Entrepreneurship – Upwork Blog https://www.upwork.com/blog Insights, info and updates about Upwork Mon, 02 May 2016 20:06:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Entrepreneur: “3 Team-Building Secrets of Successful Small Business Owners” https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/05/small-business-team-building-secrets-kasriel/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/05/small-business-team-building-secrets-kasriel/#respond Mon, 02 May 2016 20:06:29 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=37223

“When you have a small team, each new person has a proportionally large impact on your company and its trajectory," said Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel. Here are some of the secrets behind the success of some incredible small businesses.

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In honor of National Small Business Week in the U.S., Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel recently spoke with a few successful entrepreneurs to hear how investing time and resources in building exceptional teams is positioning them for growth.

“When you have a small team, each new person has a proportionally large impact on your company and its trajectory.”
Stephane Kasriel, Upwork CEO

In “3 Team-Building Secrets of Successful Small Business Owners,” Kasriel shares insights from his discussions, which revealed three common themes:

  • Hire the right talent: Have a pipeline of talent in mind so when the resources are available you are ready to fill organizational gaps immediately.
  • Empower your team to make decisions: Foster an open environment of respect so people can do their best work.
  • Invest in people and processes: Because they enable smooth onboarding transitions, well-defined processes can help propel growth.

To review Kasriel’s advice and interview summaries in full, read the complete commentary on Entrepreneur.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: May 2 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/05/future-work-may-2/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/05/future-work-may-2/#respond Mon, 02 May 2016 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=37243

What’s the latest news about the future of work? This week’s roundup highlights the impact of digital learning opportunities, the influence of entrepreneurial hubs, and the value of building relationships with other freelancers.

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Upwork’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and working with freelancers, freelancing, and the future of work.

Digitalist | How To Create a Culture of Continuous Learning

Beyond the walls of traditional educational institutions, the way we learn continues to be transformed by the digital age. Whether you’re a business leader eager to help your team level-up its skills or a freelance entrepreneur bridging skill gaps to land new clients, specialized post-secondary learning is far easier than it once was thanks to the range of ebooks, apps, online courses, and other digital resources available.

Business writer and tech consultant Polly Traylor reports that this shift is spurring companies and entrepreneurs alike to find new ways to keep skills sharpened through virtual learning opportunities. Speaking with experts on the subject, Traylor uncovers interesting perspective on the growing trend toward creating a culture to spur ongoing learning beyond the physical classroom.

“My daughter wanted to apply to the Centers for Disease Control for an internship, which required statistics knowledge. So she went to Khan Academy, took a few modules, and passed the test,” said author and workplace futurist Karie Willyerd. “It’s the idea that you can instantly get the training you need…companies are getting increasingly virtual. There will be a very limited percentage of training that is done live in the future.”

It’s not just a transition to digital formats, either. The goal of creating continuous learning opportunities is an approach more businesses are adopting these days.

“The general shelf life of knowledge is shortening with the increasing pace of digital transformation, so companies need a strategy to push knowledge and make sure that knowledge is always fresh,” said Bernd Welz, a senior VP at SAP. “That’s where the digital learning platforms come into play.

Tech.Co | Being an Entrepreneur Might Be Contagious

Have you caught the entrepreneurial bug yet? Hanging around creative folks who are constantly coming up with inventive ideas to pursue? It might be just a matter of time before you get bitten, too, says Tech.Co writer Conor Cawley.

A recent study from the World Economic Forum suggests individuals who are surrounded by entrepreneurs are significantly more likely to become one themselves: The historical data taken from a study of a dozen of Italy’s entrepreneurial centers shows marked upward trends in these hotspots.

“The study dictates that the learning environment created by startup hubs is invaluable to people looking to start a business,” writes Cawley in his analysis. “While researchers originally thought that the draw of low startup prices was bringing entrepreneurs to certain areas, the data showed that impressionable minds are highly influenced by an entrepreneurial setting.”

Freelancers Union | Why Other Freelancers are Not the Enemy

Camaraderie, not competition, is the lifeblood of the freelance economy, says business blogger Sagan Morrow. She makes a strong case for encouraging freelancers to make nice with their self-employed brethren. Given the challenges that freelancers can face, Morrow says it’s important to band together and forge a strong sense of community to support and help one another.

“When you have other freelancers with whom you can connect, share ideas, and simply commiserate on the challenges that are unique to freelancing, you’ll be able to do an even better job freelancing,” she said. “You need to be able to have others to whom you can go who understand your line of work so that you can help each other out, brainstorm, and constantly improve at the world of freelancing.”

The fact that many freelancers offer very different services, and not everyone has the bandwidth to tackle every gig opportunity that arises, also adds to her argument that it’s more valuable to make friends with other freelancers—especially when people are in the position to help one another out.

What business trends have caught your attention recently? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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The Internet of Things: A Primer for Businesses https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/internet-things-primer/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/internet-things-primer/#respond Thu, 28 Apr 2016 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=37191

The Internet of Things (IoT) is here, and it poses a fascinating new range of opportunities for companies willing to embrace its potential. Want to learn more? These recent articles from the Hiring Headquarters are a great place to start.

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Imagine a world where billions of everyday objects collect and store data in the cloud about what’s happening in, on, and around them. Now consider the possibilities for any business that can find the most effective ways to tap into the power of all this data and put it to good use.

Though it might sound like science fiction, this is a world we already live in—and it’s growing at a rapid pace. The Internet of Things (IoT) is here, and it poses a fascinating new range of opportunities for companies willing to embrace its potential.

If you’re eager to know more about the Internet of Things and what it can do for your brand, look no further than these articles from The Hiring Headquarters—Upwork’s resource for entrepreneurs, executives, and freelancers.

What Is the Internet of Things, Anyway?

With the IoT expected to encompass more than 50 billion objects around the globe by the year 2020, it brings not just potential convenience but also incredible opportunities for interaction and marketing.

Eye on the IoT: An Intro to the Internet of Things” provides an accessible on-ramp for understanding what the IoT actually is and the impact it’s expected to have heading into the future.

It includes a helpful diagram that shows just what an IoT-connected household looks like. Beyond the game-changing advantages presented by this technology, there are also related concerns and factors that could affect the way we do business.

How Will the IoT Affect Big Data?

Businesses that learn to use the data data flowing in from the IoT will have to take a closer look at their existing data architecture and ensure they’re equipped to handle the load. Big data is only going to get bigger, which is why avoiding growing pains when scaling up requires a careful, measured approach.

5 Ways the Internet of Things Will Change Big Data” examines some of the biggest obstacles and how they can be overcome. Aside from offering insight into how businesses can benefit from the increase in big data, the article offers practical tips and technical suggestions to help companies navigate the transition.

How To Access the IoT’s Marketing Power

Information is power, especially when it comes to your customer base. Being armed with the right info about your target market’s habits, needs, and problems can help you improve your products and services. It also makes it far easier for your brand to engage with them effectively—based on actual data from your customers—in order to forge a stronger bond.

5 Tips for Crafting a Marketing Strategy for the Internet of Things” considers what the IoT has to offer from a marketing standpoint, and suggests how it can apply to both customer service efforts and a broader marketing plan. It explores specific approaches to help maximize the use and value of the data collected while enhancing the effectiveness of a promotional strategy.

To stay up-to-date on the latest developments with the Internet of Things, be sure to keep an eye on The Hiring Headquarters.

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Growing your Freelance Business: Hiring Help https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/freelance-business-hiring-help/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/freelance-business-hiring-help/#respond Wed, 27 Apr 2016 13:00:39 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=37177

There comes a time in every freelance professional’s life when a potential client approaches you with an amazing project but there is no way you can pull it off with your current workload—unless you have help. Melanie Feltham highlights some of the ways freelancers can benefit by hiring their own freelance help.

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There comes a time in every freelance professional’s life when a potential client approaches you with an amazing project but there is no way you can pull it off with your current workload. So you have to turn it down.

The first time this happened to me, I was over the moon. It meant I’d made it, I was in demand. Clients were coming to me without me seeking them out, and I didn’t have a minute to spare. But I really didn’t like saying no to awesome projects.

So I started thinking. What if I said yes? Well, I’d need some help. Not with the project itself—the clients were specifically looking for my expertise and hiring out their work would be dishonest. However, I could get assistance with other things that were less dependent on my skill set. Like all of the necessary things I had to do regularly that were not billable to any particular client but nevertheless took up time I could otherwise spend on project work.

After an analysis of my time, I identified several areas in which another professional could be responsible for non-billable hours more efficiently–and more cost effectively–than I could myself. Here is a sample of the types of freelancers that are great resources for busy freelance professionals.

A calculator and pen sitting on top of financial information

1.Taxes and Accounting

The first time I did my self-employment taxes, it took me more than 10 hours. And it wasn’t at all enjoyable. A freelance tax pro likely could have completed the same work in half the amount of time. If I had used those 10 hours for billable work, and hired someone to do the taxes for me, I would have been ahead financially!

Scheduling new appointments in a calendar application

2. Administrative Support

A lot of time is wasted sorting through emails, booking appointments, keeping track of deadlines, planning tasks, and answering calls. And as your business grows, so does the number of administrational tasks that you need to take care of. An admin support specialist can take these non-billable tasks off your plate and allow you to focus on the meat of your projects.

A man and a woman discuss business over a computer

3. Business Development

As entrepreneurs we can’t help but want to continually improve our businesses and set bigger goals year after year. Maybe that means developing a strong brand identity including a logo, a website, or a strong social web presence. These goals, and the work needed to bring them to life, all fall under non-billable hours, but they can be key in expressing to potential clients the legitimacy of your work and positioning you as an expert in their minds.

Although a DIY approach to design, branding, and marketing is tempting, if you don’t have the necessary skills to complete this type of work—and do it well—you may end up doing more harm than good.

The key is to remember that a professional in that particular area has the knowledge to do things efficiently. It could take you twice the time—time you could be billing. See the trend here?

A freelancer taps their pen on their open notepad

4. Writing and Editorial

How much time do you spend drafting emails and reports? How many times have you submitted a report to find out—too late—that you included a number of grammatical and spelling errors? If writing isn’t your specialty—and even if it is—these things can happen frequently. Having a go-to editor can save you countless hours and will go a long way to improve the professional appearance of your work.

A woman does research on her computer

5. Research

I don’t know how many times a day I make a note that starts with “find out how/if…” I work in an industry that is ever changing. So it takes a lot of time to gather and stay on top of the information I need to ensure my processes stay relevant. Collecting those notes in one place for an Internet researcher to find the answers for me saves countless hours and improves the quality of my work.

Does this sounds familiar to you? If you feel like it is time to expand your business even more by building a team of individuals who have skills that are similar or complementary to your own, maybe it is time to start an agency.

What types of freelancers have you hired? Are there any other categories you think that would be useful for freelancers to hire from? Tell us in the comments.

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How to Grow Your Freelance Business From Small Jobs to Bigger, Repeat Projects https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/freelance-business-bigger-repeat-projects/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/freelance-business-bigger-repeat-projects/#respond Tue, 26 Apr 2016 17:39:15 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=37173

Many freelancer-client relationships start with small projects—a chance for both parties to see how they work together. Growing those initial projects into bigger and more valuable relationships is how you can create a more sustainable business. One freelancer shares his top tips to help move toward larger, repeat projects.

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Businesses of all sizes share a fundamental principle: It costs more to acquire new customers than to build on relationships with existing ones. It’s an important concept to hold onto if you want to grow your freelance business with a more stable pipeline of work and reduce the amount of time you spend going after new projects.

Many freelancer-client relationships start with small projects—a chance for both parties to see how they work together. Growing those initial projects into bigger and more valuable relationships is how you can create a more sustainable business.

Freelance mobile developer Richard A., a Top Rated professional on Upwork, says there are strategies to use when reviewing projects or staying in touch with past clients that can help you expand your business and serve your clients better.

Richard started his freelance business with two goals in mind: It was important for him to create a stable freelance business so he could focus his efforts on challenging projects and create the work-life balance he wanted. When he started, Richard knew he needed to focus on gaining positive reviews and expanding his portfolio, two important factors clients use to evaluate freelancers.

“When it comes to moving from small jobs to longer-term projects, it comes down to drive and discipline—you need to have both every day for every client because each one is trusting you. The success of your work together will help you get the best reviews and expand your portfolio with quality projects, paving the way for you to build the business you want,” said Richard.

Read Between The Lines

When reviewing job details, everything a client shares—from the description to the deadlines and budget—can help you identify whether they might be a good client to work with and whether they may be looking for more support in the future.

“I keep my process very simple for reviewing and evaluating new clients and work,” said Richard. “I go after jobs that have clear and detailed job descriptions with realistic deadlines and budgets. The more research the client has done and the better he or she understands what they need, the more likely they are to understand the true value a freelancer can bring to the job.”

Research Clients’ History

Just as clients will look at a freelancer’s portfolio and past client feedback, on Upwork you can review a client’s previous projects and feedback. You can also get a sense of whether they’ve had other repeat relationships, as well as their typical budget.

“When I initially considered submitting a bid for a job with one of my [now] long-term clients, I saw from my research that they had long-term relationships with other freelancers,” said Richard. “This was a main reason I went after their project over similar projects.”

Trust Your Instincts

Every project you win and work on helps build your business, regardless of size or budget. Each has potential for continued work with that particular client, referrals to new clients, or positive feedback that can help you win future projects.

That said, the same is true if a project does not go well: It may hinder your chances of winning your next project. Richard feels if you aren’t excited about a project, or are hesitant for some reason, you should trust your gut.

“It may be hard to decide not to go after a job, especially in the beginning, but consider that you are working on more than each individual job—you are building your business for the long-term,” he said. “Focusing on projects that excite you will help you earn positive reviews and expand your portfolio, and that will show your value best to the market.”

Deliver, Deliver, Deliver

Consistently delivering on your work is crucial to keeping any job or client. Never underestimate how valuable it is to give every client you agree to work with your best.

When Richard landed his first project with a now long-term client, he gave it all his energy every minute with the hope that it could lead to something more. His hard work, skills, and service paid off—he has been working with this client on different projects for nearly a year.

Offer Your Expertise

Once you have established a positive relationship with a client, look for ways to help them even after your project is completed.

Since Richard is an app developer, iOS updates are an ongoing consideration for his clients. “I make sure to follow up with past clients to make sure they are aware of upcoming changes, offer my insight on what they may need to do, and suggest how I may help,” shared Richard. “This shows that I care about their business and am an expert they can rely on into the future.”

Within six months of joining Upwork, Richard had established himself with positive reviews, a strong portfolio, and a stable set of clients—including long-term and repeat clients. Now with over more than years of success, Richard consistently follows these strategies to find the right clients and jobs that match his values and he is committed to delivering his best every day.

Get more ideas about how to raise your rates or build a successful freelance business through the Upwork blog or in the Hiring Headquarters, including insights from other members of the Upwork community.

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Four Ways to Get the Rate You Want: Tips From a Six-Figure Freelancer https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/get-freelance-rate-you-want/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/get-freelance-rate-you-want/#respond Wed, 20 Apr 2016 19:00:14 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=37109

One freelancer shares his easy-to-follow best practices to help you increase your value to your clients and serve them better—the first essential step that can help enable you to successfully raise your rates.

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Tips From a Six-Figure Freelancer
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Few freelancers start out making a six-figure income and Tim H. is no exception. A marketing strategist and writer who joined Upwork in 2009, he doubled income every year and within three years Tim went from an income of $0 to nearly $100,000 every year—with a gradual increase that ultimately raised his rate more than 1,500 percent from where he started.

Freelancers can make mistakes when deciding what to charge, but there are ways to raise your rates to reflect your value in the marketplace. Start by doing your market research, considering how other successful freelancers position themselves or how similar projects compare budget-wise. Then make a gameplan that will help you reach your target. Then, put it into action as you wow your clients and pave the way to your goals.

Tim’s strategy is to deliver value to his clients every day and his strategy is paying off.

But he’s found that getting the rate you want takes more than doing good work. He’s refined the process he uses to identify the work and clients that are the best match for him: Work that “enables me to make a difference and add value to their mission, is interesting and challenging enough to make me better at what I do, pays well, and leads to great feedback,” he said.

Here are Tim’s easy-to-follow best practices to help you increase your value to your clients and serve them better—the first essential step to help enable you to successfully raise your rates.

1. Understand What Your Clients Want—and Prove It

“Clients care about streamlined processes, less stress, and more bang for their buck,” said Tim. By understanding and delivering on these components autonomously, you can make your clients’ jobs easier and make them look better to their higher-ups, shareholders, and customers.

Think through what the client is asking for and how you will deliver, then document it. For example, if you’re providing copy for an email campaign, consider creating a master document that details key dates and milestones with room to add links to deliverables as they’re created. This can help keep everyone up to date while making important files easier to find and manage.

“Once you understand what your client wants, you prove it to them by executing proactively and independently on the projects so your client sees that you know what you are doing.”

2. Communicate Well and Set Expectations

As the captain of your business success, you’re responsible for ensuring great communication and aligning expectations—two metrics that can determine the success of a client-freelancer relationship.

Tim does both simply and effectively with an infographic he created for his clients that clearly illustrates his process—and even the hours he works.

A diagram of the process freelancer Tim H uses for copywriting projects

“I think a lot of people—clients and freelancers—take good communication as a given, but that’s a dangerous assumption to make because different people have different expectations,” Tim said.

“I created the Process infographic because it’s a very clear way to start a new relationship. Clients know exactly what to expect from me and the quality of my work—and then I deliver again and again autonomously, and my clients keep coming back.”

3. Exceed Expectations

Once you’ve set clear expectations, Tim says you should do what you can to exceed them:

  • Deliver faster than they anticipate,
  • Be a brand ambassador by supporting them on social media and in your networks, and
  • Send them business or free opportunities that could be valuable to them.

When clients find rockstar freelancers, they often want to keep working with them on future projects. They also tend to refer top talent to their own contacts, and may leave a positive review to help you land your next client—further helping you showcase your value in a way that supports a higher rate.

4. Show Your Appreciation

“Saying thank you is a small way to show clients you appreciate their business but—like good communication—it’s a simple act that’s often overlooked,” said Tim. At a minimum, leave a thoughtful review after each job is completed. Consider going a bit further and send a more traditional snail mail thank you; it’s a thoughtful gesture and another way to show your attention to detail.

Tim regularly sends care packages as part of his plan to build long-term client relationships. He personalizes each box with inspirational items including books his clients may find interesting, products from other clients he represents, and even small items that relate to clients’ hobbies or their children.

Tim feels his thank you packages “spur clients in their awesome missions, show my appreciation for their loyalty, and say thank you for investing their lives, talents, and resources in doing work that matters.”

Tim’s extra efforts are part of why clients keep coming back to him and refer him to others. “It’s one thing to do great work, it’s another to build a lasting mutually beneficial relationship. Clients want to feel that you care about their business, and this is one way I have found to show that I not only care about my clients but also want to help inspire and support them and their business.”

Getting the Rate You Want Starts with the Basics

It took three years for Tim to reach the level of income he aspired to. The game changer for your business isn’t just following these tips, it’s doing them consistently and on an ongoing basis.
With nearly half of his business made up of long-term clients, breaking it down to the simplest factors Tim considers “adding value autonomously and consistently showing up as the two main keys to building long-term relationships. If clients can depend you, that adds significant value to your role.”

When and How to Tactfully Increase Your Rates

People find different ways to raise their rates with new and existing clients. Tim generally doesn’t raise his rates unless he has been working with a client for a couple of years.

When he does think it’s time for a rate change, his first step is to communicate with the client. To ease the transition, he typically offers two options: To increase his rate in small increments, or to switch to a fixed-rate price for a period of time.

One thing he suggests is to track the impact your work has (i.e. web traffic, sales, downloads). Then when you speak to them about your rate, you can provide concrete data that shows how you’re helping their business.

Tim’s parting advice: Always be committed to delivering your best work and higher rates will follow. Getting projects from repeat clients is a sign they’re confident about you and your experience. If you consistently deliver value, your clients will grow with you.

“Each freelancer has their own criteria when getting gigs—individual strengths and talents—and their own standard ways to wow their clients,” he said. “Embrace your uniqueness, get the gigs that will maximize your potential, and make the most of them. All the money you need will follow if you focus on adding your value.”

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Tips From a Six-Figure Freelancer
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Perspectives on the Future of Work: April 18 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/future-work-april-18/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/future-work-april-18/#respond Mon, 18 Apr 2016 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=37102

What’s the latest news about the future of work? This week’s roundup highlights how technology is changing companies’ attitudes and approaches toward outsourcing, tips on surviving the first year of entrepreneurship, and which tasks are best suited for delegating to freelancers.

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Upwork’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and working with freelancers, freelancing, and the future of work.

Tech.Co | How to Survive Your First Year of Entrepreneurship

Whether you’re launching a startup or a freelance business, the statistic that Alumnify CEO AJ Agrawal cites at the beginning of his article is an intimidating one: Most entrepreneurs give up within one year.

To increase the odds of your not being among them, he offers the following tips:

  • Have a solid goal beyond “be successful.” “A common mistake is that people have no real idea what they want to accomplish or why they are doing this,” he said. “It leads to them doing something without any meaning or purpose in mind.”
  • Maintain a solid work ethic. Don’t let unexpected or early wins lull you into the belief that you can afford to take it easy.
  • Delegate tasks that don’t play to your strengths.
  • Be open to risk, but assess the pros and cons first.
  • Be prepared to make some sacrifices. “Many entrepreneurs simply can’t stomach the idea of living lean and living with a constant jittery feeling that they are going to fail,” Agrawal noted. “Comfort is not something you are going to experience often in this line of work.”

Inc. | 7 Outsourceable Tasks That Are Stealing Your Productivity

“Stop wasting time on tasks that don’t fuel growth,” wrote Sujan Patel, co-founder of Narrow.io and ContentMarketer.io. The freelance economy enables businesses of all sizes to find professionals with the skills to support them—freeing both time and energy.

Engaging freelance talent can enable you to better focus on key responsibilities, strengths, and strategizing, which will benefit both your business and your mental health. Among the tasks Patel suggests delegating:

  • Scheduling, bookkeeping, and other admin.
  • Research—especially as those experienced in gathering data can compile relevant information much more quickly than you probably can.
  • Graphic design and other presentation preparations (unless graphic design is what you do, of course).
  • Personal errands.
  • Content marketing and social media management. “You never want to slack on your marketing,” Patel wrote, “so the best thing to do is outsource it.”

Does the idea of relinquishing control of even these tasks make you uneasy? “Choose your least favorite task or a big time-suck (like writing) and outsource it on a trial basis to see how it goes,” Patel advises. “Then you can best determine the value of outsourcing on your own.”

What future of work news or trends have caught your attention recently? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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Tips for Successful Web Design in 2016 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/tips-successful-web-design-2016/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/tips-successful-web-design-2016/#respond Thu, 07 Apr 2016 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=37064

When it comes to specialized web design projects, like building a web presence or integrating ecommerce functionality into existing sites, companies look to the experts. Demonstrating current web design skills and a knowledge of what's fresh in the field are great ways to increase your chances of landing new clients.

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In the ever-evolving world of web design, keeping up with the latest trends and tech tips is helpful for any freelancer who wants to stay at the top of their niche. When it comes to specialized projects like building a web presence or integrating ecommerce functionality into existing sites, companies look to the experts.

Demonstrating current web design skills and a knowledge of what’s fresh in the field are great ways to increase your chances of landing new clients.

To catch up on best practices for online content and web design, check out these recent articles from The Hiring Headquarters—Upwork’s resource for entrepreneurs, executives, and freelancers.

Staying in the Loop with Responsive Web Design

The explosion of mobile devices has made responsive design—an approach that lets websites automatically adapt to fit the size of different devices—all but essential for businesses that want to stay competitive. Users expect a smooth browsing experience whether they’re using a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer. Even this relatively new realm is changing, too, which is why it’s worth brushing up on the latest tips for creating an optimized browsing experience.

5 Responsive Design Mistakes to Avoid” takes a fresh look at the state of responsive design, offering tips to help overcome challenges that can pop up when working on adaptive web page layouts. Learn about mistakes to avoid and suggestions to help you create responsive website designs in 2016. Here are three ideas to consider.

1) Test the code early and often. Rather than waiting until the late stages of web development, it’s useful to thoroughly test the code and adjust as you go, especially if you’re working with third-party APIs.

2) Find the sweet spot for negative space. It’s tricky to design perfect layouts for all devices, but finding a balance between design elements and negative space can make for a much more engaging user experience.

3) Balance size and space with images. High-resolution images can take a lot of time to load on mobile, so it’s helpful to put a little extra thought into the file sizes and dimensions of any images to account for the capabilities of different viewing devices and screens.

Maximizing the Traffic Impact of Word Choice

Visual layouts and image selection may be top of mind when designing a website for a client, but the text on the page and choice of headings is equally important. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a powerful tool to attract visitors to a website, and the right word selection can make or break a client’s site traffic. If you’re in a position to create any written content for clients as part of the design process, it makes a lot of sense to know what’s working in the current landscape of SEO.

Your Guide to SEO Best Practices in 2016” covers some of the latest industry-wide trends to factor in if you want to get the most from your SEO efforts. From writing search terms in a more conversational tone to accommodate the rise of voice search to the value of optimizing your business for geotargeted searches, there are a lot of updates in this piece to consider applying to your to own SEO best practices.

You can find even more tips to help boost your SEO and web design chops in the Hiring Headquarters.

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Scaling Your Business With Global Freelance Talent https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/03/scale-with-freelance-talent/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/03/scale-with-freelance-talent/#respond Thu, 31 Mar 2016 13:30:49 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=37008

For many companies, tapping into a pool of global freelance talent unlocks access to the best talent and allows them to grow in a scalable, cost-effective way.

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When it’s time to expand your business in new directions and build on the momentum you’ve created, taking a big-picture approach to talent is a smart alternative to traditional routes. For many companies, tapping into a pool of global freelance talent unlocks access to the best talent and allows them to grow in a scalable, cost-effective way.

Wondering why more businesses are enhancing their on-site teams with virtual talent? These recent articles from The Hiring Headquarters—Upwork’s resource for entrepreneurs, executives, and freelancers—showcases the benefits of working with freelancers on a larger scale and highlight how innovative companies use remote teams to drive growth.

Benefits of Scaling with a Freelance Management System

If you run a small business that needs specialized talent to tackle a unique one-off project, hiring an individual freelancer from a pool of remote candidates can bring the right partner to the table in a fast, efficient way.

But what if you work for a larger company and need to scale rapidly with a team of remote professionals to meet the demands of the project at hand? “How to Create an Effective Talent Pipeline” explores how an enterprise-level Freelance Management System (FMS) can expand your operation on a much broader scale than traditional ways of finding freelancers.

Executives from Instapage and Zendesk share how their companies have found value in this approach. Among the other advantages of using a FMS to scale, here are several top perks they cite.

  • Direct access to a larger talent pool. Flexibility and options are invaluable when you’re eager to leverage the brightest talent for your company. Access to a global pool of freelancers gives you a lot of choice, and it’s easy to contact them directly before you make any decisions.
  • A verified work history for all candidates. When promising candidates float to the top of the pile, getting a look at their previous experience on Upwork takes a few clicks. It’s also easy to see client reviews and specific skillsets.
  • It speeds up the process exponentially. Traditional ways to find great freelancers—like word of mouth—can be sluggish and uncertain, and don’t always connect you with the right people. AFMS can cut down on wait time and give you better access to help you make decisions quickly.

Innovative Ways to Amplify Your Business with a Remote Team

Building a strong network of contingent specialists can provide invaluable support to your company’s permanent staff, but the way you focus your freelance team members can add even more value to the mix. If you’re looking to generate new revenue streams and growth for your company, creatively scaling upward and outward with freelancers can help give you a jump on the competition.

5 Clever Ways Companies Drive Sales and Growth with Virtual Teams” deep dives into case studies of a handful of companies that have found success by leveraging large virtual teams to overcome challenges in their businesses. Each example provides interesting tips and insights you can apply to enhance your own brand’s upward trajectory.

Here’s a quick look at three strategies highlighted in these customer stories.

  • Create new services to upsell to existing customers. When you have a strong customer base that you understand well, it’s possible to engage freelance experts to create entirely new product offerings tailored to meet the needs of your existing users. One company created a new add-on service it cross-marketed to its client base, and it quickly turned into a popular source of additional ongoing revenue.
  • Capitalize on customer trends. Another tech company saw an immediate customer need among its clientele and scaled rapidly to create a solution geared to provide maximum value. Bringing freelancers in to augment an existing team allowed another company to meet its specific customer demands on a tight turnaround at a fraction of the cost and time of creating a new in-house department.
  • Solve your own problems. Rather than leaving it up to the competition, a third innovative company identified a deficiency in its existing services and chose to take fast action by absorbing the expense to create a value-added service to address a problem for specific customers. Bringing in quality freelancers with the right expertise allowed them to solve a customer problem they couldn’t otherwise have easily tackled.

Looking for more insights into scaling your business with top freelance talent? You’ll find many more articles over at the Hiring Headquarters.

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Announcing New Features for Upwork Agencies and Top Rated Agency Members https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/03/agency-update/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/03/agency-update/#respond Mon, 28 Mar 2016 17:00:58 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=36570

We’re rolling out new features for agencies on Upwork that will help agencies manage their teams more effectively, maintain a consistent and fast response rate, and determine what rates will be displayed on the agency’s profile.

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We’re rolling out new features for agencies on Upwork that will help agencies manage their teams more effectively, maintain a consistent and fast response rate, and determine what rates will be displayed on the agency’s profile. We’re also adding new badges for exclusive members of Top Rated agencies.

My Stats for Agencies

With this first version of My Stats, agency owners can see the following information for each exclusive agency member:

  • 12-month earnings
  • Feedback score
  • Percent of clients who would recommend them
  • Percent of long-term clients
  • Recent account holds
  • How responsive they are to invitations
  • Number of profile views

Over the next few months, we’ll add more features to help you better manage your team and understand how your agency is performing on Upwork. To access your My Stats page, go to your Agency view > My Stats.

Agency Profile Rates

We’re making changes to how rates are set on your agency profile. Previously, your agency profile rate was based on your agency’s historical earnings. Now, the default rate will show a range of rates, drawing on the rates set on agency members’ profiles. Agency members with Admin privileges can also change the rate that’s displayed on your agency profile—and shown in search—through the Agency view under Settings > Company Settings > Company Info.

My Proposals for Agencies

We’re launching a new Proposals page that combines all invitations, interviews, proposals, and offers in one place. This change, which will begin rolling out to users over the next few weeks, allows business managers to organize and manage their work more easily. To access this page, go to your Agency view > Proposals.

Badges for Top Rated Agencies’ New Exclusive Team Members

Finally, exclusive agency team members who are either new to a Top Rated agency or do not have enough work to show the agency Job Success Score or Top Rated badge, now have the Rising Talent badge on their profiles.

We’re excited to introduce these changes to help agencies enjoy more success on Upwork. As always, please continue to share your feedback and help us improve your Upwork experience.

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