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.
Scorching weather, the smell of charcoal burning on BBQ grills, and the booming explosions of fireworks can only mean one thing: Summer is officially in full swing, and with that comes the Fourth of July, a day where Americans nationwide will be celebrating our nation’s 233rd birthday and independence as a sovereign nation.
But our nation’s birthday isn’t the only cause for celebration on the fourth – it’s the idea behind independence that has professionals worldwide celebrating.
Providers, here’s some food for thought: In the U.S. job market today, roughly 42 million workers are independent contractors, part-time or temporary staffers, and/or are self employed, and with over 300 million people alive in the states, that means almost one out of every eight Americans holds one of the aforementioned titles. If you’re a freelancer, contractor, consultant, or anything in between, this meansyou!
The shift to online work as a professional job becomes more apparent with each day that passes. As communication and internet technologies continue to become faster, more stable, and more ubiquitous in society (and as the economy continues to prove that it’s not the most stable of entities), one can only expect the 42 million to grow at a brisk pace. And when you consider the advancements in online work tools, maybe the word “brisk” will be too much of an understatement.
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.
"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?
However, reaching the maximum potential that WordPress has to offer is often times one of those things that is easier said than done, and creating a theme or layout from scratch that takes advantage of everything it has to offer can be a nightmare to even begin to think about.
Instead of building from scratch, why not find one you like and give it a little bit of a tweak? Or even a heavy makeover if necessary? This is where a WordPress development framework comes in handy. Paul Andrew over at Smashing Magazine wrote up a great post outlining these frameworks and why they should always be considered, especially if you’re a WordPress theme developer.
Seriously, who isn't on the outsourcing bandwagon these days? A recent news story about late-night host David Letterman popped up regarding his and many others' venture into the world of outsourcing. According to the LA Times, Letterman has been asking freelance writers to send jokes his way, and if it makes it on the air, you cash out an easy $75-100 dollars. From the LA Times (via WalletPop):
Reporting from Los Angeles and New York -- "Beautiful day in New York City," David Letterman mused on the "Late Show" recently. "Am I right about that? A gorgeous day. It was so nice today that AIG gave a bonus to Al Roker." That joke, part of Letterman's March 17 monologue, wasn't penned by the late-night host or one of the dozen writers on his staff. It was written by Phil Johnson, a freelance writer and Web developer, sitting at home in Boston. Johnson says he has gotten more than 160 of his jokes on the "Late Show With David Letterman" and, before that, "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."
There's always a rhyme to my reason, and with this, the reason why this article caught my attention (and why I am subsequently now passing it on to you) is this:
Adding an image to your content, regardless of it's a blog, book, email newsletter, or website, isn’t just a suggestion — in this day and age, it’s a requirement. Images add a wealth of depth and is the bait that potentially grabs the wandering eyes of those just passing by. However, finding a compelling image that is royalty-free and completely legal to use can be a tad bit difficult. (And no, you can’t just Google Image Search your way out of this unless you’re looking to spend a little time in the big house.)
A site I frequent to brush up on my graphic design skills called TutorialBlog posted an awesome list of 25 stock photo sites, both free and paid. Take a look before you go on your next image search.
A few of my favorites freebies made the A-list on TutorialBlog's list, including Free Range, Stock Xchng, and Every Stock Photo (really awesome), but there are a couple of paid sites that didn't make the cut that are worthwhile to mention.
Open source. It’s out there, and my bet is that you’ve already run into it in some form probably without even noticing it. Its prevalence in the real world is palpable — there’s open source software, hardware, books, journalism, politics — even an open source soda dubbed “OpenCola” has been seen in the wild. And after taking a hard look at the latest trends on our April Elance Online Work Index, it’s clear that this whole “open” idea won’t be vanishing anytime soon.
But what does the term “open source” actually mean? Some believe, “It’s free as in freedom, not free as in beer,” while others say, “Sometimes, it’s free as in beer, too!” Others preach, “It’s the open sharing of knowledge,” and some others yell, “Free code!”
With all of this open source talk floating around, it’s easy to get mixed up with what the term really means. Here’s a quick primer to get you started.
In order to be a part of the open source crew, there are 10 rules in the Open Source Initiative's definition that one must follow. But the main pillars behind the idea are these three points: (1) there must be free redistribution (meaning your code can be shared freely), (2) the original source code must be obtainable in a reasonable fashion, and (3) you must allow modifications and derived works. (See the full definition here.)
A new month means new Skill Tests here at Elance HQ, and if you’ve been patiently waiting to show off your knowledge on a series of newly available skills, now is your chance. Don’t forget, Skill Tests are always free here at Elance, so if you’ve got a little spare time, give it a shot. Believe me, it can make your profile page really stand out from the rest. And without further ado:
Adobe Photoshop CS4, one of the new tests added this month, isn’t just any run-of-the-mill year-over-year upgrade. Adobe has made some major changes on the exterior paint job as well as under the hood. Some of the new features include (warning: technical jargon ahead) a new “Adjustments Panel”, a “Masks Panel”, extended depth of field, fluid canvas rotation, significant upgrades in 3D object handling, content-aware scaling (very neat), smoother panning and zooming, and more. One more thing: Photoshop CS4 is the first ever version to fully support 64-bit processors (Windows only — Apple fans will have to wait until CS5).
Work at your own schedule. Get comfortable at the workplace of your choosing. How much work and how much money — you call the shots. You are the boss. This all may sound tantalizing to the business-suit wearing nine-to-fiver, but there are a number of things to consider before diving head first into the freelancing pool. We've asked Ilise Benun, co-founder of Marketing Mentor, to give us her insights on living the life of a freelancer.
“I know how to do X, so I’ll just make a business out of that and life will be good.”
You probably said that to yourself when you first thought about freelancing. But if you’re totally new to the concept or have been toying with the idea a little while now, know this: It isn't quite as easy as it seems.
If you’re serious about taking advantage of the “freedom” inherent in freelancing, the only way to make it work is to be realistic, because unrealistic expectations can cause extreme disappointment. So if that’s your aim, read on and take a look at the real world of freelancing; it may save you a lot of time in the long run.
Myth #1: You’ll be a creative (or techie, or other professional) running a business. Reality: Being a successful freelancer starts with the right mindset. You must see yourself as an entrepreneur providing services, not a designer, developer, writer, or any other skilled professional making money from your skill or talent. This is a subtle but important distinction. If you see yourself as a professional who provides services, or, better yet, a solver of problems, you’ll realize that what you do commercially for others is based on their need. And focusing on the needs of the market — instead of on yourself — is a direct path to a thriving business.
Myth #2: You’ll be free to do whatever you want. Reality: Freedom is a double-edged sword. In theory, it’s true that you are free to do whatever you want, however, some of those things that you don’t want to do – like bookkeeping and marketing – are essential to the survival of your business. If you ignore them, you may singlehandedly undermine your own success. You are certainly free to do that, but it’s not a very good idea.