Number Crunching at Elance

Alright class, take a look at the overhead above. This little chart is self explanatory. But if you have any questions, please raise your hands.

I started compiling my data set on 2/12/08, and have been at it only 8 days. And what do we have? Writers increasing, jobs deceasing. The ratio of writers to jobs is therefore increasing.

What is going on? I vaguely remember that there used to be around 4000 writers vying after 350-400 jobs in December.

Now, is this a product of the American economy taking a downturn?

Is this a product of MFA programs shooting up all over the country like wild writer weeds?

I really don’t know. But, because I am forever trying to figure things out, I thought it would be interesting to gather some data and put forth my hypothesis.

I haven’t come up with a hypothesis yet, because I don’t have enough data. I have decided to gather data for a year and see what happens, because I can’t surmise too much from a week’s worth of data. You can look forward to future reports. I may add more variables to my data set.

So what are you ideas? Let me know, and maybe I can incorporate them into my research.

Oh, and incidentally, Blogger does not support any type of cut and paste activities like charts, tables, or graphs. I had to enter the data in Excel, print it, scan it (turning it into a jpeg file), then give it to you.

Somebody really needs to get busy and fix that.

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5 thoughts on “Number Crunching at Elance”

  1. Hi Ellen – If you’re a number cruncher and looking for more data on remote work, check out oDesk’s oConomy ( Let us know if there is additional data you’d like to see as we’re going to be adding more information over time. For reference, the data reflects the nearly $24 million worth of activity in oDesk’s staffing marketplace.

    You might also be interested in oDesk’s free ScreenSnap tool. It solves the problem you had getting your excel data onto your blog. You can take a picture of your desktop, manipulate it as you wish (crop, draw, pixelate, etc) and save it to your oDesk team room or to your desktop as a .png – check out this example:


    Brian Goler

  2. Another analysis I would like someone to perform is the percentage of these jobs that actually get awarded. That’s because more than half that I bid on never are. Even more telling would be the price the ones that are awarded go for because I’m noticing a very disturbing trend in that regard as well.

  3. About half of the jobs I bid on actually get awarded. Unfortunately, I am not privy to all of that data on awarded versus unawarded jobs, but it would make interesting research. It probably is close to a 50:50 ratio. I have also noticed that cheap SEO and blogger jobs are increasing. I could do an analysis on job categories in the writer’s section, but the categories often merge. It depends on how a buyer labels a job.

  4. Actually Ellen, although it would be an unwieldy task, you can access all of Elance’s closed projects to see if they’ve been awarded. When you do a search, there is a drop-down menu where you can filter out “Closed” projects. Of course, then you have to click through them one by one, but it is possible.

  5. Hmmm. Yes, maybe I will do that. That would take a great deal of time though. Maybe instead of of doing a year’s worth of research on closed project award ratios, I can pepper this data in reports throughout the year. It really is interesting.

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