Today’s post is going to center around Elance — a site where you can sign up and get paid for doing almost any type of freelance work. I should preface this by saying that there are definitely some problems with Elance in regard to working from home, but it can also be useful. People have had varying experiences there, but most of the complaints I see point to the same problem — the providers (people looking for workers) tend to want extremely cheap labor and are often willing to bypass experienced, knowledgeable people who want to be paid what they are worth just to get that. So now that that is out of the way, I’ll get more into how it actually works:
This part is easy. Anyone can sign up. You don’t have to take a test, wait to be approved, and so on and so on. Just create an account. You will notice when you sign up that Elance has three different membership options, two of which require you to pay. I would definitely go the free route if you are unfamiliar with this type of website (it’s very similar to Guru and oDesk). It’s not worth paying for extra features if you don’t even know that you’re going to be spending much time finding work here. As far as the extra features go for paying, you can get placed higher in their search results for prospective employers to find you, add more categories, and get more storage space per work room as well as a few other extras. If all this sounds confusing to you, I admit that it does to me, too, as I have never done any work for a site like this. I’m still having a hard time wrapping my mind around why in the world I would want to pay for all this stuff. But I guess if I was actively working here, it would make more sense to me. For what it’s worth, membership fees range from Free to $40 per month, so it’s not unbelievably high.
After Signing Up
You create your worker portfolio. This is where you can really allow yourself to shine and look more attractive to prospective employers. Add your resume, show off your past work for other clients, include some personal info, display your areas of expertise …. Try to make it as good as you can so you’ll be more likely to receive offers for work.
How To Get Work
To find freelance work on Elance, you have to either bid on jobs or wait for providers to contact you based on your portfolio and skills. From what I understand, bidding on jobs can be stressful because of the problem with so many providers looking for cheap labor. No matter how little you charge, there is likely to be someone desperate enough for the work to underbid you or someone from a country where what looks like a lot of money to them only looks like a little to you. The fact is that many Elance workers are from countries where what those of us in the U.S. would consider to be under minimum wage is actually well above minimum wage. So if you’re asking for, say, $6 per hour (not everything is hourly by the way — some things are per project), and you feel like you’re offering cheap labor, don’t be surprised if you get underbid by someone who is willing to do the work for $2 to $3 an hour. That said, there are providers who are willing to pay more because they want to do everything they can to get quality work done, so there is a chance that you’ll find someone to hire you even if someone else is willing to do the work for less. This is where your portfolio is going to be really important! You need it to look as fantastic as possible so people will be tempted to hire you and overlook the cheap labor they could get.
Types of Work You Can Do
The options are limitless on Elance … you’ll find a lot of work requests for writing, but there’s also data entry, web design, programming, marketing, consulting … right now I’m looking at their website and I’m seeing that people are needing workers skilled in Facebook, iPhones, WordPress, SEO, you name it. So if there’s something you are particularly good at that you could do with your computer, you’ll probably find someone on Elance who needs it done and is willing to pay you for it. I often point those of you looking for data entry to sites like Elance because there are so many jobs available for that. I’m sure that if you check my job leads board which is powered by a website called DoNanza that puts automated job listings up, you’ll see lots of data entry opportunities up at this very moment from Elance and sites like it.
How Can You Be Sure You’ll Get Paid?
Worried about a provider flaking on you and not paying you after you’re done with your work? Elance guarantees payment through their escrow system, so that should give you some peace of mind.
What Others Think
People tend to have varying opinions on Elance. You should read this thread I found on the WAHM.com forum to get some insight.
What I Think
I never did any work on Elance, but I thought about it when I was doing a lot of writing for content sites. I guess the reason I never bothered was because from what I was hearing, chances were very low that I would be able to earn there what I was getting at places like Demand and wiseGEEK. I never considered using it for other things like data entry. I personally don’t think I would bother because I don’t like the idea of trying to outbid other people for work I want to do, and I guess I’m too lazy to bother with creating a profile on the site and waiting for someone to contact me that would be happy to pay what I would want to earn. BUT the cool thing about Elance and sites like it is that if you happen to luck out and get a client who pays you something you’re happy with, you can often keep them — assuming they’re happy with your work as well. Many people have been able to develop long-standing relationships with people who have hired them to do work and vice versa. If you are looking for steady clients for whatever work you do, it might not be a bad idea to put yourself out there and create an Elance portfolio.
Tips for Help
I wrote a post with lots of different tips you can use on Elance and other freelancing sites. I know these sites can be big, confusing, and overwhelming, so hopefully that post can give you some direction. You can read it here.