Today’s job markets are tough, which is why so many people are considering different revenue streams just to keep up with a struggling economy. But before you go all billboardy on me, keep reading.
Answer a few of these questions: Ever wonder how to start your freelancing career? Ever think about building a web project but stopped short of the point of action because you weren’t sure how it all works? Do you enjoy the ego gratification that comes when people bid on the right to work for you?
Then you might consider going online to hire and outsource some freelance web work – and you might just consider Elance.com.
How to Hire a Freelancer Online
Elance.com is just one of many sites that takes advantage of the old adage when in doubt, outsource. If you’re building a car but aren’t very good at engines, you might outsource to an engine guy. If you’re painting a house but need help with mixing colors, you go to the color mixing gal. So why should it be any different when you’re plugging the holes in your online business plan?
How does the process work? First, you visit the Elance.com home page and click “Sign in or Register.” Of course, since you’re new to this process, you’ll have to register for a new account.
As you might suspect, it’s not as easy as signing up for a free e-mail account; you can’t simply log in and start giving people orders. When you sign up as a buyer on Elance, you’re going to have to jump through a few hoops. For example, Elance is going to have to verify that your credit card actually works. Kind of important.
After you’ve jumped through the hoops and verified that you really do plan on paying people for the work they provide, you’re ready to search for some good freelancers. But where do you start? Start with what you need. A typical search might start out like this under “Find Quality Professionals”:
When you sign up to Elance, you’ll be able to search for professionals (also called “providers” on Elance) and invite them to bid on a project you’ve set up; or you can simply set up that project and wait for the providers to place bids. It’s a bit like eBay, except freelancers are vying for your work.
What kind of services can you expect to find on Elance? Here are some of the major categories:
- Web and Programming – Web design, application design, WordPress design, etc.
- Design and Multimedia – Logos, graphics, videos, etc.
- Writing and Translation – Articles, blog posts, etc.
- Admin and Support – Virtual assistants
- Sales and Marketing – Market research, consulting
- Finance and Management – Accounting, budgeting
- Engineering and Manufacturing
Needless to say, there are a lot of different options.
Once you’ve established a connection with a provider, you can use features like project milestones to make sure that your provider is on time – you can also require that they provide you with status reports. Throughout the project, you can contact your freelancer through private message boards that keep you in touch – it’s also possible to exchange further contact information if you’d like to contact through e-mail or phone.
How to Work on Elance
Of course, this is a two-way street: Elance isn’t just for people looking to outsource their work, it’s for the workers themselves who have a marketable skill to use.
You have two options when you work on Elance – you can get paid hourly or through one lump sum. When you’re looking for projects to bid on, you can easily sort through these different options.
How do you know that you’ll get paid and won’t get stiffed on an Elance project? Elance offers an escrow feature which means that your client will fund the project’s fee at the beginning of work – you’ll know the money’s there waiting to be released once you complete the project or complete a project milestone.
The most difficult part about using Elance as a provider is the proposal process. Elance doesn’t allow you to make an infinite number of proposals or bids; instead, your membership plan will limit you to a certain amount of proposals/bids per month.
Getting these proposals or bids to turn into work is perhaps the “trick” to working on Elance. When you write a proposal, you can customize certain items like pricing (you write your own price, usually with a minimum price you can bid at) and scheduling (you let the buyer know when you expect to finish by). Your goal is to put together the best proposal and best profile so that you can get desirable work.
Huh? Profile? Yep, your provider’s profile will come into play here. When you bid on a project, the buyer doesn’t only see your proposal, but your experience, as well:
As you can see, they’ll look at your experience including feedback and earnings just like on eBay. If you’ve been producing low-quality work over a long period of time, that work will come back to haunt you in the form of poor buyer reviews. So make sure the work you do is, you know, good.
Competing Sites – Where Else Can You Freelance?
Elance, of course, is not the only place to look for work and/or workers. Here are some other sites you might consider:
The experience on Elance, however, has been positive enough both for buyers and providers that is has become one of the most well-known places to outsource your work online.
Elance isn’t free if you plan on bidding on projects. Rates run from around $10 per month (if you’re going for the minimum amount; a one-person freelancing operation with a low amount of bids per month) and can go up into the hundreds depending on the options that you want to select. For many people, Elance basically pays for itself and you can select to have the money you earn into your Elance account pay your monthly Elance subscription.
How do you collect the funds sitting in your Elance account? You can plug in your bank account and routing number to deposit funds to your bank or you can transfer the money to your PayPal – once you’re set up it’s a very easy process.
Elance will also charge you a percentage of the income you earn on projects, so make sure you consider that as well.
Elance is a great tool for both finding people who can skillfully do work that you otherwise couldn’t, and for finding work online. Many Elance projects can be entirely digital, which allows you to work from anywhere as long as you own a laptop.
How well does Elance really “work”? Believe it or not, this article is actually coming to you thanks to Elance – Emory Rowland and I found each other through the site. And the rest, as they say, is history.