EFounded in 1999, Elance has gone through several revamps to arrive at its current freelance service. The majority of its earnings are in IT, including website and mobile app programming, PHP, WordPress, HTML and more. Marketing, creative work (like logo design) and writing are also highly sought after.
Chat: Live chat between freelancers and clients allows quick negotiations and clarifications that would normally take longer over traditional inbox systems.
Workroom: This area serves as a private board for all the information related to each assigned job. All of your communication is found here, as well as the file sharing feature. There are also widgets and apps like to-do lists and video conferencing.
File Sharing: One of the biggest benefits of the Elance platform is its file sharing. It is a very efficient way to share samples, drafts and other documents to help guide the project to a successful finish.
Milestones: The Milestone system helps you set up a project with multiple deadline dates. The payments can be broken down and linked to completion of each Milestone.
Escrow: Elance has an escrow service to help prevent disagreements between the parties. If a disagreement does occur, Elance offers Dispute Assistance.
Workview: This program is downloaded by freelancers to monitor their hourly work. Clients can check in and receive screenshots of the worker’s progress. It is up to clients whether or not they will require Workview for hourly jobs.
Search Local Talent: You can narrow down your search to a number of miles from your own location. This is great for projects that require local expertise.
Job Templates: Make job posting easier by using preset templates that ask for basic information.
Mobile: The mobile app allows searching of jobs and freelancers as well as communication between potential partners on a project.
Fee per Transaction
8.75% fee off the top
Client Free Posting
Post a project for free with no special features
Client Verified Job Posting – $5
This one-time fee indicates that you have chosen a verified method of payment. Your verification seal will show on all of your job postings after your $5 payment to Elance.
Featured Job Postings – $25
Your job posting will be highlighted in Elance’s search and homepage.
- 40 Connects per month
- Unlimited invitations to jobs
- Workroom access
- Payment protection
Freelancer Individual – $10/mo
All of the above features plus:
- 60 Connects per month
- Rollover for unused Connects
- Increased file storage space in Workroom
- 15 profile keywords to increase visibility
- View high, low and average bids on each job
- Share relevant portfolio work on job applications
Freelancer Small Company – $20/mo
All of the above features plus:
- Add 5 team members
- 80 Connects per month
- 20 profile keywords
- 1GB of storage on Workroom
Freelancer Large Company – $60/mo
All of the above features plus:
- Add unlimited team members
- 25 profile keywords
- 2 GB of storage on Workroom
The Good on eLance
Elance’s lower fees, at 8.75%, are competitive. Other sites charge as high as 10%. Jobs are free to post, unless you want featured upgrades, and the fees are only charged when money exchanges hands.
Elance has multiple communication avenues, including a private forum for each job, chat messaging, comments on files, status reports, and more. If you take advantage of these tools with clear directions and expectations, you stand a better chance of having a successfully completed project.
We noted some pros and cons with Elance’s secure escrow service. The big plus is simply that it exists. It prevents a lot of the most common ways that both sides of the deal feel cheated. There are several ways to use escrow, too. You can fund it gradually for each milestone of the job or fund it all at once. It is up to the freelancer to wait for each milestone to be funded before continuing the work.
Both freelancers and clients receive near daily emails that inform them of new jobs or portfolios that may interest them or suit their skill set. If you don’t need these updates, you can easily unsubscribe.
While there is a smaller pool of talent on Elance than on their major competitors’ sites, there’s also a significantly smaller pool of clients. There is less competition with job posters spamming the site, so your posting is more likely to get attention from the right talent. Your needs won’t get lost in the noise here.
Elance has a reputation for reliable talent. Their current platform has existed for nearly a decade, and both ends of the user base have withstood the test of time. With lots of fly-by-night freelancing sites coming up, there’s a real security in the fact that Elance has held substantial ground in this field for so long.
24/7 Live Chat
Elance has great customer support through live chat and e-mail ticket opening. There is also an 800 number, although its hours and wait times are not always ideal.
The Bad On eLance
Elance has taken some measures to avoid the frustrating low-balling that occurs on other sites. For each job posted, you can select a range of prices you expect the job to cost. On the other end, freelancers cannot submit any bid below a certain amount. For instance, if you select “Less than $500,” freelancers cannot bid below $20. For hourly work, the minimum bid allowed is 70% of the client’s posted hourly rate but no less than $3 per hour.
The downside of this is twofold. First is that the subpar freelancers can still overwhelm the posting with cheap bids that are within Elance’s acceptable minimums. Second is that simple, cheap gigs are purposefully difficult to post.
After its merger with oDesk a few years ago, Elance was chosen to be gradually shut down. The site hopes to encourage both clients and freelancers to shift over to Upwork (formerly oDesk) over the next year or two. While this shouldn’t cause major functionality issues, the possibility exists that you may lose track of good workers or lose preferred features. New users might want to register on both sites so they can get their reputation built up on Upwork before the final merger.
Workview, despite its controversy, has been a fairly successful tool for monitoring hourly work. Keep in mind, though, that screenshots only tell part of the story. Different working styles may involve pen and paper or on-screen multitasking. The other concern is that screenshots may inadvertently capture and share private client information, so use Workview with caution. For these reasons, many freelancers refuse to work with Workview.
On average, Elance tends to have some of the higher quality workers out there. Still, changes like Workview have led some to seek opportunities on other freelancing sites. The Connects system, which is now also instituted on Upwork, can also be problematic since those who can afford to buy more Connects (particularly agency companies) can bid on more jobs.
If the client does not file a dispute about submitted work, any funds in escrow are automatically released after 30 days. Disputes brought to Elance’s service team tend to favor the freelancer in order to keep better talent around. While this is good for the quality of the site overall, it does burn clients now and again.
In an effort to stop scammers and remove poorly performing talent, Elance is known to block accounts. Unfortunately, not all accounts banned deserve it, but there is no real dispute process to have your account reinstated.
Our Verdict On eLance
Although Elance will soon be phased out in favor of Upwork, it’s still a good place to find freelancers with years of experience in the online working world. If you’ve never used a freelancing website, Elance is a good place to start. The number of users is relatively low, making it easier to weed through applications.
When Elance begins its push to transfer user accounts to Upwork, the fee per transaction will increase. For now, you can use the cheaper rate to test the waters and find your preferred workers for future projects.
The Workroom is one of Elance’s best features compared to other sites. It is easy to navigate and includes nearly every function you could want or need. We expect this extensive tool is one of the features that will roll over to Upwork in the coming months.
Whether or not Elance is right for your business will depend on how much work you need done. Very short gigs may be better fulfilled on websites like Fiverr. Very large projects may be better broken up among teams, which is an area in which Upwork excels. Most common IT, graphic, marketing and content work can still be successfully completed through Elance.
We recommend you get started with a few simple jobs without harsh deadlines. Try out a few freelancers until you develop a core team you can invite to future applications that really matter.