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Elance and I are Breaking Up (for now)

Dear Elance,

I think it’s time we see other people.

I’m sorry to do this in such an impersonal way, but things just aren’t working out.

You are just a little too high maintenance for this time-stressed Monkey right now.

Oh please don’t cry. I’m not blaming you or pointing figures. It’s not you, it’s me.

You may be a wonderful writing service for freelancers who have the time to search and scour and scrape for work, but for a full-time Monkey who just wants a little something on the side, it’s just not there for us.

Look Elance, let’s not call it quits forever, OK?

Let’s just agree that we want different things right now. You want $10 a month for the right to request writing work, and this Monkey doesn’t want to pay for something if it’s not going to fit his schedule.

Maybe in the future we can sit down and have a drink and laugh about all this. Or maybe we can give it another shot if I have the time and you’re still around.

I mean, we did go through the whole orientation process together, right? I know about all your procedures and policies and the right way to resolve a billing conflict.

You know that I am bashful and suspicious and am wary of just about every job posting. You’ve seen me toss and turn at night wondering if it is possible (or even reasonable) to write hundreds of SEO optimized articles for less than $500.

No one is at fault in this relationship. Sometimes the best of people (or of Monkeys and online job services) just aren’t right for each other.

So let’s just fondly say goodbye for now.

Yours Truly,

Grumpy S. Monkey

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Shameless self indulgence, Work, Writing

Elance update: Trying to stay afloat in a flood of writers

One week has gone by and your Monkey’s prospects of finding work on Elance are not looking too good.

The good news is that there does seem to be some legitimate job postings that are very careful to outline what their expectations and standards of quality are.

The bad news is that there are a lot of greedy people who want to pay very very small amounts for hundreds of SEO-optimized web articles that promote whatever asinine web scheme they have cooked up.

So your Monkey is still working to separate out the good from the bad, and to find a project request that meets his time requirements and fits his skill set.

It’s not that easy and it seems like anything close already has about 20 bidders.

The problem with being a writer is that writing skills are fairly subjective, and that anyone who can type can technically present themselves as a writer.

This not only floods the market with competition, but it makes potential employers feel good about demanding bulk writing for pennies on the dollar.

Please don’t think your monkey is being an elitist writing snob. It is just that writing is a skill that’s harder to quantify than most.

Someone who has a more definable skill such as web design or graphic design can probably do pretty good on elance.

With writers it is more of a mixed bag.

Anyone who wants to be a writer for a living has to contend with the fact that just about anyone can claim to be able to do the same thing.

Let’s say that a Monkey and a Carpenter are in a room together with Client A and Client B. Client A wants advertising copy written for a promotional brochure. Client B wants an addition put on his house.

While your Monkey may be the most professionally qualified candidate to write the copy for client A, there’s no reason that the carpenter couldn’t present himself as a pretty good alternative.

But when it comes to Client B who wants an addition built on his home, there is no way that a copywriting Monkey will ever get the job. You either know how to build an addition or you don’t.

Just about everyone can write.

Good for literacy campaigns and libraries and public school systems and typewriter manufacturers and the barons of the pen and ink industry.

Bad for copywriting monkeys trying to make a name for themselves in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Work, Writing

Let’s See How this Elance Thing Works Out

Your Monkey is now more determined than ever to find a new job and expand his mind and build his skills and all that good stuff.

There is only so long that one plucky primate can feed the copy monster at his present position before he goes mad.

Madness for your Monkey will not be all giggling and shaking and the ignornant bliss of  being unaware. Your Monkey will not stop showering and start writing love letters to his stapler.

Instead the Madness that comes is a sickness that makes your monkey feel very very low and makes it difficult for him to get through the day. The Madness makes him think that he is locked in an endless, unwinnable battle against the forces of copy entropy.

How many words can you type, how many product offers can you edit, how many inconsistencies and you find and resolve, and how many new problems can you create because you’re asked to handle so many words on a daily basis?

The traditional job market is still as dry as ever, so your Monkey has taken the time to join up with this Elance freelance service to see if any work might come out of there.  Any and all of these freelance writing opportunities that come up on the web seem ripe with the potential for ripoff.

But someone recently wrote a blog post (damned if this Monkey can remember who it was) who compared Elance to a flea market where you will get some of the good, some of the bad, and some in between. You just have to be a careful shopper.

So we will see how it goes. Your Monkey is not looking to get rich for doing nothing, but he would like to develop his skills and perhaps diversify his income.

On the plus side for Elance, there is a long and involved qualifying process that includes a fairly detailed multiple choice test, so it appears that they are at least trying to weed out some of the riff raff.

We shall see what happens.