You’ve heard the oft-quoted saying “there’s an app for that”, right? Well, it’s equally true that there’s a freelancer for virtually everything, too. And finding them is fast, easy, and convenient.
Many businesses are turning to outsourcing and using freelancers to save time (delegating many tasks and responsibilities), money (freelancers are much cheaper than a full or even part-time employee), and headaches (finding a reliable and talented freelancer can make your work day so much smoother).
While you could likely find a freelancer for anything, most businesses use them for writing and editing, graphic and website design, social media management, coding and programming, marketing, and virtual assistants.
Finding a good freelancer is like finding a good employee. Luckily, there are a number of websites that put businesses in touch with freelancers - in a very, very wide range of specialties - that are looking for work. Using one of these sites is the safest bet when you first embark on the freelancers path. They’re well known, and safe.
Sure you could post a want ad on Craigslist or in your local newspaper, but then you’re on your own. Consider these websites first and foremost:
The Big Four
There are many websites that connect freelancers and employers, but these four represent the biggest and most reputable. While they differ slightly in execution, as the job poster, you’re going to set up an employer account. This is typically free (or at least has a free tier to its membership program), although you could opt to feature or promote a job, or subscribe to a monthly membership which usually offers lower fees and added benefits. Just check out the available options to see what works best for you.
Once your account is active, you can post a job, describing the details, deadline, required skills, and often including the budget and whether it is a fixed project fee, or hourly rate. You will then start receiving bids or applications from freelancers, and as you would when hiring an employee, you need to sort through them. Look at their skills, education, experience, and cost (if applicable). The great thing about using a freelance website is that you get access to instant reviews, ratings, testimonials, and portfolios, too. Make your selection, get connected, and set up paymen. Each site handles payment on your behalf, and will act as mediator for all disputes.
eLance is one of the biggest and most famous freelance sites. Employer accounts are free. eLance automatically adds 8.75% to any bid, and that is later deducted and goes to them once the job is finished, you’re happy with it, and payment has been made. Pay by the hour (with time tracking and screenshot tools available to you to keep track of your freelancers) or by the project.
oDesk is another popular choice, and oDesk and eLance actually merged a while back, but maintain separate identities. You can opt to pay your freelancers by the hour (with similar tracking tools - screenshots, webcams, mouse and keyboard activity logs) or by the project. oDesk takes a 10% commission from whatever amount you pay.
The name says it all. Freelancer. This site has a much more complicated fee structure - free to set up an account, post jobs, review bids, and even discuss further with freelancers, but you pay a percentage or dollar amount (whichever is greater) on all payments made. This amount varies depending on your membership tier, and these range from free to $199/month.
Guru is yet another great resource, boosting a roster of 1.5 million gurus (aka skilled freelancers) looking for work. The fee schedule is more complicated than eLance and oDesk...membership tiers from free (basic) to $39.95/month (Executive Plan) determine the job fee deduction for Guru (currently from 8.95% to 4.95%), with other paid and premium services available as upgrades.
A Few Other Choices
The big four are reliable and safe, but they are certainly not the only options out there. A few others include:
- People Per Hour - great for quick, simple jobs that you pay by the hour.
- Fiverr - a marketplace for freelancers to sell their services, starting at just $5 per job. Quality though is often hit and miss (you get what you pay for)
- 99Designs - great spot to find graphic designers. Not cheap, but very high quality.
Using a freelancer can be a wonderful experience, but just remember a few things moving forward. Always be specific and detailed when describing what it is you need. Keep the channels of communication open, and check-in with the freelancer during the work (the websites provide many ways to do that). Agree on everything up front - fee (hourly or fixed), deadline, exact specifications for what is to be delivered. Get it in writing if possible (and especially if you’re on your own). Outsourcing can be the ideal option for you as an entrepreneur, but you have to play it smart…
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