Monday, November 12, 2007

Freelance Roundup

I got accepted by Suite101 some time ago and just recently got the time to get an article up. A lot of freelance writers won't write for them because they don't offer any upfront payment- just small payments based on pageviews. It's certainly not ideal, but it's a neat site and the writers get creative control over topics and approaches. I don't know how often I'll do it, but it will be a lot more often if I end up getting any pageviews. So far, in two days, I have gotten one.

Elance announced today a major revamping of just about every aspect of the site. Bids, now called "connects," will cost .50 apiece, with some projects requiring several just to bid once. All quarterly and yearly discounts have been disposed of in favor of a monthly fee. The Select program, that I had paid about $350 for, is now gone. In its place is a merit-based system, which sounds great, except that they want to charge more than $200 extra for it. They also require two credentials to be verified to be eligible, and providers have to pay for those as well. The people in the Elance forum have reported that their fees will be going up anywhere from double to triple the amount they had been paying. And, we have been given less than a month's notice of the change. If I haven't said it enough before, I'll say it now- Elance sucks.

I signed up with Triond to see how well it works. I love the idea of residuals, and it pays writers a portion of the revenue for their articles every month. They accept pretty much anything not obscene or libelous- even poetry. I worked up four very quick articles on topics that I already knew a lot about and sent them in. All were approved, and all have gotten slow page views. Each has earned me less than a cent a day, so it may not be the best use of time ever devised. Of course, if the articles take only a few minutes to write and a person had hundreds of them, they could bring in a steady stream of extra money every month. The articles/poetry/stories don't have to be long- mine are 250-300 words apiece, but I don't think there is any specified length. You can also use a pen name, which I have done. I'll post further stats about it if they get better or worse. was a site that paid pretty well at one time- though they paid in gift certificates. After awhile they revamped the site to pay writers only with their own AdSense revenue. At that point, they added a place for writers to see how many page views their total articles had gotten on the site. At the time, about a year ago, my 49 articles had about 800 page views, which I deemed pointless to pursue new page views for Adsense revenue. However, I looked at it again yesterday for the first time since, and the page views were more than 45,000. Somehow in the last year they have revved up their marketing, and HTDT might just be a little more worthwhile. Hey- residuals are residuals.


cschott said...

Hi L.,

I work at Elance and I wanted to address your concerns about the changes we are making to the site. We reached out to our active members yesterday to make sure they had a heads up on the changes coming, and I’d like to share with you some of the reasons behind the changes.

Over the last year the volume of activity on Elance has more than doubled and we are updating our membership plans to benefit our community for the long term. The changes we are making aim at creating a much better dynamic for our members, ultimately resulting in higher quality and more growth.

For example, we have decided to sunset the existing Select membership in favor of the Premier Provider program. The Select membership was only differentiated by price, even though the seal gave the impression of quality. While the ability to pay more can be a qualifier, it is not the best indicator of quality. We wanted to change that by introducing a program that actually is tied to consistent quality delivery and standards. The new Premier program is a merit-based membership developed for and limited to qualifying providers that meet certain criteria.

We will be evaluating all Premier providers on a monthly basis to ensure the higher standards are maintained and the Premier seal fee will go towards maintaining the program and to ensure Premier members are committed to upholding standards. If a provider fails to meet these standards, the provider will be automatically notified and their Premier status will be revoked.

Premier members will have significant advantages over non-Premier members: for example, they will display the Premier seal on their Profile and will receive discounts on the number of connects required to submit certain proposals. To encourage new quality providers to join Elance, we are offering new members the chance to apply for the Premier Program. If providers have earned unique credentials or a stellar reputation in other communities and business organizations, they can apply, and we will review their application manually. Having a large member base of quality providers will only help the entire Elance community’s reputation and working environment.

We realize that change is difficult in the short term, but our mission is the same, to create the best virtual workplace, with the best talent and projects available online. We hope you decide to stick with us. If you don’t automatically qualify for the Premier Program, you can apply to join when the program launches on Dec. 4. All the information to manually apply for the Premier Provider Program is here.

We hope you give the new plan a chance, but if you don’t agree that quality is going up, or that there is not a good return on your investment, we are happy to refund the remainder of your membership if that is what you would prefer.

Thanks L. Please let us know if you have any questions, we’d be happy to talk to you.

-Cyndi, Elance

L. Shepherd said...

Well, I would qualify for it if I had another verified credential- I only have one now. All of my feedback is positive and I get a lot of positive feedback and repeat business. That's not really the issue. The issue is charging so much more for service that is already sub par.

The only real question I have is why the site is doing nothing to get deadbeat buyers to pay, particularly since the site already has their credit card on file. Also, why is it that I was charged $21 in fees for a project that was never paid for? Any chance of ever getting that back? I have an issue when I can't be guaranteed payment from a buyer with a credit card on file, but my card can be charged for the fees. And now the membership fees are going up? I might stay, I don't know yet, but I'll bet cash that most members won't.

Mindy said...

I've been on Elance for quite awhile now and I'll agree on the ridiculous prices and add my two cents worth. The projects pay dirt...I can't make enough on Elance to support my self employment, let alone consider myself a successful freelancer. I do graphic art, which in a way is different than writing, but probably the same once Elance is considered. Some huuuuge companies bid on hundred of projects a week, have enormous portfolios and undercut everyone else (read: the little guy like me). I worked NON stop on an illustration project for two weeks and only got paid $450 and then after the project was done, the client mocked my work, said her agent and animator hated it, and then rubbed it in my face that another illustrator created far better work for $! It's a cruel world out there and Elance is no exception. I think once I get my business underway locally, I'll get rid of my Elance subscription.

Mindy said...

Also, I'll agree with the deadbeat buyers never paying. Elance is more for the buyer than the seller. I won a project for a book cover and the client stopped communicating with me (she said she didn't like my work and stopped trying to work with me). And guess what? I got charged the project fee - it's been 3 months and she still hasn't paid up!! In my business documentation it states that once they accept me as the winning provider, I will stop at nothing until they're happy and for that I will get paid in full even if they back out. I figured that would cover my butt, but Elance dismissed my complaints and still no payment from deadbeat client (number 20 so far!!). BOOOOOOOO A HUGE BOOOO TO ELANCE!

L. Shepherd said...

I agree. Customer service is really horrendous. I'm still out $21, plus about 15 hours of work on that one project, and that's just one of three non-payers. I can't imagine where they get off making it more expensive for providers. I still haven't gotten an answer from customer service about whether I'm getting a refund. I wouldn't recommend Elance to anyone.