Elance Hot 100: Good News for Designers


Elance LogoI got an exclusive sneak peek at the July edition of the Elance Online Work Index (a kind of Elance “Hot 100”), which will be published tomorrow. The index, which uses data from over 100,000 jobs posted on the site, is a monthly look at which job categories are the most popular in the freelance job marketplace.

PHP still holds the No. 1 spot (as it has since February), but what’s more interesting are the “movers and shakers” this month. In particular, jobs in the “Graphic Design” and “Adobe Flash” (s adbe) categories have leaped up the index this month to end up in second and third places overall (up ten and six spots from last month, respectively) — this is good news for designers. Another big mover is jobs in the “Joomla!” category (breaking into the top 10 by rising 10 places to eighth), suggesting that there’s increasing demand for people skilled in the open-source CMS.

It’s more of a mixed bag for writers: While “Copywriting” (up 11 places to 23rd), “Editing” (up 16 spots to 48th)  and “Proofreading” (up 15 spots to 44th) are all winners, “Article Writing” (down five places to 7th) and “Online Writing” (down 12 places to 29th) are dropping down the index.

While some of these categories sound too similar to take this index all that seriously (how different is “Online Writing” from “Web Content,” really?) and you should remember that this is taking into account only jobs posted on one site, it’s still worth noting as a snapshot of the current freelance marketplace.

Here’s the Elance Online Work Index Top 10 for July.

  1. PHP (–)
  2. Graphic Design (+10)
  3. Adobe Flash (+6)
  4. MySQL (-1)
  5. HTML (-1)
  6. Web Content (+1)
  7. Article Writing (-5)
  8. Joomla! (+10)
  9. CSS (-4)
  10. WordPress (-2)

(Disclaimer: WordPress is produced by Automattic, a company that is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True Partners.)

Designers: Are you noticing an increase in demand for your skills recently?


Elle Phillips

Oddly enough, I have seen an increase in companies contacting me for Freelance work just in the last month (the summer has been very slow, though). I think the reason for this is likely due to so many companies laying off their marketing departments to cut costs… then finding themselves wanting when they need advertising done. So, they turn to freelance designers.

I signed up with Elance 3 or 4 months ago and find it impossible to win a bid with so many foreign competitors. But, for those companies who HAVE contacted me recently, they very specifically don’t want “cheap” – they want someone who they can easily communicate with for repeated work. So, as a Graphic Designer, I can see why demand is higher for us. Unfortunately the demand for American (versus foreign) PHP/MySQL programmers is probably lower because they’re a one-time deal that doesn’t often get repeat business, so employers want the fastest, cheapest work possible, which in turn puts some very talented developers out of business. It’s a shame. I am always on the lookout for good web developers for my own clients… and I prefer to buy American. :)

Izhar ul Haq

Mark You are right the competition is getting harder and harder, I am focusing on Niches as well.


I am writing an Ebook, how to start making money at Elance in just 25 days. Going to Launch for Newbies in next month hopefully.


Sekhar Ravinutala

As follow-up/corollary to Mark’s great point, IMO dropping in demand for written content like articles might mean outsourcing of that isn’t quite working – e.g., for language reasons. I.e., that’s probably not getting commoditized like graphic design and simpler coding areas, to which entry barriers are pretty low.

Ariana J

For people who are willing to work for little money, and be slave labor it might be a great site but if you are a professional you should stay away from this site.

The clients at Elance are the worst people to work for, they expect you to underbid your peers and then they become “marketing experts” who think paying chump change allows them to become pure AS#H*LES. Sure if you are just getting started or are willing to dig your dignity out of the SH#T they shovel out then yes Elance will work for you. BUT WARNING WARNING… learn the lesson NEVER WORK FOR AN AS#H*LE. Fire them if you are putting in too much effort for too little payment.

Jake Rocheleau

I can see how too much competition can be a bad thing, especially with all of this work outsourced to larger companies in India working for $3.50/hr


Mark Dixon makes a great point – focus on niches always nets big benefits. Mark and I won’t say what niches we work in, but it’s a great way forward!

Mark Dixon

It seems to me the factor is not the level of demand but the lower priced competition from overseas. The fact that PHP and its frequent companion MySQL are in high demand on online job boards actually makes it harder for freelancers like myself to make a living from those skills. Whatever skill set is the hot ticket on online job boards gets bid down quickly by bright, ambitious young people from developing nations where the cost of living is low, to the point where freelancers from North America can no longer make their apartment rent and car payment on what skills like PHP and MySQL pay. I’m considering a new strategy of focusing on niche technologies that haven’t yet exploded onto the global radar screen. Am I missing something?


interesting data – I have had more requests for graphic design projects and video production in the past month

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