The Work at Home Job Scam, the Freelance Job

This is a followup, and part 2 of a 4 part series, on the work at home factory job of today (read part 1, The Work at Home Job Scam, the New Factory.  This post deals with the freelance job market, the upcoming posts will deal with the call center jobs and Internet evaluator or website annotator jobs.  Keep in mind the term “freelance” encompasses a huge genre of work from photography to writing to virtual assistant to anything you can find on Craigslist in the job area.  The scope of this post is really just dealing with Elance and the Elance alternatives.

Elance is the biggest player in the Internet freelance job area.  After paying for their premium service for 2-3 years, and trying over and over for years to find a good flow of freelance jobs, I found exactly one decent hard working person who hired me to do some ‘Internet research” for $10/hr, which over a period of 6 months has earned me $85.  I still do work for him, he is trying to build his business, and he pays higher than most at $10/hr, but after almost three years, I have found nothing legitimate and it cost me $14.99/month ($450) for revenues totalling $80.

I am not here to say Elance or the others are scams (although there are posting scams all over the place), I am just trying to point out the value of your time and what it is worth.

There are plenty of alternatives to Elance like oDesk, Guru, Rentacoder, Scriptlance, Mturk, Freelancer, Getacoder, and some of my observations from sites like these are:

  • there are always tons of jobs available
  • Elance at least has it down to a science as far as pay and project organization
  • you are competing with an endless supply of workers from India who charge $1/hr (yes, on average your competition will charge $1-2 PER HOUR)
  • you have to work literally for nothing to get started by taking projects that will pay $50 for 30 hours of work
  • you are competing with noobs and people who have no idea how to run a legitamate business who will do anything for nothing, though their work is often very low quality, something you can easily overcome
  • quality is not valued as a whole… I have found the large majority of listings on these sites are looking for the cheapest possible outcome, with no regards for quality work
  • and of course, there are tons of scams everywhere you look, offers for work that will have your ISP ban your service, have eBay shut down your account, or worse… some offers might reward you with a federal search warrant and your computer equipment confiscated

Of course not all freelance work is like this, but I know of many people, who live and work within the U.S. and have to pay expenses associated with living in this country, not India.  You can only work for nothing for so long, eventually you have to either cut all expenses (not realistic) or have some revenue.

I have basically worked freelance as a photographer for more than 15 years and the key is to slowly build a client base that will recommend your work to others.  It is slow, tedious, and doesn’t pay well, but it’s far better in the long run than the results from these sites listed above.

Do yourself a favor in the long run. If you are interested in doing freelance work, treat your business like you would any other entrepreneurial endeavor by looking at some of the basics. For what it’s worth, my list also includes ::

  1. Don’t quit your revenue stream (job) until you are established
  2. Determine what unique skill or art you are going to freelance (what’s your market)
  3. Be prepared not to make any money early on, but even so, stay away from the sites above
  4. Pursue your passion, not a position
  5. Know that trying to monetizing your passion may destroy it or at least significantly change it
  6. Seeking alternative “positions” in that industry may also destroy your passion
  7. Seek out others who are doing the same thing and try to learn as much as you can from them
  8. Working more hours will not always equal better results
  9. Trying to integrate your passion into #1 above (results may vary)
  10. If you can mentally live without a steady paycheck, a 401(k), a retirement package, and stability, forget about #1 and pursue your passion instead of the culturally accepted “American Dream” but when you struggle to find your way, re-read #3, then, as Buffett would say, breathe in, breathe out, and move on.  My wife and I went over 15 years without a single paycheck (the W-2 type) and I still managed to eat.

Have you had any experience with Elance or any of the other sites listed above?  In my experience most, if not all, of these sites way over promise and way under-deliver for those with quality, experience, and education in their field.  I would love to hear if you have had any success with any of them in your freelance pursuits.

Looking at the Gulf Beaches and Playing the Guitar

Scott Practicing the Guitar

Today was another day of work here at the home office without having to go in the car anywhere. We are leaving for the gulf coast tomorrow morning so we had to get all the orders processed and packaged, and pack, so we can leave first thing in the morning.

Blogs and Twitter

I did my normal daily blog posts for the morning. I have been trying to get the hang of Twitter and finally did a blog post about it on my freelance blog. It has kind of thrown me for a loop the last few days as I have been trying to figure it usefulness out, but the more you use it the more you get the hang of it. For information on that, just see the other blog post called Is Twitter Really a Useful Tool?.

Elance Will Continue

I didn’t win the bid on the project that closed today, but, I wasn’t even the slightest bit close either, so hey, I guess I will try it again. The winning bid was some ridiculous fee of $50 and I was way way way over his bid for sure. I looked at a few more postings today on Elance, saved a few, bid on one. There are so many projects, and they range so much in what needs to be done it is hardest for me at this point to find something and go with it. As with everything else on the Internet (or anywhere I guess) it just takes time to figure it out.

Bags are Packed, We’re Ready to Go

Well, not really, still having to get everything together to leave tomorrow for the beach. We usually pack a few minutes before we leave so I still have a few hours to finish packing. I hope to have some time to update the s/v Island Zephyr blog once I get down there, since that is where the s/v Island Zephyr is located.

Practice Makes… Well… Noise

Any guitar players out there? I did manage to get in some practice to day and I now can say I know my first scale my memory, the open E blues scale, as my instructor has named it for me. The tips of my fingers now burn like I stuck them flat on an open fire but I can play the scale.

There is so much information about the guitar on the Internet it is hard to absorb it all, but I did find a good post on a variation of the E blues scale, E Blues Scale Variations that looked pretty good but far beyond my learning right now. We are really looking forward to getting back down to the gulf, should be a nice weekend, even if it rains all day.

Testing Out Freelance Work With Elance

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The weather today could not have been nicer down here in beautiful LA. It is now in the mid-80’s during the day and very pleasant at night. It won’t be long before we will have to shut all doors and windows and not open them again until winter, lest we melt from the heat.

Work and Elance

Today was a nice day spent working in the office. We didn’t have to go anywhere and tomorrow will be about the same before we leave on Friday for the gulf coast. We are going to spend a long needed weekend down on the coast. Even if it rains the entire time we are there it will be nice to be back down on the water again.

I bid on my first project over at Elance today. I have been preparing my profile, resume, and all other things I felt were needed to present to any potential client that I am indeed the hard working, reliable person I say I am on my profile page. I spent almost two months getting all my ducks in a row to pick up some freelance work from this specific site.

We will see how it goes tomorrow when the bids close for that particular project. There is a lot of information about what to do and not to do on Elance, like, Elance Tips: Top 5 Projects You Should Run Away From, hopefully I picked a good one.

I did manage to pick up the guitar and practice a bit today. New scales from yesterday’s lesson have my fingers numb and very sore. Open E blues scale and A blues scale on tops on the list for this week.

Nature in View

Not much happening in this area today. We had a gigantic Turkey Vulture sit on the edge of the pond, I guess waiting for something to just float up for lunch. Nothing else but the crazy Whippoorwills today, and a frequent squirrel visitor who was thrilled that I put out a bunch of cracked pecans just for him.

After dinner on the patio we did enjoy a nice fire. Still a good size of biomass to burn up from clearing over the winter.