Elance Prop Tips

I knew Elance a few years ago as a go-to place for getting a bit of cheeky code cut. Revisiting for a potential piece of database replication, my guys alerted me to its evolution. Now, it’s reached being a $300m portal for all sorts of freelance activity. Unfortunately, this particular rush to growth appears at first glance to have diminished the impact. I hope this is not the case.


The analogy I instantly drew was with recruitment sites. New web job boards look for a while like they really can change the world. Right up until the time recruitment agencies discover it and they become swamped by the unstoppable Leylandii of their unwelcome intrusions.

With their move from mere contract computer programming to just about any individual outsource opportunity, I saw a recent corporate blog posting that focused on how elancers can make the most of their pivotal primary activity; writing an awesome proposal.

As they sum up, “the first (and possibly the last) impression you make on a potential client will be through your bid proposal”. In solution terms, this is like responding to an ITT. They helpfully expand eight highlighted tips.

  1. Know the client
  2. Ask questions
  3. Tailor each proposal
  4. Stress the benefits
  5. Don’t oversell
  6. Get to the point
  7. Let your personality show
  8. Review your proposal as if you’re the client

There’s some useful reminders of the basics here. When taken in tandem with half-a-dozen more pointers from one of the commenters, it’s a worthy sanity check for comparison against your current standard Prop; reporting, variations, progress, payments, exceptions, references.

But Wait, What About The Twitter Angle…

A final discipline, is that their Props are limited to 2,000 characters. That’s not a fat lot of words. Equivalent to 14 full tweets. Coincidentally, the above recommended bullets also total 14. Can your current Prop be summarised in a tweet per topic? An intriguing idea for an unusual exec summary treatment or graphical appendix in twitter-page format, and probably more besides, don’t you think?

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