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Profile of the Elance Bid Site

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Getting There:

Elance.com is located at www.elance.com.

How To Begin:

Freelance writers sign up with Elance.com as "providers." This process entails choosing a membership level, writing copy about yourself and your services, and uploading pieces that become your portfolio. This process is very similar to other freelance work bid sites, and can take anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple hours.

What Does It Cost?:

An Elance membership doesn't have to cost a thing, but you won't get very many opportunities to "bid" on jobs at this most basic level.

For an individual provider, costs can range from nothing up to $9.99 a month, plus a service fee on any completed project, plus a cost of approximately fifty cents to two dollars per bid (although some bids are included in your first allotment).

Those who write as a business entity are charged up to $39.99 per month. Of course, with each additional level of membership, you are offered an improved allotment of bids and services.

Is It Safe?:

Elance, like many other bid sites, offers an escrow service which you can choose to use, if so desired. This service works by asking the buyer to deposit your pay into an account temporarily managed by Elance. This alleviates the possibility of not being paid after turning in work.

What About Beginners?:

Elance can be a little more confusing than other bid sites for those just breaking in, mostly due to its various levels of membership and its bid system (bids are known as "connects" and vary based on the buyers proposed budget).

Extras:

Elance offers one thing its competitors don't: the "Water Cooler." The Water Cooler is a chat forum open to both buyers and sellers, and has given Elance users an opportunity to exchange best practices and hints. Other extras include a credit card verification of buyers, premier memberships for long time, high level providers, and an excrow option.

Recommendation:

Bid sites such as Elance and Guru tend to get a bad rep. Many providers indicate that rates for projects are subpar, and underbidding is rampant. In addition, Elance's membership costs have created some grumbling in its ranks. However, high-paying buyers and companies are drawn to its recognition, and it is a decent place to find some quality work. Writers who stick to their rate structure and know that quality costs money will be able to swim through the low bidders and the cheap buyers in order to come up with a couple gems a month to keep their freelance work flowing.

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