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Freelancer's Dilema: Elance, Rentacoder or some other alternative?

Posted on 2006-06-20
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-01-09

I used to be a freelancer on Rentacoder a few years ago. I was doing web development and web programming related projects on RAC while pursuing my college degree. It was all good, PHP was on the rise and projects were easy to find.

Now it has been three years down the line and I am in a position to restart the same. However I am ulling at something bigger. I really don't want to be posting 50 projects bids a day and getting 400-500$ projects. Maybe I am ready for bigger fish.

Remember, at this stage I am no longer a college student, I run an upcoming web development company and our network has quite a few successful websites.

Would you recommend me purchasing an Elance subscription? Will I get profitable enough business on Elance that justifies the spending? Is it worth it?

Or, Rent A Coder and Elance aside, is there a third or fourth alternative for me to look into?

Thanks in advance. Regards.
Question by:lexxwern
LVL 12

Accepted Solution

wstuph earned 100 total points
ID: 16942144
Truthfully, now's the time to start going around to your local businesses, handing out business cards like mad and explaining to them the benefits of (1) - having a well-written webpage or (2) - updating their old 1999-style webpage to something modern and current.  

I'm suprised that if you had been doing RaC work for so long that you don't have more repeat business/word-of-mouth business from that.  Once a company finds someone they can trust with any specific task, they'll continue to use that person as well as recommending them to others.  Once you get done with a freelance job, you should send a letter with a few of your business cards to the company you did the work for.  Just a quick "thanks for the business, this is what I did, if you or anyone you know needs work done in the future, please contact me" note is what you want to send.  

In addition, there's always the "browse around to websites and contact the owners" method - find a website that sucks, and write a small letter about what's wrong and how you could do it better.  This one's much more difficult, though - telling people where they're wrong is a very delicate task that can easily backfire.

Repeat business and networking seem to be what you really need to work on.
LVL 13

Assisted Solution

marine7275 earned 100 total points
ID: 16942251
There are tons of jobs for developers with talent. I suggest you look into getting short or long term gcontracts with contracting or consulting companies. There are many companies that are nation/world wide and many you could even work from home with most. Check out the following companies:

technical solutions group
robert half
triple i
kelly services

There are many more. I know developers that are making anywhere from 30-100 hour.
LVL 12

Author Comment

ID: 16942637
Ah .. thanks for the advise wstuph and marine..

>> I'm suprised that if you had been doing RaC work for so long that you don't have more repeat
>> business/word-of-mouth business from that.

There was a break in my freelance work. I quit doing it two years ago. Now I want to restart but definitely at a much larger scale. I can't do those three-week 500-1000$ projects via RAC. I wish to know if there is bigger fish in the Elance pond. :-)

Business cards, great idea. We are working on a stunning company website. And we do have local contacts .. but then better working for USD or Eu rather than Indian Rupees. Currency conversions tell me so.. ;-)
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Expert Comment

ID: 16949516
Also, I don't know where you live, but putting business cards places really helps.

If you have a stunning company website, then spend the money and design, yourself a really good business card.  It has to be visually stunning, easily readable, all of the things that good websites are.  Giving it a background color, maybe a good image on it, and then a clear message of what you do.

Lots of places have boards for people to post things, and if someone sees the card, it's obviously different than most of the cards they normally see, they go to the website....

The best idea is to have people who are looking find you.

craigslist often has people looking for website designers, but you can also post with a link to your website saying you do this type of work.  Craigslist isn't entirely ideal as its done by area and both a small fish and big fish pond, but why not approach things the other way.

Instead of going after jobs, advertise (free or paid) and let jobs come to you.

LVL 12

Author Comment

ID: 16949627
Nice advise lovewithnoface. Thanks!

Expert Comment

ID: 16957428
undoubtedly elance is one of the better ones. but now many other top class companies have come up. try the following before purchasing an elance subscription.:

also, elance is no longer the opportunity it was a few years ago. today they have over 50,000 members and the number of projects are not just sufficient to match the providers. also, competition has stiffened and you will find 50+ bids for most good projects.
although, if you specialise in a particular technology (eg PHP) you may find good business. trying general web design projects no longer works.

Expert Comment

ID: 17377670
Ahh, got it, can only be split two ways.

I personally think that amitkh2006's comment was the strongest on the page.  It provided exactly what lexxwern asked, names of other companies, and an opinion of elance, strengths and weaknesses.

Since this can only be split two ways, I'd split it between amitkh2006 and marine7275, giving the approved answer to amitkh2006.

marine7275 also gave the asker a great way to go, and not just a general idea, but names of companies to start with.

I didn't like wstuph's answer.  I think that business cards and getting your name and your business out there are very important, in fact, that's what my answer was about.  But, I don't think that the way to go is to go door to door.  I think you'll often find to many small projects, and while it helps businesses come up, it sounds like the asker is beyond that point.  The same thing can be achieved by creating a website and business card and putting yourself out there.  Business, especially local business will come to you.  There's lots of free advertising, and cheap advertising, that costs less than the asker's time.   Going around to business and selling them websites, may help their business, but it's like walking around with a display case of the goods you sell.  It's tacky, it's pushy, and you don't get that far.

Expert Comment

ID: 17444562
@lexxwerm, if you're still reading this, I'd wanted to provide at the time some links to some images that I didn't want to link to here.  If you're still interested you can e-mail me at:


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