There are many ways to earn extra money, and one of the most interesting is through a method called e-lancing. E-lancing sounds fancy, but it simply means working as a freelance professional through the internet. As an e-lancer, you find your clients online and you also – usually – service them online.
There are three big advantages e-lancing gives you.
First, the market for your services is huge. You don’t have to limit your advertising to your local town or your Rolodex, as freelancers did in the past. With a little know-how, you can reach hundreds, thousands – even hundreds of thousands – of potential customers with a modest advertising budget.
Second, since you will be working online, you don’t have to spend a lot of time traveling. For the normal freelance professional, traveling is a huge and costly part of his expenses.
Third, because you’ll deliver your work electronically, you can copy and replicate it easily and thus serve many of the same customers with much of the same information and advice. This allows you to leverage the value of your time and make more than you could ever make in the old days.
E-lancing is a big, growing business. A survey conducted by Toptal found that 90% of companies depend on freelancers. The survey also found that 76% of businesses planned to increase their use of freelancers to help current workers or to have access to talent and experience their company might lack.
A Forbes article published in April stated that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, freelancing will grow in a wide range of professional areas. More organizations are partnering with freelance platforms to tap into talent.
It gets better.
According to a study by Payoneer, the average freelancer in the U.S. earns about $31 per hour compared with the average hourly wage of $26.30 for all U.S. employees.
However, the upside to e-lancing, in my opinion, is much greater than the hourly wage.
As a consultant to the publishing industry, I’ve seen how many of my clients have turned to the internet to find the researchers, writers, and analysts they need.
And I have friends in the insurance, brokerage, and accounting industries who rely heavily on e-lancers for all sorts of jobs. There’s demand for data entry, computer model development, customer service, and more.
There’s a prestigious architectural firm in Boca Raton, Florida, that uses e-lancers to do design work for its hotel and restaurant clients. I know doctors who use e-lancers to review and write précis on medical journals to help them keep up with developments in their fields.
I know dozens of direct marketers who routinely turn to the internet to find the copywriters and graphic artists they need.
Consider this statistic provided in the sixth annual “Freelancing in America” survey, which was released in October 2019 and is the most recent freelancing data available:
In the U.S., about 57 million people worked as freelancers in 2019, compared to 53 million in 2014, which was the first year the survey was conducted. This number (57 million) represents around 35% of the U.S. workforce.
Yes, it is a big and growing industry.
Actually, I take that back. It’s not really an industry at all. It’s more like an enormous marketplace, bustling with eager employers searching out people with the skills, availability, and desire to do almost every conceivable kind of job.
What We Discovered
E-lancing, you see, is not a single opportunity, but a thousand opportunities rolled into one.
Here are some facts about e-lancing you should be aware of: Data entry and customer service jobs used to dominate e-lancing. Most people have experience calling what they presume to be a local number only to find themselves talking to someone halfway across the globe. But this is rapidly changing in two ways.
First, many of the large companies that were using companies in other countries because of the low costs have turned back to employing e-lancers in their home countries. Why? The large companies realized that the e-lancers produced better-quality and more cost-efficient work.
Second, the kinds of jobs advertised on an e-lance basis today are rapidly expanding. Data entry and customer service are still very much in demand, but employers are now seeking e-lancers for hundreds of other skills. These include:
- Graphic arts
- Dictation services
- Marketing analysis
- Stock analysis
- Property management services.
As you can see from just glancing at this list, these types of e-lance services will demand higher rates. I fully expect to see the data on e-lance income continue to expand as these programs expand.
There are far too many types to list them all here. Just visit any number of the e-lance websites – like Fiverr, Upwork, Toptal or Simply Hired – and browse for yourself! You’re going to be amazed at the volume of opportunities in the most obscure fields or niches.
Why the growth? In part, books or philosophies like Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek have alerted working people to the possibility of making a good income from working part-time on the internet.
Why E-Lancing Will Last
When you see a market expanding like this one is, the natural question is: Will it last?
My answer? Absolutely! Here’s why.
The growth of the e-lance marketplace is largely due to the fact that small-business owners have begun to recognize the economics of hiring e-lancers.
Many small- and medium-sized companies can’t afford to hire full-time researchers, writers, marketers, bookkeepers, accountants, programmers, and salespeople.
But they can afford to hire people to work part-time from home… or possibly from the beach. Part-time e-lancers are more economical for entrepreneurial businesses because e-lancers can be employed only when they are needed and don’t need to be given office space, utilities, tools, and other things that full-time employees require.
Plus, they don’t receive full-time financial benefits such as medical insurance and retirement plans.
As one expert put it, “Freelance workers give employers the skills they need on a fractional and affordable basis.”
To outsiders, being an e-lancer may sound like a risky proposition. But once you have an established clientele, you are actually much safer and more independent than you would be as a full-time employee.
Think of it this way: E-lancing thrives when economies are bad. It’s basically recession-proof because hiring online is how companies save money when times are tough. This is great news for anyone who is dependent on a business for his paycheck.
But companies aren’t just turning to e-lancers because of cost savings, either. Increasingly, managers are looking online to find top talent.
So, where do you find these jobs?
Fiverr allows freelancers to show their finished projects or portfolio samples to potential clients so that clients can pick someone who best fits their company’s needs. Fiverr also offers various courses for freelancers (for free) to help grow their skills.
Upwork is a similar platform. It allows you to upload your resume and work samples so that potential businesses and clients can find your work. There are some large companies on this website, like Microsoft, Airbnb and Dropbox, and you might have the opportunity to work with one of them.
And remember: Fiverr and Upwork are just two of these online freelance platforms. Hundreds more jobs are added every week on competing sites such as PeoplePerHour, Aquent, or even Craigslist.
How to Get Started With E-Lancing
So, if you’re interested in e-lancing, let’s talk about the steps to take to get started…
- Ask yourself: What skill or talent do I have that I can offer online to employers?
- Get online and visit the following websites:
- Post your services.
- If you’re unclear what service you think you’re good at, browse job postings to see if anything sounds like something for you.
I also recommend that you read The Freelancer’s Bible by Sara Horowitz. It will help answer questions you may have.
The bottom line: E-lancing is an amazing opportunity to turn your skills into cash. Even better, you decide how much time to invest.
Have you tried e-lance work to boost your income? Send us your thoughts here.