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Finding Freelance Work on Elance

Posted in: Expat Hacks, Working Abroad

freelance-elanceSo you’ve probably heard of Elance. Who hasn’t, right?

The Elance community presents opportunities for travelers and expats (aka. the location-liberated worker). Simply move from employee to freelancer.

In the news, Elance is often touted as a cost savings tool for large business. Cut the employee strings, only pay for tasks accomplished and avoid dreaded employee benefits costs. This new way of doing things has saved many businesses. Its also freed thousands of employees from their life sentence in a cubicle.

How can you use this?

There are really two ways:

  1. Find work. Its a proven way to find clients, and to get paid. The basic membership is free, with the upgraded memberships costing from $10 to 40 per month. Transaction fee is between 6.75% – 8.75%.
  2. Find talent. If you are thinking about starting your own business, you should check out Elance. You can outsource specific tasks, freeing you up to build your business.

ElanceType of work on Elance:

  • Programmers
  • Designers
  • Writers
  • Marketers
  • Admins
  • Consultants
  • Finance

There are 2 benefits to freelancing:

  1. Work your own hours and do the jobs you chose
  2. Work less hours, even part time – thanks to the power of working in one economy and living in another

My Experience with Elance

With our businesses back in Canada, we hired out work on Elance – everything from logo design to database creation. The database was custom created by a firm in Pakistan. We even had a number of phone meetings. They were among the best developers I’ve worked with. I haven’t done freelance work with them – I haven’t had the time. But if/when it comes time to look for more work, I’m going to Elance first.

A couple months ago, I interviewed Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance for About.com. Fabio explains the process and the future of outsourcing.


Find the best Web & Graphic Designers on Elance!

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with GringosAbroad.

11 comments… add one
  • Geri J. Oct 6, 2011, 1:19 pm

    I have mixed feelings about Elance. On the one hand, it offers work and services in an organized fashion. Pretty handy. On the other, it is an outsourcing of jobs, thereby encouraging employers in the U.S. and Canada to hire outside their own country. This contributes to unemployment for their fellow citizens. And if you live in Canada and the U.S., as a provider of services, you are at a financial disadvantage — Elance is a bidding process, and most jobs seem to go to the lowest bidders. I mean, really low. A North American worker could work 80 hours a week and still not make enough to pay the rent.

    There is also a problem at Elance for the employers: Often, the folks bidding on jobs are not native English speakers. Can be a problem when your new website reads as if it were translated from Hindi.

    I might reconsider using the service when we move to Cuenca due to the lower cost of living; however, I am still conflicted about these Internet job sites. Do they do more harm than good? And is this a case of “you get what you pay for”?

    • Bryan Haines Oct 6, 2011, 2:20 pm

      Hi Geri – you make an interesting point.

      The difference, in many cases, is that often the outsourced work just wouldn’t happen if a US/Canada company had to be hired to do it. Sometimes there isn’t the budget – so without outsourcing, the company may be unable to expand. I’m sure that some work is “lost”, but I think often it is actually new work being created. Outsourcing favors tasks that don’t justify hiring an employee for. In most cases a full time employee will cost less and a full time outsourced person/company.

      You make a good point about quality – hiring on the basis of low price isn’t a good business decision. But if everything else is equal – why not pay less?

      Thanks for sharing!

      • Geri J. Oct 6, 2011, 2:37 pm

        Well, as the victim of outsourcing, I have a different understanding of the process. In the past 10 years, my jobs have been outsourced, both of which caused a serious drop in product quality for the companies involved, and one that actually cost the company more money than keeping its in-house 2-person marketing staff. Bottom line, though, is that I was still out of a job.

        One dilemma for the outsourcing community is that if you take jobs away and lower the prices paid for the remaining jobs — who will be left to buy your product. For the long view — even if it costs you less to produce your product, will you be able to sell enough quantity in an economically challenged environment to make a profit.

        A business has to ask itself if it wants to make a short-term profit at the expense of a long-term decline.

        • Bryan Haines Oct 6, 2011, 2:45 pm

          You’ve made your point very well.

          We both have a different perspective. My experience with outsourcing is as a small business owner. I’ve had tasks that required a specialist, but I didn’t have so much that I needed someone full time. So I outsourced it. Worked like a charm. But, when outsourcing gets to the scale that you’re talking about – outsourcing entire job descriptions (or even departments) I can see the negative effects. Thanks for sharing your experience/expertise.

          Bryan

        • Jim Cohoon Oct 6, 2011, 2:59 pm

          Not sure there is such a thing as a victim of outsourcing. The world, national or regional economies are in constant motion and businesses are in constant motion which results in changes in the business environment. When we personally are affected by such changes and lose our job or opportunity we would certainly feel like a victim. But that won’t help reality. We can’t fight that “force” that is much larger than us, we need to find a way to work with it. Recently I have found a need to accept the direction of the world economy, if you will, and benefit from outsourcing “offshore”. In some cases quality is reduced, but in my experience, the quality is better.

          • Geri J. Oct 6, 2011, 3:45 pm

            Jim — One can be a victim of a circumstance without seeing oneself as a “victim.” I think that this is a pretty common occurrence and experience in the U.S. economy right now.

            You are right that there are global forces involved, most of which I think are insidious and designed to create a global perpetual underclass. The Great American Experiment of the last century, with its successful middle class, may be coming to an end. Short-term profit-taking may have finally tipped the balance.

            Other countries now are better situated for the new economy. And, as much as this annoys me from a personal and political standpoint, my survival is not at issue. My family is not rooted in one country, and we have never had any problem living and being away from our country of origin. It will be a hard transition for many, but we see it all as a giant adventure.

            As to quality levels — while sometimes a bargain can be had — in my field (writing & editing), I have seen so much poor work out there that I doubt that the end result will be an improvement over using high-quality, well-paid talent. Also, the work loads are so high, and turnaround times so short, that plagiarism has become rampant.

            Not sure how this will eventually sort out, but “good enough” seems to be the trend. The current mantra does seem to be that “anything is possible, if you will just lower your standards.”

            • Jim Cohoon Oct 6, 2011, 4:10 pm

              Interesting perspective Geri. I do appreciate hearing your thoughts on quality. “Good enough” get’s one fired in my industry so I can see why we might have different perspectives on some things. Outsourcing in my industry(construction design) is always done without a great deal of supervision. I’m a project manager looking after 5-8 outsource employees. I ensure that quality is at the excellent level which is a minimum requirement. Whereas in your industry, as you mentioned, “good enough” works for some business. I can see how that would make it difficult. Personally, I’d hate to compete with that, not sure how long I’d last.
              No offense intended regarding the victim comments, it was just my perspective based on my experience in my industry.

              Getting back to Elance, I think it can work for some, but again that was from a construction design perspective. And to be honest, if I were to use Elance for home design or other architectural related design, it would be with the goal of securing a long term relationship with one or two companies requiring outsourcing. Thankfully, again from my perspective, it is difficult for offshore designers to compete with North American designers without supervision because they simply don’t know N.A. construction practices and building codes.

  • Jim Cohoon Oct 6, 2011, 8:43 am

    I’ve spent quite a bit of time reviewing Elance and even signed up. They had a nice report about the top 100 jobs that employers are hiring for, for offsite or contract work. I’ve found work in my current industry since then, but it gave me great information for other income possibilities if needed.

  • Donna Worrall Mar 31, 2011, 4:59 am

    We regularly have the discussion "What is an Expat?" here at the Archive. We loved the description 'location-liberated worker' May we use it in our next presentation (5 Apr) please? Best Wishes from the Expatriate Archive Centre. Want to learn more?

    • Bryan Haines Mar 31, 2011, 6:40 am

      Hi Donna – absolutely. (Thanks for asking.) If you are posting video of your presentation, send me a link and I'll blog about it.

      All the best with your presentation!

      Bryan

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