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.
Every so often, someone invariably asks us, “Why? Why Oslo?” Yes, inquiring minds want to know why, of all cities, Oslo, Norway is the location of our first European office. After all, Europe is teeming with major economic centers (see: London, Berlin and Geneva to name a few). To which we smile and calmly reply, “Enkelt, fordi Oslo er egalitære...” (Translation: Easy, because Oslo is egalitarian…).
The fact is, when you’re blazing new trails to make work accessible to anyone, anywhere, what better place to center your European activities than a city where freedom and equality is paramount? That’s what Elance is all about. In case you don’t know, Oslo is a dynamic and modern melting pot of different backgrounds (with a 30% immigrant population) and cultures (with a focus on social fairness and open-mindedness across the board).
There is also a tremendous devotion to equal rights in Oslo, as evidenced by business women who are highly-respected and receive equal pay and promotions. Ditto for its great economic and class equality, with most Oslo inhabitants enjoying a uniform (and extremely high) standard of living. The people of Oslo are also highly-educated and skilled, which correlates directly to everything we do here at Elance. And they’re passionate about that all-important work/life balance, including offering parents a full year of paid paternity leave (which can be split between the mother and father).
And how about this: Transparency is key in Oslo – with public access to all salary and tax information for every resident. That’s the sort of openness Elance works so hard to give freelancers and businesses who use our platform. They also like to walk a lot in Oslo, which is really cool … although it has nothing to do with Elance. And if you’re there don’t forget to try the pickled herring (sursild). It’s ridiculously good when fresh.
Oh, Oslo is a beautiful town too, as you can see from the photo – taken early morning outside the entrance to Elance’s office at Fornebu.
So that’s why Elance is in Oslo, and why we love the city so much. If anyone asks, let them know too.
Katrin Hippler, Elance’s Marketing Program Coordinator in Europe, had the chance to visit Tunisia and present at the World Bank conference. Here is an account of Katrin’s experience.
Tell us about Tunisia and why you were there.
Located in North Africa, Tunisia is bordered by Algeria, Libya and the Mediterranean Sea. Some of the biggest challenges Tunisia and its 10.5 million residents are facing after the Tunisian revolution include tackling the rise in unemployment, supporting job growth and improving career-related education. Unemployment is quite high, at 18% in Tunisia, and most of the unemployed are recent university graduates. Elance was invited to participate in a two-day conference initiated by the World Bank on the topic “Favoring employment through online service delivery,” held on May 25 and 26 in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia.
Can you tell us a little more about the World Bank conference?
To support the Tunisians in their post-revolution period, the World Bank initiated a conference with presentations, panel discussions and workshops with relevant stakeholders, including national employment agencies, universities and schools, the Tunisian Central Bank, PayPal and Elance. The main objective of the conference was to identify alternative employment opportunities for the Tunisian working population by using new technologies. Participants of the conference joined different working groups to help define the framework of a pilot project targeting unemployed Tunisians and recent university graduates by providing support and additional training on tapping into online employment.
How did Elance participate in the event?
I presented on the topic “The Human Cloud — Changing the Way of Work,” I introduced the audience to the opportunities of online work and how online work platforms like Elance can help to remedy the problems of the traditional labor market in Tunisia as individuals get the chance to successfully provide their services online.
In a recent blog post, we shared a new slideshow from The Nielsen Company on the growth of social media, particularly through channels using mobile technology. While there were some really interesting demographic breakdowns in their presentation, the following YouTube video really highlights the "big picture" worldwide adoption of social media.
Did you know:
Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the United States
If Facebook were a country, it'd be the world's 3rd largest
A new member joins LinkedIn every second
50% of the mobile Internet traffic in the UK is for Facebook
Social gamers will buy $6 billion in virtual goods by 2013
Movie goers buy only $2.5 billion in real goods
If Wikipedia were made into a book, it would be 2.25 million pages long and take over 123 years to read
The world of online marketing changes often, and as any webmaster can attest to—keeping up with the latest and greatest can be a full-time job in itself. As critical to your web success as an online marketing strategy can be, you can make a world of difference yourself by applying a handful of core concepts!
First, make sure you take a look at some of the key articles on SEO and web traffic right here on the Elance Blog. Some highlights:
Next, we've scoured the web compiling some great articles to help you solidify your online marketing initiatives—from improving your SEO ranking, driving PPC success, to better external link building:
Help Your SEO Ranking: A Three Part Series via Piehead
Understanding how search engines work can make it relatively simple. The three concepts that search engines base their algorithms on are relevance, popularity, and authority. There you have it! Consider yourself enlightened. Well, not unless you understand what these mean in our context.
Getting the word out about your brand isn't as difficult or cost-prohibitive as it used to be. Angelia Kane, Marketing Consultant and director of The Bedtime CEO, translates basic techniques exhibited by street vendors in Bangkok into effective marketing campaigns for you.
May I Have Some Profit With My Satay, Please?
In a tough economy, you can forget about formal marketing training and B-school theories. To succeed in today’s marketplace, you need to use street smarts. Combining commonsense and hustle, street smart entrepreneurs know how to make a viable living. They may not be MBAs, but their real-world savvy can teach us all.
Our unlikely classroom is located in the bustling streets of Bangkok, Thailand. There, street food vendors serve everything from breakfast to 2am snacks and generate $1 billion annually in the process. These savvy entrepreneurs transform simple, local ingredients into tasty meals.
Panrop Kamlah became one of the noodle kings of Bangkok, all from his noodle cart. Already earning $175 a night using a commercial dough, he further improved his product with his own, homemade dough. Business grew as a result, helping him launch more carts. Then with the assistance of family and friends, he expanded into a full-fledged franchise. As of 2009, he had over 1,500 franchisees.
Resourcefulness Wrapped In a Banana Leaf
Street food vendors are resourceful out of necessity. For poor vendors coming from the countryside, they have to “make do” with any cheap tool they could find, even with the humble banana leaf.
Banana leaves are a versatile and prolific tool for Thai vendors. They make handy takeout containers that impart foods with a mild aroma and flavor. When molded into geometric shapes, they create a labeling system. Pyramid, conical, or triangular shapes indicate a sweet or savory product inside. Specially cut, angled or looped leaf tips on rice packages distinguish the ones made with coconut milk from those made with taro or palm fruit.
So find your banana leaf. Create the unexpected from accessible tools.
The Right Location Is In Front Of Your Customers
Success on the streets of Bangkok, or any street for that matter, means picking the right location. Where are your competitors? Are there too many similar products in your area? How high is the foot traffic? With so many street vendors in Bangkok, that it’s common for vendors to go door-to-door to sell their wares. Yes, the noodle cart does make house calls.
As an entrepreneur or freelancer, you probably have some sort of an online location: a website or even a social media page. But are you working unnoticed on a crowded street corner or are you a standout online? Do your customers know where you are? How high is your traffic? If they’re not coming to your cart, what are you doing to deliver to your customer’s doorstep?
A successful soup vendor doesn’t just sell soup. He builds a made-to-order experience. He combines a variety of noodles, meats, vegetables and garnishes all cooked to the customer’s liking. Customers can then fine-tune their soup with spicy, tangy or savory condiments.
The demand for social media, search engine optimization, and internet marketing skills as a whole has exploded in the world of online work. After all, why wouldn’t it? The internet provides the marketing industry a new, low-cost platform to distribute information (read: marketing materials) on a global scale in a variety of formats – video, still images, audio, text, interactive games, and more.
A Facebook Fan Page is one perfect example of one of these new marketing vehicles available for a business to utilize. After a recent redesign, these pages are now very similar to standard user profile pages in looks as well as functionality. These pages include a Wall tab that publishes your news feed as well as user comment posts, an Info tab that is populated with nibbles of your company’s information, a self-explanatory Photos tab, and several other default tabs. Additionally, you can add your own custom set of application tabs, some of which are completely customizable.
If your business doesn’t have a Fan Page yet, you better be asking yourself why you don't. These specialized Facebook pages offer a gaggle of benefits that would turn any entrepreneur, large business, or corporation's head:
1. Community Building: The Fan Page is a great platform for your loyal followers to come together for your product or service by utilizing the Wall feature or other available modular applications. Users can submit text testimonials, post pictures, create and upload video, hold discussions with each other – all supporting the growth of your online community.
2. Search Engine Optimization: As discussed in one of our previous posts, the benefits of creating a Fan Page also give you more footing in search ranking. By publishing backlinks to your business’ pages as well as having a Facebook Fan Page with your name in the title, your business will be receiving some big bonus points in the SEO department.
Search Engine Optimization nowadays is far more than "title tags", "meta tags", and URL formatting. In this day and age, newer techniques have been discovered to give your search ranking a little bit of a boost. One of these new techniques, called social media bookmarking, is a blazingly-hot topic in the SEO world today. We've asked SEO expert Jason Gorham, CEO of SharkStrike.com, to give us a quick tour on why social media bookmarking needs to be a part of your search engine optimization strategy right now. And if Search Engine Optimization is a completely foreign string of words for you, check out our SEO blog post by Alex McArthur, VP of OrangeSoda for a little bit of an introduction.
Way back in what seemed like the stone age when I began my Search Engine Optimization (SEO) career, I remember having to create as many links and back-links I could in order to increase my position in all of the major search engines. The process of linking and back-linking is a long, drawn-out process – daunting is the first word that comes to mind. In order to create back-links, you have to complete this unsightly laundry list of chores. Don't believe me? See for yourself:
You have to understand who you want a back-link from. This is considered audience/website research.
In order to gain a back-link to that site you have to find out who the site owner is.
After the owner is recognized, you must contact the owner via email.
Propose your link trade/exchange.
Create a link to their site on yours.
Have them create a back-link to you.
Manage links and back-links to make sure your links are still active on their site.
Developing a strategy when engaging in online work reminds me of an old axiom that I live and die by: "Look before you leap.” Regardless of whether you're the Provider or Employer, creating and standing by an overall approach before diving in head first is an important step that warrants a good amount of thought.
What is the best strategy for working with others online? Do you give your team of providers unlimited free range to ideas, work styles, and most importantly, resources? Or do you create a clear-cut set of blueprints for your provider to follow step-by-step, down to every single last letter? Or is it a hodge-podge combination of the two ideas above? There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer in my book—it all boils down to what works best for you and those you work with online.
I stumbled across Seth Godin’s blog (yes, that Seth Godin, the marketing guru) and saw his interesting take on the above question. Seth sees it go one of two ways:
"There are two ways to work with talent.The first is to give someone as clean a sheet of paper as possible. "We have these assets, we have this opportunity, here is our budget, go!" That's a great way to build a house if you have a ton of money and brilliant architects.
The second is to give someone as strategic and defined a mission as possible. "Here are three logos from companies in other industries, together with the statement we want to make, the size it needs to be, the formats we need to use it and our budget, go!" If you do this, you're almost certain to get something you can use, and almost certain not to be blown away with surprise. Which is the entire point. "
Search engine optimization continues to be one of the most crucial methods of generating direct traffic and increasing your websites monetization. However, SEO isn't something you can just pick up and master overnight — it's probably best to leave it up to the search engine pros. However, there are quick and easy ways to improve your search ranking from dead last to back in the pack. Alex McArthur, Vice President of Search Strategies at OrangeSoda, outlines five tried and true ways of pulling in more Web traffic.
Getting your website listed in Google, Yahoo and MSN isn’t a mystical process that should be left to the geeks, techies or the pimple-faced kid down the street. For most small business owners, getting ranked simply comes down to ensuring you’ve done the basics. While this isn’t intended to be the end all, be all of Search Engine Optimization, we find that you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck with the following 5 things:
1. Make sure your ‘Title’ tags are related to the content of the site. Huh, title tag? What’s that? Well in a nutshell, your title tag is a line of HTML code that specifies the title of an individual webpage. If you look in the upper left hand corner of your browser and in the first line of an individual search result, you’ll see the product of a title tag. Specifically, a title tag in HTML looks like this:
<title> San Jose Plumbing | Clean Plumbers, Inc </title>
Most search experts agree that having correct title tags is one of the top three factors that determine where a search engine will rank you. Where many people fail with their title tags is they use the same text for every page on their and they fail to properly describe the page with their title tags. Imagine going to a book store and picking a book up off the shelf with the title “True Spy Stories of the Cold War”. However, to your surprise, inside the book is a steamy romance. You, the reader, would want your money back. So spend a minute and look at the title tags of every page on your site and see if you have accurately described the page with your title tags. A good title tag will include the keyword you are trying to rank that page for, and don’t forget to add your company’s name as I’ve done in the example above. Be aware — brevity is a virtue; Google and the rest will truncate your title tags after 65 characters including spaces.