5 Things to Know Before Becoming an ELance Provider

This is a blog post by Drea Knufken.

In mid-2007, I was downsized from my job working as a web editor for a major dining and tourism site. The layoff gave my ego a hematoma, but in practical terms, it wasn’t a big loss. When I factored in commuting and healthcare costs, the job was barely making me a profit.

Indeed, the gig I’d had before that–a full-time contracting position with an Internet startup–made me so little money that when I factored in rent, food, and insurance, the job was actually losing me a few hundred dollars a month.

Something was awry. After losing that second job, I realized that taking the leap from salaried employee to freelancer wasn’t as big a risk as I’d initially thought. After all, my two previous jobs had either lost me money or netted me too little to make a difference.

So, having no clue what to do, I jumped into the world of freelancing with both feet, a small startup savings account, a mortgage, and the panicked determination that comes from the fear of penury.

A friend had given me a place to start, a site called ELance.com. For a small monthly fee, I could put up a profile and bid for projects, eBay-style. I knew how to write a profile and enter a credit card number, so I did. Thus, my freelance career was launched.

After floundering around for a while, I did end up making some money, even winning a couple steady clients in the process. However, there were a few tricks I wish I’d known before diving in. Here they are, in no particular order:

1) When you browse Elance providers, you’ll see a list of prominent contractors in your field. Some of these people have made $100,000 or more. This list invokes envy and inspiration. They’re your competition–and Elance has ensured they’re loaded. You could be, too.

Right? Maybe. Bear in mind that ELance has been around since 1999. It’s more than likely that:

a) These people have been around just as long.
b) They have been working their butts off for that period of time.
c) They have a staff.
d) They work with the kinds of clients who give big, long-term contracts. In my industry, that would equate to ghostwriting a book ($10,000+) or writing a humongous website.

The big earners make ELance look extremely lucrative. It can be, but don’t be fooled. Lots of people make drops in the bucket. Some people make just enough to live off of. Others make a lot. It depends on your strategy and how much time you’re willing to devote to the world of ELance.

If you want to follow in the footsteps of your lucrative ELance forefathers, try contacting someone who’s not your competition and asking them how they did it. People are often willing to help out, especially if you’re not threatening their niche.

Take time to browse the project histories of successful people. What kinds of contracts did they have? What niche do they cover? How often do they do projects? What kind of feedback are they getting? Who are their clients? This will help you draft a plan for your own ELance success.

2) In the beginning, you may lose money. It’s a common practice to lowball when entering a new ELance market. Be prepared to either use up some of your savings or, if you don’t have anything saved up, live on credit for six months or so.

Lowballing is annoying, but if you’re diligent, this phase shouldn’t last long. Likewise, if you have bomber qualifications, you won’t have to do it in the first place. ELance competition is intense, global, and informed by feedback. At the beginning, good feedback is crucial, and if you’re lacking a solid track record, you might have to lowball just to land a contract. Consider it overhead.

3) Study potential clients carefully. Don’t just bid on any project that looks good. Look through your potential clients’ history and feedback ratings. Investigate the feedback your clients have left for other service providers. Sometimes you can get enough background information to see if this person is worth your time.

Use your gut, too. I had a bad gut feeling about one client, but decided to contract with him anyway. My strategy at the time was to take on as much work as I could in order to accumulate clients and build a history on ELance.

Unfortunately, communication with this client was bad from the beginning. I turned in my project before it was due. He sent back a few revision notes. I immediately fixed them. This is typical for the writing industry: Writer writes, editor sends back feedback, writer revises. Unfortunately, this client thought that I should have done it perfectly the first time around, so he gave me a poor rating on ELance.

I was shocked and dismayed for about a week. Finally, I researched the issue of poor ratings, and found that even the most lucrative of ELancers had a few lemons here and there. They’re inevitable. However, you can mitigate the number you get by researching who you’re working for before accepting a project.

4) If you’re located somewhere with a high cost of living, know that low bidders won’t kill you. For example, ELance has a large number of talented, English-speaking Indian providers who will undercut your bid by frightening amounts of money. Their cost of living is lower, so they can afford to do it.

For projects where low cost is the biggest priority, you won’t even be in the running. However, different clients have different needs. You could have a locational advantage (no 12-hour time difference). You could provide the kind of quality and communications that cheaper providers don’t bother to give. You could offer value-added services, such as additional improvement suggestions for your client’s project.

Think of what you can give that differentiates you from fast and cheap. That mentality will win you bids.

5) Be very patient.
There’s a paradox around ELance. On the one hand, you can instantly win projects, turn them around in a couple days, and get cash deposited right into your account. No commuting, no meetings; oftentimes, you don’t even have to call clients.

On the other hand, your success will hardly be quick and easy, unless you’re lucky. Not all bidders actually have projects to provide–some just want quotes. Not everyone wants what you have to offer. And a good bid takes time to compose. Sometimes, your time investment hardly seems worth it. This is when things get frustrating.

When I started on ELance, I put down a hard-and-fast rule for myself. I would find five projects a day to bid on, write down intelligent bids, lowball, and hope for the best.

That strategy got me a modest start on ELance. But it was a panic strategy, not a rational one. The strict self discipline helped me feel like I was making progress. It also built me a track record of $200 projects–short, fast, low profit margin.

It was the same niche low-cost providers love to specialize in. That kind of market usually doesn’t get you on the vaunted $100,000 provider list. If I could start over, I’d take a couple of days to draft a solid, redundant strategy using three solid skill sets. For example:

Plan A: Write SEO-friendly websites for clients with 2-week to 1 month turnaround times. Try this for two months. If I don’t make at least $1,500, divert to Plan B.

Plan B: Target Web ad and marketing clients with copywriting projects. Offer proposals to people looking for AdWords campaigns, product descriptions, and company websites. If this doesn’t net me X amount in a month, divert to Plan C.

Plan C: Write blogs for people. Target clients looking for quality, not linkspam schwag. If this doesn’t net me X among per blog, re-draft strategy.

I would have adapted the strategy as I gained experience, but left the basic template in place to remind myself that though my niche may evolve, I command the direction I want to take. I would have been flexible, but with standards.

Considering how panicked I felt when I started freelancing, I also may have developed a drinking problem. It’s hard to keep a cool head without experience on your side.

One final note about ELance. It’s a source of income, but not an end-all. Most freelancers diversify. A freelance writer, for example, can target print media (magazines and newspapers), websites, and corporations. Her income could come from all three.

If one client or market falters, have another in mind. You’ll be able to steady your income–and your sanity–by incubating several different sources.

Good luck!

Drea Knufken is a freelance writer, editor, ghostwriter and content strategist. Her work has appeared in national publications including WIRED, Computerworld, National Geographic, Minyanville, Backpacker Magazine and others. For more information, please visit www.DreaKnufken.com. You can also find Drea via her blog, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Comments

  1. Toilet Paper Entrepreneur's Gravatar Comment by Toilet Paper Entrepreneur on August 8th, 2008 at 10:00 am

    I have hired many people on Elance and have had only one super experience. They followed the strategy you outlined – in particular researching out us first. So they new we were very serious clients, and they serviced us that way.

    Subsequently with have done a large volume of work exclusively with them. Both sides are VERY happy.

    - Mike Michalowicz

  2. Jack Bernhard's Gravatar Comment by Jack Bernhard on December 16th, 2008 at 6:23 am

    I don’t agree with Mike Michalowicz, because my experience on Elance was bad. I prefer GetACoder.com because you find lots of skilled programmers and their escrow service is great, if you use it right it’s impossible that you get ripped off.

  3. benjamin beck's Gravatar Comment by benjamin beck on December 21st, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    I have tried and tried with my ideas on elance. My new philosophy is keep trying before I end up at the bottom of the bottle.

    I’ll keep it up
    ben

  4. Mark Satterthwaite's Gravatar Comment by Mark Satterthwaite on December 30th, 2008 at 8:51 am

    I’ve been considering signing up with Elance for some time now, so I have been diligently watching the process of requests for bids and the responses. But no one has provided so much useful insight into the “reality” of the Elance environment as has Business Pundit. Thank you very much.

  5. Andrew Stallings's Gravatar Comment by Andrew Stallings on January 23rd, 2009 at 7:09 am

    Great post! I’ve been using rentacoder for the past year and had decent success with it. I’ve just recently decided to give eLance a shot. I like the fact that they limit how many bids you can make, preventing the 3rd world country developers from lowballing 5000 projects a day :-/ . I’m a little bit worried about having 0 feedback/history there, I’m not used to the lowballing tactic and don’t really want to resort to it.

    Thanks for your tips and insight!
    -Andrew

  6. Michelle Buss's Gravatar Comment by Michelle Buss on January 28th, 2009 at 12:33 am

    I have been using Elance for a few months and I am starting to make a living. If you don’t want to low ball go in confident from the outset and stress quality. I tried low balling and no-one bit, when I changed my profile and bids to reflect the fact that I was a quality writer who did not write crap for peanuts things started to get moving.

    You can’t compete with the developing country writers so I just stay out of their niche. I have blogged a bit about it.

  7. Kyle Philip's Gravatar Comment by Kyle Philip on February 4th, 2009 at 9:27 am

    I use ProFriend to collect all new post jobs on these websites, save me a lot of time.

  8. saibalkumar's Gravatar Comment by saibalkumar on February 13th, 2009 at 12:34 am

    After going through the above comments, it seems that afterall Elance might be an interesting place to be .
    Atleast and as far as making money is concerned.

  9. Tony Murphy's Gravatar Comment by Tony Murphy on February 24th, 2009 at 7:06 am

    great advice,

    I think the emphasis on quality is key as you point out.

    I don’t think there is any point trying to compete with the low cost (cheap) providers.

    If you want quality work you have to pay.

    Good buyers know that – the others are not worth working for!

    cheers
    Tony

  10. Mike Rapp's Gravatar Comment by Mike Rapp on March 1st, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Seems to me the only people looking for creative work on eLance are looking for a free lunch, not a truly qualified creative partner. Consequently, those applying for work on eLance are desperate and/or generally unqualified to do truly professional creative work. No doubt there are exceptions, but it’s just common sense. If you had the option to design a site for $5000 or one for “less than $500″ which would you choose?

    There is an old adage in my business: The client always gets the creative work they deserve. There are no long term short cuts. If you believe in your company and have a solid business plan, you should budget to hire qualified creative people who can take your fair budget and multiply it due to their experience, connections and savvy. If you truly believe great work can be done for pennies, then you are simply not experienced enough to know otherwise.

  11. Egadsman's Gravatar Comment by Egadsman on March 4th, 2009 at 7:04 am

    Very helpful post. I’ve been on elance about a month and a half and this is as good a summary of the provider’s experience as I’ve read.

  12. JB's Gravatar Comment by JB on March 13th, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    As someone new to using elance providers, I can agree with the ‘if you are serious about business, then you should be prepared to pay’, however, I would guess that a lot of people like me are not in a position to pay a lot, and that’s why they consider elance.

    I have a significant amount of design, presentations, sales and other writing needs on an ongoing basis that I look to ‘under $500 providers’ for. I don’t yet have a successful business or large income/pool of cash to call on, however the work I and people like me need done, probably amounts to a lot of the work, the bread and butter income, that some providers offer.

    Maybe a double profile would help? One for lowend work, one for higher end work? Doubles your cost on elance though of course, but I bet some people do it.

  13. Yani's Gravatar Comment by Yani on March 18th, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    I also use Elance for the majority of my freelance work. I follow this blog: http://freelancemoney.wordpress.com/

    Sometimes it can be a little “salesy” but he gives invaluable advice for anyone serious about making money on Elance.

    Yani

  14. romaric's Gravatar Comment by romaric on March 24th, 2009 at 11:24 am

    you could always use other freelance sites. There are some upcoming, no crowded sites, where you could built some good feedbacks before they become well-known- Because that’s where competition starts. I think this site (http://www.ivoireconsultancy.org) started in February 2009 and they already have more than 1000 providers. They must be doing something interesting. I have already been awarded 2 projects so far worth more than $700.

  15. jchen's Gravatar Comment by jchen on March 28th, 2009 at 8:14 am

    I use Guru.com for few years with some successes. I spent about $50k so far there. I wanted to try elance this time because I failed to find anyone who can do my java profiling job. I am quite disappointed there also.

    I am 100% rated at guru.com, and use those who can deliver as they promise for a long time. The proposals that I found are generally lowball proposals wo much careful response to my project requirements. Not a least, be specific to what skills that one must have to solve my problem.

    My suggestion to the free lancers is to be honest with what you truly good at and ask for a reasonable rate. I as a buyer for services will come to you because of your credentials, references and reliability, not because of your lowball prices. That is my personal opinion, hopefully it is of some help for both sides of this type of service market to consider.

    You are welcome to email me for further comments.

    Jim

  16. NielLeon's Gravatar Comment by NielLeon on April 3rd, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    I am one of those top tier providers. I am in the Engineering and Manufacturing Section. Matter of fact I have been the top level provider in that market segment for over a year.

    As noted in the original blog. Working Elance takes a lot of time hard work and effort. Also to be successful you MUST deliver a cost effect product to your Buyer / Client.

    I know lots of people on both sides of the “Elance is Great” and “Elance is Horrible” fence. Most of them are correct, a lot depends on your point of view.

    The key to remember, it is a business tool. If you can learn how to use it successfully you can go far. If not it can be a real nighmare.

    Here is one of the key things that keeps me on Elance, my billing success rate in the last 4 years since I reentered the Freelancing business. I have only had two minor problems with Buyers paying me what I was due. One went to arbitration and the baby was split down the middle. The other I got everything I was owed.

    I can not say I have the same level of hassle free success with direct clients. Over 2/3 have required that I chase down payments for services. Several still have outstanding bills that I never expect to see paid in full.

    Niel

  17. M Miller's Gravatar Comment by M Miller on April 5th, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    I’ve been an Elance provider for 3 years and am just trying to get established on Guru so I can get off Elance. I actually started a Facebook group for Elance users concerned about the direction they’re going in, particularly since it seems there is no place for freelancing individuals anymore. You can check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/cklm42

    Hope to see some of you there!

  18. Steve's Gravatar Comment by Steve on April 16th, 2009 at 5:55 am

    Hi Guys,

    Honestly saying Elance is the worst company i have ever worked with. They don’t have any ethics, no customer service at all and they would never abide by what they say.
    Their executives would promise you something and the next day their VP Policy team would take bribe and would decide on favor of the other company. Then they would give you silly reasons that they took it for because of their poor english….In todays electronic age they would ask you to send a mail to their physical address in US and then they would say that they have not received it…..

    The fact i am saying is true…their VP policy team actually asks for bribe…we had all the proofs that we are genuine but he took bribe from the other company( see this its important : the other company has 3 accounts on elance but even then they are allowed ) …on complaining we got a reply from elance saying that the problem is in your account and not theirs…..i am in the process of setting up a web page with all the communications i had with elance so that you can decide for yourself whether they are genuine or not…..its time we shlould stand against such companies and tell the government about their unfair practices.

    Steve

  19. sessy's Gravatar Comment by sessy on April 22nd, 2009 at 2:47 am

    Steve, please do so. I am actually interested in joining elance after a friend of mine wants me to be part of his team but im a bit skeptical as I have to shell out some money. I am actually with oDesk and I am doing great with the financial transactions. its a little tough on landing a job as there are a lot of applicants from the asian countries.

  20. Karl's Gravatar Comment by Karl on May 2nd, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Great article. This really describes what 90% of the successful Elance users are experiencing. Just don’t forget to fire your worst clients once you are out of panic mode. I’ve described my technique for doing that on my most recent blog post: http://www.elance-professional.info/elance-tips-fire-your-clients/

  21. prone's Gravatar Comment by prone on May 5th, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    I have used both elance and oDesk, I found a lot more paying jobs on odesk and the jobs were for longer terms. I had trouble getting paid for the work I did on elance and when I was trying to get people to help me with a quick firefox plugin job the providers i found on elance never really got done with the work. I’d recomend oDesk but not elance.

  22. Joe Privacy's Gravatar Comment by Joe Privacy on May 7th, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Elance wanted me to pay them to be able to submit more bids, wtf? They spammed me even when I unsubscribed.
    I’ve done web consulting on the side since 2004 and web development since 1998. I decided I don’t need these jokers.

  23. Tejas Parab's Gravatar Comment by Tejas Parab on May 19th, 2009 at 4:25 am

    Hi,

    I think this blog post is just fantastic.

    My firm began work on Elance only a couple of months ago and we are already ranked 201 among all other providers.

    In our 5 months, we have exactly been through the same things, lowballing, rethinking strategies and we emerged as winners cuz we went for providing quality work, service rather than think of money at the time. We are now 7 employees and its amazing how a simple blog post can describe 5 months of our experiences.

    Also I only wish I would have read this 5 months ago, it could have saved so much of our time to progress, well, atleast new Elancers can benefit from this.

    - Tejas

  24. Hugh Caltraw's Gravatar Comment by Hugh Caltraw on May 22nd, 2009 at 9:02 am

    I have been using rentacoder from quite a while. It’s a great site. Two years ago I was scammed by Getacoder.com after thay took money of my account stating the money was invalid from another buyer. Such left me without $170 and hours of free work. Getacoder.com is the worst of freelance sites and their managers help scammers to rob honest freelancers. Don’t use getacoder. Getacoder is BAD!!!

  25. Ketan Rindani's Gravatar Comment by Ketan Rindani on August 6th, 2009 at 3:40 am

    Both the blog post as well as the comments were helpful.

    In one of the comments I read that Indian freelancers can afford to undercut as their cost of living is low. That’s not true. I am from India and I often wonder how people can afford to bid for projects on Lme Exchange etc. for as low as $0.80-1.5 per 500 words! Imagine the client’s guts – do they think writers, designers etc. are typists or cartoonists? Even cartoonists are artists in their own right! Despite being in India, my hourly rate is around $10. I would probably be “uaffordable” for most Lime Exchange or Get a Frellancer clients!

    I think, if you really want to ‘make it’, you should chip away at the rock, but smartly; and it is bound to give way one day. I just hope that day is not far!!

  26. Ariana J's Gravatar Comment by Ariana J on August 7th, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    For people who are willing to work for little money, and be slave labor it might be a great site but if you are a professional you should stay away from this site.

    The clients at Elance are the worst people to work for, they expect you to underbid your peers and then they become “marketing experts” who think paying chump change allows them to become pure AS#H*LES. Sure if you are just getting started or are willing to dig your dignity out of the SH#T they shovel out then yes Elance will work for you. BUT WARNING WARNING… learn the lesson NEVER WORK FOR AN AS#H*LE. Fire them if you are putting in too much effort for too little payment.

  27. Basit Anwer's Gravatar Comment by Basit Anwer on August 24th, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    The post was very helpful to me , thank you for sharing your experience. My team is actually about to start freelancing,

    we can provide the quality but were hesitant in starting the business, Thanks again for the post

    by the way, i have heard alot negative about the Elance staff management, heard that they dont usually reply to questions asked

  28. Skills Finder™'s Gravatar Comment by Skills Finder™ on August 31st, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    If the UK and the rest of Europe is to follow the USA, where freelancing is king and online web applications like Skills Finder™ – http://www.skillsfinder.com which provide alternative end to end freelance marketplace platforms to support flexible outsourcing for SME, SOHO and Start-up businesses to outsource their projects to fully rated independant freelance professionals, manage project delivery online and securely pay for services received.

    Flexible Outsourcing is a viable option for SME, SOHO and Start-up Businesses to stay afloat.

  29. Clyde A. Lettsome, Ph.D., P.E.'s Gravatar Comment by Clyde A. Lettsome, Ph.D., P.E. on October 31st, 2009 at 9:13 am

    During bad economic times, there are too many low bidders and too many people looking for the lowest bidder. Because of this, I am not sure if low bidding will eventually lead to success. You could find yourself loosing money for a long time to come and yes it could hurt if you have a limited amount of funds.

    In general, I would caution any true professional from considering these websites as viable means of earning extra income despite the economic recession. My problem is with most of the employers/buyers on the site. More often than not, you will encounter employers/buyers that will waste your time and, furthermore, do not have realistic expectations given the budget for their projects.

    True enough, this happens in everyday business but not in this type of setting. When the government or professional businesses put out an RFP, more often than not, the contract is awarded to someone. In addition, when these entities select a winner, they consider experience, ability, as well as price. We spent 4 months on a few of these freelance marketplace websites. During that period more than 75% of the jobs we placed a bid on were never awarded to anyone. Of the jobs awarded, almost all went to the lowest bidder. Some of them actually went to bidders bidding below the employer’s/buy’s estimated budget range for the project.

    In conclusion, recession or not, our company will not be using these sites in the future unless we are asked to by a legitimate employer/buyer.

    I have blogged about our experience on our website at
    http://blog.calabrix.com/?m=200909 and on about.com at http://freelancewrite.about.com/b/2008/02/06/thoughts-on-elancecom.htm#commentform

  30. Justin Toth's Gravatar Comment by Justin Toth on January 16th, 2010 at 11:13 am

    If you’re a programmer who has any respect for yourself than don’t use elance (or odesk or guru for that matter), it’s a bunch of cheap and ignorant employers who don’t know anything about software developer and expect to get enterprise-level web applications built by senior developers for either $5/hour or a total fixed price of $500. The worst part is you have 3rd world developers bidding those exact prices and feeding their ignorance… only until they start doing work for the employers and then they realize very quickly that you get what you pay for! Quality employers and quality developers use legitimate sites like monster and dice, not elance, odesk, or guru…

  31. Kristi Carter's Gravatar Comment by Kristi Carter on January 28th, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    As a long term Elance provider (I’ve been with Elance for over 10 years and have completed over 700 projects for them), I truly believe that Elance is a great opportunity for all types of providers. However, with Elance you truly have to learn to work the system to make it worth your effort. In the above article, you mentioned some really great tips and I agree with you in many aspects. One point that I would like to stress is for providers to scrutinize buyers before they bid on available projects. By taking this approach, you will save yourself a ton of time and wasted energy.

    Due to Elance’s ingenious feedback system, you can easily spot those buyers who post tons of projects and don’t award any or that demanding buyer who is never satisfied. By being diligent in your research, you can spot the gold from the fool’s gold and hone in on those great buyers who are looking for quality providers and willing to pay pay for great service.

    Kristi Patrice Carter

  32. Scott Fillmer's Gravatar Comment by Scott Fillmer on February 9th, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Looks like your article has been around a while but still relavant… I have been looking at Elance for about the same amount of time as this article has been around but still haven’t landed a gig, think I will give it another shot though. thanks, Scott

  33. Beatrice McClearn's Gravatar Comment by Beatrice McClearn on February 24th, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    I love this post. Elance is an awesome avenue for freelancers like myself. I thank you for posting this. Well written and very insightful. Take Care.

  34. mechanical engineer's Gravatar Comment by mechanical engineer on April 11th, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    great post about elance

  35. Matt Bertram's Gravatar Comment by Matt Bertram on May 4th, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Good article. One must always be vigilant to find the projects that will pay. I am building a service to help freelancers locate the jobs that “will most likely convert into paying jobs”. I think this blog’s audience will find value in this post and not think it is spam.

    I want to understand the frustrations of freelancers and at the end of the day make a service for them. If this touches a cord, please visit my site http://www.Kiysa.com and leave feedback telling me your story and how we can make your life easier. Also if you would be willing to have a 20 min phone conversation, please say so.

  36. mislissyb's Gravatar Comment by mislissyb on May 31st, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your eLance experience and wisdom. Your article was informative, balanced, and insightful.

  37. United Kingdom's Gravatar Comment by United Kingdom on August 6th, 2010 at 3:12 am

    No matter what, elance is great service!

  38. d-lys's Gravatar Comment by d-lys on September 9th, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Hello, Great comments. I would like to add that Elance might have affiliates in Asian world who works mainly for them as members (employers or job seekers)mainly creating work requests and bids in order to sell memberships and connects. For now I am new to Elance since one month. Although I have more that 15 years of experience and multidisciplinary capabilities, I have bid on over 25 jobs with not one response. Some were cancelled. Some are not awarded yet. I am still watching the outcome of those waiting to be awarded just to see what will happen. I even bid very low amount on jobs with higher potential for testing purposes. I also remarked that some employers try to get info or samples of the work (i.e. access databases) with all functionality so they can reconvert to their needs without awarding the project. Hope these reflections will help you also. Thanks and all the best.

  39. McGarrell Reilly's Gravatar Comment by McGarrell Reilly on September 13th, 2010 at 4:28 am

    I think the problem of getting projects from Elance website is the level of the trust, and the history of your company.

  40. Hanna's Gravatar Comment by Hanna on October 6th, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Elance is The W-O-R-S-T service I have ever used. They steal your maney all the time.

    I’ve heard the same from many mambers

  41. JD's Gravatar Comment by JD on October 18th, 2010 at 11:51 am

    After reading these reviews and other posts around the web I am going to take my name off their rank and file. I just gave elance $20 of my money yesterday to start freelancing through them….after researching…I am now going to paypal to find a way to get them off my monthly auto payment for paypal! It seems there are many setups…whether they be classes for something or promise freelancing jobs where they are masters at setting up sites to take your money. Seems like if you have a following and can get people to pay you for a class or this type of gig….then you can get rich from this…..sounds like elance will become rich. I for one, in this economy, need to get out there and find something. These types of sites should have a class action lawsuit filed against them. Doesnt this go back to the old days of selling jobs..in which that was illegal?

  42. Rod's Gravatar Comment by Rod on October 21st, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Hmm. I see some misconceptions in this article. I started on Elance in 2006….and have served had more than 600 projects and made more than 300k. It was not easy at first for me to start, either. I saw that others had made more than 100K so I went for it.

    Here’s what you need to know.

    1. Anyone can “write.” It’s not like you need a license to write, like others need a license to practice law or medicine. You need an edge.
    2. Some types of writing requires talent and experience. Business plans, Executive Summaries, and the like. This pays better and requires skills beyond the ability to write a coherent sentence.
    3. Bid for as many projects as you can. It’s a numbers game. Don’t low ball. People will sometimes pick you simply because you live near them. Some want the lowest bidder, hire them and then come back with another more realistic bid because the second time around they want it done “right.”
    4. Always insist that your fee be put into Escrow before you start work OR you will be ripped off.
    5. Do not accept hourly jobs if you can avoid it. It’s far better to negotiate a flat fee.
    6. Give more than you promise. Be fast when they ask questions. Do as many revisions as they want for free. This will be horrible for some projects but over all it is not a problem. You will have to eat it on some projects when the revisions are numerous but for most projects people are easy to please. Remember, it’s a numbers game. Don’t let the fact that sometimes you end up essentially working for free bother you. Overall you will make a very good living.
    7. Figure out what types of documents can be repurposed. Some can be reused without any sort of problem. For example, learn to write privacy policies. They are essentially the same document over and over again.
    8. Do not write ebooks.
    9. Advertising copy is a skill. And it is quick to do if you are good at it.
    10. Do not fall for “this is an easy job to do if you know what you are doing.”
    11. Indians do not write in a way that USA clients like. They may be cheap. They may speak English. Their writing comes across poorly most of the time. Its a cultural thing, I guess. Their writing looks odd to us a lot of time. Fear not Hotdoggastan!

  43. Ramachandra's Gravatar Comment by Ramachandra on December 23rd, 2010 at 2:49 am

    Hi,
    i am delighted to see the whole information shared by the users of elance just before i proceeded to register with them. I will be giving this a more detailed thought and decide. Thanks all

  44. Stephen's Gravatar Comment by Stephen on January 22nd, 2011 at 7:19 am

    As a member of the Elance community, I found it helpful to take some time to prepare. If you can market your skills and talent through your profile and portfolio, you will find potential clients will gain the confidence to award you projects.
    There are some great points of interest in this blog. Remember Elance is just one site. If you want to freelance, select your niche, specialise and then learn to diversity.
    If you have the skills, or can find someone who does, a cheap and professional tool to have at your disposal, is a good website for clients to source and verify you.
    With the tools like word press, you can setup and maintain a site very cheaply. If you need a little more info or just to see an example, check out my portfolio website for free advice http://www.scjournalism.com
    Please remember, patience and diligence go a long way in the freelance world. I hope you find work.

  45. samantha jewel's Gravatar Comment by samantha jewel on January 23rd, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I have used Elance as a client several times now and as I had paid thousands of dollars originally to an editor who ended up doing nothing foe me, I have to say that had it not been for the wonderful editors and translators that were able to help me, my book would still be in my computer…

    I thank all those great writers and their willingness to provide service to those of us without the funds to pay big dollars so creative work can still get out there. In the scheme of things writing something is only a drop in the bucket as to what you have to spend to get it out in the public!

  46. elizabeth's Gravatar Comment by elizabeth on January 25th, 2011 at 8:14 am

    I am in the process of registering for E lance. this article is great. What i hate about two particular comments especially one done in october last year is the denigration of people from third world and the racial chauvinism when it comes to writing. How can somebody who prides himself/herself as a good writer and professional for that matter say that indians write badly, their writing is odd to us,(who are you the priviledged you or race), it is poor etc. The reference to ‘third worlders’ whatever that means is particularly very troubling. It reminds us( of a colonialism that we will be very willing to forget. It also shows that there are some minds still out there who think that some races have an epistemological advantage and it is only these that should contribute knowlege that can be used by others. I speciallise in writing about the vagaries of hegemonic knowledge and I might as well start collecting my data from some of these blogs.
    If some of these things were said in our soil, I am afraid of repercussions but I also believe that we should be responsible for our words

  47. elizabeth's Gravatar Comment by elizabeth on January 25th, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Good article but who gives others authority to denigrate the writing of other people. How can somebody who says he is a professional say that third worlders (whatever that discursive reference means) are bad writers, their writing looks odd to us etc. who is this us, the colonialist?, (we pray we forget this bit), the only race that has epistimological authority in the world? and would want to excise other voices? this is very troubling to me especially because i specialise in writing about the dangers of asserting that your knowledge( read western, hegemonic, notherthern) is superior to that of the the ‘other”. i might as well start collecting information from these blogs

  48. Kris's Gravatar Comment by Kris on February 10th, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    @Elizabeth. You’re missing quite a few capitalizations and punctuations. It’s just a thought.

  49. Melba's Gravatar Comment by Melba on February 10th, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    One thing I noticed reading this thread is that almost all of these posts are lacking proper grammar, punctuation, capitalization, etc. Also, most posts are not very creative with the use of vernacular. I don’t even have a huge track record of writing for business since I am a former database administrator (although I have written text for proposals, presentations, training materials, etc.). However, after reading all of these posts, I think I could be incrediby successful on E-Lance.

  50. rudy's Gravatar Comment by rudy on February 11th, 2011 at 11:10 am

    My experience is the RFP’s employers write are dreadful. The leave so many holes and questions for providers. A true professional provider ends up give the employer free consulting advice just by asking questions to put together a quote and a well written quote itself gives these lazy employees free advice as to what the issues to consider are in completing a job.

    If I ever wrote RFP’s like these employers do at my corporate job in mech. engineering, I’d have my _ss handed to me on a platter because it being undefined opens so many opportunities for the consultant not to do the job properly. The onus should be on the employer to write good RFPs and not suck free project advice and make the employee do all the work in defining the project.

  51. rudy's Gravatar Comment by rudy on February 11th, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Also, look at the complexity of Elance’s contract? Anyone ever bother to read it? It is written so much in favor of the employer. For example the freelancer has to warranty their work? What for a $500 product development job to design a new widget? You want me to assume product liability?? Then it becomes confusing when you try to get them to sign your contract stating the opposite, which contract is in force.

  52. Jobsfor10$'s Gravatar Comment by Jobsfor10$ on February 17th, 2011 at 1:54 am

    In today’s very dynamic and ever changing labor market, there is more than just the conventional 9 to 5 job. There are a lot of options to work at home, doing exactly what you like, at your own price. Some of these solutions are: Jobsfor$10, Elance, Odesk and others. I have tried them all, and I chose jobsfor10$. The main advantages that Jobsfor10$ provides, by comparison to the other similar options, are:
    – you can find very specific services (example: 70 High Backlinks from sites with PR6-8, 35,000 Traffic Visitors To Your Website, submit your site to 230 Plus Search Engines, 2 ebook cover design, upload, install, and configure any script for your website, write a best 300 word above article on any subject , etc)
    - The prices are low ($5 – $10 – $20)
    - The work and payment are 100% guaranteed
    - There is no negotiation, as the prices are fixed
    - The signup process is very lean and easy
    - The website has a very smart services ranking service, that allows the customer to make the best informed choice

  53. Andrea's Gravatar Comment by Andrea on February 26th, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Thank you for this article. I have considered ELance off and on, and this is exactly the kind of honest, detailed information I have looked for.

  54. Michael Mangalam's Gravatar Comment by Michael Mangalam on March 10th, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    If you are looking to hire business consultant types, check out ParetoCentral.com, which is the “Global marketplace to
    find consultants”. It works similar to craigslist, except that each listing gets global exposure. At the same time,
    consultants tend to be from US.
    - Michael

  55. EES's Gravatar Comment by EES on April 6th, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Thank you for this article. I signed-up with Elance just so I can have a part time job to earn more income. It wasn’t easy at first to win a bid against very talented competitors across the globe. But it is not that difficult either if you will follow the advise from this article and other similar articles. There is a saying, “You reap what you sow”. Patience and perseverance does payoff and it doesn’t take that long if you do your home work and do your job right. Just keep bidding on projects you know you can and will finish and before you know it, you have repeat clients and a steady stream of income. I am now making more than my regular job. Hopefully soon, I can be a fulltime freelancer running a business from home and so I can spend more time with my family.

  56. leonardo's Gravatar Comment by leonardo on April 19th, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Hi. Can you tell me if translation jobs are posted on Elance too?

  57. Bhanita's Gravatar Comment by Bhanita on June 23rd, 2011 at 1:46 am

    How can i get a excel based job?

  58. David's Gravatar Comment by David on June 10th, 2012 at 4:54 am

    @elizabeth, do you really have to cry racist? I don’t care who does my work, but it is true that from a western perspective Indian bidders on eLance have very weak English skills. I have 17 people helping me from around the world on eLance, including India. But no, I won’t engage Indian firms for ebook work as I tend to think their language will read strangely to my end customers’ ears. If that is racist then, well, sorry it isn’t. My favorite eLancer lives in Indonesia.

  59. Zakir's Gravatar Comment by Zakir on June 16th, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Well good one.

    I am using odesk for 4 months and its good, i enjoyed. But what I found recently getting invitation from odesk is less frequent. i apply few jobs once a day and waited for 5 days, still no response. Then i found it is something wrong in my profile, portfolios and cover letter.

    Also I think odesk or other sites cant be trusted if you live your life doing freelancing here. You need to grab some good clients, make strong relations with them and then u will see they will provide u jobs regularly.

    When I started in oDesk back in Feb 2012, I found one client from Abu dhabi, I did his first project for $200, after that i got 6 projects form him and i made 1300 dollar just from him. I noticed I haven’t received any invitation from any client in odesk. All the jobs I got comes from abu dhabi client.

    So my stragey is stick with few good clients, give them some discount, sacrifice almost everything for them. This is the way i think i can get regular income each month.

    Odesk and other freelance sites are biggest marketplace, so my strategy was get some good client, impress them and stick wirh them. Then who knows odesk or others…..

  60. Nancy Makohon's Gravatar Comment by Nancy Makohon on June 17th, 2012 at 9:40 am

    I been on Elance for about 2 years. There is a lot of bad things around this website that make your hair stand behind your back. They want to verify your Military or Government ID by supplying then with an image copy in the US only, but they do not verify any one outside the US, many of the images of people are fake. They love to manipulate and decide who get the job to earn then more profit. 90% of the job goes to Pakistan who are hurting our troops in Afghanistan, 9% goes to India and 1% goes to everyone. All of the Jobs are that many of these people are propitiatory and they love to steal our technology for their own country.
    Being on Elance you do not get rich but even with all of their purchase to get you upgrade you will end up loosing money.

  61. Shawn Walsh's Gravatar Comment by Shawn Walsh on July 7th, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    I think one of the key challenges for freelancers is the amount of time they have to invest into constantly marketing themselves across these multiple platforms, bidding on jobs, responding to inquiries. The second challenge is that the work that comes in is not always in their skill-set sweet spot.

    An interesting solution exists at http://www.ziptask.com. They have a worker app that brings jobs to your desktop 24/7, that allows the freelancer to focus on doing work. Each freelancer pre-qualifies only once, has their skill-set approved, and the jobs roll in. You just click accept when it pops up on the desktop. You can also work as a “worker” or work in Quality Check (QC) mode, where you check the work of others before it goes back to clients (and get paid for it!). If people like your work, they can “favorite” you, to make sure you get the next job.

    Ziptask is focused on bite-sized digital tasks such as word, excel, powerpoint, photoshop and other office documents. For outsourcing digital tasks, they’ve got a good thing going and it makes freelancing much more efficient.

  62. Anon's Gravatar Comment by Anon on July 13th, 2012 at 7:04 am

    I have been freelancing on and off for four years while doing my BSc and MSc in Computer Software Development in the UK. I consider myself highly qualified in particular areas, however I will not be using eLance because of the overwhelming numbers of third world providers. They are ruining the online economy and the owners of freelance are to blame. If they cared about the quality of work and the clients they would block large numbers of those from developing countries. I am thinking of starting my own freelance service with only accredited and graduate Western providers. Shoot me an email if you’re interested.

  63. Joshua C. Rarrick's Gravatar Comment by Joshua C. Rarrick on July 16th, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    As the owner of a faltering remodeling company in East Texas, I sought out ways to earn cash through the Internet for months. I filled out hundreds of forms on numerous survey and work at home sites, all claiming to make me rich beyond my wildest dreams. Of course, none of them ever fulfilled what they promised. I finally found Elance about 2 weeks ago, and I set up my profile. While I do not have a background in writing, I do have good grammar skills, so I chose to be in the article writing section of Elance. I was able to land a small ad writing job within a few days and began working. This client continued to feed me projects one after the other, and I devoured them hungrily, sometimes working through the night to meet the deadline. It has paid off. I haven’t become rich, but I have learned to channel my writing abilities into earning money. I cashed a couple of paper checks today and now have direct deposit set up. A few days ago, I was hired as an editor for a financial news website called valuewalk.com. My first online article was published there today.I have put in long hours for just a little meager pay starting out, but things are starting to look up. I now have 3 writers,whom I am contracting to write my ad projects, while I focus on my editing job. I don’t make as much off of their work, but I do give them the same chance I had. I only hire brand new people for my projects, as they don’t pay very much starting out, but, I do offer the same thing my first employer offered me_ a 5 star review for projects completed correctly.
    I must say, that you will not get rich on Elance, but if you apply yourself, and are willing to work long hours in the beginning, you can definitely make a living here.

  64. David's Gravatar Comment by David on September 6th, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Right..Elance is the worst service they ban your account any time…giving worst reason possible.

  65. Eric Harmsen's Gravatar Comment by Eric Harmsen on September 26th, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Does any know if there are any sites like ELance that cater to the engineering profession? Specifically I am interested in jobs related to hydrology, any work related to the analysis of rainfall, surface runoff, groundwater recharge, soil moisture, evapotranspiration, etc.

    Eric

  66. Aaron's Gravatar Comment by Aaron on October 18th, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    You lost me at the fee part. Most legitimate sites only charge for listing jobs. Sounds like Elance is predatory.

  67. hardworker76's Gravatar Comment by hardworker76 on January 3rd, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Elance https://www.elance.com has been a good place to do freelance work and grow my business but recently there has been a number of scammers that use their site to get free work done they pass verification and are allowed to hire on Elance.

    I have lost over $1000 to these scammers and also have gone thru a lot of stress and mental torment, they have refused to help me out and even suspended my freelance account with them, so I am being penalized for bringing scammers to their attention it is my fault that disputes has arised from scammers that they allow in their platform.

    They have it in fine print that they provide a “guarantee” for payment but they did not follow it and decided to suspend me. I am hoping to find a way to make them liable for this

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