Tips, Tools, And Tricks

New User-Generated Video: Elance Escrow 101

If you’re a client or freelancer who works on fixed-price jobs in our marketplace, you’re probably well versed on Elance Escrow Protection. It’s a free offering that helps people in our community ensure that both work and payment is received as expected, without surprises.

While we explain Escrow in great detail in our Help Center, some people prefer moving pictures to further clarify how Elance Escrow Protection works. If that’s the case for you, you’ll be glad to know that a Bloomfield, New Jersey-based Elancer has created a fun animation outlining how Escrow works on our platform. Thanks to the animation team at Quality Schnallity Inc. for creating this informative video. Click below to check it out.

Free eBook: Your Launch Pad To World-Class Distributed Engineering Teams

Looking to win the talent war? Distributed engineering may be your ticket to success.

Which is why we’re thrilled to introduce Hire Fast & Build Things, a new eBook written by Elance-oDesk Senior VP of Engineering and Product, Stephane Kasriel. A comprehensive guide on how to find, hire and manage a top-notch team of distributed engineers, which you can download as a PDF for free or grab it to go on Kindle for just $2.99.

Step-by-step guide to distributed engineering teams.

Businesses are abuzz over distributed engineering as a way to hire world-class developers, blending teams of full-time onsite staff with freelance engineers spread out across the globe. And because Elance-oDesk was built using engineering talent from around the world, distributed engineering is baked into our corporate DNA—making this a natural subject for Stephane to write about.

Hire Fast & Build Things features a plethora of valuable information, including:

• Advantages of a distributed engineering team

• Structuring your remote team

• Building a shared infrastructure

• Examples and case studies

• Top insights and tips for instant success

The informative eBook goes into great detail on how to put your team together, gleaned from Stephane’s real-world experience building teams on Elance-oDesk. Get your free copy.

Creating a Great Elance Profile

In addition to being able to write great proposals, one of the most effective ways we’ve discussed in our Freelancer's Guide to Earning More on Elance is to have a great Elance profile. According to our 2011 Freelance Talent Report, the value of an online profile is increasing, with 65% of respondents stating that digital portfolios and online resumes are more effective than traditional resumes in landing a job.

If you’re just getting started on Elance, there are a variety of things that you can do right now to build up your profile to create the best representation of yourself to clients worldwide. If you have not yet familiarized yourself yet with the Elance profile, please visit our User Guide here.

Clients using Elance realize that there is often more to selecting a contractor for work than their Elance Level ranking or total earnings. As a contractor, it’s important to create a profile that best showcases your skills and qualifications, regardless of whether you’ve been using Elance for five days or five years. In this article, we’ll be reviewing the follow key areas: Skills, Portfolio, Keywords, Service Descriptions, Groups and Photos/Logos.



Skills 
On Elance, skills play an important role in differentiating yourself by demonstrating your actual skills and expertise to prospective clients. Based on your membership plan, you can enter up to a particular number of skills to your Elance profile. They are an excellent way to showcase your standing in a particular area, whether it be HTML5, English to Dutch translation, Microsoft Excel 2007, or any of the you may have in your arsenal.

Skills can either be self-rated, meaning you can evaluate yourself, or tested with one of our over 300 Skill Tests, which show how a candidate scored relative to all the other individuals who took the same test. Once you’ve completed the Skill Test of your choice, you can see your percentile and rank among everyone who has taken that particular test, and if you score well as a top performer, that’s another part of your profile that stands out as a  highlight and as a key differentiator. Lastly, if you’ve posted a high score, you can share your results on your favorite social media outlet or email. Remember, over 76 percent of clients are more likely to hire a contractor with tested skills that are relevant to their job.

Tip: Determine your strongest skills and take the Skill Tests for them. Also, taking language skill tests like English Speaking/Writing/Grammar/etc. tests is something you may want to consider if you believe you are qualified to do so.

Portfolio



In today's evolving workplace, portfolios are not limited to graphic artists and visual designers anymore, and they don’t only come in leather-bound presentation cases either. On Elance you can build an online portfolio of your standout work, everything from a series of articles you've written to a website you’ve developed or mobile applications that you’ve built.

Elance provides a filmstrip-like interface that gives you the ability to quickly skim through portfolio items and jump to individual pieces with a simple click. Additionally, you can switch to a “Gallery” view that shows thumbnails of all items for even more convenient browsing. Workers on Elance have uploaded over 1.4 million assets to their portfolios, and that number is growing each day as more contractors are seeing the advantages of having their work samples ready for instant viewing.

Tip: Have at least two (preferably more) examples of your work for each major skill you have advertised in your profile. For example, if you are offering content writing and graphic design, have at least two articles and two visual design pieces in your portfolio.

Keywords
One of the first things a client will do is to utilize keywords, which are the skills they are looking for in contractors (and vice versa) through search. This is one of the most important elements of your profile; including particular keywords can ensure that you appear in certain search results, and can posititvely affect your rank in searches that come up. There should be a handful of important keywords related to your particular skillset, which will be visible to potential clients. Don’t leave it to chance and make sure you make the effort to build your keywords list.

For details on how to add keywords to your profile, please visit the Help article here.

Tip: Don’t overcompensate by adding too many keywords—that may affect your perceived credibility. Spend some honest time compiling 10-15 essential keywords to your particular skillset.

Service Descriptions



This is where you market yourself as a complete package and cover items that may not fit in the other profile sections—the open-ended “essay” portion, if you will. You can give clients a better feel for your professional background, range of services, personality, and communication and work preferences, while also giving them a better feel for who you are as a person.

Mention any credential or achievement that reflects positively on you – graduating from a prestigious university, working for/with a Fortune 500 company, achieving something noteworthy in your field. If you wrote an article for a national publication, make sure to mention that as part of your description. If a website you designed gets millions of hits, make sure you bring that to the forefront. As jobs become competitive, each and every little plug for your skillset can make a huge difference.

Tip: Don’t go straight into bullet points about your accomplishments. Start with at least a one paragraph summary of you, your talents, and your overall work philosophy before you start listing things. Summarize yourself as if it was the only thing potential clients could read about you.

Groups
Potential clients appreciate someone who demonstrates expertise in their field, and Elance Groups are among the most prominent ways to show off your skills on your profile. There are over 80 different groups on Elance, each sponsored by a different company or organziation, and each with their own membership requirements. Requirements range from passing the Elance skill test for a particular area, to achieving a specific level ranking on Elance, so clients can be assured that group members are among the cream of the crop.

Photos/Logos
While it may not seem like it to some, uploading a photo of yourself adds credibility to your profile. Clients are looking for online talent with qualified skills, but despite great collaborative tools available (like Workroom messages) a human connection can ease their concerns about remote work.

Tip: If you are particularly camera shy, consider hiring a graphic design professional on Elance to create a logo for you/your company. It won’t be free, but it at least shows that you are serious about your “brand” and ultimately the services you are offering.

Sample Profiles
If you happen to need some inspiration, here are some more examples of great contractor profiles:

Nix Solutions (Web & Programming)
Jenifer Toussant (Admin Support)
The NetMen Corp (Design & Multimedia)
Synapse India (Web & Programming)
The Write Genie (Writing & Translation)
Media Financial Consulting (Engineering & Manufacturing)
Rebecca742 (Writing & Translation)

Do you have any suggestions to on creating and improving your profile? Drop us a comment below and let us know what tips you have. Good luck!

Team Spotlight: Our Marketplace Operations Crew.

We have lots of talented folks who work hard behind the scenes, helping create a great experience for Elancers. One shining example is our Marketplace Operations Team. They’re the group that maintains the quality of our Elance marketplace.


Garnor and Jon from the Elance Marketplace Operations Team

To shed some light on the Marketplace Operations team and their role, we sat down for a quick chat with Garnor, Jon, Gina and Bill – four managers on the Marketplace Operations team. Here are some highlights of that discussion:

Q: What’s the role of the Marketplace Operations Team?
A: Our mission is to help all Elancers have a great experience and outcome when using Elance. We believe that the key to that is creating trust. Businesses who use Elance want to know that they’re hiring freelancers who can get the job done right. Similarly, our freelancers want to know that they’ll get paid for the work they complete. And, all of our members want the right set of educational and help content available when they need it.

Tips on Managing Online Freelancers.

As our workforce physically moves to a remote and contingent model, it’s important to also adapt from a philosophical and logistical standpoint. In this thought-provoking post by TurbineHQ’s Matthew Stibbe, the CEO of the popular HR management tool maker discusses some important factors to keep in mind.

Bringing new flexibility to your workplace can result in a 45% reduction in HR costs and a 38% reduction in real estate costs. It can improve retention rates and employee satisfaction and attracts emerging talent. It can help to eliminate down time and improve customer service. For these very reasons, remote and mobile working has become a reality for all sizes of business and forecasts show that by 2015 there will be 1.3 billion remote workers around the world.

The advent of portable technology, cloud computing and international talent sourcing has created this fantastic opportunity for businesses to reap the range benefits from a new style of working. This seismic shift in the way we work does not, however, come without challenges. Managing remote workers means changing the way you think.

Leveraging the Many Advantages of Freelancing

The business world is changing, especially now that companies increasingly turn to online freelance help. But like anything new, freelance jobs demand special attention to details. Here are some insights from Katie Gove, Managing Director at Copenhagen-based Trellis.

Moving to the extended use of freelancers challenges the traditional project management and product development process. Through our work with over 50 companies, and after evaluating several benchmark studies involving over 400 companies who use freelancers, Trellis has gained enormous insight into patterns, structures and behaviors in contract work.

One thing that is clear is that companies, project managers and freelancers typically underestimate the actual gap between expectation and reality regarding the process of delivering across organizations. To succeed, you must pay careful attention to the details. In situations where the contract sponsor (the client) has been able to not only make the arrangement work but where they are beginning to reap great benefits with regards to innovation, increased productivity and growth, there are several traits that are shared.

Client Tip: The Difference Between Average Copywriters and Spectacular Copywriters

Looking for a writer? Or writing yourself? Freelance copywriter Bob Younce has some sage advice gleaned from years of real-world experience. Checkout some valuable insights from the wordsmith himself:

When it comes to creating spectacular copy, there’s one thing you can’t live without. It’s something that separates good copy from great copy, something that makes the difference between your writer’s words being read or being skipped over.

I’m talking about editing.

To be sure, there are a number of important skills that go into good copywriting. Your writer needs a mastery of the language. Your writer needs to understand the audience. And among other things, your writer needs to know how to use voice and how to structure copy.

However, even if your writer has amazing technical skill and passion, failure to edit the work will waste all that effort.

Introducing Opportunities: Your Central Page for Recommended Job Matches (Also New!) – and Lots More.

Wow, with a blog headline that long, you gotta figure something pretty meaty is being unveiled. Right you are. Elance is proud to announce a dramatically easier way for freelancers to land perfect jobs – plus keep those jobs close-at-hand.

Meet your new Opportunities page. And believe us, the page is much easier to use than it is to write headlines for.

Your Opportunities page is where we’ll begin sending you recommended job opportunities daily. Part of your existing Home page, simply select the Opportunities link to toggle over at any time to see new job matches from Elance clients. Now in Beta, we’ll be refining and perfecting your recommendations as we make your Opportunities page even better in the days to come.

Hourly Jobs vs. Fixed Price Jobs

One question we’re asked often is whether it’s best to work on jobs by the hour, or to set a fixed-price before the job begins. It’s a query we get from our freelancers and clients, regardless of whether they’re newbies or seasoned Elancers.


Although there’s no easy answer, here are some basic guidelines to follow:

If you need wiggle room, hourly makes sense.
The best thing about working hourly is it allows flexibility for changing requirements and scope. If you’re creating a brand new multi-media rich website from scratch, the road ahead is more than likely a wee bit uncertain. Variables can change as quickly as the weather, and when the work is hourly you’re both able to adjust on-the-fly.

Hiring on Elance: 10 Elance Features for Businesses

At Elance, we hire a lot of contractors through our platform to help run the business. We take advantage of all the great features available to businesses like yours and thought we could highlight some in case you’re not already familiar with them. See if you’re acquainted with all of these features; if you aren’t using them already, take a look! We think you’ll enjoy the benefits they have to offer.

1. Hire contractors by the hour and get protection with our hourly work guarantee

Fixed price work makes sense for many jobs, but some projects are better managed on an hourly basis. Sometimes you need the flexibility to determine how much your contractor will work on a weekly basis. With hourly jobs, you can still have full control over your budget by setting weekly maximums.

We have invested in tools to give you confidence in managing hourly work online. With our Work View™ technology, you can view and comment on screenshots of the work at any time and review and approve timesheets weekly. Simply ask your contractor to download Work View, and the software will automatically take screenshots while the contractor is working and upload them to your workroom. By using Work View, you and your contractor are covered by the Elance Hourly Work Guarantee, so be sure to take advantage of this feature for all of your hourly projects. Learn More.

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