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Freelancer Guide









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To sign up on Elance and create your profile:

  1. Click the blue Register Now (it’s free) button near the center of the Elance Home Page.
  2. Select I want to Work and click Continue OR sign up with your LinkedIn or Facebook details.
  3. Complete the registration fields by manually entering your information OR by choosing to use your LinkedIn or Facebook details. Click Register.
  4. Fill in your skills or areas of expertise. If you get stuck, click the Browse All Skills link to see a full list of available skills. When done, click I'm FinishedYou may choose to Skip entering skills at this point; however, if you choose to Skip the Skills field must be blank.
  5. Before proceeding, check your registered email address and click on the link sent by Elance.
  6. After clicking the link from your email, it is now time to choose your Membership Plan. Remember your email must be verified before selecting a Membership!

Congratulations, you have now joined the leader in online work!   Next, you will want to setup and customize your online profile. To finish customizing your profile please follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Find Work button in the top navigation bar of Elance and click on Freelancer Profile
  2. Click the green Get Started button to begin on your profile.  
  3. On the next page you will upload your thumbnail photo, create a tagline, enter in a minimum hourly rate, create a Freelancer overview and enter in your skills.

Please see examples of acceptable thumbnail photos here, and if you need additional help check out our video on building your profile


Here is what your completed profile will look like:




  Complete all areas of your profile to provide potential Clients with as much information as possible. Include information such as your minimum hourly rate, employment history, number of employees, year your company was founded, payment terms, detailed service description, your credentials such as certifications, references, licenses and education, and skills (More Info).

To upload a profile thumbnail image: 

  1. Go to your Profile by hovering over Find Work and clicking Freelancer Profile.

  2. Click the Edit button located at the top left of your Profile underneath the image panel. A dialog box to upload your new image will appear.

  3. Click on Choose File and select an image to upload.

  4. Once your image is selected, a preview showing your Profile photo and your thumbnail will appear.

  5. If you’d like to adjust the cropping of your thumbnail image, simply click the Edit link underneath the thumbnail image.

  6. On the Edit Thumbnail page, you can click-and-drag the region that you would like to appear in your thumbnail. Click Save when finished.

  7. Once complete, simply click Set as my Profile Picture to finish.

  Only .jpeg, .gif, .tif, .bmp or .PNG image files uploaded to the main portfolio directory will display on the Profile overview page. Images in folders will not show on the Profile overview. All other types of files will only be viewable by clicking on Portfolio from the left navigation.

Freelancers with a business membership can choose a logo for their thumbnail image.  Freelancers with individual accounts must choose a portrait image of themselves.  What is considered an acceptable portrait?  Your portrait must be a verifiable likeness of you and follow these guidelines:

  • Must be a portrait image of you with a clear image of your face.
  • Images must be appropriate for a professional, global community.
  • Do not use artwork that isn't a likeness of you. Logos, badges, clip-art, landscapes, etc. are not acceptable.
  • An avatar drawing that is of reasonable likeness to you is acceptable.
  • Do not use a group picture. You must be the only person in your portrait
  • Thumbnail images are encouraged but not required.

Hint:  Check out our example of acceptable thumbnail photos. 

If you would like to be represented by a logo image, you must upgrade your account to a business membership.

NOTE:  If you do not have access to your Freelancer Profile, please see your company account administrator.

Elance recommends that you upload samples of your work to the Portfolio section of your Freelancer Profile.

 A comprehensive portfolio is especially important for service categories such as Design & Multimedia and Writing & Translation.

For details on how to edit your portfolio, watch our Portfolio tutorial video

Note: The "New Freelancer" icon is associated with a Freelancer for their first 90 days on Elance.  This icon helps clientss understand why the Freelancer does not yet have the feedback and track-record that long-time Freelancers have built on Elance.


Referring Your Profile to Friends or Potential Clients

After you have completed your profile, you can refer it to selected friends and potential clients.

To refer your profile:

1. From the left column on your profile overview page, locate the sharing icons. 

2. You can then select which method you would like to use to share.




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After you have created your Freelancer profile you can start submitting proposals for jobs.  You can find and evaluate jobs by browsing the Elance site or by reviewing recommended jobs and invitations from potential clients on the My Opportunities page.

To browse jobs:

1. Go to Find Work on the top navigation bar and choose Search Jobs.

2. You can browse jobs by a number of criteria:

  • Category
  • Job type (Fixed or Hourly)
  • Time left, When the Job was posted, budget
  • Posting type (Featured or Payment Verified)

3. Click the Down Arrow link or click on the job title to view the job description.

4. For additional information about a Client, mouseover the Client's username.


In addition to actively browsing Elance for jobs, you can also can create saved searches for jobs in your categories of interest and receive daily email notifications.  For more information, please click here

You can use the Elance RSS feature to receive daily feeds on jobs based on your specified tags or keywords.

To receive an RSS feed:

1. Go to Find Work on the top navigation bar and choose Search Jobs.

2. Enter in your desired tags or keywords in the blank field, then click the search icon.

3. On the search results page, click on the RSS icon  located at the top of the page and, when prompted, click on the Subscribe Now button.



Clients may also invite you to submit proposals on their jobs. When this happens, the following will occur:

  • You will receive an email notification that you have been invited to submit a proposal.
  • The job will appear in your 'Invited' list on the My Opportunities page.


To review and submit a proposal on a job to which you are invited:

1. Go to the My Opportunities page and click on a job for more detail. Click "Apply" if you wish to submit a proposal.


1. Go to Find Work in the top navigation bar and choose Proposal Requests in the drop-down. 

2. Click the job name to view the description and any attachments related to the job.

When you find a job that interests you, Elance recommends that you review the Client’s Elance job history. To review the Client's Elance history click Client Info from the job details page. You'll be taken to the Client's profile page where you can review their job history and feedback. Review the number of Elance jobs posted by the Client and the number of times they hired a Freelancer. 

For a Client to use Elance’s Billing and Payment system to pay you, they must first activate their Elance account. You will know if an client has done this step if the Payment Verified icon is green payment_verified.pngbelow their username. 

Note: Phone numbers and email addresses entered into a job description will show as [Obscured] for all users. Webpages/URLs are now viewable in job descriptions for all users who are signed in to their Elance account. 

 Be wary of Clients who consistently leave negative feedback for many Freelancers, as their expectations may be unrealistic.


After you have reviewed the job, you are ready to submit a proposal:


To submit a proposal:

1. Click on the job name.

2.  You will see a job details section on the top left of the page that quickly covers basics about the job, like when it was posted, how much time is left, where the client is located, start date, budget, job type (fixed or hourly) and more.  This gives you a quick overview of the job.


3.  Below the job details section is the job description.  Here you will also see some quick stats about the Client with the Client activity icon.  The green circles are a quick representation of how much the Client has spent on Elance as well as payment readiness status.   After evaluating the job and skills required you can submit a proposal.


4. Enter your detailed proposal description into the box on the right hand side, including any attachments. You can expand the form to make it easier to write, view and submit your proposal. In the Proposal Description area, you can enter up to 4000 characters, and there are several rich text formatting options for you to use to make your proposal stand out even more.  In your proposal description, describe your relevant experience, qualifications, and what value you will bring to the job. 

NOTE:  Pasting in rich text documents from Microsoft Word or other word processing programs may cause errors along with adding in your own HTML to the form.  If pasting from another document text only use a plain text editor to create the text.  If you have additional problems with pasting a description, click Remove Formatting and then paste the text.


5.  Below the Description you can set the proposed Terms & Milestones for the job.  If the client awards the job to you they will have the option to accept these Terms or to propose changes to the Terms.  Once awarded you will have to confirm the Terms & Milestones to finalize the job and enter Working status.


6.  On the bottom half of the proposal submission area is the Cost & Timing section.  In this section you will indicate your cost and the estimated delivery date.  There is a calculator here that will help you determine your best proposal value for both Hourly and Fixed Price jobs. 


7. If you need clarification on the job details before completing your proposal, you may submit a bid without a price by selecting the Will Submit Amount Later.  When selecting this option you will have to update your proposal with an amount at a later time in order to have the job awarded to you.

8. If you would like a Sponsored Placement for your proposal, check the box labeled Place mine at the top of the list for... . Your proposal will be highlighted and appear at the top of the Client's proposal list. Only 3 sponsored placements are available per job (on a first-come, first-served basis), and Sponsored Placement requires 4 Connects. 


9. Click Preview to proceed.

10. Review your proposal, then click Submit Proposal.

Once you submit your proposal, you can view the job on your My Jobs page, by filtering on the status 'Hiring Open' on the Job Status bar.  This link will shows all the jobs for which you have submitted proposals, where the bidding period is still open. 

Note: Go to Settings in the upper right corner of the Elance home page.  Click W9 Information on the left panel and complete the necessary information before submitting proposals.  

After you submit your proposal, the Client may contact you via the Workroom Private Message Board to discuss the job in more detail. When this happens, you will receive an email notification.

To respond to the client's message, follow step 1 or steps 2-4.

1. Reply to the email notification you received from Elance by following the instructions within the email.  Your response will be posted directly to the Private Message Board.

2. Log into your account, click My Elance in the top navigation bar. 

3. Click the message icon (i.e. the envelope) under the job name. 

4. In the message dialog box, enter your reply, add any necessary attachments, and click Post Message.



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If the Client selects your proposal and hires you for the job, the following will occur:

  • You will receive an email notification informing you that you have been selected.
  • The job can be found on your My Jobs page, by clicking on 'Finalizing Terms' link in the Job Status bar.  This view will display all jobs that have been awarded to you, indicating you and the Client are negotiating the Terms.
  • Your contact information on your profile becomes available to theClient.
  • The job’s status will change to Finalizing Terms.

You must then accept the job selection on Elance before the job can begin.


To accept the job:

1. Click My Elance in the top navigation bar. 

2. Click Review Terms button under the job name. 

Until terms are accepted by both you and the Client, the job is not be considered active.  The Client may have submitted an initial set of terms with the award, which you may choose to accept or modify these terms or decline the job.  If you accept the Terms presented, the job will start immediately.   If you change any Milestones in the appropriate fields and/or upload your job agreement contract document on the Terms page, these modification will be submitted to the Client for their review.  Your Client will review and either accept, modify or decline your business terms.  Until the the business terms are accepted, the job will not be fully awarded, and the job is not considered started. 

3.  If you would like to upload a contract agreement specifying the requirements and deliverables or edit the job milestones, click the Attach Files button.

  • To upload an Agreement, click Upload to find the file on your computer and upload it.

4. Review the job and proposal details on the Accept Terms page. If you accept the terms as outlined on this page, select the Accept radio button and click Submit. Upon accepting the terms, they become active immediately and no further approval is required from the Client.

 Both you and the Client can modify the Terms to reflect a job fee less than the original proposal amount.


When you submit your business terms, the Client will be notified by email and will either modify them, decline with comments or accept them as submitted. You can communicate via the Workroom Messages to discuss the changes. If the client modifies the Terms, you will be notified by email and can either accept the Client's changes, make further modifications or decline the job.


 You or the Client can initiate modifying the Terms after the job is has been started. When this happens, you will be notified by email and can either accept the Client's changes or make further modifications. If you make changes, the Client will be notified by email and will either accept the changes or modify them.   When the updated Terms are accepted by both parties, if a milestone amount is changed or a Milestone is deleted, the system automatically refunds the appropriate milestone amount currently held in Escrow back to the Client's original form of payment. If the milestone is deleted, the entire amount will be refunded to the Client.  If the Milestone amount is changed, the difference between the new and original Terms will be refunded to the client.

 Once both parties accept the Terms, the following will occur:

  • The Client will be notified that you accepted the job.
  • The job will be fully awarded to you.  You can view on your My Jobs page, by clicking My Elance from any page within your account. 


Once you have accepted the job, you can contact the Client directly to discuss the job before beginning work.  You can communicate in the following ways:

  • Via Elance, through the Workroom Messages (required in order to keep a written record of communication).
  • Directly via email, phone, Skype, etc. (always transcribe key elements of the discussion to the Workroom to maintain a record)

 Elance recommends that you request full contact information upon acceptance.


When working with an Client, it is important to document the job progression using Status Reports.  With Status Reports, you can send weekly updates to your client with the overall status of the job, including tasks performed, hours worked, journal entries, attachments and plans for the upcoming week. 

When posting a job, Clients have the option to state if weekly Status Reports are required for their job, but you can always still send one as a best practice and help manage the client's expectations.

To submit a Status Report:

1. Go to the Manage tab from the top navigation and then click Status Reports link on the drop-down.

2. Click the Create link to the far right for the particular job you want to create a weekly Status Report. 

3. Click the Create link for a particular job for which you want to create a Status Report.

4. After you complete your Status Report, you can either click Submit or Save Draft. 

When Milestones are marked as 100% complete and the “Add to Billing” box is checked, the amount of the Milestone will be added to the billing section at the bottom of the Status Report. 

Note: When a Status Report is required, you have until Sunday night at 11:59 PM ET of the following reporting week before your Status Report is considered overdue.


When you have completed a job, you may upload your files or work product to the Workroom.

1. Click My Elance in the top navigation bar.

2. Click on the job name and on the left hand side click the Files link.

3. Choose the Folder to upload your File to (Shared is visible to all parties, Private is only visible to you)

4.  Click Upload New File.

5. Click the Browse button to locate the files you want to upload.

6. Click the Upload File button to save your file. 



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At key Milestones or when you have completed the job, you will need to invoice the Client through Elance’s Billing and Payment system to receive payment for non-Escrow jobs. Once the Client receives your invoice, they will send payment via Elance’s Billing and Payment system. Learn how you can qualify for Work ViewTM Payment Protection using Tracker with Work View™.

To invoice the Client:

1. Go to the Manage tab in the top navigation and click Billing in the drop-down menu.

2.  Click Send Invoice from the menu on the left. 

2. Select the job for which you want to send an invoice and click Next to proceed.

3. Click Request Release to request the release of funds for your completed Milestone. 

 If you require your invoices to include the Client's address, please advise your Client to specify an address before creating the invoice. You can do this by sending your client a Private Message.  To add your own address details for all invoices:

  • Click on your username at the top of the Elance website and choose Settings in the drop-down.
  • Click Billing & Payments on the left panel 
  • Click Invoice & Tax and enter in your details.


For Fixed Price jobs, set up your job with Escrow and follow the steps to qualify for Elance Escrow Payment Protection. To request payment on an Escrow job, you need to: 

  • Request funding for each of the job milestone(s)
  • Request the release of funds for each of the job milestone(s)

To request funding for subsequent Escrow milestones:

1. Go to the Manage tab on the top navigation bar and choose the Billing option in the drop down menu. 

2. Select Send Invoice from the left panel. 

2. Click the radio button next to the job you want to request funding and then click Next.    

3.On the Billing page, you will see a list of milestones, contract amounts and the funding and release status of each milestone under the Fund and Release tab. Click the Request Fund button under the Fund Escrow column.

4.Review the information on the Enter Funding Request Details page. Click Continue to preview your funding request. When you are satisfied, click Submit, or click the Back button to make changes. The client will receive an email notification requesting the funding of the specified milestone. When the Client funds the milestone, the Funding Status column will change to reflect the date it was funded.

5. After the Client has funded a Milestone, you can request release of that Milestone amount once you have completed the work.  On the Billing page, click on the Request Release button. The current week's Status Report will be shown and the chosen Milestone will automatically be marked as 100% complete and added to the Billing section. Enter any comments for the Client if desired. 

6. Click the green Submit button. 

7. If the Client does not respond to your release request, contact them through the Private Messages.  If they do not respond to the Private Message, click on the Refund, Cancel or Dispute link at the top right side of the Terms page.


Once the Client submits payment, you will receive an email notification. 

1. You may confirm the payment by going to the individual job's Billing page to review the payment details.

2. To confirm your overall account balance:

  • From the Manage tab on the top navigation, click the Transactions in the top navigation to view your past transactions and overall account balance.

NOTE:  If you do not have access to your Account Details, please see your company account administrator.


You can withdraw funds from your Elance Account at any time. Note: You will be required to verify your phone number before you are able to withdraw funds from your Elance account. Additionally, US persons  may need to complete your W9 information before you can withdraw funds.

To ensure that your information is accurate and up-to-date, we use telephone number verification. To verify your telephone numbers, please log into your account and follow the steps below:

  • Click on Settings link in the upper right corner of the Elance
  • Click the My User Info link on the left panel.
  • Next to your telephone #, click the Verify link.  You will see a Phone Verification pop-up box. If your phone number is correct, please click Continue.  If not, please click the Edit Phone Number link.
  • Now, you will receive an automated phone call from Elance.  You will be prompted to hit # key on your keypad to acknowledge you were expecting the phone call.  Then, you will be asked to speak the confirmation code displayed on your computer screen.
  • Once you have said the code successfully, you should receive a message that your phone number has been verified.

Note:  This number will not be shared with third parties without your explicit consent and will only be used by Elance for the following purposes:

  • To contact you for questions or issues related to a job on Elance
  • For any Customer Support matters related to your account
  • For occasional input on the Elance platform and initiatives


There are several options for withdrawing funds:

  • If you are in the United States, you can withdraw by Automated Clearing House (ACH) bank transfer or PayPal. More Info
  • If you are in Canada, you can withdraw via wire transfer, the Elance Payoneer Prepaid MasterCard or PayPal. More Info
  • If you are outside the United States and Canada, you can withdraw by wire transfer, the Elance Payoneer Prepaid MasterCard, Skrill or PayPal. More Info

 Please carefully review the instructions for withdrawing funds by clicking on the appropriate More Info links above.

To withdraw funds:

1. Go to the Manage tab on the top navigation and choose the Withdraw button.

2. Select your withdrawal method from the drop-down.  

3. Enter the amount and click Withdraw

4. On the next page, enter your Elance account password and click Submit

 NOTE:  If you do not have access to your Account Details, please see your company account administrator.


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All Elance Freelancers have monthly memberships.  With each membership plan comes a a set of Connects to use for submitting proposals.   At the start of each billing cycle, your monthly allotment of Connects with your plan is reset. Connects will rollover as part of our Individual, Small Company, and Large Company Memberships. The maximum number of Connects that you can carry over to the next month is limited to the number of Connects that are given to you in your monthly membership  


To view your current membership details, click on the Membership link in the upper right corner of any Elance page.


 To upgrade your current membership:

  1. Click the Membership link in the upper right corner of any Elance page. 
  2. Click the Edit Membership Plan button on the right. 
  3. Update your plan details.  (The monthly cost will update at the bottom of the page) 
  4. Click Continue.
  5. If appropriate, select if you wish to have the changes take effect immediately or at the next billing period.  
  6. Select your payment method and authorize the payment.


If you have a paid membership, you can purchase additional Connects to add to your monthly subscription or for the current month only. 

To add Connects to your current membership plan:

  1. Click on your username at the top of the Elance website and choose Membership from the drop-down menu.
  2. Click the Add Connects link on the left panel.
  3. Select how many Connects to purchase. 
  4. If you are purchasing for the current month only, uncheck the 'Add these Connects to my monthly membership plan' box. 
  5. Click Continue
  6. Select your payment method and authorize the payment.

NOTE:  If you do not have access to your Membership Status, please see your company account administrator.



If you have multiple users at your company that need to access Elance as one group, you can sign up for a Team account.   A Team account is available to those Freelancers with a Small or Large Company membership.  The original person who signed up with Elance is the Account Owner.  Any additional Team members are assigned the role of an Administrator, Account Manager and Staff. 

  • The Owner has complete control of the account and cannot be deleted. 
  • An Administrator also has the same access as the Owner, except their accounts can be deleted.  
  • The Account Manager role is designed for Team members who need access to jobs, but not to Team administration or payment details such as credit card information and withdrawing funds.
  • Staff works with the project leaders to submit the job deliverables to the Client.  This role can only access the job Workroom, shared Files, Private Messages, Tracker and submit time via the Status Reports.

To create a Team account, you must first update your membership to a Small or Large Company. 

To administer your Team account:

1. Go to the Manage tab on the top navigation and choose My Team from the drop-down menu.

2. To add users, click the Create New User link.

3. To edit or delete users, click the Edit or Delete links as needed.

Each Team member you add can also be assigned to be a Team Leader.   For each job you are hired, a Team Leader is assigned to that job.   By default, the Team Leader will be the person who had submitted the proposal.

The Team Leader is the point person for the Client on the job and will receive all the notifications about the job, including notifications for the Business Terms, Status Reports, payments made and Private Messages.



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Elance supports the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 8.0 or higher
  • Firefox 9.0 or higher
  • Mac Safari 5.0 or higher
  • Chrome 17.0 or higher

We also recommend that you have latest version of Adobe Flash installed.

Other things to do if you find issues:

  • Ensure that Javascript is enabled in your browser
  • Clear your browser cache and restart your browser

 If you have checked the above settings and are still having difficulty viewing any Elance pages, please click on the 'Contact Us' link above.  Send us your browser type and version, PC or Mac, and the links or screens you were trying to access.


Additional information about using Elance may be obtained in the following ways:

  • Elance Help - You may also click the Help link on the top right of any of our web pages to see our online help topics.  You can read the top questions, browse the top questions, browse the help topics or enter a keyword or phrase in the Search field. 

  • Elance FAQ's -  Read the most Frequently Asked Questions to find a resolution to your issue.  
  • Elance Customer Service - Click the Contact us link on the top right of any of our web pages to send an email to Elance support.

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