Elance - Freelance Marketplace Site Analysis and Review
Elance is one of the “big guns” in the online freelancing world. Established in 1999, it quickly became one of the leaders of the industry. Elance’s main strength is its unique combination of quantity and quality: it’s not the biggest marketplace site, and it doesn’t have the highest quality of projects and providers, but it arguably has the best balance of the two. With over 1,000 new projects posted daily by thousands of clients, there’s lots to appeal here to professional freelancers and hobbyists alike.
Elance’s longevity has allowed it to develop a mature and sophisticated project process and website. It has most of the features that you’d expect from a project marketplace, including advanced and detailed search capabilities, profile features, communication methods and more. It supports fixed rate projects and hourly projects, and provides free escrow services and a time-tracking system for hourly work. Its customer service has improved greatly over the last few years, and Elance even provides phone support.
The company does have a few weaknesses, of course. It is notorious for having some of the highest fees in the industry. Many freelancers feel that project quality is on the decline, largely due to certain policy decisions made by management. Its feedback system has a number of flaws, including being heavily weighted towards clients in its operation. Elance tends to take a hands-off approach to dealing with conflict resolution, making clients and contractors work out their differences or pay substantially if they want to use arbitration. And the attitude that the company takes towards its contractors is arguably questionable in some areas.
In this section I take an extensive look at Elance and describe to you pretty much everything you need to know about the company to decide if it’s a place you’d like to do business. The review is broken down into the same thirteen criteria that I use for all sites in this Guide, covering topics such as project quantity and quality, fees and payment methods, details on how the site is used, policies and enforcement, customer service, and much more. If you want full details about these different analysis factors, each one is discussed in a topic in the section Criteria for Choosing Online Freelancing Marketplace Sites.
This review is based on personal experience using Elance, feedback from other users, and my own research. If you find any errors in my assessments, or just disagree with my opinion about something, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Also bear in mind that sites and companies change over time; what you see here was accurate as of the time of writing, but may not be quite as correct by the time you were able to find and read it.
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Last Site Update: December 13, 2011
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