How To Make Money In Your Spare Time At Elance
Started in 1999, Elance leads the freelance connections business with over 352,000 freelances who have earned over $353 million—that’s over $1,000 per freelancer, including freelances who create an account but never get any assignments.
Job categories on Elance include Web design, programming, graphic design, translation, writing, data entry, virtual assistance, research, accounting, legal services, and engineering. There’s almost certainly someone on Elance looking for someone with your skills.
How much money can you make? A lot depends on what you do—programmers still get paid more than transcriptionists—but in general, pay rates on Elance are about half of what you would receive in a salaried position. Yet, unlike many salaried positions, you have no long-term commitment to continue working at Elance, you can work from home, and (for most jobs) you can set your own hours.
Make Money In Your Spare Time: Getting Started
To make money in your spare time at Elance, you need to create an account. Go to Elance.com and click the link to Sign in, then click the button near the bottom to create a new account. Make sure you choose the option labeled, “I want to work.”
Elance will take you to a screen where you can choose which plan you want to work under. As of this writing, plans range from free to $40 a month. With the higher price plans, you receive the ability to send more proposals to prospective clients plus some other minor features. For now, you probably want the free plan which lets you make money in your spare time by submitting up to 10 proposals a month.
Next, Elance will ask your for your personal information in order to create your account. They want to know a lot about you including your address and phone number. Before they activate your account, they’re going to call this number to verify it’s real. I assume this helps them stop one person from creating multiple free accounts.
After Elance creates your account, you also need to jump through one more hoop before you can start bidding on jobs—you need to pass the “Elance Admission Test”. Don’t worry, it’s an open-book test about Elance policy designed to force you to read the whole policy. Any literate person who can sit still for 10 or 15 minutes can pass with a perfect score.
Fill Out Your Elance Profile
Elance follows a simple model: clients post jobs, freelancers bid on the jobs by writing proposals that detail their experience and fees, and the client accepts zero, one, or more of the proposals.
Before you bid on a job, you should spend some time crafting your Elance profile. Most clients will look at your profile to see if there’s anything wrong with you before they accept your proposal. Each client will evaluate your profile differently, but here are a few guidelines:
- Give yourself a Company Name. Many people, including myself, simply use their full names. Other people use names that sound like real company names. I suggest you be careful of using witty names—not all of your clients may share your sense of humor.
- Absolutely fill in the Overview section of your profile. Not only does this appear at the top of your profile, but part of it appears alongside your bids. Look at the Overview sections of other freelancer profiles for an idea of what you should write and remember to keep it professional.
- If possible, upload a few samples to your Portfolio section. This can be hard for some professions—like accountants—but try to be imaginative. One of my system administrator friends uploads screenshots of websites he’s fixed. I uploaded a scanned copy of my system administration certification.
- The skills section lets you self-rate your skills or take a free online test for each skill. The tests can be fairly hard, but I doubt clients fully trust people who self-rate themselves as experts. Almost all freelancers fill out the skills section, but I’m not sure how important it is to clients. Writing good proposals is probably more important than testing well.
Find Jobs To Make Money In Your Spare Time
After you fill out your profile, there’s nothing left to do but bid on your first job. Click the Find Work tab on the top of any page and choose the Search button. In the search interface, first choose the category you choose when you registered your account—Elance won’t let you bid on jobs in other categories unless you pay an extra fee.
You may be tempted to select a sub-category, but I recommend against it—Elance clients often categorize their jobs differently than how you would categorize the same job.
One way I often narrow jobs is by Job Type. The two options are Fixed Price and Hourly. For what I do, Fixed Price makes the most sense, but for other professions—for example, transcriptionists—hourly might make more sense.
Finally, you probably want to search only jobs with Status Hiring Open.
You can also enter a search term, but like categorization, I rarely find clients describing things the same way I would.
Bid On Jobs To Make Money In Your Spare Time
After you find a job you like, you want to take one more step before you bid on it: research the client. In particular, you want to make sure the client gives good feedback. Clients who give occasional bad feedback may have been the victim of a bad freelancer, but clients who often give bad feedback are probably hard to work with. Avoid them.
If the client checks out, then it’s time for you to write a proposal. Be sure to offer proof in your proposal that you’re qualified to do the work and indicate any details you’ll need to work out after the proposal is accepted but before you can start work. Then enter your total fee and estimated delivery date.
Elance will tell you how many “connects” you’ll use by submitting your proposal. Free accounts get 10 connects a month, so only bid on jobs you think you have an honest chance of winning. You can also use an extra connect to place your proposal at the top of the list. I’ve never used this and I’ve never had any problem getting jobs on Elance, so I suspect it’s unnecessary.
After you submit your proposal, there’s nothing to do but wait. If the client accepts your proposal, Elance will send you an email with instructions on how to finalize the deal.