Elance, or Elance oDesk as it’s now calling itself, feels vaguely familiar when I logged back in on Saturday. The same type of jobs were on the jobs board and the same type of people were going for them. On each job, on average, was roughly 14 proposals. That’s 14 other people vying for the work. As I was contractor number 15, I instantly felt the need to sell myself well in order to gain the work.

I picked a relatively straightforward job as my guinea pig. It was an editing job that consisted of editing circa 100 pages of a novel. I mulled for a long time on what job to go for, as many seemed to be awash with proposals. The problem with there being more proposals per job is that you’re concerned you won’t get a chance or you have to deliberately lower your price to get it.

The London Freelance Guide states that for copy-editing the average hourly rate is £24 and £21 for proofreading. So, let’s say an average of £22.50 an hour. The question is, how long would it take me to edit 100 pages with a fine tooth comb? If it took me 12 hours that would make the fee £270, not including Elance’s 8.5% cut or currency conversion. How valuable is my time? As a student, probably not very valuable.

I decided to pitch myself as the student wanting to gain experience. I had done a few proofreading jobs on there in the past, as I found it an okay way to earn some extra cash. I played on the fact that I am an English Literature graduate and used to re-reading things constantly. As I was not hoping to get the job, I also proposed a higher amount than the £270 average. If you want to be sneaky and see what everyone else has bidded, you have to have an ugraded account, which costs $10 a month. Elance give you all the tools to be efficient and you’re also asked to give milestones, which I assume is to give the client security that things will be done by a certain date. You can also opt to be paid at certain points throughout the work. 

To make a proposal, Elance operate a connect (coin) system, whereby it ‘costs’ you one or two connects to place a proposal. You can also place your proposal at the top of the list for four connects. I went for this option to see what it looked like, and it comes up as a ‘sponsored proposal’ and at the top as stated. 

As of this evening, 15 proposals have been placed and I am still at the top. The closing date for the job isn’t until 1st May so we have a bit of time yet. Time to find another job to go for. The question is, will I get it this one? Not to mention, how often will I be successful or will price be the key factor? We’ll soon find out.


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