Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pros and Cons of Working Freelance Through Elance

Unfortunately until novel writing starts to pay the bills, I need to earn an income through freelance writing. As I said before, a few of my projects are fabulous and I have the chance to build a good working relationship with a repeat client. However, since article writing projects can enter slow down periods, it's good to find a source of new clients. Elance is a good place to find freelance writing clients.

After creating a profile on Elance, you are given a certain number of connects used to bid on freelance jobs. The scope of the job decides how many connects are used for the bid with long-term projects requiring more. You decide on a rate that you feel is fair for the project and report your credentials to the client. If chosen, you payment is funded through an escrow account and you begin work. If the client is happy, escrow is released and you receive payment via Paypal or check. Clients give you ratings and these reviews help build your Elance profile.

The main drawback of Elance is there's still not a 100% guarantee of payment. I'm still owed payment for a project I finished last month. The client has seemed to disappear from Elance and right now I'm out a few hundred dollars. Another con of Elance is you have to wade through a lot of crap to find the halfway decent projects. Prepare to be insulted as clients offer you a $1 to write a 400 word article.

Elance is not the only place you can bid on writing projects. I have created a profile on Odesk, but I'm not comfortable with the pay rates offered by many of the clients I've interacted with. I've had a few clients ask me to write a "test" 500+ word article before hiring me. I've learned to never write a piece without pay as a "test." Unscrupulous clients can take your work and you may never hear from them again. If you have an established portfolio, never work for free. If the client is unhappy with your initial article, they can pay you for the piece after edits and decide to go with another writer to finish the project.

Thoughts on Elance? Good place to find work? Or are freelance writers better off looking for jobs through Craigslist and freelance job boards?

Heather Wood's Elance Profile


  1. I haven't come across elance yet, but I've been thinking about looking for bits of freelance so this post is really helpful - thank you!

  2. A very important thing from my experience with freelance sites is to build but also maintain a cohesive and clear profile. And while it may sounds easy,trust me it gets harder when it comes to billing and payments.It’s common that some clients don’t pay the freelancers and how to deal with this as a professional can be tricky. So, make sure you have a representative profile but make also sure you sustain a professional attitude in your interaction with your clients.

  3. Thanks for the tips! It is a tricky situation. It's frustrating on a writer's end when you devote your time to a project and have to chase down clients for payment. Most of my clients have been lovely and I have several long term working relationships, but a few bad apples can be off-putting.