I have started my activity on Elance back in the summer of 2009, after losing my job and trying to make it as a freelance web designer. To this date I have ‘served’ tens of clients and have a solid reputation (5 star rating).
It’s the place I met my main client, with whom I’ve worked for close to 4 years, so overall Elance is a great place to be as a freelancer. For me it’s still the only one worth using to get some side income.
Still, in the past years (and especially after merging with oDesk), things are not as they used to be. Here are my main concerns about the site (and reason why I called it ‘Cheaplance’ :))
1. Minimum job from $50 to $20
The first site I actually joined as a freelancer was Rent-a-Coder, which then transformed into vWorker and then ‘died’ (OK, it was merged with another big freelancing site, am too lazy to look for the name).
There I completed an easy design job (I think 10 bucks or something) and was pleased since it allowed me to keep my desired hourly rate). Things looked great, so I looked for more work.
The next projects were hilarious: huge web site design projects for 20-30 bucks. I mean, come on, life here is indeed cheaper than in the US, but I don’t live with 10 bucks/month either.
This is how I got to Elance and was amazed to see the QUALITY of clients there and the jobs that were all at least 50 bucks.
What it did was that clients who wanted me to create the next Ebay for 5 bucks didn’t use the marketplace, there were others where cheaper work force would be found, so the potential clients on Elance understood we do actually do professional work and were willing to pay better. It allowed me to get some really cool projects ‘under my belt’ and also work with some amazing people.
One of them even gave me a hefty bonus, since he considered my initial bid too low for the quality of work I provided.
Getting the minimum pay from 50 bucks to 20, means more clients who have no budget can now ask for work and the site was also filled with desperate workers who are willing to get hired for pennies. Sure, some of them provide horrid work, but they’re hired because of the very small price.
2. Affiliates get 10 connects or 10 bucks (let’s say most of the time they get connects)
I have been promoting this marketplace for YEARS and had some people sign up under my ‘name’. Which was all cool and nice, just that in all this time ONLY ONE time I actually got 10 bucks. Hurray! Most of the time I get 10 connects, which are not gonna transfer to the next month, so I’m actually being paid nothing.
I am seriously considering using Commission Junction for my links (if approved by Elance, which probably won’t happen after this article ;)), or just ditch the entire thing at all and look for better affiliate deals.
3. Way too many jobs that don’t get awarded
Sure, everybody is free to do as they will with their job offer. Some might consider our bids are not as good as they’d wish for, so they just don’t award the job. Still, in the past years MOST of the jobs I bid on remain unawarded. And I’m actually pretty picky with my bids, trying to stay away from any ‘bad’ clients (I’ll write about this on PFToday.com in few minutes, so check my other blog, too).
It might not get so annoying, but we’re doing double the work (there’s a new field on the form to be filled with all kinds of details) when submitting the bid and LOSE money, since each job costs us at least a ‘connect’.
It would be amazing if the clients would cancel the jobs, but 99.9% don’t know about this and you can guess Elance has no intention in educating them, since they earn money from our bids that ‘go’ nowhere.
4. Paying a commission for ‘keeping’ your money on Elance
I was SHOCKED to get a 5 dollar ‘penalty’ just because I didn’t withdraw my money. As you can guess there were no very visible ‘tickers’ to make us aware of this and I had an old account and never had to deal with this issue. So .. I lost the money and once again said to myself it’s time to really build up my own clientele and stop working for a freelancing website.
5. Membership plans modified to ‘squeeze’ some more money
I am very careful with my money, since I have to feed my family, so the new membership system didn’t sit well with me. Of course, Elance have all the intentions in the world to ‘force’ me to get a paid membership, even if I was doing well with the free one. Let’s say that I pay with my connects and also with the commission they take, so am not willing to pay anymore.
The ‘nice’ thing is that switching categories works weird, too. I worked for years in the web & programming category and switched to design & multimedia lately. Guess what, after more than a week since my new membership is active, I still get invitations from the old category and I’m not sure I could actually bid there, since I don’t have the category selected anymore. Oh, well, maybe if I pay 10 bucks … which won’t happen.
So, while Elance is still a great freelancing marketplace and THE ONLY one I’m still using at the moment, there are few issues with it. Of course, I’m still using it for some additional work and I’ll create an article about how to avoid ‘bad clients’ on Elance in few minutes.
Do you have any pet peeves with Elance? What’s wrong with it in your opinion?