The Agony and Ecstasy of Elance

Bidding on Elance jobs is an emotional roller coaster.


Some days, the jobs on Elance are just plain depressing. Like the ones that say, “We need someone to write 1,000 articles for our Web site – and in exchange for these articles, we will pay you TWELVE American dollars!” There are always people posting projects who pay pitiful wages, people with dubious-sounding businesses (“I need someone to help me write an e-Book on how to get rich in real estate speculation!”) and other assorted hucksters, fraudsters, and con artists. (Most people who post jobs on Elance aren’t like that, but on the bad days, it seems that way.)


What if I don’t get any of these jobs that I’m bidding on? What if I do get the job, but the client turns out to be crazy, unethical, or otherwise unreasonable in some way?  What if I never get another freelance job again, and we lose our house and our health insurance and have to move in with my parents?


I bid on a job, I feel like I’m a good fit, and then the award goes to someone else who bid lower, or who seems less qualified. (“I’m an Elance Premier Provider, for cryin’ out loud – that job was rightfully mine!”) Oh well. There are always other fish in the sea.


I bid on a job, the client writes back, seems interested, sounds enthusiastic…and then I never hear from the client again. The abandoned job bids pile up in a ghostly queue. What happens to these jobs? The project never gets assigned, maybe the client loses interest, decides they don’t really need the work done or don’t want to hire someone after all? Who knows. I send follow-up e-mails for weeks, and never get a response.

And then, finally…


I win a project. I get one of those great e-mails saying “Congratulations, your proposal was chosen..” All the discouragement and dead ends are quickly forgotten, and I’m “in” again. Those are the times when I love this business.

Why I Freelance

I freelance because I have a passion for writing. Ever since I was three years old, when I dictated a story about talking, dancing vegetables to my grandmother (she wrote down the words, I drew the pictures), writing has been a constant part of my life. I love to put words together on the page. I love to search for clarity, meaning and insight through the power of the written word.

I freelance because I have a hunger for freedom in my career. I believe that we are on the cusp of major changes in the workplace, where anyone with the right skills can work from anywhere. Instead of driving to a specific building to sit at a specific desk all day, those who have the right skills and a certain kind of ambition will have the ability to control more of their own destinies for how to spend time, how to balance work and life, and how to pursue profit and fulfillment.

I freelance because I have come to realize that my only real job security comes from my skills and connections. No company is going to take care of me; it’s ultimately up to me to decide what to make of my life.

I freelance because I love to win business. I love to build relationships with clients. I love to have clients come back to me for repeat business because they love the results I can deliver for them.

I freelance because I love my clients. My clients make it possible for me to make money using my best skills, being my best self, working for maximum fun, efficiency and freedom.

This is why I do what I do.

Just What the World Needs – Another Blog!

I had a blog back in the year 2000. My college roommate was an enthusiastic early adopter of everything related to the Web. He got me hooked up with my own blog, and all of our friends got blogs, and we all blogged back and forth, commenting on each other’s blogs, sometimes without even needing to carry on actual conversations. It was great.

Then I graduated, started working full time, and fell away from the blogging life. Now it’s 9 years later, millions of people have blogs, some people make a good living from their blogs, and I feel like I’m late to the party.

So what am I trying to accomplish, by starting this blog now?

Here are some goals:

  • Write more. I need to write every day. Blogging is a good way to discipline myself to do that. Even when I feel stuck or blocked, even when I don’t have any paid client work, I need to write to keep my writer senses sharp.
  • Create writing samples. I want prospective clients to see how I write, see how my mind works, see my thought process.
  • Do it for myself. Writing can be therapeutic, and it’s fun to look back at things I’ve written and see what I was thinking about “back then.”
  • Show what a talented, thoughtful, funny person I am. (Seriously.) I want the people who read this, especially those who might hire me, to get a sense of who I am as a person.
  • Keep in touch with family and friends. E-mail is just too hard sometimes – hard to find time to sit down and type it out, hard to pull together the mailing list, plus there’s always that sneaking suspicion that the e-mail will just wind up in everyone’s spam folder. Plus no one ever replies. E-mail is largely on its way to obsolescence – the spammers appear to be winning the war. So my family and friends can catch up with me here.
  • Make new connections. Blogging is a great way to meet new people, make new friends, and find your “tribe” online. I’ve greatly enjoyed getting to know some of my favorite bloggers by reading their writing. It’s an intimate medium, and I hope to meet some great new people as a result of this effort.

That’s it for now. It feels good to be back as a blogger, and I’m going to do my best to keep it up.