Guide To Getting The Most From Elance


Yesterday I talked about outsourcing your content writing and mentioned a couple of different ways to do that. One of those ways, and the one I prefer to use is Elance.com . Because of the amount of work required when you have more than 10 or 15 web sites, especially in the area of content creation, it is nearly impossible to keep up with everything on your own. This is where Elance perfectly fits in to the affiliate marketer’s work at home lifestyle.

Elance is sort of set up like eBay in that you post a project in one of 8 different categories that covers nearly anything you can think of, and then providers bid on how much they are willing to do your project for. Providers are rated by feedback, can earn credentials, approvals and other measures of how well they have preformed for other clients. Many providers also post portfolios so you can check out their work and see if it’s up to your standards. 

A very nice thing about Elance, that differs from eBay, is that you can pick your provider and end the bidding any time you want. I usually set my project to be posted for 5 to 7 days, but when I’ve found someone I’m satisfied with, I award the project to them and let them get to work.

I have read about good and bad experiences with Elance, but I have posted a few projects over the last 3 years and have always been pleased with the results and the writers I’ve worked with. However, there are a few things you should do, look for and insist upon when doing business through Elance to make sure you are getting the most for your money and so there won’t be any misunderstandings.

If you follow these guidelines, this should help you minimize any issues.

When Deciding On A Provider:

Make sure you write a very specific project description. This will help your potential providers understand what you want and will also help you avoid those that are not qualified for your work. If you are new to Elance read the example project description when posting a new project.

Make sure your provider knows you will retain all rights to articles. I include this in the project description.

Insist on 100% original content in your articles. This is kind of obvious, but just to be safe I put this in the product description and I let them know I will be checking for duplicate content or copyright violations. I’ve never had a problem, but I have read stories about issues like this.

Read examples of work from providers bidding on your project. Writers will either have a portfolio with examples or they may attach examples when they bid on your project. Any way about it, you want to read what a writer can do before you hire them.

Ask for examples of a provider’s work if you like their bid, but they don’t have a portfolio or didn’t attach any files. You can communicate with anyone who bids through a private messaging system, so ask. I asked someone once who had a nice resume and placed an affordable bid, but gave no examples, to write me a quick 100 word essay on a specific keyword. They did a great job and I hired them for 2 projects.

Be careful of the lowest bids. Bids for your project will vary greatly in price. Some will come in at $3 per 500 word article and some will go as high as $40 per an article of the same size. I am very leery of the lowest priced bids because many times the English in their examples, if provided, is usually very poor. Many times providers in the United States will contract out your work to India or other countries. They pay $1 per article and then charge you $3 or $4 per article. I don’t have a problem with someone in India writing articles for me though as long as they are grammatically correct. However, many times writers from foreign countries have a hard time understanding American colloquialisms and other forms of speech and their writing shows it.

Never pay any amount up front or until you get an agreed upon amount of articles. I’ve had providers bid on my projects and state that their terms are half up front. Sorry I don’t operate that way. I insist on getting some work before I pay for anything just to make sure I’m getting what I asked for.

Once Your Project Is Awarded:

Only communicate through the private message board. This way, if there is ever any dispute about a project, Elance arbitrators can see all communication between parties.

Upload your specific project terms and project description. Before I even post a project I write out all keywords or article concepts and give a brief 1 paragraph description of what I want in each article. Be specific to avoid misunderstandings. Only upload this to your chosen provider.

Ask for the first 2 or 3 articles to be sent ASAP once you award the project and agree on terms. You want to see how your provider is doing and see if they are on track with what you asked for.

Don’t hesitate to ask for a rewrite if an article isn’t what you want. Even after I’ve seen the first few articles I have asked for an article to be rewritten because it wasn’t what I wanted. Remember, your provider is working for you.

Check for duplicate content by copying a couple sentences, one at a time, and plugging them into Google “with quotes” to see if that content shows up in a search. A phrase or two may show up, but if a sentence does, you have duplicate content. I’ve never had a problem, but I still check at least one sentence from every article I get.

Read your articles. Make sure you read your articles immediately as they arrive. Don’t leave your provider waiting to see if you like what they’ve done because they may be juggling several projects.

Pay your writer immediately! I can’t stress how important this is. I never want to be known as someone who doesn’t pay their bills. When someone finishes a project for you, to your satisfaction and sends you the invoice, pay them as soon as you see it in your email. Everything works much better when people get paid in a timely manner.

Leave honest feedback. The feedback system is similar to eBay in that you can rate providers on different criteria. Be honest so the next person who hires them knows what to expect.

I have only hired writers through Elance, but you can find just about any kind of service provider you need through them such as programmers, web designers, graphic artists, marketing experts, accountants, legal professionals and even engineering, design and manufacturing services.

If you ever have any problems with a service provider, Elance has an arbitration system to settle any problems. However, if you are specific about what you want and follow the above guidelines you should have a load of work taken off your shoulders.

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7 Responses to “Guide To Getting The Most From Elance”

  1. Nice, I need to check out elance, I’ve been using getafreelancer.com with decent work

  2. Thanks for this post Alan! If job providers followed your instructions, I wouldn’t see half so many complaints on the writer boards! I’ll be tweeting this.

  3. Wordvixen,

    You are welcome! As you commented on the previous post, I can’t imagine posting a job where I said I just want a writer without being any more specific than that.

    I want my writers to know exactly what I’m expecting so I can get my work done in a timely manner. I don’t know how people expect that to happen when being vague in their job descriptions.

  4. Great post. I’m just getting started in the business and have been thinking about hiring a content writer in the near future. Much appreciated!

  5. Great post, I’ll need to hire someone soon. This will really come in handy

  6. Great article about the benefits of using Elance, the leading marketplace for online talent! You have really hit on the most important facts and I strongly recommend that your readers try it out. I personally have been a provider on Elance for over 10 years and a buyer for 5 years. To me, Elance is the best marketplace to find qualified candidates. I can say this because I have tried them all Rentacoder, Scriptlance, etc and I keep going back to Elance.

  7. Hi!

    I’m a long term provider, and I wanted to weigh in one one aspect of the post, it being something that came up recently in the water cooler (Elance’s forums).

    It’s the ‘never give a deposit’ bit. I agree on not giving half down especially on a small job and especially with a provider who doesn’t have a track record.

    However, in many case I work on large projects (four figures) and I can’t work on spec. In such cases, I often ask for a 20% deposit , and set specific milestones for the rest of the project.

    Now, I didn’t start doing this when I was new. I waited until I had built up a solid repeat client base, received perfect feedback from dozens of clients, and had a track record I could point to and say “I have NEVER ripped anyone off”.

    We have seen a lot of posts about newbie providers asking for the 50% down thing and then running. That’s awful. I just hate to see providers like myself and others looked at sideways because of what a scammer has done.

    It’s actually very common in the offline world for freelancers to get a deposit before beginning work. I agree that it doesn’t always translate to the online marketplace, but just take this post as food for thought :)



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