Market Trends

Nielsen State of the Media: The Social Media Report

In a recently published slideshow, The Nielsen Company showed that social media's popularity continues to grow, particularly using mobile technology, which is continued good news for developers and app makers across the board, in addition to social media marketers.

Some highlights from their findings:

  • Social networks and blogs continue to dominate Americans’ time online, now accounting for nearly a quarter of total time spent on the Internet.
  • Social media has grown rapidly – today nearly 4 in 5 active Internet users visit social networks and blogs.
  • Close to 40 percent of social media users access social media content from their mobile phone.
  • Across a snapshot of 10 major global markets, social networks and blogs reach over three-quarters of active Internet users.
  • U.S. internet users spend more time on Facebook than any other web brand (Blogger, Tumblr, Twitter, LinkedIn).

To view the full slideshow, including figures on social media demographic breakdowns, please visit Nielsen's site here.

Looking to improve social media marketing for your business or personal brand? Find a social media marketing professional on Elance!


Infographic: How Small Businesses Use and Lose Time

If you own your own business, you surely know how difficult it can be to find enough time in the work day. Earlier this week, Intuit posted an interesting infographic on information they've compiled on small business owners, their work habits, and the ways they're trying to increase productivity with their limited hours. Some highlights:

  • The top goal for small business owners in the upcoming year is to use their time more efficiently.
  • In August 2011, small business hourly employees worked an average of 108 hours, roughly a 25-hour work week.
  • Alternatively, 46% of small business owners report working more than 40 hours a week.
  • 50% of small businesses revaled that knowledge workers spend about half of their day on necessary but unproductive tasks. Perhaps they could hire a Virtual Assistant? 

    • 36% spent forwarding emails and doing follow-up, dealing with spam and unsolicited calls
    • 14% spent contacting people and finding information

  • lists Elance as one of 12 tools that can help small business save time and money.

To view the full infographic, please visit Intuit here.

We've discussed how Elance can help small businesses, from the point when an entrepreneur takes an idea to execution to helping existing businesses save money and increase resources. For small business owners looking to make the most of their time and resources, here are some hand-picked pieces of advice from the Elance Blog:


Survey: Small Business To Increase Tech Spending

Yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, Sarah E. Needleman wrote about a recent survey that revealed small and midsize businesses are planning to increase their spending on technology over the next 12 months.

CompTIA, a nonprofit trade association for the technology industry, polled 602 IT professionals at firms with up to 499 employees in May. The findingsof their Third Annual Small and Medium Business Technology Adoptions Trends study show that one-third of respondents expect to increase their IT budgets by 10% or more, with most looking to improve network efficiencies, among other goals. Seven out of ten small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) surveyed said they expect to increase their technology spending over the next 12 months.

From the study:

“Technology is more accessible, more affordable and more available to SMBs than ever before,” said Seth Robinson, director, technology analysis, CompTIA. “SMBs may not have an abundance of capital to invest, so they have to make every dollar count. But the majority is willing to spend money on new technologies, especially solutions that give them capabilities on par with a larger enterprise. Technology plays an integral role in the life of a small business.”

The complete study is available at no cost to CompTIA members or by contacting


Elance Survey: Small Businesses Taking an Online Road to Recovery

Today we're pleased to announce the results from our annual survey on small business hiring trends. The survey reveals the job outlook is bright for people working online as businesses continue to adopt online hiring as a core strategy to remain agile in today's economic climate.

Small-and medium-sized businesses also show that adaptability and efficiency are key motivating factors for hiring online professionals with 73% of businesses citing the flexibility to scale up and down quickly as a key benefit and 60% indicating faster time to hire vs. traditional hiring approaches yielding huge time savings.

Businesses Gain More Mileage with Hybrid Hiring Models
Growing numbers of companies are planning to scale up their online hiring after reaping the benefits of a flexible, on-demand team of experts. Eighty-three percent of businesses plan to hire at least 50% of their workers online in the next 12 months, and nearly half of all businesses plan to make 90% of their hires online. Only 10% of respondents plan to hire 90% onsite and 10% online in the next year, showing strong business interest in expanding internal teams with professionals in the cloud.

Online workers play a key role to businesses with 87% of survey respondents indicating that online contractors are a vital part of their business. Several key drivers that motivate businesses to hire online are: cost savings (85%), flexibility to scale up and down (73%) and faster time to hire (60%). In fact, 94% experienced at least a 25% time savings by hiring online while 76% have cut their times by 50% or more. In addition, 89% of respondents have realized a significantly reduced time for project cycles while 66% sliced half or more off project completion times.

5 Benefits to Hiring From the Human Cloud

In this day and age, there is an abundance of professional talent waiting to be leveraged, but it often poses a challenge to find what you need locally. Enter the Internet. David Bratvold, founder of The Daily Crowdsource, the leading resource for crowdsourcing-related news, shares five reasons why turning to online workers makes the most sense for your next hiring decision.

Whether you call it freelancing, crowdsourcing, cloudsourcing, independent contracting, or any other fancy buzzword, it’s important to understand the benefits to hiring labor from a cloud of workers through the Internet. Here are five reasons to look to the cloud for your next hire:

1. You’ll get quick turnaround times
Cloud workers tend to work from project to project (or only a few at a time), so it’s likely that yours will be the most important project to them at that moment. That’s quite the contrast to an internal employee or agency with up to 20 projects going at any given time. There’s also no overhead, middleman, or management structure to slow down the communication process. You’ll be communicating directly with the worker, who’s anxious to finish your project and get paid.

2. You can hire experts
Imagine a company which only employs experts. The value of output would be extremely high. With hiring from the human cloud, you’re giving your business the opportunity to work only with experts. When you need a website designed, rather than train or hire an internal employee who would only rise to perhaps an average designer, the human cloud can deliver you a website design expert whose job (and passion) is solely designing creative websites. Cloud workers specialize in a specific niche from a wide range of possibilities. These are people who love what they specialize in, and typically have a lot of experience. For those who haven’t yet built an extensive Job History on Elance, they can take one of hundreds of Elance Skill Tests that evaluate and rate their expertise, which should help you determine the most qualified candidates. Would you rather hire someone who eats, breathes, & dreams about writing, or rely on your existing office staff to develop your website copy?

American Time Use Survey: Work From Home Numbers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently that in 2010, over 80 percent of American employees worked on weekdays, with 35 percent on weekends. The American Time Use Survey (ATUS) data includes the average amount of time per day in 2010 that individuals worked, did household activities, and engaged in leisure and sports activities, but more importantly offers interesting numbers on work-from-home Americans.

Among the significant findings for online workers:

  • Many more people worked on weekdays than on weekend days: 82 percent of employed persons worked on an average weekday, compared with 35 percent on an average weekend day.
  • On the days that they worked, 24 percent of employed persons did some or all of their work at home, and 83 percent did some or all of their work at their workplace. Men and women were about equally likely to do some or all of their work at home.
  • Self-employed workers were three times more likely than wage and salary workers to have done some work at home on days worked—64 percent compared with 19 percent.
  • On the days that they worked, 36 percent of employed people age 25 and over with a bachelor's degree or higher did some work at home compared with only 10 percent of those with less than a high school. Compared to our recent Freelance Talent Report, that number of online workers who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher jumps to 69%, suggesting that more and more college graduates are getting their work done at home.

To review the full release and the corresponding tables, please visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

JWT Intelligence's 100 Things to Watch in 2011


As part of their yearly forecast, JWT Intelligence, one of the leading marketing communications agency networks in the world, put together a slideshow called "100 Things to Watch in 2011," which we thought would be particularly interesting to all of the Elancers out there. Many of these "100 Things" them are technology-centric; some are simply people representing pop culture, sports, architecture, fashion and other sectors. Several may have a hand in altering the way we freelance and work online, some will give us more tools for communication, and some are just plain cool.

100 Things to Watch in 2011

Here's a sampling of some of the entries:

3. Apps Beyond Mobile
With more of our desktop activities migrating to the Internet,Web developers are applying the principles of mobile app culture—software that provides fast links to games, entertainment, news, etc.—to desktop computers and browsers. Apple [has launched] an App Store for Macs, Google has created the Chrome Web Store (an “open marketplace for Web apps”), and new Mozilla tools let anyone turn a browser into an app store.

What’s In Store for 2011? We Make Our Predictions


 We’re capping off our 2010 Year in Review not by reflecting on the past, but looking towards the future of work as we see it. You’ve probably noticed in our year-end review and throughout our quarterly Online Employment Reports a shift in demand for specific skills in the Elance marketplace—but what trends are we really looking at, beyond the numbers?

Here are some of our predictions for the new year:

Digital Portfolios Push Resumes to the Brink of Extinction
Simply put, digital portfolios provide businesses and employers far more context and insight into a potential hire than any traditional resume ever could. Case in point: Throughout the course of the past year, records on Elance were continually broken as the number of individual online portfolio assets surpassed 1.2 million and the number of online worker profiles exceeded 300,000. In 2011, expect referencing of verified work history, digital portfolios, online test scores, online reviews, social graph and social media footprint to become the standard for hiring short or long-term employees.

Online Work Flourishes, More Businesses Hire in the Cloud
Every year, advancements in technology continue to take communication to unprecedented heights. Businesses both large and small will adopt more robust online tools, like shared digital workrooms, real-time collaboration, telepresence and online employment platforms to hire the people they need to get the job done. Online work won’t be just a buzzword in 2011 – it will be the way to do business, period.

Web Design: Desktop Ditched for Mobile
Back in the day, the first step was build a website, then build a mobile app. However, consumers and businesses in 2010 have made it clear: With a 98% increase in demand for mobile developers on Elance, touchscreen tablets and mobile devices are becoming the ultimate number one priority. In 2011, it will be absolutely key for businesses, startups and entrepreneurs looking to construct new websites or revamp existing ones to design with mobile in mind. Expect to see simpler, cleaner, more straightforward web designs and a shift in design philosophy that puts mobile first, desktop second.

Traditional Marketing is Dead
The numbers do not lie. In 2010, businesses have signaled a shift in investments for freelance talent that has gone from traditional marketing techniques like direct mail, telemarketing and other forms of traditional marketing, to cutting edge forms of promotion and customer acquisition, like Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing. Next year, traditional marketing will become even more obsolete as businesses will be drawn towards viral and social marketing methods.

What are your predictions for 2011? Post your thoughts below and then be sure to stop by and read our other predictions for next year in the Elance 2010 Year in Review, which also features The Top Freelancing Cities in America, The Best and Worst Moments in Work, and more.

Why Big Companies Hire Freelancers

This morning, the latest contractor to join our crew asked me: "Why does MTV want to work with us? They have amazing designers and are a huge company. What can we do that they haven't completely mastered?" It was a fair question. Why does MTV outsource work? Or AOL, SAP, NBC or any of our other customers? Is it because any company with a three letter all-cap acronym can't built its own technology? Nope, that's not it at all. We've personally run into 6 different reasons. I wouldn't be surprised if there were others, and I'd be stoked to hear all about it in the comments. Ok, let's kick it off:

  • They're slammed.
  • The idea/strategy was pitched and included your services.
  • They are stuck.
  • The internal team lacks a specific specialty.
  • Politics prevent internal allocations.
  • Accountability. We just get things done.

They're slammed.
"Help us [obiwan kanobi]. We have more tasks than people." This is by far the most obvious answer. Some times, they are just plain busy. Of course, that doesn't stop executives from thinking up innovative solutions to company problems. It certainly doesn't stop customer service from digging up issues with their applications. The needs just keep rolling in.

At SXSW, we heard a speaker from Google describe project managers as having either "a s**t funnel, or a s**t umbrella". Either they are trying to drink from the fire hose of requests and steer everything, or they are trying to protect the focus of their team to get some key project completed. Either way, their job is to effectively use available resources to accomplish the most things with the highest business value. Sometimes, companies have more money available than people. And that is where we fit in. You, my friend, are a tool in their belt. They have a deadline, a scope and a budget. The pm is your best friend. That is actually who contracts you and pays you bills. Executives are great and are often the person who can offer a way in. Project managers are the freelancer's real customer and keep the door open.

The idea was pitched and included your services.
The MTV project came though a media strategy company. We are a sub contractor, the execution arm of the project team. They approached MTV with an idea: "You could increase your business by tapping into this specific market segment in this way. " Executives at MTV examined the proposal, deemed it valid and agreed. Design was included in the strategy proposal. Enter Shane, Peter, Reid & Crew.

I love this sales method. No RFPs. No competition. Simply find a way to add value to a company, get to the right person and then pitch the idea. Its a phenomenal approach to gigs with great companies. If the idea is yours and they like it (as long as you can back your ability to deliver), the project is yours to implement.

They are stuck.

I used to ask one of my early mentors every time we met, "What do you know about my business that I don't?" It is fairly common on long projects to be so involved and married to assumptions and ideas, that you suddenly end up trapped. You can't see anything past your own shoes.

Complete Cloud Control in 2020?

In 2020, you, those you work with, and nearly everyone else that is digitally connected will access data, software applications, and all information through “cloud”-based services like Google Docs, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook,, and more, according to a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project Study.

Considering how much data the general public digests through the cloud in today’s world, the majority of experts agree that this trend will only move forward by the end of the upcoming decade.

Out of an expert sample group of 371, 72 percent agreed that by 2020, most people will be completing their work through web-based applications via computers and mobile phones as opposed to utilizing a general purpose PC. In contrast, 25 percent disagreed by saying most people will still be doing their work the old fashioned way – with software running on a general-purpose PC. As for cloud applications? Those will be useful, but “the most innovative and important applications will run on (and spring from) a PC operating system.”


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