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August 8, 2008 in 4 out of 5 stars, A service, Collaboration, Hiring, Productivity

What is it?

Elance: A place to (primarily) find freelance help, and also to find work as a freelancer.


Who makes it?

Elance, Inc.

Why is it the killerest?

Elance has been around for a while (at least since 2002) and serves a wide range of businesses. I won't speak to their breadth, just their value to me as a non-Fortune-500-level entrepreneur.

Elance's real benefit is in finding inexpensive (many of their providers are in Asia and Latin America) help for more specialized tasks that I can't afford the time to do myself, or that I don't have the skills to do myself.

For example, I have about 1,000 product images that I need the backgrounds removed from in Photoshop.

My friend needed a customized Flash video player designed for his site.

A quick (relatively simple) post on Elance, and we found the help we needed within 24 hours.

I like how careful they are about vetting businesses and providers to ensure everyone is the real deal. They also have an escrow service (free for businesses), and a fairly robust messaging and agreement system to make sure everyone knows what's expected and how the project will pay out.

My results have been very satisfactory.   

What could be improved?

The site is pretty complex, and as such, it's a bit cumbersome to use (I did muddle my way through without reading much and just guess-clicking and did ok however).

Some of the communication structure feels more like insulation designed to make sure Elance gets their commission than a way to make my life easier.

Most of their project management constructs are far too elementary to be useful.

How much does it cost?

Free for businesses, providers pay 4-6% plus a monthly fee depending on usage.


Reviewed by Carson McComas

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