Freelancer Alert: Elance Review

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Not Impressed With ElanceNot many things get my knickers in a twist like a lack of accountability. And Elance just did it.

However, it’s not just a lack of accountability. It is the cavalier attitude toward the ones who are basically putting bread on their table… namely, their contractors (the freelancers who bid on the thousands of projects that Elance posts).

If you’re new to freelancing, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about Elance. It’s one of the largest online job boards (if not the largest), with 2012 earnings of over $200M.

If you’re a freelancer, I want you to consider verrrry carefully that figure: $200 million dollars. Elance made over $200 million dollars in 2012.

They take 8.75% from your earnings. That is money made off your skills and talent. Got that? Okay. Moving on.

So, yes. Elance has thousands of jobs posted, many of them will be right up your alley. However, remember the warning to buyers, Caveat emptor? With Elance, it is Sit vendit cavete: Let the seller beware.

Although I have found clients through a variety of ways (networking, referrals, etc.), I decided to try Elance. Why not? I figured there were many people who had a need and it would be a quick way to earn money.

Not quite.

There are many pitfalls to using Elance. One is that you are bidding against contractors who live all over the world. These contractors will bid at a ridiculously low price compared to the U.S. pricing because often, their standard of living is much lower. As a result, most, if not all of the services have been commoditized, which is great news for the buyer but not so great for contractors.

Of course, in a highly competitive market, pricing is a large factor in determining who to choose as a supplier. But it’s not the only factor and rarely should it be the deciding point (if it is, you usually are dealing with someone who can’t appreciate the value you bring to the table). So that’s one aspect of bidding on Elance’s job board.

But the other aspect, the one that got my knickers in a twist was this:

Elance does not protect the freelancer.

Case in point: When you view a job posting, the buyer can post either an hourly rate, or a project rate. It is recommended that a contractor choose an hourly rate because Elance can then guarantee payment. Every contractor gets 15 credits per month (those who pay for a premium subscription get more) and it usually takes 1 credit to submit a proposal.

Recently, I submitted a proposal for a large writing project. The hourly rate was between $40 – $50 per hour. (Note: I usually do not work on an hourly rate, but I submitted a proposal for this project because it was in an industry that highly interested me.)

The job opportunity closed within 24 hours, given to someone who submitted a bid for $10 per hour.

I contacted Elance to ask that my credit be returned because had I known that the buyer would choose a $10 per hour contractor, I would not have submitted a proposal.

Elance’s answer? No.

And not just “no,” but 1) they misinterpreted my question and said they can’t force a buyer to award their project to a provider (which was not my concern. Of course you can’t force a buyer to award a project and I wouldn’t want to do that. Free enterprise and all, you know..) and 2) they said it was the freelancer who was to do “due diligence” in studying the buyer’s history.

Yes, you can check a buyer’s history. But if they’ve made their payment history private (as this buyer did), then you have no idea how much they’ve paid for projects in the past. (It’s a good thing to always check, though. Stay away from buyers who are only paying contractors $2 per hour. Yes, you read that right. $2.)

My concern is this: Elance is making a boatload of money off the skills of their contractors. But yet they won’t protect the contractors. If the buyer had been honest and posted that they only wanted to pay $10 per hour for a job, then they should have posted that.

Instead, Elance allows a lack of accountability in the buyer’s posted fee and the contractor loses a credit for bidding for a project that was awarded at lower fee than the one posted — a project they probably wouldn’t have bid on if it was posted at the lower fee.

What happened was the buyer posted a fair hourly rate, which brought contractors forward who were looking to win a project that paid that posted amount. And then the buyer (and Elance) shafted everyone.

I wish I could say this was the first time it happened, but it wasn’t. I’ve not submitted many proposals on Elance, but my experience with them has been rather abominable. Buyers have no qualms about posting a fee range, and then when a contractor submits a proposal for that range, rejects it saying the bid is too high.

Yes. You read that correctly. A buyer can reject a bid for $49 as “too high” even when they set the fee within the range of $40 – $50 per hour. And Elance does absolutely nothing about it.

I will close with what I sent to the Elance representative:

Do you know what this does for Elance? It sends a strong signal to freelancers that “if” you happen to get lucky and get a buyer who was honest by offering the rate they posted, then consider it a rarity. There are many freelancers who refuse to do business with Elance. I’m beginning to understand why.

I thought I’d try Elance. But because I now feel that Elance isn’t protecting the freelancer by holding the buyers accountable to the fees they are posting, my opinion is changing. I will be blogging about this and alerting all of my freelancer community groups to be aware of this situation.

It’s a poor policy when within the buyer/contractor relationship, the contractor realizes that even after doing “due diligence,” it still makes no difference. There are NO consequences for the buyer to not adhere to their stated proposed hourly rate.

A very poor policy, indeed.

Update: Elance just refunded my credit. I’m thankful, but still believe they need to have a policy for buyers who do not award projects at the advertised rate.

Second update: If after reading this post, you wish to send me an email telling me about your service, please read this post now before you send it. Thank you.

NEW: I’m starting to respond to comments in a separate blog post. Please visit the category “Comment Response” under the tab “Freelancers.” I’ll be updating this category regularly.

Added 2-7-14: Interview with direct response copywriter, trainer and world traveler, Steve Roller. He also has some thoughts about being a freelancer and how to find clients.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Wow – that is a nasty attitude to freelancers. I’ve never been tempted to use any of these online websites because – as you say – the buyers are often looking for a job done cheaply and don’t always value the people trying to supply a good quality service.

    I must admit I have used this and similar sites in the past to get work done – not copywriting, cause I do that myself ;) – but I always pay the rate I’ve advertised and have often added a bonus when I’ve been impressed with the seller.

    Elance are not doing themselves any favors by upsetting people like us, are they? :)

    • Bredly Rebel says

      Hello Ma’am, Impressed by your words.. could you suggest me few things by which i can overcome with my idle talents?..
      I’m a good Photo editor.. need a job to earn my living..
      Can you suggest me few freelancing tips please?

  2. John Curran says

    I understand a lot of these complaints, I’ve used Elance myself. I would never bid on an hourly project because I don’t want an electric nanny. Your $49/hr complaint seems off, however. Elance has updated the budget amounts recently, but there are still ranges. For a 20 hour project, the difference between $40 and $45 and $50 is $100 per step. A client may not have that money and actually want a range of $40 to $42. They are not lying to you by posting using the Elance restriction.

    We are competing with people who are located around the world, and many clients have their eyes opened by Elance. One might originally have assumed a budget of several hundred dollars. Then they found that there is an American freelancer working in Mexico who can do it at half the price after the job posting went up. Your samples may simply not match up to your price in their eyes.

    Elance does not work well for a lot of people, and I’ve had a number of problems with it. In your case, though, I’m not clear whether or not you understood that it shoehorns clients into budgets and provides global writing applicants.

  3. says

    Jerry, Carol, and John, thank you for your comments.

    To clarify: I don’t hold it against anyone to find a good deal. And to your point, John, I do realize that there is global competition. (The main reason many U.S. freelancers avoid the site. It’s tough to compete with someone in Singapore who will complete a writing project for $2 per hour.)

    Regarding budgets: What I’ve seen from Elance is usually a $10 or $20 range. The one job I submitted a $49 per hour rate was for a job that had a $40 – $50 rate. (I just looked at it again.) In fact, they even had this statement: “Pay is not an issue for an excellent copy writer.” And when I submitted $49, received a rejection message saying it was too expensive. So go figure. You may have a point when you say the rate differential could be within a few dollars. But buyers can negotiate, too. I don’t know too many contractors who would say no to a decrease in rate by only a few dollars.

    I’m not sure what the answer could be with these types of scenarios. I understand Elance can’t be hunting down every buyer who posts a specific fee range and then seemingly changes their mind. But it (obviously) has been frustrating and I suspect other freelancers have experienced similar frustrations.

  4. says

    Having just signed up for Elance a couple of weeks ago (and having spent a lot of time posting a portfolio, completing my profile and actually getting “verified” via my driver’s license and a Skype video call!), I read this review with considerable interest. From what I see on Elance, my impression is that many of their copywriting buyers are bottom feeders.

    • Maxx says

      Hey Paul,
      I just finished doing exactly what you did, then I found this conversation about Elance. I think I will drop Elance and go it on my own. It took me a long time to get to my skill level (graphic designer, 15+ years) and I do not want to be commoditized.

  5. says

    Paul, unfortunately your comment is mostly true. There are a few decent buyers on the job boards, but many just want a quick and cheap way to complete a project. There are a few gems to be found. It just takes time to find them. That is, if you want to spend the time doing it….

  6. says

    I had no idea that this was happening. Thanks Mary Rose for posting this valuable information. I’ll rethink my plan to put myself out there to these pariahs…I’ve got better things to do with my time!

  7. Christine says

    Thanks for sharing…I have purposely avoided them, for various reasons. And I am usually the buyer, not the contractor.

    I have used ODesk with some success, but honestly seek out US contractors there, by filtering.
    I’m not sure how contractors fare there, but you may want to check them out as a contractor…and then do a comparison.

    Skillpages is one I looked into… But it seemed too “global” for my tastes…but have to admit, did not complete true due diligence there.

    I like to stay closer to home when outsourcing… Much simpler. Thanks again… :-)

  8. David says

    Sorry you have gone thru this. They have had the same bad customer service and attitude for nearly 15 years. I had similar experiences in the past as you did, and its even worse when you get larger projects. Their model doesn’t work, can easily be scammed, and it draws out less than admirable qualities in potential clients. They also settle disputes in the background to avoid as much publicity as possible.

    In the end, I pretty much resolved that any business that uses elance type services to hire for our line of work is not a client I would want anyway. Its not worth the headache, when there are better sources for you and I.

  9. Deborah says

    Hi Mary,

    I just read your comment. I signed on with Elance several months back: Still have not been awarded any of the contracts that I bid on but have a different take than you. I do believe very strongly in free enterprise and, as such, understand that I can peddle my wares anywhere. I’m in the process of building my own site but have used Elance as a good testing ground for bidding and getting a feel of what people are looking for and what they are prepared to spend.

    Like most, I do not like entering a “per hour” rate, but again, it is my choice to do so.

    Little story – was hired by a very large relocation firm to write for their SEO department. For 10 months I wrote hundreds and hundreds of blogs, Tweets, FB statues, etc. At one point they gave me work that they had farmed out to India. The writing restored my sense of humor – I basically had to start over from ground zero. Moral of the story … You get what you paid for. Every time an Elance buyer awards the contract to a person whose first language is not English, think about my little story. Pay well and pay once or find yourself reliving “Groundhog Day” – the movie!

    I wish all of my fellow freelance writers the success they “writely” deserve!

  10. says

    Elance does have “exceptions” to the general “rule.” Years ago (when I needed a more decent portfolio)
    I was hired at Elance to write to seperate projects; one paid $700.00 (for about 5,000 words) the other paid
    $750.00 for 10 Affiliate Internet Marketers “Pre-sell Letters) (about 6,000 words)

    Both clients were easy to work with and used Escrow to pay – and were quick pay. Both gave me 5 star ratings and good feed back. My point being is there are “exceptions” to the general rule simply because sometimes a firm gets in a “bind” for Professional copy – know they can go there and get decent writers (if they pay them well) so they do not mind paying writers what they are worth.

    Here is a short key; look at the Buyers history; (over $5,000 is usually good) Plus, take a look at their feedback received from their clients. If both are good, these are pretty good indicators of how well they pay (and what to bid)

    If I hit a stretch to where I am between clients, I give them a look. Even though that was 8 years ago, I still keep my account open with them. In fact I recently got my logo redone there for a very fair price, and the bidder did a good job.

    Very Best Regards,

    Stephen Monday

  11. Alice Hopkins says

    Thanks for this; very helpful since I’m about to venture out into the freelancing world. I will certainly proceed with caution if I ever use Elance.

    Have you really seen writers from Singapore bidding $2 an hour? It may have been a random example, in which case I apologise for getting my knickers in a twist, but the cost of living is higher in Singapore than the US! I guess it doesn’t matter where you’re living since that’s the whole point, but if people from Singapore are bidding that low, then it confirms that those desperate to get experience will undercut anyone and everyone. Even if it leaves them out of pocket.

  12. says

    I formed a rewriting company many years ago, and went on Elance when they were very young — i.e. pre tech crash of the early 2000′s.

    Very quickly, it became obvious that the site had became a bottom feeder hole where people who once wrote an article for the State Pig Farmers Gazette (nothing against this newspaper if it actually exists), or something similar, and therefore considered themselves writers would underbid anyone just to put together a portfolio. Sometimes they offered to do work almost free.

    So I INCREASED my rates to stand out as a pro.

    But it didn’t work. In a year with Elance, I landed only one decent job, and only that because the company was smart enough to search Elance writers — you could do that in those days — for someone who might understand its industry.

    Their editor tracked me down and called me directly to set it up. Elance wasn’t involved at all.

    Elance changed its open policy and I’ve never been back since.

  13. says

    I agree with this writer. Although I’m approaching $100K as a copywriter at Elance, it has been very slow going because of the problems cited by this reviewer.

    Elance doesn’t educate buyers about how to write decent project descriptions, so it costs providers connect fees (which have just gone up to $1 each) to clarify parameters and other important aspects of posted jobs.

    I wrote a helpful article and sent it to Elance hoping they’d post it so buyers would know how to post complete project descriptions when seeking a professional copywriter, but they ignored it–of course. They make their money off connect fees (plus membership fees and percentage fees), so they have no incentive to help buyers connect with providers on the first go-round. They get a buck every time a provider wants to connect, even to ask clarifying questions, so why help buyers ace the project description on the first try–it would cut into their considerable profits. They’re an automated gateway; any extra work at their end probably doesn’t make sense to them. (Why should Elance perform any better than any other big corporation that lives off other people’s efforts and pays them peanuts in return?)

    It’s enormously frustrating to work via Elance, but I’ve managed–despite the odds–to reach the top ten (often the top spot or two, depending on how people search for copywriters), so it’s BEGINNING to pay off. People are inviting me to submit quotes these days, which saves me connect fees left and right. But many of the people who invite me to quote are offering peanuts or projects that aren’t within the niches I serve, so I reject more than 50% of them. Again, it’s frustrating to see Elance treat their money-makers this way, but until someone similar comes along who is better (more respectful of their money-makers), it’s still probably the best avenue out there if you want to work globally.

    I estimate that I net about 60% of what I make at Elance; Elance gets 15-20% in combined membership fees, connect fees and percentage fees; the IRS gets 15-20% since we entrepreneurs are on the hook for 100% of our own health insurance, Social Security, FICA and other federal mandates.

    Still, working for myself is a perk that transcends the hitches and hiccups of fighting for decent income and treatment by Elance the company and its mostly “bargain basement” buyers. I just keep looking for the buyers who know what great copywriting USUALLY costs in the real world ($1-$3 per word! NOT a typo!) and are happy that I’m NOT charging that price but AM providing equal value. That’s the best that can be hoped for at Elance, I suspect.

    • Elizabeth says

      I am a Kenyan freelancer. I joined elance about a month ago. I concur with ALL the sentiments expressed here, and would also like to bring to your attention the fact that there are professionals(like myself) in the third world/rest of the world, who are similarly frustrated by the fact that many buyers want a quick fix for the least pay. I bid what I’m worth, and based on the quality that I can deliver. This has meant not a single job yet for me. I am unwilling to compromise. Some of the buyer offers tend towards the unethical. When you would like a lot of work done in the least time possible, surely you must be willing to pay a premium especially if you also expect top quality.

      I think this speaks volumes about the buyers themselves. It suggests that some are so poor at spotting good work, that even poorly done work is acceptable provided it comes cheap. No offense meant but at $2 an hour, what do you expect? You get what you pay for-nothing more.

      To Elance- please take this seriously. The people who are complaining are the ‘good’ ones. Lose enough of these and you might not do as well as you could in the long run. The competition will outpace you.

      • Richard H says

        Elizabeth, your writing skills are superb.
        I would hire you.
        If I was an employer that is.
        DON’T GIVE UP!

      • santorini says

        Elizabeth,
        You have my wholehearted approval. As much as I admire your integrity and position,
        I am afraid, Elance may not be your scene. Your “I am not willing to compromise” makes me smile because Elance is not the place where freelancers are in the best position to make the rules. It is the other way around, my dear. As a bidder, you have only one choice: compete.

  14. Jason says

    You’re whining because you were not awarded the job. Just deal with it and move on. Sheeez.

    • says

      Jason, I just happened to be working when your comment came through. This isn’t a “whine,” although I can see why you would call it that. This post has to do with a clear “broken window” in Elance’s policy. I’ve lost out on bids and I’ve won bids. My complaint is about how a project is described. If a client posts a fee range between $25 – $50 per hour, and then awards it to a contractor for $10 an hour, then those who bid on the project with the expectation that the fee range is accurate have just lost a “connect.”

      The buyer has no accountability to honor their stated intent: which was to pay a contractor their specified project fee.

      If you’re happy with that type of policy, then by all means, go out there and win all the $10 an hour projects you want. I know there are plenty of clients who are looking for you.

  15. Stacey says

    I just finished my first freelance gig with Elance and it will be my last. The client was great to work with, the project was something I’m interested in and everything went smoothly UNTIL Elance had to pay me. When trying to withdraw my money, I noticed the full amount was not available although it showed that the client had released the full amount to me. Elance is charging me the client fee although I was the freelancer. I’m in an email war right now and have yet to receive a call back from customer service concerning this issue. So my next step? Scouring the internet to share my story and bad experience with Elance on as many sites as possible. Elance is about to discover that the quote is right, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

    • Nicole says

      I believe that reading terms and conditions is important. And if you read them, you would know that as a freelancer, you are charged a 8.75% processing fee for every payment. You cant Bash the system because you didn’t read the terms.

      • Lar says

        Here is a direct quote from Elance’s site: “Your client pays a small service fee” is the heading, following by this: “Elance adds an 8.75% service fee to your quote. When work is delivered and payment is made, we deduct our commission and transfer the rest of the money to you>”
        I see no other way to interpret this other than that the client is the one responsible for Elance’s fee. If I bid $40/hour and work for two hours, the client should be paying me $80, and Elance should be passing that $80 on to me. The client should then be paying Elance another $7.

  16. JP says

    I can sympathize with all the comments here, but would like to offer two observations of my own.

    I worked via Elance for two years and during that time achieved a ranking in the top 1-100th of a one percent. That means, quite simply, that I followed all the rules. As a writer and graphic designer, the competition was fierce. In fact Kristine, I’ve bid against you many, many times. I found the key to success was not so much in the bid, as in the quality of the portfolio samples and how the work was presented. For example, in ebook or ghostwriting bids, I always threw in design and the use of my stock art subscription. This often saved clients the additional cost of having their ebook/book designed and since I often write in InDesign directly, there was no added work for me. That single accommodation to the client rocketed my acceptance rate from about 6% to well over 50%. I had to turn away work and actually had people willing to wait as long as three months to begin a project due to my overload.

    The problem came in the form of Elance, who one day decided that I had violated their terms of service. They blocked me from bidding or communicating with anyone other than open project clients. When I asked which TOS I had violated, they refused to discuss it until all my projects were completed. Given that I had a backlog of waiting clients, including projects of over $5,000 each – this took some time, 9 months to be exact. In the meantime, despite my repeated requests for some idea of what I’d done wrong, they refused. At the completion of my last project, I applied for consideration and was told obliquely that they were cancelling my account permanently. They still refused to provide a specific violation—simply stated it was a general TOS violation. Oddly enough, they couldn’t even find any record of why they had done it – probably because of the lengthy time it took. They put me on hold for an answer for another six weeks, instead of their stated “one day response.”

    Now…my projects were awarded for higher amounts because I threw in design. I also had many clients order additional services due to their satisfaction with what I had to offer. My ratings and ranking were stellar. This isn’t bragging, this about trying to imagine what I did wrong. No answers were forthcoming. So, two years of bidding low to get established and then providing top-rated service and earning Elance thousands of dollars in commission—wasted. Without explanation or recourse. I’ve talked to other providers who had the same thing happen, but unfortunately they were also cancelled with funds still owed to them. We’re talking thousands of dollars. I am widowed and Elance was my investment to care for my child, thus this had a serious impact on my life.

    It strikes me that a company who apparently goes to such length to legitimize their providers is lacking that most important feature themselves. What is it they say about the liar in the room is the man who is loudest in denial?

    • dennis says

      JP,
      My hunch is, after reading tons of reviews on similar freelancing sites, that top earners tend to block commissions for elance in present as clients wait… which could be earned if clients are okay with other bidders.
      Many sites ban a single top earner as lightly put lets just say they violate the basic tenet of “freelancing”… not supposed to be cash cow but something for….well..freelance!
      Hope you get the point beind “freelance” but I leave you to set your expectations irrespective of what I’ve to say in my humble opinion.
      Cheers
      Dennis

    • Another Pissed-off Elancer says

      Gosh, JP makes it sound like a casino – if you’re winning “too much”, they’ll just change the rules.

      Outrageous!

  17. says

    Wow. JP, your story shocked me, but I heard a similar story from another copywriter who used Elance for getting business. He was also doing quite well and then suddenly, Elance cancelled his account.

    It didn’t make sense until Dennis offered a plausible reason. It sounds like Elance isn’t interested in a contractor’s ability to build a solid history of dependable work. They’d rather have a client order work quickly so they can get their money quicker. That unfortunately makes sense.

    As for me, I get my client’s contact information early in the relationship. It helps when I’m dealing with large files and can share a public folder with them through a cloud storage system like DropBox or Sugar Sync.

    The copywriter I mentioned lost many repeat clients and did not have their contact information. So when Elance pulled the rug out from under him, he was left with nothing. There was no way to reach out to his past clients to let them know of the changed circumstances. And that was a shame. Before that, Elance work was providing the bulk of his income.

    Suffice it to say that I’ve doubled-down on my own prospecting, created a targeted list of those who could use my services, and continue to network and leverage partnerships. Elance has done quite a bit of damage with their freelancers. I’m glad my post helped with educating a few and also providing a sounding board for those who have had less-than-stellar experiences with them.

  18. Bill Honer says

    As a professional grant writer with millions in successful grany writer, E Lance
    did present me with an opportunity to share some humor with my friends concerning the
    number of buyers seeking expert and professional writers for under $10 an hour!

  19. Alise says

    I hear what you’re saying but what if the person who had the $10 rate was an excellent writer? It makes sense for the business, in that case, to select that freelancer. If you’re both delivering the same quality of work, why wouldn’t they choose the lower priced option?

  20. says

    My honest opinion? Any company that will pay a $5 – $10 rate for an hour’s (or more) work is a company that’s not going to go very far and a company that obviously doesn’t understand how to build its business, run by people who aren’t willing to invest in their business. You don’t see a price like that without asking, “Wait a second… why are they offering it so cheap?”

    You’ll find out why, soon enough, though.

    The $5 – $10 writer will very often provide much less value, even if the quality of writing is the same (more than often, it’s not). You’re not just buying an article, you’re also buying a service and years of experience and some consultation. Many times, however, the quality between a $10 writer and $30 writer is obvious, but many buyers don’t actually know the difference. But even so, they should be asking themselves some hard questions: namely, why on earth are they willing to invest so little in their business? Why are they being such a cheap client in the first place?

    But after they get stood-up in their third project, or find out the work is plagiarised, and basically find the cheap writers are unrealiable, then they start realising where the differences begin!

  21. says

    First, I loved this article.

    Second, I would like to chide in and say that elance not only doesn’t protect the seller, but it doesn’t protect the buyer either.

    On two separate instances I purchased services from contractors through elance.

    In both cases, I never received the actual service – though the contractor billed me for it.

    After dealing with elance’s mess of a mediation system, elance decided in favor of the seller and awarded them the money (the money had already been withdrawn from my payment account).

    In the first instance I was out $2,500 + another $3,200 to hire someone to actually do the job and meet the now extremely tight deadline.

    In the second instance, I had wised up enough to know when to pull the plug and only lost a few hundred.

    I would steer as far away from elance as you possibly could. Both as a seller AND a buyer.

  22. scifar says

    I’ve been considering signing up to Elance since attending an ‘Introduction to Online Work for Freelancers’ course arranged by them in Bangkok last weekend (not having heard of them before spotting the promotion for this event on facebook just a few days previously).
    A quick google search though has very quickly brought to light the extent of negative feedback.. I was expecting to find some of course, though nothing like the volume and severity of negative views that I’ve come across in just a few online clicks today.
    What concerns me in particular is not to see a single defence or explanation in response from Elance to any of the criticisms levelled against them (and of course no mention made of any negative feedback in their training session needless to say!). At the same time, the company is actively recruiting new freelancers to join the 2.5 million they proudly claim to be registered with them already.
    It rather reminds me of the way the worst quality fitness centres market themselves – totally ignoring the complaints about appalling customer service and dodgy practices, and focussing solely on recruiting new members with discount offers and long contracts which are impossible to get out of. The worst offender in that class here in Bangkok – the rather bizarrely named ‘California Wow’ went out of business here just recently – enough said perhaps..

  23. Kym says

    I’m student at Imperial College of London and as a consulting project for a small start-up we are conducting a small survey about freelancing.

    If you are a freelancer or if you hire/employ one, please take 5 minutes to help us fill out the following survey: http://bit.ly/12ENmIG

    Thank you for your help.

  24. Harvard says

    I am an Instructional Designer, Association Management and Marketing Professional. I am located in the U.S. I have been using Elance since March 2013.

    My situation is slightly different as I am a consultant and worked with my current client for several years through my previous employer. My client contacted me when I left my prior job and asked if I would like to work for them. I said yes. We agreed on the pay which is at an hourly rate exceeding that of my last job. We also agreed on the terms. The client then directed me to Elance.

    I essentially use Elance as a portal to post project milestones, complete timesheets, view/post messages and withdraw my payments. My client and I also use GoTo Meeting, regular telephone calls and email to communicate.

    I, out of curiosity, looked at several other jobs I saw posted and was struck by the very low hourly rates and geographical locations for many of them. I clearly understand how this would create problems/challenges for freelancers wanting to make decent money for their living standards. This prompted me to Google Elance reviews which in turn brought me here and to other review sites.

    For now, I submit my projects to my client and get my money (promptly I must add). I love the freedom and flexibility. I don’t, for now, intend to bid for the other jobs I see on Elance. I use other means for additional work.

  25. April says

    I would be interested to know if there are any freelancing sites you do recommend.

  26. says

    I have mixed feelings towards Elance. On the hand, I must admit that it helped me survive for several months. On the other hand, I really do not feel comfortable with the way many clients perceive providers on this platform. The client-provider relationship would be much better had Elance better and balanced policies.

    Deep inside myself, working on Elance makes me feel exactly the way the French playwright Moliere describes writing as a job:

    “Writing is like prostitution. First, you do it for love, then for a few close friends and then for money.”

    Santorini.

    • Web Guy says

      Guru.com, oDesk.com. From my experience Elance has been a mixed bag. They seem to go out of their way to make things difficult.

      At first it seems a honeymoon because they have so many projects available but then at the drop of a hat all your hard work honestly developing a reputation could be destroyed without warning. I recently had them accuse me of having multiple accounts which has been a disaster. They suspended my account and the account of the client who hired me. Ouch. I have no idea how they came to this conclusion but that client is confused and pissed, so Elance just screwed both of us.

      They said to work out the issue I had to reply to their email with information. After that they said I had to go through their Integrity ID check. I passed that, my account was marked “verified” however then Elance said the my account had been closed for the nebulous “policy violation” and the next step to being reinstated was to close out open projects. I don’t have any open projects. In fact Elance closed the only project that I had open (when they somehow concluded that client and I were the same person).

      You can google this scenario and find Elance is doing this same dance with lots of people. I don’t know that I understand why just yet. One would think they’re losing money however if this is a pattern, and it seems to be, there must some end goal they have in mind. All I know is I used to spend hundreds of bucks a month on “connects” and now I don’t spend any.

  27. Ellie says

    I am so bummed out about my experience with Elance, mostly because I thought that I had truly found my niche and tha I would be able to work from home. After running into two questionable clients, I quit and unfortunately got two really bad ratings which have made finding another Elance job impossible. I was one of the stupid people who payd for extra credits to find more work. $150.00 worth of extra credits. Sad.

  28. Dwayne says

    Thanks for the useful information, I have been an acitve Elance contactor for 3 years. In my 3 years I have encountered several CLIENTS who are just SCAMMERS. They wanted to get the work done at their terms,time and price but in the end they don’t pay at all after all the hard wok done. Freelancers like me are sometimes helpless with their negative feedback. I have this hourly guaranteed contract but after 2 weeks of working, the client doesn’t want to pay. When I filed a dispute, Elance descrease my profile level for 2 points. Elance protected more the clients than the freelancers. In cases that clients don’t have funds on their payment method linked to Elance then Elance doesn’t really guarantees the payment. It is still on the freelancers risk to choose the clients they are dealing with. FOR THE PROTECTION OF HARD WORKING FREELANCERS BEWARE OF THE CLIENTS WHO JUST WANT TO GET THE WORK DONE FOR FREE. SCAMMERS ARE ALSO IN ELANCE. ELANCE DOES NOT 100% GUARANTEES PAYMENT EVEN THE HOURLY CONTRACTS SPECIFICALLY IN CASES OF THIS SCAMMER CLIENTS THAT EMPTIED THEIR ACCOUNTS BEFORE ELANCE GET THEIR FUNDS. IN THE END, THE FREELANCER IS THE LOSER IN THESE CASES!!

  29. Jack Purdy says

    Wow! I am astounded by the idea of companies paying $5 or $10 an hour for writing. You all realize that the current minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.50 an hour, right? So, basically, you could do just as well at McDonald’s. I freelanced full time between 1990 and 2000, essentially in the pre-Internet days. My clients were ad agencies, homebuilders and financial companies. When I began, I set my rate at $100 an hour and never deviated from that except when I would occasionally do a day or weekly rate at an agency. I left freelancing when offered a VP job at a large PR firm in DC–a job I retired from this past May. I have considered trying to freelance again, mostly just to keep my mind sharp and not for the money. It seems, reading these posts, that there is no money to be had now, at least through elance, so I’ll just stay retired and write fiction, thanks.

  30. Newbie says

    Hi I am an elance contractor. I have one job in elance about being a Social Media VA, its an hourly job and the client paid me. BUT today, I am expecting to got paid aroudn $131 but I wasn’t paid. Its really a big money for me does elance help those kind of situation? or they just let it be? . I worked for it one week and hoping I could get paid. phew. please share your thoughts. I’m the philippines.

  31. says

    Great post – thanks for sharing Mary Rose. I’ve just joined Elance and appreciate your honesty but, as other people have also asked, what other sites would you personally recommend instead of Elance?

  32. says

    I really appreciate your post, but I felt compelled to respond. I have been on elance for many years now and the strategy you have is totally backwards. Elance can certainly be a successful place for sourcing new clients, and I can attest to this personally. I have worked for clients in 21 countries across the globe because of their great platform. While I do agree that the commission fee is too high, the pros far outweigh the cons for any savvy freelancer.

    Your complaint of only having 15 credits is really a non-issue. You can buy additional credits if you run out, and any unused credits get rolled over into the next month. They are only $5 for another 10 credits, at least the last time I checked. This is a NOMINAL drop in the bucket compared to how much you can make. Since I first began using elance four years ago, I have brought in more than six figures just from their site.

    The problem that many freelancers try to do is bid on EVERYTHING. The trick is to be SELECTIVE and to only bid on those jobs which will give you the most satisfaction, happiness and joy. Instead of bidding low, I bid on the middle-to-high side and if someone does not choose me, I don’t ever go back and look at it again. I just keep moving forward. The jobs that are meant to be and the clients you are meant to work with will be attracted to you. There is enough work for everyone so I would encourage you to be more selective. I don’t bid on anything that doesn’t get my engine revved. I don’t give it any thought or pay it any mind otherwise, and I never get angry if someone from another country is chosen over me because I know that this is not the type of client I wish to work with. I don’t want to be known as the “cheapest” and if you price yourself too low, then you will never excel on elance.

    I turn away an average of six invitations per day due to being just too busy to take them all. The most important thing you MUST do is maintain a very high feedback, deliver projects on time, be friendly and go the extra mile. Always customize your proposals, even if you find it time consuming. It’s worth it!

    Don’t get frustrated, just pick and choose the projects that excite you and you will come out on top and be very successful on elance. My user name is Awesome Writer if you wish to validate my entry. I have no vested interest and nobody is paying me to say any of this. I just feel that my membership is valuable and has truly launched my career, reputation and credibility and know that others can do the same if they stay positive and keep trying. You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be awesome to a select few and you will be most appreciated.

    Blessings to all!
    ~Anne Violette

  33. Eric says

    Even if you get paid Elance tries to take it back.

    I’m a freelance programmer. A “Client” on Elance paid be me $500 for the last part of a program. The contractor released the funds from escrow. Then, the client wanted me to do more work at a lower rate. When I refused, the client filed a dispute – to get their money back.

    Elance terms REQUIRE that we BOTH pay $250 ($500 total) for arbitration. However, the arbitration rules state, that if there is NO money in the escrow account, the dispute is automatically closed.

    So I now risk being booted off Elance, if I don’t pay $250, to keep the $500 I made.

    Eric

  34. says

    Oh my gosh, I just signed up for glance and have scheduled the video chat for tomorrow. I want to pick up extra work but after reading all these reviews, I think I’ll look elsewhere. My time and expertise is valuable and I don’t want to be ripped-off. thanks for all the information.
    Marsha

  35. says

    Thanks, Mary, for writing this article. People come down on both sides of elance (mostly the negative side, seems like), but there’s one fundamental problem that they all ignore:

    When you are building your business through someone else’s business, you are at their mercy.

    So yes, it’s possible to build a freelance business through elance, but the extra factor of the host site makes it a little more perilous than your more conventional freelancing setup.

  36. says

    Hi, Mary!

    Thanks for sharing! Ive never used Elance (or any site like it) for my freelance work, but I am curious. I co-host a podcast on freelancing (Nerds For Hire) and we have an upcoming episode on sites like Elance and oDesk. We’re having two guests on to chat about the pros, cons, and everything in between.

    I wanted to see if I could cite this article and you in the show. The article helped in my research and I wanted to give a proper call-out.

    Thanks!
    Non

    Twitter: @SubjectPlusVerb

  37. says

    I just discovered Elance through the Proven job search website. I was very encouraged by all the job listings for voice-over talent, so I started to create a profile. But after feeling the monetary squeeze not once but twice within the first dozen steps from Elance, I decided to do a little digging about this company. I then came across your blog, read it and the ensuing comments. Thank you for you insight as well as the comments of all the people here. I think I’ll pass on Elance.

  38. KD says

    After reading your post I felt I had to comment in defense of Elance. I have worked on Elance for the past 6 years and not once have I had any issues with the site. It’s been my only source of income. I agree with Anne Violette. Although 8.75% may be slightly high, having clients sourced for me, not having to do any of my own marketing, the easy payment process etc. far outweigh the cons.

    Unfortunately EVERY freelancing website has clients and freelancers who are scammers. And I’m honestly shocked to see people recommend ODesk over Elance. I worked on ODesk for a short time and I was horrified by the low rates. They are on average, way lower than Elance. I also know that Elance has been working hard to bring on some corporate giants as Elance clients to raise the standard. They’ve also taken a way the ability for freelancers on a basic membership to see the average, high and low bids, so that undercutting the lowest price will stop. In other words, more people are now bidding what they’re worth instead of bidding the lowest price just to get the job.

    While I agree that there is more Elance could do to protect freelancers, I don’t feel it’s fair for you to blame them just because a client chose a cheaper bid than he budgeted for. It’s not wrong to try and get a good deal, and there is no rule that says Elance clients must choose somebody who has bid within their stated budget. How is a client choosing the cheapest bid on Elance any different to a client choosing the cheapest bid on ODesk or any other freelancing site? Like any interview process, the company is free to choose whoever they want. Elance has hundreds of thousands of clients. They can’t police every single project to make sure that the description is complete and that they choose somebody within their stated budget.

    I’d also like to add that with the free basic membership now you get 40 connects every month. That is the potential to bid on up to 40 projects every month. Spending connects is just a part of doing business on Elance and freelancers can’t whine every time a project is awarded to another freelancer. This is business, and you need to treat it that way. If you work hard to build good relationships with your valuable clients it gets to the point where you won’t need to even bid on jobs anymore because you have enough repeat clients. I don’t even remember the last time I bid on a project.

    There are some amazing Elance clients out there. I know because I have worked with some of them. Yes, you’ll have to sift through the rubbish projects to find the gems, but they are out there if you’re willing to put the effort in. And no, I don’t charge peanuts.

    I’d encourage people who have read this post and have their doubts to try the site out for themselves. Create a compelling profile, include a portfolio, research your clients before you bid (and by that I mean, look at their job history and feedback, even if you can’t see the amount that was awarded you can go and look at the freelancer they chose so look at their hourly rate), write a tailor-made proposal and bid what you’re worth. You’ll win some and you’ll lose some, but that’s business and that’s okay.

  39. says

    I have to admit one particular problem with this original post: the complaint about connections “costing” you something. I have never paid for a connect YET on Elance…so I’m not sure how you got ‘hornswoggled” into paying a buck apiece for them. :-) That being said, I spent some time on Elance, then went away from it for awhile (because I wasn’t getting any responses!), then came back. I’ve worked for a couple of clients on there so far–small jobs, but that’s the way you build up on any site. ODesk can be a good alternative, but you go through the same thing building up your “reputation” and trying to explain to people why you need to be paid decently. Then again…you have to do that explanation when you “sell direct,” too…and you can get just as easily scammed “selling direct.” They don’t protect freelancers? Of course they don’t, no matter how they promise you they will. But that’s what makes us “freelancers”–the fact that we’re free agents. We need to protect ourselves. And we don’t need to pay for “connects” on a site that will give you 40 of them for free!

  40. says

    Hey,

    you have a point that freelancers from Asia (mainly) are offering insanely low rates, the returning contractors learn that higher-payed freelancers bring more quality to the table. Bidding on one project usually doesn’t do the trick.

    A few tips that make Elance work really well for me (I’m usually landing 3K+ projects for a period of 2 to 4 weeks):

    - Submit a range of 5 to 10 proposals at once. I know you go through your credits quite quickly that way, but with a good project, you only need one or two hits per months anyway. And for $10 per month, you get 100 credits per month, more than enough and having a project covers that cost quickly.

    - The 8.75% fee + that 10$ isn’t too bad when you consider that you can charge this to your client. Your earnings don’t have to be the same as what is billed to the customer. And if you’re lucky, your customer will want to continue to work with you OUTSIDE of Elance. You can imagine the benefits of that. *wink* *wink*

    - Just take a day, do some research and don’t submit all boiler-plate proposals, but actually offer something unique, show that you know what you’re taking about specifically regarding the project you bid on. It’s a pain when only one or two follow through, but again, that’s all you need.

    - Only bit on projects where you can see the history. Here’s what you avoid:
    1: Clients that have a history of posting jobs but not awarding them
    2: Clients that ‘bought’ 20 projects for only 1000$. Do the math, that’s nothing per project, so they won’t pay more now.
    3: Clients from Southern Asia. It might sound discriminatory, but in my experience they simply award to the cheapest freelancers.
    4: Projects that have a low budget range, interesting as they might be. The chances that they will agree to pay a higher budget is slim at best.
    5: Projects with a “I don’t know” budget. You can try to educate them on what a good price would be, but they probably either DO know and want freelancers to fight over a bone, or they really don’t know and will pick the lowest fee.
    6: Projects that already have 50+ proposals. Chances are yours will just be overlooked.

    Finally, when you’re lucky enough to get invited to a project, submitting a proposal costs no credits at all. Joining a few groups that cover your profession (in my case, for example, iOS developers) increases the chance for such invites. Also make sure you have 50%+ activity, else you automatically get switched to “inactive” and you won’t receive invites any more. Another little thing I found out months after using the website.

    This has been my experience with Elance for the past 8 months. Hope it helps someone.

  41. says

    I have had great success with Elance. My first and foremost rule is I never bid on an hourly project. I only submit proposals for fixed fee projects. I research the client and check out who they’ve hired in the past. If freelancers were paid peanuts, I move on. A client who rarely awards any projects posted doesn’t merit my bid. I save them for clients who mean business. Within a few months, I rarely had to look for work. I was as busy as I wanted to be with repeat clients and invitations from new clients. Elance is as good as a freelancer’s skills and savvy, You can’t blame Elance if you bid on a project and it is awarded to another for a lower hourly rate. But you can learn a valuable lesson.

  42. Fab Fred says

    Harrummmph for the “UNITED STATES” company called Elance. Certainly this company does not care about domestic interests. I have been trying for months to get just ONE contract, often bidding below my minimum only to be undercut by Sri Lanka, Pakistan or some other place for about half of mine.
    Suggestion to Elance: Charge a “foreign fee” to use those ultra-cheap [price and quality] contractors…say 50-100]%.
    To me the saddest story is I once gave a business, one in my own town, a very, very good “local” discount only to be squeezed out by Serbia or some other place for less. If they only revealed their identity, I would have gone to that store, “buy” a boatload of stuff and then at the last minute cancel the order as say I will buy “local”…in Serbia!
    Just venting!

  43. Chris says

    I haven’t read over everything, so my apologies if I end up repeating something that has been said 800 times :)

    Elance is definitely not for everyone. If you are a natural networker, good with cold calling, or have a budget to market and draw clients in, you probably don’t need Elance.

    However, if you are just getting started, a little unsure about what you are doing, and want to dip your toes in the water to see if freelancing is right for you, Elance is a great place to start.

    Yes, the 8.75% fee is a bit high. But, as others have said, you can work that into your fee.

    There’s also one big benefit to that 8.75% fee…your money is in Escrow, so you don’t have to spend time creating invoices, tracking billing, and so on.

    That, of course, assumes you don’t start the project until escrow is funded.

    Here are a few suggestions for those looking to dip their toes in the water (this applies particularly to US and Canadians):

    1. Pick a niche. Do it by industry or by specialty. For example…if you are a writer, focus on case studies, email marketing, or whatever your strength is. Or concentrate on a specific industry. Or get really nichy and focus on a format (case studies) in a niche. (Case studies for IT companies, for example.)

    This does two things….

    A. It paints you as an expert
    B. It lets you charge higher rates (specialist always get paid more than generalist)

    Of course, it may take some time to choose your niche.

    2. Read the projects VERY carefully. You can often get an idea of what kind of budget the person will go for by reading their project. DEFINITELY avoid people that say things like “we can’t pay much now, but if the work is good we can pay you more later” or “we are growing but have a small budget right now”

    3. Look who was invited to the project – If you are interested in a project where the client has invited people, check out who was invited. If you see a lot of invites from India, Bangladesh, etc, the client is looking to get by on the cheap. (Not always, but most likely.)

    However, if you see people with decent earnings (or high ratings) it’s likely the person will pay well.

    4. If you have no samples and little experience, bid low at first – This won’t always be the case, but you want to build your experience and ratings. Plus, it will get you in the groove of working with clients, build your portfolio, and boost your elance ratings.

    But you don’t have to stay at low rates. When I first started on Elance I was bidding $150 for certain types of projects, but now I can bid $4-500 (and get it).

    5. Overdeliver – Give your client more than they expected. Have great customer service. Instead of giving them one idea give them three. Show them that your work is important to you, and that you want to do a great job for them

    6. Upsell – My current repeat project rate is 30%. I’m not sure how that stacks up against other users, so it may be good or bad.

    Always think about the next thing you can offer your clients. The best time to do that is right after they tell you they love your work.

    Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn.

    ———————————

    Elance can be frustrating. You’ll bid on a LOT of projects, but only be rewarded a few.

    Don’t let it bother you. (Easier said than done, I know!)

    I’ve worked with 30-40 clients ( I think) and only 2 turned out to be pains.

    Phew, that was a bit long winded, so I hope it helped someone!

  44. says

    Elance should be Banned !!
    Elance – A place where you can be backstabbed anytime. Big level theives.

    Know more about their cheatings here:
    http://www.maryrosemaguire.com/2013/02/19/freelancer_alert_elance_review/
    http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/directory/elance
    http://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/www.elance.com
    http://www.indeed.com/cmp/Elance/reviews
    http://www.bbb.org/sanjose/business-reviews/internet-services/elance-in-mountain-view-ca-213440/complaints

    You can complaint against them at bbb.org and http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx to raise a voice altogether.

    Complaint against them legally here and try collecting proofs too. I am sure cheaters have no big days to survive. They are not bigger than God and hence true Justice.

    Stop wasting time to cry !! Shout Together to big level cheaters like these !!

  45. faliang says

    definitely agree, I am a freelance on eLance, and elance have changed the bid police, now we need cost 4 elance counts to submit a proposal, but can not know the job poster’s budget…

  46. Mara says

    I am an elancer, and have been for close to 3 years now, and for the most part, I’ve been lucky dealing with them for the most part, and been able to tolerate the quirks that come along with working with them because it provided me the security to get paid by my clients and stay at home while my kids while working, instead of working in the office. Even the 8.75% fee was tolerable because I got my money, and I could write it off in taxes at the end of the year.

    However, my patience is quickly growing thin with elance and I am now considering my alternatives. I have a premium membership for an individual. I’ve grown to the top 100 of all elancers in the Admin category of over 166K contractors registered, only to be dropped back down to 32,000+ because my clients were LONG TERM clients. I’ve been with 2 of my 3 clients for over 1 year, and because elance changed how they calculate rankings, I not longer qualify for top 100 status because I don’t book new clients like a factory assembly worker. I actually form lasting relationship with clients and get penalized because of it. When I asked an elance support member about this, they blew me off like I never did anything on elance and therefore had no reason to ever question the ranking. They didn’t even consider that I wasn’t getting credit for what I was doing, which was consistently giving them 8.75% of each hour I work, for over 1 year on end, per client. The only “solution” they gave me was to keep having me re-book my long-term clients each month to show that I am getting “rehired”, which will be great, UNTIL they implement the “long-term clients” part of the algorithm they have been promising for almost a year now.

  47. says

    Hi all,

    I would like to thank you for posting your experience with elance.

    I have just been made aware of an interesting project on elance and was looking to join them, after reading your posts I am not so sure. I will compare them to other sites. I find that 8.75% does not sound that bad to me. In my experience some other companies ask a lot more, if you choose to go with them after all that is still up to you.

    I am looking to supplement my income with writing and the translation of IT-/ business-documents perhaps someone here may have some suggestions for better sites to get listed (yes, I read the above mentioned sites Guru and Odesk- and will read up on them as well)

    However I am really disappointed in the non-native speaker bashing that seems to run strong in some of these posts. I too understand the frustrations of being underbid by professionals / workers of countries with a much lower income base than my own- or as it happens here (and probably in other places as well) larger companies bid so low that people like me are forced to continuously lower the prices to the point where it is cheaper not to work at all.

    I also understand the frustrations of having to deal with the amount of people that feel they have command of a language after having taken one or two language courses or having spent some time in a country with said language base or even better have had friends who told them their command of the language is awesome, but there are also those non-native professionals with an exceptional command of the language just as advertised- I feel you get what you pay for.

    I too have read and written many documents and find it scary what is offered on the markets, but on the chance of sounding incredibly naive: wouldn’t a serious employer who values his/her project /offer… pick a professional that is midrange over low-range??? (the emphasis here is on serious) The global IT markets (where I generally work) are like any other market and the fluctuation in price range from stellar today to down in the dumps the next.

    Overall I would like to thank you for your input and Mary thank you for your blog.

    wkr

    Shelley

  48. says

    Thank you SO much for this. I joined Elance a few weeks ago, bid a few jobs, lost all of them due mainly to price, I suppose. I was beginning to think Elance was pointless, now I’m pretty sure of it. Also the whole bid process is just too much work, as far as I’m concerned. Though the entry price is awfully low, I’m having a fine time writing for fiverr.com. I write short pieces for $5, a lot of them, and sometimes I get larger pieces, for which I make kind of ok money, and when someone pays my fee for either research or 24-hour service, the earnings are ok. At least I don’t have to go there every day and bid-bid-bid. The drawback is that they take 20% but considering that I don’t have to touch marketing/billing/collection, it’s not so bad.

    I dumping Elance.

  49. says

    Hello

    While I sympathize with all the difficulties that honest freelancers are facing with Elance, I am sharing mine from a customer who got help (well at least that’s what I though!) from freelancers. What I have come to realize is that Elance offers ZERO protection on intellectual property (they have a big write up on their website etc but is all BS and for show). In other words if you are looking to build a software project (for example mobile app) using freelancers, then even after the project is complete, payment is made etc etc, the freelancer (ofcourse from India!) continues to hold the software that is specifically developed for you (and paid for). Worse yet, I caught them using my own service in the cloud to test their modifications! Yes, I happen to notice some anomaly in my server use, checked where the requests were coming from, confirmed requests with devices that previously and legitimately used while testing the product under development. When I reported this to Elance, get this I GOT NO response! My repeated emails to freelancer is met with no response(no surprise here).

    The fact of the matter is this freelancer is continuing to use my software (with improvements and he now has a build for Windows OS!) and Elance would do nothing to stop this guy! so much for IP protection.

    Well that is when I realized, Elance does not really care either about their clients or freelancers, they simply care about MONEY! I have since stopped doing biz on elance (have had discussions with fellow entrepreneurs), enough for me.

  50. says

    Hi there:

    I just read your blog and I was very happy to see that to be honest. I recently started my own website and decided to also open a profile on Elance. I attended an online workshops to learn how to write good proposals, I put a lot of time into my profile, took tests, updated my Portfolio and so on. After all that, I thought that I might get a few projects to make some extra money. I have an Associates Degree as well as a Bachelor Degree. I was an intern in a very reputable international company for 3 years and learned a LOT in the field of Executive Assistants, Administrative Assistant, Marketing, Customer Service and much more.

    So I think to myself “You’re gonna get at least something to start out with on Elance”, well I did. It only took me a few days to get my first project but it was terrible!! Even though I wrote a proposal for a higher amount, I was awarded the project for $20. I thought that I should probably take it, because I was told that it is sometimes more important to have feedback on your profile. So I went ahead and agreed. Not only did this assignment take 5 hours, I tried my very best to transcribe some awful audio. The job description said that they didn’t need anything very detailed, just to transcribe as much as possible, but they only wanted it to be something on the paper, rather than a perfect transcription, because they realize that it is such poor audio quality.

    Ok, so 5 hours later I realized I made WAY less than minimum wage, but I remained hopeful for a good recommendation. Just received that and the client wrote a complaint on my profile. It wasn’t good enough. I am so disappointed, and there’s nothing I can do.

    I will collect my earnings thus far, and probably get rid of my Elance profile. I take it as a learning experience. I am an honest, hard worker and all I want to do is grow my own small business, and develop a good working relationship with clients and/or companies. Elance might work for some, but it can really get you off track and have you spend a lot of worthless time on there.

  51. says

    I have gotten very frustrated with this group and if I keep going back it is due to the fact that seemingly everyone outside of real legit publishing is using them. Recently, I jumped at a job that had to pay less than 100.00 That is ridiculous but the concept was intriguing so I bid.

    I got a lot of feedback from the poster saying that I bid too high and others too.
    Now mind you they wanted a complex illustration done quickly and to be utilized on a web site.

    We have to educate clients and I guess always will have to do so
    because I have been illustrating for 20 years and I am still baffled by the industry.

    Best to you all and Love and Light!
    Bill 5onic
    Creative Visual Alchemistsunami~

  52. Mark says

    You can be a paid eLance member for more than 6 years and then one day receive an email from eLance that they’ve closed your account. I’m that former 6-year member. It happened to me a few days ago. And the thing is, eLance will not explain *why* the account was closed. I have no idea why. The email isn’t specific. There was no warning. Elance did not alert me to any problems beforehand, did not give me the chance to correct whatever was wrong. Elance just closed the account.

    All the time I used to perfect my portfolio and information profile. Six years of membership fees paid to eLance, plus all the surcharge money eLance received from the jobs that were awarded to me, and then they close accounts without warning and without explanation.

    Customer loyalty means nothing to eLance. Stay away from eLance!

  53. says

    I agree with you about your assessment of Elance. I am a freelancer who was recently put in the position of working for someone who seemed great at first and paid me a flat rate per month to reserve a certain number of hours of my time. However, I soon found that I was supposed to be at the person’s beck and call basically at all hours. It turned into quite a handful. To top it off, the client had very poor people skills and as a result ended up with no work coming in and began criticizing every little thing I did. Setting me up to fail. I had put in over 30 hours in the first two weeks of the month I had been pre-paid for. So I made the decision to be professional and give two weeks’ notice. I didn’t wish this person ill. I just had no more interest in working for them. So we had a very civilized conversation about how to wrap up my work, etc and the client said that as long as I did these things, they would consider my money to have been earned. 4 hours pass and I am locked out of the company email, and shut down from being able to access what I was supposed to do the wrap up for the client and the client demands a refund of my last two weeks! So I respond to the client asking what they are doing because this is far different from what we had discussed. The client, who had been very open in the past says “well, I no longer need your services.” So I disputed it. The client requested a phone call, so I got on one to mediate and they didn’t show up. So now I am sweating because I have to wait and see if they start another way to drain money from our pockets called arbitration. The disputed amount is less than $300. But now the client can try to arbitrate to get the entire funded amount of my contract! And I HAVE NO PROTECTION in this situation unless I pay $250 for arbitration. We did not use workview and the client and I communicated between business emails but arbitration does not allow for anything outside of the workroom! Even though I have a ton of email copies supporting my work and even another contractor who worked with me to support my side of things. That’s right. They won’t even take it into consideration. I have to wait another full business day to see what happens. I will not be taking jobs from Elance again. I am sure I am not the only freelancer to run into something like this. The moral if the story is, I suppose, don’t be professional and give two weeks’ notice. Just screw your client over and up and quit when you’re ready to be done.

  54. says

    This ELance stuff is BULLSHIT!!!! A bunch of people in the US working for foreigners to put YOUR USA NAME On something for THEM! I’m so DONE! This dude wanted me to apply for US JOB in MY NAME in the US! WTF!!!!! These Mutherfu****s are CRAZY!!!!!! I could tell I wasn’t his first TURN DOWN! F*** THAT NOISE!!!!!! I talked to this guy in INDIA tonight and he CLAIMED he was in the US!

    DON’T DO IT!!!!

    • says

      Telida, I appreciate your comment but edited the curse words a bit. I don’t have anything posted that alerts readers to keep the language clean but will do so for future posts.

      Meanwhile, in a global marketplace, I have no idea why anyone would act as though they were in the US. Still, discovering that a potential client is a liar is never good. Hoping you find more truthful clients who will appreciate your help.

  55. WriterD says

    This review is negative and a warning to users of Elance, a website providing work for writers and editors.

    I am a published freelance writer and editor. The first thing I noticed about Elance is the pay: in the range of $3.00-$9.90/hr and it is rare that project pay is more than $500 or $1000/project. This is far under what freelance editors are paid in Canada. It is also a bidding situation. You can’t be sure you will get the project at all. Sometimes one cannot even understand what the Client posting the project is trying to say. But far worse than being a waste of time and poor rates is the following:

    I tried for a project and did not get it. However, the Client thought I was a fit for another project he had in mind. I did this project and Elance was set to pay me the $150US for my work. However, I would have been paid under the heading of the project which I was refused and did not do! Had I accepted payment for this project I did not do (or as their record would have declared), this would have been false and misleading and I worried that it might even look like both Elance and I were involved in some kind of fraud. At the very least, in paying me for a project I did not do, Elance was being deceptive. I refused to accept payment for that reason.

    Elance insisted I accept payment but I kept refusing. Finally, Elance decided they would simply re-name the original project I did not do, call it something else, and let me get paid through that means. It would have been the same project with a different name.I considered that a literal cover-up and even more deceptive and refused to accept payment again.

    Finally, Elance negotiated with the Client to create an entirely new project with an appropriate name that I agreed to because it described the subject accurately and was for the actual project I had completed. Elance did not come up with this obvious solution until numerous emails and months went by. It would have been possible to do this in the first place. However, this issue did not end there.

    When I insisted Elance remove the record of them offering me money for the original project that I never did, which if they had done it would remove my name from suspicion of possible fraud and do the same for Elance itself, Elance has to this day obstinately refused. They maintain their “rules” prevent removing this record for “two years.” In compromise, I suggested that they simply add all the facts to the record, those being what I have related here, supported by the email record or references to it, because that would not be false and misleading, would not potentially compromise my reputation, would avoid legal consequences, and would simply represent the whole picture accurately. Elance has refused to do that to this minute. They have not said why they won’t simply include the complete record.

    I have therefore refused to accept payment until such a time as Elance will correct the record or create a complete record. I am considering billing Elance for the hours of time I have had to waste on this, which far exceeds what I would have been paid for the project.

    I accidentally discovered that for over a month Elance has not been sending me work offers. They did not mention cutting me off. They also did not mention “freezing” my account entirely until I asked what was happening. That is what they have done, without notice.

    Every statement above can be proven by reading the numerous email strings between Elance, me and the Client and will serve as court evidence in the event I sue for my time and other compensations.

  56. says

    Why we HAVE to compete with the world? most of the companies and people requesting services are from the USA. WHY should we share our resources with China, India, Russia and others countries? Why they don’t find their own identity or job sources? and finally, Why we should support a company like ELANCE?
    They are not an American company anyway. Let create jobs for American only, I may sound a damn racist but I’M not, I’M just another American that needs to work. We have become so lazy and freeloaders that we forgot how to compete. Let create a web-for-American.com. Just let me know if you agree or have a suggestion.

  57. says

    Still, Elance is good for novice freelancers but even elance jobs with verified clients or have paid one contractor can still be a scammer. Check out my url for tips on detecting verified elance clients as scammers and you will see that this company Star Writers Group is a fraud / scam.

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