Elance is the grandfather of many of today's online staffing platforms, having come into existence in 1999. However, it was announced in December 2013 that Elance would merge with rival site oDesk, which in 2015, was relaunched as Upwork. Consequently, Elance is no longer open to new registrants.
Since August 2015, it has no longer been possible to sign up for an account on Elance. Prospective new registrants are instead directed to the Upwork site, with which Elance looks extremely likely to merge in the near future. At the time of typing, however, the existing Elance site remains, with freelancers and employers already based on the older platform able to find each other via an online search functionality encompassing such fields of work as web development, programming, design, multimedia, writing, admin support, sales and many more.
It is possible to search the Elance site even if you are not already signed up, which makes it easy to assess the quality of its freelancers. The typical freelancer profile on Elance includes not only such basic details as their country, location and local time, but also information on their work history, the number of jobs that they have undertaken, how many reviews they have received from others, the percentage of people who recommend them, the percentage of their past clients who have requested their services again, and many more interesting parameters.
You can find freelancers on the site by performing a simple text search, or by perusing the various represented categories of work. You can also search on the basis of the freelancer's location, skills, feedback, reviews or hourly rate - although with 'only' a few million freelancers signed up, the total numbers pale in comparison to Upwork's more than nine million.
It didn't cost a cent to sign up to Elance when it was actually open to registrations, and nor is there any price attached to the posting of jobs. However, Elance does add an 8.75% fee to each freelancer's bid, with the employer only seeing and paying this price once they actually approve work. There are no additional charges on Elance, except for the option to 'feature' one's job for maximum exposure, for $25. These prices compare to the standard 10% commission taken on each project by Upwork, which also offers Enterprise plans.
Given our now-inability to sign up to Elance afresh, our observations here are necessarily restricted to the new Upwork site - which is easy to browse and sign up to, simply demanding basic details like your first name, last name, email address and desired password. If you are registering to Upwork as an employer, you will also be asked to supply your customer name. The very clean site design, with lots of white space and logically-labeled navigation options, is very reminiscent of Elance, as you can search for freelancers or jobs in much the same way. Meanwhile, when posting a job, you have lots of flexibility to specify exactly what you require from your freelancer.
+ Well-established, reputable site
+ Low, easy-to-understand 8.5% commission charge
+ No additional costs - except for $25 'featured job' option
- No longer open to new registrants
- Looks likely to be merged with Upwork
- Some complaints online about accounts being frozen for no reason
Given Elance's attractive and easy-to-use site, wealth of talented freelancers and low commission, it's a shame that it is (apparently) soon to bite the dust. Thankfully, the recently launched Upwork site boasts many of the same advantages - so why not register there today?