Elance for Buyers
As a buyer, Elance is your oyster. The site has been built around the user experience of the buyer. This means you’ll never spend a dime on the site, other than to the providers you hire. Signing up is also very simple, taking only a few minutes and culminating in the posting of your first project. As most Elance review writers will point out, the site is eager to get you on there as quickly as possible.
Setting up a project requires minimal work, though I recommend you do take a few moments to review the options available for any project. You want to be thorough in outlining your needs so you don’t get inundated with bids from low quality contractors. This is unfortunately the one weakness of a site like Elance (if not Elance in particular). Anyone can be an Elance member if they pay their monthly service fee, and they can then bid on your project.
It then becomes up to you to winnow down the field. You’ll need to read samples, ask for interviews, and setup milestones that ensure you get the quality you’re seeking.
When it comes to finding quality providers, most Elance review writers note that Elance has long been in the middle ground due to the sheer volume of providers here. But, the old maxim of “you get what you pay for” almost always come into play. If you want low cost, high quality work, it will be hard to find quality providers. However, if you are interested in paying a bit more, the top level providers in any category are scored to help you track them down. They have ratings for each project, total earnings, repeat clients, and an overall aggregated score that shows how well regarded they are by other buyers.
Early Elance review writers raved about it as Elance was one of the first services to provide escrow services and they work wonderfully. Providers pay the escrow fees out of their earnings and in most cases, it is instant (once your payment source is verified). The workroom has undergone recent upgrades to provide the same hour tracking and screenshot tools as Odesk, though they still lag behind without mobile apps and desktop tracking offered by Odesk.
Most Elance review writers will also mention the fact that Elance’s backend can be a bit confusing with a slew of seemingly overlapping options for payment and invoicing. This is the result of their rampant upgrading and feature testing. Every month or two you can expect a change to the way Elance operates, sometimes in small ways and sometimes with a full overhaul which leaves you confused and grasping for options. Documentation is limited and customer service is sometimes hard to reach in a pinch.
The Bottom Line
As any good Elance review will tell you, there are both good and bad points to make for the use of Elance as your outsourcing tool of choice. On one side, Elance has more providers and a greater network of projects than any other site in its class. As a buyer, you pay no fees and can access providers almost instantly from around the globe. However, the platform itself can be dizzying at times and the quality of the providers is often hard to verify, and there is no way to guarantee where the bids are coming from, a major problem in certain categories, like Writing and Translation.
Overall, Elance is a useful tool that can help you reduce your work load significantly. Don’t expect it to do all the heavy lifting for you, however. Interview your prospects, edit their work, and liberally use the feedback tools to land solid contractors that you can count on for future projects.