Elance Unveils New Policy on Add-On Connects
Elance recently announced an upcoming change to its Add-On Connects policy. Beginning February 24, 2011, the maximum number of Connects that members can add to their monthly plan will be determined by their Elance Level. The maximum number of a member's Connects will be the sum of base membership Connect allocation (25 for Individuals, 40 for Small Businesses, and 60 for Large business) multiplied by their Level.
For example, if a provider has a Small Business membership with 40 base Connects and is at Level 5, they can purchase a maximum of 200 base connects each month.
In the past, paid members could purchase an unlimited number of Add-On Connects, whatever their level. Elance says the new policy rewards providers for satisfying their clients and building long-term relationships with access to more clients, jobs and earnings. It is also designed to encourage the development of stronger proposals, and improve the environment for start-up freelancers.
(Here's a more complete description of the change and its rationale)
WhichLance decided this change raised some questions, and asked Elance's VP of Marketing, Ellen Pack for answers.
We first asked what effect these changes would have on start-up freelancers. Our initial reading suggested it could make their lives more difficult.
“Actually,” Ms. Pack told us, “the effect of the changes should make the environment better for start-up freelancers. The two primary drivers for the update are:
1) broader distribution of opportunities to more quality providers, and
2) improved targeting and quality of proposals.
“Previously, any provider able to afford Connects could spam the marketplace with proposals, overwhelming higher quality proposals from newer or veteran providers. A very small minority of providers ever exceeded our established Connect limits. But those who did went over the limits regularly and substantially.
“We expect the majority of providers to see more opportunities and higher quality proposals, improving everyone's fill rate.”
Next we asked about what would happen when providers use credits on a job which is then canceled, or expires without being awarded. Will they get their credits refunded? Or is losing those credits a risk they just have to take?
Ms. Pack said that Connects are used when a proposal is submitted, similar to the situation when we advertise our service to highly targeted leads.
“It's also like when we buy a click through Google adwords. There is no guarantee that our ad will convert the lead in to a client. But we will return all Connects if a job posting
is canceled prior to award.”