How To Make Money Online With Elance

James Burchill

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Do you write? Can you string together words and sentences – like this? Would you like to make a few extra bucks (maybe more…) without the hassles of a traditional job? You would? Then welcome to the wonderful world of freelance writing on Elance.

- What is Elance?

Elance is a website forum, a marketplace that allows people from all over the world to actively participate in buying and selling their products and services. As a freelance writer you can offer your writing services with very little effort on your part. If you can surf the web, use email and generally communicate in English (yup, it’s the principal language used on Elance) then you are pretty much good to go.

- How Does It Work?

It’s quite simple; Elance is a subscription based website that charges you a small fee to become a member. At the time of writing basic monthly subscriptions begin at $30. Once you’re registered you can browse all the active (open) projects and bid on the ones that interest you. As a member you can even set up a personal store front (profile) and showcase your products and services to potential buyers (and it’s not unusual to get direct enquiries from buyers this way. )

- If Your Bid Is Chosen

If your bid is selected you will get the chance to decide if you want to proceed with the project or not. If you decide to go ahead then you and the buyer enter into an agreement (Elance provides templates and samples at no charge. ) You provide the services to the buyer and the buyer pays you what they promised – simple.

Elance gets a small commission on all projects that are awarded. But don’t worry, there is no cost to you for winning projects – that’s the buyers responsibility and the buyer will be billed directly (it doesn’t even come out of the agreed project payments!)

- So How Much Work Is Available To You?

That’s a good question; after all if you are going to spend at least $30 a month on a basic subscription, you really need to figure out if the subscription is worth it. The number of open projects varies, however it’s not unusual to find between 150 and 200 writing projects available at any given time.

- And How Much Are These Projects Worth?

There are currently two types of project postings on Elance: BASIC and SELECT. If you have only chosen a basic membership then you can only bid on Basic projects. You will need a Select membership to bid on the select projects.

And the reason you would buy a select membership is simple – select projects pay more, are less likely to end without being awarded (yes there are people on Elance who post projects to “get a feel for the market” and have no intention of actually awarding the project!)

So back to the main question – how much are the projects really worth? Again, this data varies over time (I cover this and more in my new report on, however here’s a quick ‘rule of thumb’ that I’ve found to be fairly accurate: If you multiply all the number of open projects by $250 and multiply that again by 70% you will get a fairly good idea. For example, 200 open projects X $250 X 70% = $35,000

- But What About the “Big” Projects?

There are big projects on Elance, they get posted infrequently but they are available. As you might imagine these projects are usually posted by companies – not people – and they usually pay 5 to 10 times what a regular project pays. With this kind of payout you can imagine the competition is quite high, however pitching to a business is not the same as pitching to a person.

- What About Gotchas And Other Issues?

There aren’t too many. The biggest one that springs to mind is that Elance currently does not offer a refund policy on their subscriptions. You actually have to get on board and sign up to get a feel for the Elance market. And to be quite frank, you really need to give yourself a fighting chance and sign up for three months.

If you signed up for a three month Select membership you would currently pay $150 USD. That’s not a huge amount of money, but it is a bit steep if you find out that Elance is not for you.

- Here Are a Few Elance Quick Facts:

* 100,000+ potential buyers visit Elance Online every week
* Web's #1 consulting site and top 1,000 most visited site
* Awarded Best of the Web by Forbes (2003)
* Reliability Certified by the Better Business Bureau

- And Here Are a Few Neat Benefits of Using Elance:

* Easily market yourself to a global pool of prospective clients.
* Pitch your services at prices you establish.
* Make a profit as an independent consultant.

It’s true, thousands of service firms and individuals take advantage of Elance as a marketing channel. And Elance actively supports your efforts with aggressive online and offline marketing delivering high volumes of traffic.

- Remember, You Can Win Work 3 Different Ways:

(1) Answer the phone after people check out your online profile and work samples.
(2) Develop pre-priced ‘buy now’ packages that buyers can purchase instantly.
(3) Bid on projects – many buyers post their requirements directly online.

- Conclusions

Before you dive into Elance you might want to do some digging on the Internet to get a feel for what others have experienced. For instance you might want to find out more about the bid success ratios, the real differences between Basic and Select projects, how many projects will pay you more than $1,500 and so forth.

You can make money on Elance if you know what you are doing, and quite frankly all it takes is a little time and patience. Good luck, and happy bidding!

JAMES BURCHILL is an experienced Internet Marketing & Business Development specialist providing strategic and tactical solutions to select clients seeking to architect their on and offline marketing success. James is a published author, a passionate advocate of technology and the Internet, as well as an avid study of classical advertising and marketing strategies. Prior to establishing his own unique consulting practise, he served as VP of Professional Services and VP of IT & Consulting and implemented multi-million dollar solutions for Oracle, the British and US Governments, Rolls Royce UK and many others. James even taught Computer Science at one of Toronto's leading colleges and continues to coach private clients on a select basis. For more articles and information visit James’ blog at or checkout his main site at


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