Update: Elance has merged with oDesk to form Upwork, the world’s largest freelance marketplace.
Elance.com is one of the world’s largest communities of freelance employees and people looking to hire them. Since their beginning in 1999, Elance has grown to a network of over 2,000,000 contract professionals.
The company is based in Mountain View, California, but connects workers and employees from every corner of the globe. For virtually any kind of job you need done, you can find someone to do it on Elance.
Among the service providers are a growing number of virtual assistants. You’ll find a wide selection in this category, including full-service virtual assistant companies overseas, independent contractors, and even stay-at-home moms in the US earning a part-time income online.
If you don’t have an Elance.com account, it is easy to create one. When I signed up, there was a one-time $10 fee. After that, Elance is free for employers. (They make money by taking a fee from your payments to contractors.)
There are several benefits of using Elance to find a virtual assistant:
- You can post your exact job requirements, interview candidates, and hire someone with a good expectation of what you’ll get. This is not always possible with other virtual assistant companies.
- You can use the built-in Elance feedback system to read reviews about virtual assistant service providers, and leave feedback of your own once the job is done.
- You can use their conflict resolution process if there are ever any disputes over the quality or delivery of the work contracted. If you hire a freelance virtual assistant outside the Elance community, you don’t have this recourse.
Elance.com is primarily known for one-time projects, but is also a good resource for ongoing work like virtual assistance. If you find a provider you like, you can hire them again and again, or set up a longer-term arrangement, but it’s nice that you don’t have any long-term obligation upfront.
The quality and cost of virtual assistants can vary greatly, so be sure to check out the feedback of each provider and see what other employers are saying about them. You’ll want to look for someone with a long history of positive reviews. Does their reputation justify their price?
I’ve had some success googling the provider as well, because sometimes their Elance portfolio doesn’t tell the whole story. Since many VAs maintain accounts on multiple sites under the same name, you can check their profiles on oDesk and other sites too.
Have you had any experience with Elance in general, or with Elance virtual assistants specifically? If so, please share it here.