Elancers at Work

How Elance-oDesk Helped Build One Of The Most Popular Personal Finance Blogs

Hey everyone, Joshua Rodriguez here again. I’ve got some great news to start with. I’m going to begin contributing stories here on a regular basis now. This week, I had a unique opportunity to have a chat with Jeremy Biberdorf from Modest Money. In that conversation, I learned quite a bit about his blog, and what helped him to go from concept to completed vision!

Before We Talk About What Made His Blog Successful, Let’s Look At Some Stats:

According to Alexa Traffic Stats, Modest Money is currently ranked as the 22,165th most popular website in the world and continues to grow steadily. Although that rank may seem pretty low, considering that the Internet is an amazingly big place with billions of websites, that’s actually a remarkable number for a blog to achieve. Jeremy’s domain is highly trusted no matter what metric you look at, and as a result, he receives about 19,000 visitors per month! So, here’s how the conversation went.

Me: Why did you start Modest Money?

Jeremy: Since I have an IT and SEO career background, it makes a lot of sense for me to work on various side projects.  If someone could make extra money while sitting at their computer, I'm sure most people would.  Previously I had created websites in various niches which earned money via referral commission.  Basically I'd get money if I sent traffic to another website and it leads to a sale.  That was all going great, but then Google started to shift their 'rules' from what had previously been acceptable. In an effort to combat that I decided to create a blog since that seemed to be the most effective platform with the current SEO landscape.  Two years later and it was definitely a smart move.  The blog has earned me a fair bit of money and still has a lot of untapped potential.

Me: How long did it take to become overwhelmed?

Jeremy: Well 'luckily' for me I was unemployed and single when I started my blog.  So I was able to put in long hours every single day.  Even without other commitments that started to get overwhelming within the first few months.  At the time I was waking up at 6AM to comment on blogs right when they published their posts.  There was just so much involved between managing my blog, writing, marketing, social media and networking.  It was a wonder how some people managed to do all of this on top of having a full time job and a family.

Me: Did you try to hire local contractors?

Jeremy: To be honest, no I've never hired anyone locally.  At one of my previous jobs my boss had encouraged me use online freelancers.  With affordable wages in other countries, it made a lot of sense to use them for some tasks.  Hiring someone online for small tasks was just a much easier process than doing local interviews and weeding through full resumes and cover letters.  Plus by opening up my search to an international audience I could find much more specialized employees.

5 + 1 Questions With Elance-oDesk Staffer, Jaisimha Sethuram.

1. What’s your job here at Elance-oDesk?

 Answer: I am a Senior QA Engineer at Elance-oDesk. My responsibilities include leading a group of QA engineers, testing the product and making sure the product meets all the quality standards.

I closely interact with Product Managers and Development Engineers to understand the product and its features. My goal is to have best-in-class products.

2. What do you like most about working at Elance-oDesk?

 Answer: People at Elance-oDesk are highly passionate about their work, fun loving and help each other.

The most impressive part of the job is the over-all culture that motivates everyone to make a positive impact within the company.

3. What do you love about today’s changing world of work?

Answer:  I enjoy the flexibility to work from home when needed, team building events and Thursday Buzz (e

ditor’s note: a weekly social get-together for team members). After a fast-paced day of work, many of us get together and spend some time playing ping-pong or tennis -- which definitely acts as a stress buster.

4. What songs are on heavy rotation as you work-away?

Answer: I usually start my workday listening to Smooth Jazz, when I get of most of my strategy-type work completed. Later in the day I switch to some heavy metal/hip-hop to get some adrenaline in rush.

5. When you’re not working, what do you enjoy most?

Answer: I enjoy spending time with my wife (pictured here with me) and family.  Other than that I enjoy long drives, spending time in the gym, swimming and kayaking.

6. (Bonus question!) OK, ask yourself anything. No subject is off the table.

My question and answer:

Do you prefer a car or motorbike?

I have always enjoyed riding motorbikes; it’s a total different experience. I have previously owned 3 motorbikes, but I have yet to buy my new cruiser motorcycle (vroom vroom!).


Home Office Tax Deductions For U.S. Freelancers

Once again it’s nearing the April 15th deadline for filing taxes in America.

While many U.S.-based Elancers know about tax benefits available to the happily self-employed, it’s possible that a large number of those new to freelancing may be unaware of allowable deductions.

This is especially true now that more and more 9-to-5 staffers are making the switch to freelance work (welcome).

Note that for freelancers in other countries, this may not apply directly to you now. But keep these principles in mind if applicable, and at the appropriate time. Naturally all freelancers should consult your own tax advisor before making decisions.

If you are paying U.S. taxes, however, you’ll find a plethora of valuable information on the Internal Revenue Service website. One such page discusses the home office deduction. A few topics covered include:

Requirements for claiming a home-office deduction

• How using your home for office storage differs from working and meeting clients there

• How to determine the amount you can claim on your taxes

• Which forms to use when making home office deductions

Of course your home office is but one of the many possible tax deductions available. While we can’t begin to explain them all in detail here, hopefully this is a good starting point for your own research. Another good tip is to contact fellow Elancers who are tax experts. You know as well as anyone how many great resources are available to us all on Elance. Good luck on those taxes.

Congrats To Elancers Who Helped Fuel StartupBus

StartupBus North America 2014 is now in our rear view mirror, and needless to say it was a gas (as well as another exciting and inspiring journey). Here’s a quick video recap of the action-packed competition that followed the 72-hour StartupBus journey:

Next order of business: Congratulations to contest winner SmartHost.

Their StartupBus pitch introduced a clever new business and app allowing you to estimate the optimum price to charge for your rental property. An example of their differentiating point is, for example, if a huge Amway conference is coming to town they calculate the law of supply & demand into your estimated rate. Pretty smart, eh?

Follow Along As Startup Bus Rolls On

Startup Bus is once again in high gear, as scrappy startup teams across North America (as well as remote Elancers around the globe) motor their way towards Texas for another epic showdown.

Follow the action through Thursday, via our social media pages, as we report live from inside various Startup Buses. This includes regular updates on how a plethora of talented Elancers are helping fuel the innovation.

In fact Elancers have been a huge part of many successful Startup Buses in the past, and have been on several winning teams.

This year, Startup Buses departed Sunday from Mexico City, Kansas City, Seattle, New York City, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Nashville. They’ll wrap up the completion in Texas on Thursday, March 6.

If you’re not familiar with Startup Bus North America, it’s a wild pitch competition. More specifically it’s where an assortment of entrepreneurs (most of whom are complete strangers to each other) pile into a bus with one thought in mind: Combine the know-how onboard (and online) to create a great company.

It’s a 3-day journey where each team buckles down to first decide their best collective idea for a company, then uses every resource available to bring that idea to life before rolling into Austin.

Hold onto your hat, as Startup Bus North America is sure to be a fast and festive journey.

Follow along and enjoy the ride! Oh, and to join in the conversation yourself, use hashtag: #startupbus

Startup Case Study: Freelancers Help Wine App Bubble To The Top

If you’re an entrepreneur with a healthy thirst for success, you’ll be glad to know that the future remains bright. There’s even a case study that validates you’re on the right path.Vivino wine app

As this case study illustrates, here at Elance we’re constantly discovering new startups who’ve taken their business to the next level. Whether it’s getting initial funding, releasing that first product or earning some eye-popping revenues, startups today are enjoying unprecedented success.

But if there’s one theme we hear often from startups, it’s that given the time crunch you’re under, it’s absolutely critical to get to market faster with the best-possible product. “Those who hesitate are lost,” says entrepreneur Heini Zachariassen of Vivino. Founder and CEO of the Copenhagen-based startup, Heini and his team make an engaging phone app that allows wine lovers to photograph and share wine labels – as well as rate and discuss those wines.

Vivino has become a huge global hit, earning the distinction of being the most-downloaded wine app in the world and the highest-ranking wine app in the U.S. To give you an idea of how successful they’ve become, Vivino was recently featured in a Forbes article and has now opened an office in San Francisco.

What made Vivino’s startup success possible? As well as having a great idea for a product, one key factor was working with Elance to supplement their core team. “Without Elance we couldn’t have launched Vivino,” explains Heini. He hired freelancers at all stages of developing and launching the app. This includes hiring online freelancers ranging from mobile app developers to database experts. As mentioned above, there’s an enlightening case study on how Vivino was able to streamline development and get to market faster with a better product.

Check the case study out for some inspirational words, and insightful advice, for any startup looking to gain a competitive advantage. See Vivino case study

Game On: Elancer Creates Sochi Olympics Travel Guide.

One amazing thing about being an Elancer is that you don’t have to be “in the business” to move into a lucrative new business arena. Our marketplace truly allows anyone, anywhere, to do almost anything. If you have an idea, you can bring it to life almost instantly on Elance.My Olympic Sochi

A case in point is Elancer Marina Zdobnova of Southern California. Originally hailing from Sochi, Russia, she noticed that as the Winter Games approached there were little or no travel books on this beautiful area. As one of our Los Angeles area Elance Mobilizers, Marina knew full-and-well that you needn’t be a major player in the publishing industry to create just such a book. You simply need Elancers.

Hence, with no book writing experience, she quickly assembled a team of Elancers and created the definitive guide: My Olympic Sochi: Travel Guide (also available on iTunes and Google Play, as well as Amazon). It details places to visit in the area (including the top 25 adventures), plus Sochi’s rich history, climate, food, people and more.

To create the book, Marina hired two translators, two graphic designers, an editor and an eBook conversion specialist. To go a little deeper on the subject for our readers, Elance asked Marina a few questions we thought apropos:

1.   What’s one surprising thing that most people wouldn’t believe about Sochi?

There was a time when Sochi was full of swamps and considered the worst exile place in Russia, worse than Siberia, due to malaria. Since then swamps were dried, malaria was eradicated, and subtropical trees were planted all over the city’s coast.

2.   What’s the best restaurant in Sochi, and the best food to try while in town?

I'm a big fan of Old Bazaar Restaurant on Nesebrskaya Street, 4, close to Sochi Sea Port. They specialize in traditional Russian and Caucasian cuisines, try their famous khachapuri ‘lodochka’, a boat shaped bread, and borscht, a soup made from beets. While in Sochi, try chanakhi, a stew of lamb in a clay pot with vegetables, while vegetarians may enjoy lobio, a dish of dark red kidney beans cooked with herbs.Marina Zdobnova

3.   Do you have any great tips on using Elancers?

Always be respectful with Elancers. Since people are from different cultures, some things may get lost in translation, so it is important to acknowledge your Elancer’s work and say thank you first, but also indicate what needs to be corrected or modified in a professional manner. Feeling appreciated, Elancers will also treat you with respect and will do even more for you in return.

4.   Can you tell us a little more about yourself?

Sure, my name is Marina Zdobnova and I was born in Sochi and attended Sochi School #16. I graduated from Sochi State University and Babson College, Wellesley, Massachusetts. I now live in Santa Monica, California and for sure am going to Sochi for the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in February 2014. Check out my blog and a video about my book.

A Holiday Message “Yule” Love.

Thanks to Elancers everywhere for a wonderful 2013, and wishing you an amazing 2014. Here’s a short video that says it all.


Happy Holidays,

The Elance Team

Happy National Freelancers Day, United Kingdom!

Thursday is yet another blooming enormous day for entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom, as the sovereign state has wisely decreed November 21st National Freelancers Day.

All day (and into the wee hours of the night, we suspect?) National Freelancers Day Festivities are happening around the region. This includes a major event hosted by the UK’s Professional Contractors Group (PCG) – an organization strong in championing freelance work in the area. They’ll be hosting their Main Event in London with a panel discussion including many A-list speakers, such as former Birmingham City Football Club Managing Director Karren Brady and local radio host Nick Ferrari. The discussion is happening at the London Symphony Orchestra’s historic concert venue, LSO St. Luke’s.

If you’re in London drop by the National Freelancers Day Main Event as the fun gets started at 18.15 pm. Elance’s own Country Manager UK Hayley Conick will also be on hand at the event. If you can’t be there Hayley will also be tweeting during the event, so join the conversation with #NFD2013. You can also follow PCG’s live feed.

While those of us in the Elance community are already well aware of the many benefits of the freelance life, folks in the UK are getting onboard at a record pace as well. It’s estimated that there are some 1.7 million freelancers in the UK alone, contributing in the neighborhood of £95bn to the world economy this year. This helps to explain why freelancing is more than worthy of a National Day, if not a National Week or even Month. Check out these comments about National Freelancers Day and entrepreneurism, gathered from UK heavy-weights ranging from Prime Minister David Cameron to Mayor of London Boris Johnson. Also here’s a recent article in The Telegraph on the surge in freelancing in general, and National Freelancers Day in particular.

Naturally there are lots of other fun and valuable activities happening across the UK on National Freelancers Day, including at co-working spaces, home offices, coffee shops, pubs and wherever freelancers work. Have a great day and enjoy your independence. This day is yours.

As StartupBus Rolled Through Europe, Elance Posted To Facebook at 105 kph.

Here are some highlights from the recent StartupBus Europe, as seen through a few Facebook posts. Congrats to Team Aiden for their victory, creating an app to help fight depression.



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