30
May

Interviewed By Elance.com

I found out yesterday that the interview I did with Elance.com had been published on Wednesday 5-28. I assumed it would be published on June 2nd, but I guess it came out early. The interview was conducted back on 5-5-08 and had to get approval, be revised, releases signed and a couple other minor details. (I never knew these things were so involved.)

In the interview I discussed the criteria I use when hiring writers and how to communicate what you want from them so as to avoid any misunderstanding. Elance included 3 tips in the blog post based on what I told them during the interview and what was in a previous post on getting the most from Elance.

The interview probably came about because I sent a general email to someone at Elance letting them know about the previously mentioned post on April 16. It wasn’t anything to strongly self promotional, I just mentioned that the post might be of a benefit for people using their services and looking to hire writers. They must have liked what they read, because I got an email a couple of weeks later asking if I would agree to an interview. I wasn’t seeking an interview, I was just hoping they would link to the post, but you never know what will happen when you touch base with others around the web.

If you have more than you can handle on your own or are wanting to expand your online business and need content, web design help, coding or just about anything you can think of, Elance.com is definitely the place to outsource your work.

Read the Elance interview here and find out how to get the most from Elance here.

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18
Apr

What Kind Of Quality Should You Expect From Elance?

Elance Article Quality?On the post a couple of days ago about Getting The Most From Elance I had wanted to add one more thing to the section about after you award your project to an Elance provider. The post was nearly 1,200 words long so I decided to add this one separately.

One thing that could vary greatly when using Elance for getting content, is deciding what kind of quality you’re looking for. I want quality work, no doubt, but I also want my own voice to be speaking through the articles I’m putting on my sites. In light of that, I tend to be somewhat lenient on what I will accept because I will be going over the article with a fine tooth comb, spinning it to fit exactly what I want it to say. I guess you could say that I’m looking for more of a foundation in an article, rather than specific accuracy, because I will be tweaking it anyway.

Of course, if you are having someone write technical articles for you, your thinking may be completely different here. In that case, accuracy and proper formatting is much more important. I’m also sure that you will be paying much more for articles that I do.

My thinking is that I’m going to spend about 15 minutes with each article, polishing it to my specs, but that is a lot less than starting from scratch and spending an hour and a half writing a 500 to 600 article myself. As I mentioned in the earlier post, I will still ask that an article be rewritten if it is not in the ballpark of what I’m looking for. But, as I also stated in the previous post, if you are specific in your job description and with the final instructions you upload to your provider, this should rarely be an issue.

Used properly, Elance.com can make your life as an affiliate marketer much easier. 

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17
Apr

Explaining Twitter Is Like Explaining Sex To A Virgin

TwitterSo I took the plunge and signed up for Twitter yesterday. Why? Simply because everyone else is doing it. Every time I turned around I was reading another post where everyone from Problogger to Shoemoney to Zac Johnson were singing the praises of Twitter. I probably wouldn’t jump off a cliff with these guys, as the saying goes, but I figured with Twitter it was time to get my head out of the sand and just sign up.

The reason I signed up was because I figured it must be important if all the top internet bloggers and affiliate marketers are Twittering. However, most of the explanations of the way Twitter works or what the benefits are, don’t really do it justice. Trying to explain Twitter, is like trying to explain sex to a virgin. You don’t really get it until you do it.

My thinking on Twitter had been, it’s probably something that’s just going to take time away from other things that I already don’t have enough time for, but once you sign up, you see the obvious benefits. The best explanation I can give is that’s it’s like a mini blog that you post to whenever you are doing something that you may want to tell your subscribers, or followers as they are called, about. You can also keep track of what others are doing and follow them and you can even reply to those you are following.

It’s funny how this whole Twitter thing evolved for me. Like I said, I kept reading about it everywhere and read about Shoemoney going from not getting it at all, to being completely into it. I made a comment on his blog yesterday about it and then probably 10 minutes later Wordvixen left a comment on yesterday’s post about Elance saying she would be tweeting the post. I thought cool, what’s that? I checked it out and bingo, the compact fluorescent bulb went on. Wordvixen had informed all her Twitter followers about the Elance post. I have seen the light

Really, don’t even think about it. Stop being a virgin, sign up and follow me on Twitter.

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16
Apr

Guide To Getting The Most From Elance

 Elance.com

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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15
Apr

Outsourcing Your Content Writing To Elance.com

Outsource Your Content WritingThere comes a time in the life of an affiliate marketer when it’s simply too difficult to do all the little things and the big things that need to be done. As discussed in a post a couple of days ago when asking how many web sites you have, I have some 38 content sites or blogs that need to be updated on a fairly regular basis. Some require nothing more than a 10 minute tweak evey week or so, but others are new and need article size content added more frequently.

I’m sure this figure is different for everyone, but once you get past approximately 10 sites or more, it’s probably a good idea to start planning on how you’re going to get all the work done that needs to be done. Probably the most important thing that needs to be done at the beginning stages in the development of a site, after you have a good design of course, is to start creating content. Content is the base of your site and if properly written, will be the catalyst that starts getting you noticed by the search engines and by visitors looking for good quality information on the subjects of interest to them.

Most pressing on my time, because it has the most potential and at present is earning me the most income, is the 10 Build A Niche Store sites I have. These eBay affiliate stores cover the gamut in different niches and some have only a few pages, but some have hundreds of pages. Every one of these pages should have product descriptions, meta description tags, titles, title tags and so forth. That’s just on the product pages. Some of these niches could also have 10 to even 100 or more content pages to support the products and give visitors additional information on the niche’s main subject.

How can one possibly get all that work done? The only viable solution is to hire someone to write content and or product descriptions for you. If you live near a university you may be able to find students to take on some writing projects for you. What student doesn’t need money? However, most of us aren’t in that situation and even if we were, how do you know what kind of writer you’re dealing with? What will be the terms of having someone write for you? How will they get paid?

There’s an even better solution. I’ve been using Elance.com on and off now for about 3 years and I’ve found it incredibly easy to use, easy to communicate with writers all over the world and a cost effective way to take care of work that I just don’t have time to deal with, even when it’s important work.

There are some tricks to using Elance to make sure you get good writers, that they understand your projects and that you are clear on the terms of your project. Come back tomorrow when I’ll cover how to get the most from Elance.com

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