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Table Of Contents  The Online Freelancing Guide
 >  An Analysis and Review of Popular Online Freelancing Marketplace Sites
      >  Elance - Freelance Marketplace Site Analysis and Review

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Elance - Project Discipline Focus
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Elance - Payment Methods and Mechanisms
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Elance - Fees
(Page 1 of 3)

Some regular Elance users jokingly refer to the company as FeeLance. That’s probably a little unfair, but as with most sarcastic quips, there is a kernel of truth underlying it. Elance is a large marketplace and provides plenty of valuable services, but as a freelancer you should expect to pay rather handsomely for what you get: Elance has more types of fees than any other large freelancing site, and its cost can be quite significant, depending on how you use it. That said, the site does become more economical to use at higher project volumes, and on the whole, it is not egregiously more costly than its competition.

Fee Responsibility

Most of the fees in Elance are borne by the provider. There are some costs that are directly charged to clients, such as those who choose to post featured projects, but this is not commonly selected when a project is created. As we’ll discuss below, it is also in some cases possible for a provider to “indirectly” charge the transaction fee to the client, but this becomes largely a matter of semantics.

Membership Types and Fees

Participating in Elance requires that you become a member of the site. There are four membership types, consisting of a limited free membership and three levels of full member­ships geared to different organization sizes:

  • Basic Membership: This is the free option. It provides access to only one work category, and limits you to just 10 connects per month, with no ability to buy more. There are also some other minor restrictions (fewer profile keywords, and lower placement in search results, for example).

  • Professional Membership: This is the option most individual freelancers will choose. For $10 per month you get access to one work category and 25 connects, but can add access to more for additional fees (as we’ll discuss later). There are also a couple of other perqs, such as one free wire transfer per month for funds withdrawal.

  • Small Business Membership: Essentially the same as professional membership. You pay $20 to get 40 connects, the ability to have up to 5 users associated with the account, and minor bonuses like extra profile keywords and more work room storage space.

  • Large Business Membership: Again basically the same, but it’s $40 for 60 connects, and you can have any number of users share the account.

As with most sites, if you are a serious freelancer you will not want to use the basic membership. The main problem with it is the inability to buy more connects, which limits you to submitting at most 10 proposals per month.

However, it’s worth noting that for a new user, Elance’s free membership is actually less restricting than free accounts on competing sites such as Guru. You still have full access to most site features, and that makes the basic membership a reasonable choice for those just getting their feet wet in the freelancing world.

Category Fees

Your Elance membership entitles you to bid in only one of the eight Elance work categories: Admin Support, Design & Multimedia, Engineering & Manufacturing, Finance & Management, Legal, Sales & Marketing, Web & Programming and Writing & Translation. This is enough for specialists, but those who have a more multidisciplinary career will need to add categories to their membership. This costs $5 per category per month.

As mentioned above, you cannot add categories to a basic membership.


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Elance - Project Discipline Focus
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Elance - Payment Methods and Mechanisms
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Last Site Update: October 21, 2011

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