What a freaking waste of time.

I needed a logo for my Maria’s Guides website and line of books. I wanted something simple, something that communicated the brand as well as the fact that the “guides” were in print, video, and ebook formats.

I have no design skills. None. I know what I like when I see it and I can often modify something that’s close to what I like to make it more in line with what I need. (That’s basically how I “design” my websites: I start with a theme and modify it.)

At first, I put a request on Twitter for a book cover design. That was a mistake. I got a bunch of responses from strangers linking to their portfolios or just promising they could do the job. (I created it myself based on a few other book cover designs I found online; it’s okay for now.)

Trying Elance

I decided I’d need a pro for the logo design. My budget was under $500, preferably under $300. I remembered hearing about Elance and decided to give it a try.

Elance is a Web site that connects freelancers with people needing freelance work done. It seems like a good idea and I know there are plenty of designers there. So I set up an account and used the “logo” template to submit a request for proposals.

I should have realized that something was wrong when I got six bids within about fifteen minutes. Although I’d set up my budget for less than $500, the bids ranged from $60 to $149. Four bids were from (supposedly) U.S. based companies, one was from India, and one was from Argentina. Most of them linked to logos or business packages they’d (supposedly) designed for other clients. Most were obviously canned responses that showed no indication that they’d read my request for proposals. LIke this:


Thanks for reviewing our proposal.
We understand your requirement for creation of logo design. Plz check our portfolio attached.

Also view our elance portfolio :
[URL redacted]

or this (supposedly from a U.S. based company):

Hi and Thank you to review our bid!!
This Bid includes:
1) 7 Initial concepts of logo. (Designed by 6 different designers)
2) A complementary Stationery concept (includes Business Card, Letter Head, and Envelope)
3) EMAIL SIGNATURE without any extra cost. (100% NO COST)
4) Unlimited Color schemes of selected design.
5) Original Copy right files. (All rights reserved by you)

It should be noted that all I asked for was a logo.

I decided to give it a try by picking one of the (supposedly) U.S. based companies that submitted a proposal that didn’t seem canned. Their samples were in line with what I was looking for. The price was very good — only $65 — so I figured I wouldn’t lose much if they completely sucked.

On accepting the bid, the first thing they did was send me a list of information they needed. This was the same exact information I had already provided using the Elance template for a logo request.

So apparently, they hadn’t read my request either.

With my response, I added:

PLEASE do not respond to me with canned communications. I have extremely low tolerance for people who waste my time by asking for information they already have. I realize there’s not much money in this, but that’s not MY fault. If you can’t treat me like a REAL client, let’s end this relationship now.

We got past that and they started submitting designs. The first batch had five. (I’m not sure if I’m allowed to show them; I haven’t paid for this yet and, chances are, they’ll use these same designs again for another sucker.) I liked one of them — it featured a graphic representation of a book emerging from a square — and made some suggestions:

…is there a way that the graphic part can indicate both books and electronic media? Maybe a 3-part icon that includes a representation of a book, an ebook (or tablet computer with writing on it), and a movie? For the movie, the old-fashioned filmstrip kind of thing might work.

“Designing” with Clipart

They submitted two more designs. They were dramatically different and very complex. But worst of all: they looked like they had been assembled by copying and pasting clipart. Clipart drawn from different perspectives and in different styles. I started to get a bad feeling.

I wrote back, telling them it looked like clipart. The response:

These are victor file, but if you don’t like them we will send you more revision.

Ah, yes. I know the U.S. education system is pretty crappy right now, but that’s not the kind of English I expect to get from a native speaker. I began wondering where the company was really based.

The next logo design was closer to what I could use. It included the three icons representing books, video, and ebooks. But the style of each icon was dramatically different. I had to look at the video representation under magnification to figure out what it was. And the ebook representation was just plopped on top of its frame with no attempt to make it look as if it were emerging. And, of course, all three icons appeared to be drawn from a different perspective, so they just didn’t go well together. More clipart.

Among my comments to try to fix this one up, I said:

The second panel doesn’t look like film. Consult this link http://www.jeffjonesillustration.com/[redacted] for something closer to what I envisioned. A reel of film with a strip of film coming out.

I should note here that the image I linked to as an example is one of many copyrighted images by illustrator Jeff Jones. Mr. Jones sells the rights to his artwork for use as stock images. I did not buy this image; I was just using it as an example.

Apparently, the “designers” I’d hired thought that they could use this copyrighted image in my logo. In the next revision, that exact image, scaled to fit, was part of the logo. They’d also managed to completely misunderstand my instructions for the ebook reader image in the third panel of the logo.

It was pretty clear that:

  • They had no real design skills.
  • They had no artistic ability.
  • They heavily relied on clipart to create logos.
  • They likely didn’t understand English enough to follow instructions.

Yes, I Know that You Get What You Pay For

Now I know what you’re saying: You get what you pay for. But understand that I was willing to pay more. This isn’t the first logo I’ve had designed — the others cost more. I picked this “design” company based not on the fee but on their proposal and samples. I don’t know where the samples came from, but it’s pretty clear to me that the people I hired did not design them.

By this point, I was fed up. This had been going on for a week and I was at the point where I dreaded opening my next email from them. I wrote:

I’m trying to understand why this is so difficult for you folks. Do the people working on this project read and speak English?

First of all, you CANNOT use the film clipart I linked to as AN EXAMPLE because it is copyrighted. If I use that in my logo, I will get sued. You should KNOW this.

Second, when I said that the tablet computer representation should have writing on it like an ebook, I didn’t mean to put the word “ebook” on it. I meant using lines of fake writing so that it looked as if it were showing an ebook. Also, laying a rectangle on top of a square does not match the design elements of the first frame “book” which is emerging from the frame.

Clearly this is NOT working out. I cannot understand how you folks have gotten good reviews unless the people you worked for were satisfied by your use of clipart to create “custom” logos. I don’t need to pay someone to do that. I can do that myself.

I cannot use what you’ve created and I’m tired of going back and forth with you on this. What an incredible waste of my time. I will contact Elance directly on how to resolve this issue.

And I got online with Elance and sent them a request for help:

I put in a request for a logo design. I got a bunch of very low bids, most of them from organizations that obviously did not read what I was looking for. I picked one I thought knew what I wanted.

For the past week we have been going back and forth on this. I’m supposed to be getting a custom design and what I’m getting is cut and paste clipart. When I offered a link to a sample image on the Web, the “designer” used THAT copyrighted image — if I included that in my logo, I could get sued!

These people are obviously amateurs, have no talent, and cannot follow instructions. I want to end my contract. I am willing to pay 50% of the agreed upon fee to cover the work done. I cannot use the logo as is and will have to pay a REAL designer to come up with something I can use. Please help me resolve this so I can move on and get the logo I need.

I’m still waiting to hear back from them. Believe me, 50% is generous for the aggravation I’ve been dealing with. What I’m willing to pay for is the idea, which I helped them develop.

[Update: They’ve agreed to the 50%. I guess people like this will take any money they can get.]

Apparently Freelancers Know Better

Now when all this started going south, I tweeted:

If this Elance experience is indicative of what it’s like to work with all Elance service providers, this will be my LAST time using Elance.

A Twitter friend tweeted back:

I tried providing service on elance, but would always get undercut by clueless people from india.

So that’s what it’s all about? A web-based service that leads you to believe you’re helping out local designers who are trying to build a client base. Instead, you’re sending business overseas to “design factories” manned by clipart manipulation experts.

What do you think? Do you have any experience — good or bad — with Elance? I’d like to hear a story with a happy ending.

40 thoughts on “Elance

  1. Hi Maria —

    Unfortunately, I think your experience is all too common with sites like this.

    I feel like sites like elance take true skills like web design and turn them into a commodity, competing only on price.

    Those that do well on elance respond via automated methods, don’t care about the client, and must turn work over rapidly to make money at the low prices they offer.

    Since clients don’t necessarily know better, they assume that they’re getting bids from people who are qualified, speak the client’s language (English or otherwise), and who want to do a good job.

    Sites like elance are based on a model that seems to work in other industries. For example, you can go to BankRate and compare interest rates on CDs or mortgages. As a customer, you win, since you can choose the product that works best for you with the best rate. However, in order to be listed in BankRate, you have to be… well, a bank or another financial institution with a certain accreditation.

    This is the piece that’s missing from elance. Anyone can wake up in the morning and decide they’re a designer, because they figured out how to move clipart around in Corel Draw. What separates them from people who went to art school or have years of professional experience as a graphic designer? Nothing, except price. And since clients want the lowest price, only the lowest priced providers can thrive in this environment. That means those with talent are unfortunately looking elsewhere, where they can differentiate on something other than price and “A+++++++++ OUTSTANDING DESIGNER” reviews.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Thanks for helping me understand a few things, mainly:

      This is common on Elance.
      I was one of the clients who “didn’t know any better” (but I do now).
      I wasn’t being the client from hell. (I did start to wonder if I was being unreasonable.)

      You’re right: Elance does need someone to review and approve freelancers before listing them. They also need to check the samples these people are posting. In all honesty, they fooled me. There’s no way they could have created the samples they claimed they’d designed. Those were original, fresh designs. What I got was juggled clipart. I feel conned.

      I’m glad there wasn’t a lot of money on the line. It’s just such a pain in the butt to have to wait to see how this turns out and whether I need to start from scratch.

      Live and learn, huh?

  2. I’ve had a few positive experiences with Elance, especially with hiring a cartoonist for several personal projects. What I found was that I had to review his portfolio on his website; that gave me a good idea of the type of work he did.

    Of course I got bids from people overseas. I only looked seriously at bids that had websites with a portfolio of work that met my requirements.

    • I wanted to award the contract to a U.S. based company. I wanted the work to go to an American, since we’re having so much trouble with our economy here. I figured that every little bit could help. Silly me. Believing the little icon that claimed the company was U.S. based.

      I did look at what was supposed to be their portfolio and I liked what I saw. But at this point, I don’t think it really represented THEIR work. As I mentioned elsewhere, I feel conned.

      Glad you had a better experience, though.

  3. I assume the company that did the Flying M logo is over your budget. (By the way, great logo). Do you remember how you found that company? Also, it might be worth asking some small businesses, that have a nice logo, who they used. Small businesses usually have a small budget for things like this, and I’m sure they wouldn’t mind giving you that information.

    • A friend of mine did the Flying M logo. AND the Wickenburg Airport logo. In each case, we knew exactly what we wanted and he just drew it. In this case, I had no ideas at all and hoped a professional designer would be handling it. But what the hell do I expect for $65?

      I went with Elance to save time. It was a learning experience that, fortunately, didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

  4. I have to say I agree and disagree with some of the views here.

    I am a regular Elance service provider and have been for about a year or so now. I have been a part time freelance developer / trainer for many years and recently gone full time so currently about 20-30% of my income is actually from Elance.

    I have very good ratings, I have good reviews and generally get on well with clients. My experience brings me to the conclusion that Elance can’t sustain my income thats a fact I know, I have multiple income sources and generally the work I do on Elance each month ends up being more of a bonus. I have a good reputation and clients seem to like that when they get my proposals, I never do stock proposals as that’s not what I would want if it where me asking for work to be done.

    I think my current rate of return on proposals is something like 1 in 15 jobs I apply for I get. I have some recurring clients which is great for my profile.

    My biggest issue is price. I get undercut all the time and 9/10 I just can’t compete therefore I don’t apply if the average bid is crazy low for the project. Recent one for instance 5 customer Joomla templates needed within 48 hours average bid was like $80. I can’t compete. Often when I do get through to clients who have the need to ask me “why are you so much higher than this guy from Asian or this guy from China” etc etc my response is always – come back to me when your project goes under and they can’t provide the work and quality you want for that low price.

    Elance is a double edged blade, great for people who don’t have connections or confidence to get in-touch with a designer / developer via their site without 3rd party reviews to get a true gauge of how good the supplier is. And the other side, the developers who are high quality, western Europe and US / Canada competing with just as high quality suppliers from other countries where the price they bid reflects a decent income for them.

    End of the day Elance is great for some people not for others, such is life. Rant over :)

    • I think what you’re saying is probably very true and very fair. I seem to have gone in with different expectations. I was shocked by how low ALL the bids were. I guess if I’d put in a higher dollar amount, I might have found better quality providers. But how could I be sure? Elance obviously doesn’t screen their providers. What’s to stop a bad provider from bidding high, showing off someone else’s work as his, and suckering people like me into working with them?

      I’ve learned my lesson.

      Someone else suggested 99designs.com. That site uses a sort of “contest” method so you pick the design instead of the designer. I’ll try that next time.

      Thanks for taking the time to share your experience.

    • In a way Elance leave it for you to screen your choosing of a service provider.

      Elance require all providers to take an entry exam, they also provide the largest testing system for providers to take tests in order to prove themselves.

      For instance I took several Joomla tests each about 40 minutes long 40-50 multiplechoice questions and these are complicated questions mind you.

      Once I pass I can show and prove my knowledge on my profile.

      Granted Elance also allows you to “self assess” so you can choose how you rate your self but the difference between self and actual tested ratings is shown.

      So its partly down to the user who is going to hand over cash to check out the providers profile to the fullest, even ask for external references if possible to.

      I think on the whole its a great way to get work done but yes as with everything there is top end and bottom end of quality just a shame you got a bad experience.

    • I really find it difficult to believe that the people I worked with were tested by Elance or anyone else. Maybe they just test programmers or people that can be tested with machine-gradeable tests?

      But what’s to stop someone from taking and passing a test and then hiring cheap labor to do all the real work?

  5. Hi Maria,

    I am working as a freelance Joomla web site developer and I offer my services through the Freelancer.com web site. I am working through Freelancer web site for almost 5 years now and during that time I have to admit I’ve been in the situation many times that my bid was rejected because of companies from India and their insanely low bids.

    It is true that such companies place very low bids but in the same time they offer very lousy final results. I had and still have many long term clients that started by accepting services from companies from India. After long struggle and very bad experience they contacted me in the end and stayed with me as a longterm clients.

    My point here is that there are many and I mean really many companies and freelancers that just try to rip off potential service buyers but in the same time there are also some bright examples of freelancers that are honest and will do all to provide good if not the best service to their clients.

    I know that this sounds like bragging and that I maybe have too high opinion about my self as a service provider but I am more than certain that my long term clients would tell you the same about me :-)

    My final suggestion is to try to give opportunity to some other company, avoid companies from India (no matter how cheap they are) because you will get what you paid for and don’t ever agree on paying even smallest amount until you are completely satisfied with the final result. Oh and be sure not to pay anything in advance, use escrow payments and dispute freelancers’ work if you are not satisfied with it.


    • I’m sure you’re right about this. I just seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot with these folks. But I’ve learned my lesson. This type of hiring is not for me.

      Good luck to you!

  6. Unfortunately your experience is extremely common on these types of websites. I am a freelance web designer and always looking for work. I decided to check out http://www.odesk.com and http://www.freelancer.com to see if I could bid on a few projects and gain some business. It was impossible to compete against the rates from the smaller third world countries so I gave up. I’m struggling to pay my bills while there are tons of opportunities handed over to people that have no clue what you’re asking them to do and basically act like robots. It’s an absolute shame and many Contractors like yourself think you’re going to help out one of the little local guys, but end up feeding the economy of some other country. Glad to know that you backed out of it when you realized your ideas weren’t becoming a reality. Kudos to you and I hope you helped out a REAL designer in need.

    • And ditto to what Igor said. There are freelancers out there providing outstanding service. I’m not one to brag either, but I believe service is the #1 priority with my clients and my testimonials speak for themselves. I just wish I was a bit more successful like Igor when it came to those particular websites.

  7. I’ve spoken with more than a handful of clients who hired ‘someone’ from some unknown country to ‘design’ a website and code it for them recently. (One, a rather large company I might add) Somehow the process gets to the ‘almost there’ point and then the ‘designer’ skips. Money in hand, gone. Bad Code, awful art, .psd files full of junk and the client is left holding the bag. Scams exist almost everywhere in this world sadly. And I’m sure I don’t need repeat, the phrase, Buyer BEWARE. I’m sorry you were taken to the ‘cleaners’ so to speak. I’ve lots of great graphic artists who work with me. I am American, I speak english and mostly I totally understand client needs.. If there’s ever anything you need, feel free to contact me. If its not something I can handle, I’m more than happy to direct you to those great folks I work with. Or just give you a clue where to find what you need. That’s how I do business.. for the good or bad of it.. there’s just no need in taking people down the merry path.. best of luck…

  8. October 4 Update: I’m noting this update here so folks who have subscribed to the comments will see it.

    I was called by the folks at Elance. They told me that my entire bid had been refunded. They also agreed that the provider in question was not following Elance guidelines and had its account suspended. The caller wanted to talk to me at length about it, but I cut him short. I told him that there was nothing he could say that would make me take back what I’d written here and that I would never use Elance again. Period. I also told him that to prolong the conversation would waste his time and mine. Then I thanked him for calling, wished him a nice day, and hung up. Seriously: Haven’t they wasted enough of my time?

    So no, this experiment didn’t cost me a dime. It did, however, cost something more valuable: time. Lesson learned.

    I hope this post will continue to attract Elance users — both clients and providers — to share their real life stories. While I’ve been assured that Elance CAN work for people, I remain unconvinced. Perhaps other people’s experiences can make a difference here.

    Thanks for reading and commenting here.

  9. My experiences are pretty much similar to what other posted already; and as a freelancer I am still trying to work my way up in elance.

    However I was wondering how can you tell when bids are placed for a listing aren’t ones the provider himself posts by having multiple accounts just to lower the cost of the work. That’s in addition to the competitive offers due to the living cost differences (east and west).

    There is something else with respect to the skills of the freelancers. Elance has multiple-choice tests for various framework and web related disciplines. Although they’re basic they’re better than nothing. Now I would typically target a couple of frameworks when I bid there and to my surprise, almost all of the bidders don’t even list these frameworks as part of their past experience. I don’t know if the providers bother to check profiles or if they even know about them.

    • I feel that I was misled by the bidders. I’ll never go back and never recommend Elance to anyone I know. I think any freelancer would be better looking for work the usual way: advertising, building a client base, word of mouth. The designer I got to redo the job was recommended by a friend.

  10. I do some work at Elance and all I can add is that those fake workers hurt not only contractors but also the honest workers. Mind also the fake contractors, often from India too, that are commonly the fake workers posting cheap jobs to resell or to try to get answers to some job they won and can’t do.

    • Hai,
      If your work is not finished yet dont blame indians because u are running for the cheap job and work should be done at short period of time.
      I am an indian and i am surely telling that most of the IT and Embeded work are done by indians. There may be fake workers you have given and dont blame others because all in the world have fake email id and companies and not everyone is 100% true from the client side or form the contractors side.

  11. I feel your pain. As one of the remaining few reputable providers at Elance (I’m listed in the Top Ten under Best Match as a copywriter), I am underbid all the time by fly-by-night wanna be’s and third world country hacks who have no business offering their primitive, sub-par services on what was once a reputable freelance website.

    Because of my inability to land enough work on Elance in the past couple of years to make a decent living, I’m weaning myself off the so-called “service” as fast as I can. The unhappiest thing of all is that I can’t take my satisfied clients with me FOR TWO YEARS because of Elance’s new TOS, no doubt established to keep their good providers from jumping ship. (The TOS used to require just one year so Elance could get its 8.75% fees for every job providers landed through their portal. They also get connect fees and monthly membership fees. Good providers are paying almost 1/4 of their meager incomes to Elance just to look at projects! I made $22K last year at Elance and paid almost $5K in membership, connect and percentage fees.) I foresee disaster for a once-great company because they allow any fly-by-night hack to register and work there, so when buyers figure out the “average” of high and low bids, they come out thinking they can get exemplary work for next to nothing. It’s just insane! I invite anyone who’s looking for a copywriter to visit my website DIRECT. Eliminate the middlemen (Elance, oDesk, freelancer.com, etc.) and find the people with actual websites, histories, and verifiable kudos from clients–you know, providers who know what we’re doing!

    • You’re right: we should eliminate the middleman whenever possible. But the problem goes deeper. The problem is that everyone wants something for nothing — or close to it. So they gravitate toward the cheap providers. If they’re satisfied with the low quality work they get, they keep going back for more. The high quality professional providers simply can’t compete with that pricing and stay in business.

      The middlemen also remove or “water down” your identity when you get work. A client who is happy with what you did doesn’t necessarily come back to YOU — he goes back to the middleman. It’s like at the cheap haircut places — you get a good haircut once and you go back to the place but not necessarily the same hairdresser.

      I think establishing a good Web presence for your business, maintaining a good relationship with your client base, and encouraging clients to recommend you to others is a good way to get started without the third parties. Establish, build, and maintain your own identity for excellence and let the cheapskates deal with the bottom feeders at the middleman companies.

      Good luck to you.

    • I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve written several articles on this topic and mentioned all of the things in them that you have noted in your reply. I just didn’t have the time to pursue the topic fully this morning as I’ve done elsewhere already (at C. Hope Clark’s Funds for Writers, Brigitte Thompson’s blog and Winton Churchill’s book.) There’s a lot to consider. Elance may be a starting point but, as you say, it opens up an avenue where happy clients can dump you as soon as you put your rates up if they aren’t all that picky about quality. It’s best to fly solo and use social media, word-of-mouth, testimonials, and other low-cost ways to get the word out about your abilities these days. Elance serves the lowest common denominator anymore…and they’ll suffer for it in the end.

      All the best!


    • Agreed.

      Oddly, in my helicopter charter business, I’ve purposely priced my services to weed out the cheapskates. I don’t get as much business, but I also don’t get any headaches from whining clients and I’m better compensated for every flight I do. The people who hire me are the people who truly understand the value of the service they’re getting. Those are the people I want to work for.

      Good luck!

    • I’m doing that, too, now. I have a document called “My Ideal Client” that stresses the value of the people I serve and the value of the services I provide. It helps… a lot!

  12. I had a very different and positive Elance experience last year. When I needed to do my iCloud VQS for Peachpit last year, I realized I was spending too much time creating the figure references in Word (for people who don’t write for Peachpit, they make you use a specific Word template with very specific styles you need to apply, that then translate automatically into their InDesign template for book layout). I decided that a Word macro was just the thing I needed to automatically create and style the figure references at the end of each task. Trouble was, I knew that it would require scripting in Visual Basic (Office’s macro language) that was beyond me.

    I’d never used Elance before. I wrote a very complete RFP with a detailed spec and put it out in the VB programmer’s section. I got three responses. One from India, one Serbia, one apparently US. All asked for a sample Word document, which I provided. The Indian company used too much boilerplate in three separate exchanges, and I rejected their bid; they seemed too interested in just getting a client on the hook. The Serbian guy responded specifically and promptly. The US guy (I don’t actually believe he was in the US) was good, but not as good as the Serbian. The Serbian bid was the most expensive ($200), but he promised delivery within 5 days. Instead, he delivered the next day after we agreed on the spec details, and created and delivered a minor additional macro (no extra charge) when it became apparent that one was needed. His solution actually solved problems that I had not taken into account when creating my job description. He even created and sent a short video illustrating how to install the macro.

    So, in summary, it is possible to get good work from Elance. I did.

    • I suspect the reason you had a good experience and I had a bad one was because we needed two different kinds of things done. Apparently, it’s common for Elance members to farm out “design” work to the lowest bidder, often overseas. And apparently those people have no qualms about using existing artwork — even copyrighted artwork — as part of their designs. What bugs me is that I budgeted a relatively generous $500 for the project and all the bids came in around or below $100. It wasn’t as if I was trying to be cheap. I should have realized something was up from the start.

      Creating a macro or program to a user’s specific needs is a different kind of job. It either works or doesn’t and it has to be created to your exact specifications. I think that’s harder to farm out — or to fake.

      I’m glad you did well with Elance, but I will not use them again.

    • Well, Lester, if you’d READ the entire post, you’d see that I was willing to pay more. It’s just that everyone on Elance is bidding low to get the deal. What is a person supposed to think/do? I think that was the point of the post — and YOU missed it. I guess it’s more important for you to share your nasty comments than actually READ what you’re commenting on.

  13. Hi Maria,
    Jeff Jones here, of jeffjonesillustration. I’m the artist you referred to in your blog.
    Thanks for mentioning my work and for educating others on the need to respect copyrights. Much appreciated.
    Did it ever occur to you to ask me what I would charge for designing your logo? I design and sell exclusive rights to logos starting at $495. For this price you get to choose from however many ideas I come up with, then 2 rounds of revisions if needed. It’s a bargain for sure and to be perfectly honest, you ARE getting more than you pay for when hiring me. And yes, the designs not chosen may end up on my site for others to consider licensing.
    Honestly, think about it. $65 with multiple changes and original art? Do you really think someone is able to live on those kind of wages in the US?
    If you’ve got enough money to fly around in a helicopter…

    • Oddly enough, it cost me about $450 for my Flying M Air logo. I’m very pleased with it. I attempted to get the same artist to design my Maria’s Guides logo, but he was not available. I tried Elance when it was recommended to me and got all those low bids — despite my budget being much higher. I figured, why not try? I had no idea this service would be done off-shore. Doesn’t the blog post say most of this? Did you read it all? If you had, you might have realized that the logo was not for my helicopter charter business.

      As for having “enough money to fly around in a helicopter,” what exactly are you trying to say? That I’m rich? That I must have a limitless budget because I’ve chosen to make my living as the owner/operator of a helicopter charter business? Do you know what it costs to operate a business like mine? Do you know what most people are willing to pay for the services I provide? Do you think I could earn a living wage on the net? Have you read ANY other post on this blog? Like any of the ones where I discuss my cost of operations and the struggles I encounter regularly keeping my business profitable?

      How about sticking to making knowledgeable comments about the business of art? How about not assuming that a person can afford services like yours based on your uninformed preconceived notions about the type of business they operate?

      Seriously, Jeff: do you always thank people who respect your intellectual property rights — and link to your content — by insulting them? You’re welcome.

    • You still didn’t answer my question. If my art was good enough to send to a $65 artist to copy and you’re not a cheapskate, why not go to the original source?

      Be real here. At the point you were offered such low bids, did it ever occur to you that the bidders weren’t US based?
      You said you “should have realized”. I believe you did.

      Please spare anyone reading of your altruistic intentions.

    • Jeff, I didn’t WANT your art. I only used it as an example of what I was thinking of — a visual to show the designer. Obviously, if I wanted YOUR art, I would have gone to YOU. I found your illustration AFTER I “hired” the Elance “artist.” I was already set up with him/her.

      I never intended him/her to COPY your art. It was just an example — a visualization of the idea I had. I wanted something original that would illustrate the same basic idea.

      As for the low bidders, these people claimed to be US-based. How was I to know that they were lying? It was my first — AND LAST, I assure you — experience with Elance. I was naive. I’m now less naive. I’m pretty sure that’s what the blog post was all about.

      And you didn’t answer MY question — did you actually read it?

      I’m not going to get into a pissing match with you — certainly not on my blog. Read the whole post. Believe it. I’m not lying.

      And for Pete’s sake, CALM DOWN. I’m not your enemy, I’m not some sort of evil cheapskate out to take advantage of artists and designers.

      And here’s one more thing to consider…I’m a writer and, for many years, made most of my income writing. Do you know why I can’t make a living as a writer anymore? Because there are people out there doing the same thing I do for free or nearly free. Sound familiar? Yeah, there are people out there undercutting both of us. And they don’t have to be overseas to do it.

  14. I recently started working on Elance as well. 3rd job and boom. What happened is that I closed the deal for project which value was 1150$, completed it after few days, sent binaries to my client. Client was satisfied and released 650$ milestone, and I was waiting for more than 3 months for 500$ one. Needless to say, I never got 500$ milestone to my account. After several attempts to contact my client, he got banned from Elance due to suspicious activities. I marked project as completed, and told to myself “what the hell, I got 650$/1150$, he got banned, life goes on”.

    Now, what happened 2 MONTHS after project was marked as completed is that client issued chargeback statement over his bank, and money got instantly deducted from my account by Elance, without any questions asked or rights to speak for myself. Not that only got scammed by client, but Elance provided ZERO protection to me and deducted 650$ from my balance, effectively locking up my account for any further withdrawals, because I had a bit less than 650$ on account at that moment.

    So, yeah, those things can happen, which I never thought are possible. 2 months after project completion and getting money on my account, they just locked it up and returned back to client without any questions asked to me. Fully functional project, including sources, full conversation in Elance message board between me and client from which is perfectly clear that he is satisfied with project and is avoiding to pay, and his account terminatin by Elance are obviously not three enough good reasons for Elance to fill proper rebuttal to the bank.

    I tried to contact their support, explaining the situation, and I got generic copy/paste message to every message that I’ve sent to them. I’ve been working for more than 2 years over various freelance sites, but Elance definitely has worst TOS and support to their freelancers.


What do you think?