down on 2012 (or perhaps it has turned the corner where you live?) and once again it’s time to make those annual New Year’s resolutions. If you’re browsing this blog with any regularity, chances are the following resolution is at the top of your list:
Resolution #1:Earn more money and advance the career.
Yes, work goals are usually above getting in shape, eliminating stress and volunteering to help others for Elancers (although they’re all worthy goals too). To help you get off to a great start in 2013, especially if you’re new to the platform, here are a few random resolutions to consider. Naturally, making your Elance Profile shine and writing great proposals are critical too – but these are less obvious goals:
Resolution #2:Strike while the iron is hot.
Be among the first to submit the job proposal. Many clients are super busy and in a hurry to get the job rolling. With no time to spare browsing through proposals, they’re apt to choose among the first to catch their eye. Make sure it’s you they see.
Resolution #3:Screen clients carefully.
That being said, don’t pull the trigger and use-up your valuable Connects for the first job that looks promising. While there’s no sure-fire method of determine a client’s quality, get an idea by hovering your mouse over the client’s name. See if they have a verified method of payment, percentage of jobs awarded and more. Go deeper to see their history for awarding feedback and other important factors.
Resolution #4:Be friendly and build online relationships.
Clients love working with friends. Make sure you’re always building great online relationships that help you be successful. When corresponding be conversational and show interest in the client. Wish them a good weekend and let them know you’re taking a hike on Sunday. By bringing the human element to the table, you’ll have a major advantage over other freelancers only interested in cashing checks.
Resolution #5:Don’t try to be all things to all people.
Specialization is key to success in most areas of life, and Elance is no different. If, for example, you have specific expertise in medical writing, take advantage of your proficiency and gravitate towards jobs in that specific area. Don’t try to sell yourself as a general writer for everything from technology to children’s literature. Be THE authority. This will allow you to stand out. After you’ve achieved success in one space, you can branch out to other areas. But throwing out too wide of a net too early can dilute your uniqueness.
Resolution #6:Never sell yourself short.
As a skilled specialists (see above), you deserve to charge a fair price for your know-how. There will always be people bidding lower, but it’s important to decide what you’re worth and stick to it. Explain in your proposals why you’re slightly higher priced, and why you’re more than worth it. Talent trumps price for clients truly interested in doing quality work.
Resolution #7:Learn to upsell.
When you finish jobs, suggest other areas of work you can do for the client. Often they’re too busy to consider all of the variables that may emerge in the days to come. By being proactive you can not only earn more revenue but become a trusted partner that clients will come to again and again.
Whew, that’s enough for today. Naturally, they’re just the tip of the resolution iceberg. But as you start achieving some of these goals, more-and-more you’ll begin to discover other similar areas that will also allow you to standout and get hired. So start finding more work for the year ahead, and cross #1 off your list for 2013.
If the Mayan doomsday predictors are correct (and hey, they were right about Facebook stock…), then the world will end sometime tomorrow.
2013 was shaping up to be a great year. Especially for small businesses and entrepreneurs who were slated to grow at epic proportions -- thanks in part to all the great freelance talent out there.
It’s especially bad news for companies out there who have half-finished business on the table. What if centuries from now, inter-galactic travelers combing through our crumbled universe find the remains of planet Earth? And your company details are somehow salvaged, and put on display in a historical museum on a planet with a name too long to fit in a blog (just like domain names today, eventually they’ll start running out of planet names).
Pretty tough legacy to leave, eh? That’s why you might want to start thinking about some projects to get underway ASAP. Just think of all the quick jobs you could tackle immediately -- and have your company’s star burn a little brighter in centuries to come.
Here are pithy suggestions for things to cross off your Mayan Calendar bucket list:
1. Find a writer to immortalize your business. Tighten-up your messaging to explain why you were destined for eternal greatness.
2. Find a translator to put your messaging into multiple tongues. Who knows what languages they’ll be speaking in the 43rd century?
3. Find a programmer to put your message in computer languages, because you can’t necessarily count on people communicating through words.
4. Find a mobile app developer to fortify your message in the cloud. The more options you have out there, the better your chance of everlasting fame.
And who knows, maybe the Mayan prognosticators will be mistaken again (they were wrong about Google stock). If the day of reckoning fizzles out, you’ll still have projects in progress that are sure to put your business on the way to immortality in our time. All you have to do is post your job to set the wheels in motion. With any luck, the rewards will long-lasting.
Note: One thing we hear often from freelancers and clients alike is how great it is getting to know people while working on Elance, and building personal relationships on the platform. The line between “colleagues” and “friends” is often blurred as one project turns into two, and two turns into ten. Here is a fresh perspective on this topic, from Elancer Ben Gran.
One of my favorite things about being an Elance contractor is that I get to work with a variety of clients all over the U.S. and all over the world. I’ve written for companies in locations ranging from New York to Los Angeles, Seattle to Miami, and overseas (London, Germany, Belgium, Tokyo and Australia).
But even though I’ve worked with more than 100 different clients on Elance, I usually don’t get to meet face-to-face with the people I work with. So it was a lot of fun earlier this year when I traveled to New York City (on unrelated business) and while I was in town, I got to meet up with a few of my favorite Elance clients.
My Elance clients that I got to meet in New York were Vincent Fabrico and Jason Stephens. I’ve worked with all of these guys on various web content and blog writing projects for their companies during the past 2 years. We had talked on the phone and had Skype chats and collaborated on big projects over many months, but we had never actually met in person.
We were able to find a night on everyone’s schedule where my Elance clients came to watch me perform stand-up comedy at a comedy showcase in the East Village. (I’m not just a freelance writer; I also do stand-up comedy – although my comedy thing is more of an “expensive hobby” at this point than a “career”). At first I was afraid that after my Elance clients saw my stand-up routine, they wouldn’t want to work with me anymore – but they all had a great time and complimented me on my performance.
Pictured here (from left to right) are Ben Gran, Vincent Fabrico and Jason Stephens.
It was really great to meet in person and have a few drinks with these people who I had “known” for awhile, but never gotten to spend time with in “real life.” It was reassuring and energizing to get to see the real people behind all those e-mails – it made my work feel that much more real, and made me feel better connected to my clients.
The experience made me reflect on how Elance has changed my whole idea of job security. I started working on Elance back in January 2009. At the time, I had a full-time job at a Fortune 500 company. My sense of financial security was based on a single company, a single industry, and a single paycheck.
The projects/proposals method is an Elance Developer API method that retrieves the proposals for a specific project.
Developers use the bidType parameter of this method to specify whether they wish to see all bids or winning bids only. (Note that, in the Elance system, a project may be awarded to multiple contractors; thus, the return result of a request for winning bids may contain between 0 and n proposals.)
Thanks a million. Thanks two million actually, and counting. That’s the number of registered freelancers we’ve now reached here at Elance. Woo-hoo, two million!
Two million is a historic milestone we couldn’t have achieved without your support and the support of our entire community. To thank you we’ve arranged for a celebratory gift: Free online skills training at Lynda.com for all registered Elancers. It’s our small way of giving back, by helping you further reach your career goals.
If you’re unfamiliar, Lynda is the shining star of video training with 1500+ courses and 84,000+ tutorials. You’re sure to find some awesome materials to help you brush up on current skills or explore new areas. Lynda has tutorials on every skill from web design and development (like PHP and HTML 5) to audio/video, graphic design, accounting and photography.