Elance: A First-Timer’s Take

I recently started a new series on yourlifeforless called Ripoff Alert, which appears every Friday. These posts alert you to ripoffs and scams that are growing and trying to take advantage of your wallet. As part of these posts, I wanted a logo that would differentiate them from my posts on other topics.

As somebody with zero background in graphic and logo design, I had no idea where to start. The idea of designing an appealing logo myself sounded like a daunting task. I started thinking about outsourcing this task to an expert, and this is when I discovered Elance.

Elance is an online community of experts in several fields and people who wish to hire these experts for hourly or project work. Programming, design, writing and legal work are some of their most popular areas.

After signing up, you’re able to post your job including the specifications and time frame you’re looking for. Then, you wait for contractors to submit proposals for your job, including their price (which is usually negotiable). You can also choose to invite up to 30 people to submit proposals. Some will even submit samples to give you a taste of their work.

After you’ve hired a contractor, a virtual workroom is set up where you can send messages back and forth and where the contractor can post files for your review. Most contractors will make unlimited revisions until you’re satisfied.

I especially like the details you have access to for each contractor. These include what country they’re from, how many jobs they’ve completed, the percent of prior customers who would recommend them, and even the percent of their clients who are repeat customers. These statistics reduce the guesswork and help you make an informed decision about which contractor to hire.

The payment system is very simple. After verifying your bank or credit card account, you make a payment to an escrow account which is held by Elance. The contractor only gets paid when you’re satisfied with the work and you release the money to them. You can choose to set up “milestones”, which are due dates by which certain steps of the project must be completed. After each milestone is completed you release that portion of the escrow account.

My overall experience with Elance was overwhelmingly positive. I recommend them if you need help designing a website or blog, or even just a small logo like I needed.

Who do you turn to for freelance or design work? Do you do it yourself, or do you outsource it?

I was not compensated in any way for writing this review. Image by blog.logodesignguru.com

Finding Legitimate Work-At-Home Opportunities

Work-at-home opportunities have grown substantially since the Great Recession began as people are looking to get back on their feet financially. These side gigs offer the flexibility of choosing your own hours and can be a great way to earn a little extra cash in your free time. What they will not do, however, is make you rich quickly.

Scamsters have also taken advantage of the increased popularity of work-at-home offers. So you have to be careful to avoid people trying to take your money. Among the most common scams:

  • People asking for sensitive personal information such as your Social Security number, date of birth or checking account number
  • Instructions to deposit a check then wire a portion of it back to someone
  • Claims that someone has access to hidden jobs or government grants that nobody else knows about
  • Anyone requiring large amounts of money up front
  • Promises of earning hundreds or thousands of dollars a month in your spare time

Never, ever give out personal information or bank account numbers to anybody without a good reason.  Because most work-at-home offers are scams, you have to be vigilant in weeding out the bad ones.

So what should you do if you’re searching for legitimate opportunities to earn some extra dough? That depends on your interests and abilities. There are several types of work-at-home outfits on the internet, but I’ll talk about three of the most common ones.

Virtual call centers and help desks

Companies often outsource their customer support, so you might be able to find an opportunity helping customers solve issues on the phone or over the internet. Arise.com and LiveOps.com are two of the bigger sites for these types of opportunities.

Legal assistance to attorneys

Attorneys sometimes need help preparing for a trial. For example, you could be part of a mock jury or focus group helping to determine case value, find which facts to emphasize, and analyze public opinion of a particular topic. If you’re interested in providing this type of service, check out OnlineVerdict.com or eJury.com.

Freelancing

Do you know a foreign language? Are you a math whiz? There are people willing to pay for private tutors for all sorts of subjects. Take a look at what skills you can offer the world, and visit Fiverr.com or Elance.com to find people looking for your expertise. Even if you don’t think you have any skills, you’d be surprised what people are willing to do for a few bucks.

On Fiverr.com, people post what they are willing to do for five dollars. One entry I just saw is from a guy who is willing to put on a hot dog costume and dance for two minutes to a song of your choice!

Work-at-home opportunities won’t make you rich, but they can be a good way to earn a few bucks in your spare time. A good way to get a feel for the reputation of a company is to search online for what other people say about it. If you see a lot of negative comments, you know to steer clear.

A final word of caution: Be skeptical if something seems too good to be true. You don’t want to get taken by the scamsters!

Photo by classifiedwars.com