All About Elance

Posted by | June 25, 2010 | Blog, Freelancing

QUESTION: Can you explain Elance to me. My friend just started working at home through Elance, and it sounds like a great program. But, I am a little confused about how it works.


You are right, Elance is a great program for work at home jobs, but it can be a little confusing the first time you visit. Let us see if we can clear things up for you.

Fundamentally, Elance lists hundreds of freelance jobs. To land one of these jobs, you must sign up so that you can place bids. Job seekers who sign up for the basic service can bid on selected jobs and get their resume listed in the directory of job seekers. Potential employers can browse profiles and invite job seekers to bid on their job openings. Once you get hired (Elance calls it “winning a bid”), you will complete the work and then get paid for your efforts. Jobs on Elance are usually short-term, temporary assignments, so you can apply for as much work as you can handle at one time.

The more work you complete, the more popular your profile will become with employers. A popular profile will help you win even MORE bids. In other words, the more work you do, the more work you will get.

Many of you are wondering how to “bid” on a job. Well, it’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it. Let’s say that I post a job on Elance for a data entry helper. I say that I need someone to type 20 pages, print them out and send them to a list of customers. You see my job announcement and think it sounds like something you can handle. You figure you are a pretty fast typist and have a good laser printer. You add up the cost of printing 20 pages, envelopes and stamps for 20 packages and your time spent working on the project. You decide that you could do this work for about $60 for the entire project. You log in to Elance and post your bid of $60 along with an explanation as to why I should hire you. That’s it. If I accept your bid, I’ll send you the work, you complete it and then I’ll pay you $60.

See, simple right?

Elance gives homeworkers a direct connection to companies that want to hire them, pocketing a modest transaction fee in the process and undercutting the traditional intermediary, the staffing agency.

Although there are other freelance project based organizations, Elance does offer some unique advantages. They offer workers the chance to find their own jobs and project descriptions. They give corporate clients an opportunity to draw from a global pool of independent contractors at reasonable prices. And they are striking a chord with contract workers who don’t want to pound the pavement looking for work and don’t want to fork over as much as 30 percent of their paycheck to a staffing agency.

Elance is popular with small companies, those with fewer than 50 employees, because they don’t charge the premiums that a staffing agency does — extra fees that rapidly drive up costs. Faith Kaminsky, CEO of Hey You Productions, uses Elance to hire virtual assistants. “I’ve hired many great administrative assistants thanks to Elance,” Kaminsky says.

Thousands of other small firms use Elance to hire freelancers, teleworkers and homeworkers. Davis McRay of McRay Associates has hired more than 20 home-workers through Elance. “For me, it is just smart business,” he told us. “My company is small, we only have nine full time employees, so when I need extra help on simple projects like data entry, I’ve got to find it at a reasonable price.” McRay tried many of the typical staffing agencies such as Kelly and Manpower but was quickly disillusioned. “The prices were high and the quality of worker was low. is why I prefer to use Elance. I get to pick the worker myself instead of having the agency send them to me.”

It’s All About The Bidding

On Elance, effective bidding is what it is all about! You see, when employers post jobs on Elance, they are welcoming “bids” from job seekers. Basically, they want to know how much you are willing to get paid to complete the work. For this reason, it is especially important that you not only make an honest and accurate bid, but that you also provide details to back-up your offer.

Here are a few tips:

Review the project description and employer’s profile. Make sure you understand the context of the job, and exactly what the employer is requesting. You can ask for more details on the message board.

Include focused comments with your bid. An employer wants someone who is interested in his or her project. If the employer asks you questions about your skills (level of experience, similar work completed) keep your answers focused. Bids that don’t address project requirements are ineffective and are considered spamming.

Describe your approach. The employer will want to know how you plan to handle this kind of work. For example, if the employer needs research, explain how you will find the requested information — sources you might use, technology or tools you have available, etc. This gives them an idea of how you’ll complete the work and indicates that you have relevant knowledge.

Include accurate pricing. The employer expects your bid to reflect the actual work cost as closely as possible. Be sure to add up all costs with the job (paper, postage, time, etc.) Base your bid on your skills level. If you have only minimum experience, you will probably need to make lower bids until you build up your work portfolio. Remember, it is considered unprofessional to change the cost drastically upon winning the job, or place lowball bids just to get attention

Upload files and “proof”. For project-specific work samples or more detailed proposals, upload files from your portfolio and attach them directly to your bid. For instance, you could include a copy of a reference letter or feedback from a previous Elance employer.

Specify payment terms. If you require up-front payment or a deposit, indicate this clearly in your bid.

Gain Experience 
Elance is a great way for an entry level employee (or someone that is new to working at home) to gain experience and collect references. If you are willing to except bids on the lower end of your pay scale you will quickly gain a reputation for completed projects and have a list of references to use at your disposal. This is important as it will allow you to move on to more advanced jobs and higher salaries.

As long as you have the skills, you should land a job through Elance almost immediately. Remember, these are not long-term opportunities, although many turn out to be. Instead, you can work for various employers at the same time. Once you perform a job and become rated, you’ll probably land even more offers and may even get private
invitations from employers who are specifically interested in your skills for their particular position.

Looking for Work? Sign up on Elance.
Get Started Today.

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