Outsourcing your work...
Copyright 2005 Richard Grady
A few weeks ago I touched on the subject of getting other people to do your work for you. I want to cover this topic in a bit more detail as outsourcing is a superb way of saving yourself both time and money.
By way of example, let me start with a short story :-)
At 8.30pm one night last week, I started to wonder whether it would be possible to automate a particular part of one of my website design processes. At present I do this task semi-manually and it takes me about 4 hours to generate a multi-page website.
Anyway, by 8.45pm I had scratched out an outline of what I would need a new custom piece of software to do to automate this task and by 8.59pm the 'project' was advertised on one of the main freelance websites....
Within 2 minutes I had the first bid from a programmer....
Within 15 minutes I had four more bids....
Within 45 minutes I had accepted a bid and the programmer was working on the project.
Two days and $75 later (and with less than an hours work required by me) and I had a brand new piece of custom software which can complete the task in question in seconds rather than hours!
With several excellent freelance sites around nowadays, it is very easy to find a programmer/web designer/writer/whatever that will be happy to work with you and the cost (as illustrated above) will often be far less than you might expect.
If you spend some time thinking about the type of tasks you could outsource, I am sure you will soon come up with a fairly substantial list. The following are just a few ideas:
- Website design
- Website maintenance
- General writing - for example of an entire eBook!
- Software design/creation (for your own use or resale)
- Graphic design
- Script installation (and creation)
- Dealing with your support emails
- Finding new affiliates
- Finding new link exchange partners
And so the list goes on....
Of course, as with anything, there are a few things to be aware of when outsourcing so here are my top tips for a successful project:
1. Only post your project on the main freelance sites (list below). This will give you the best exposure and the highest level of competition from bidders. This means keen pricing and a good range of expertise from which to choose from.
2. When you post your project, ensure that you detail EXACTLY what is required. The more information the better. If you start adding to the brief after a freelancer has placed his/her bid, expect the price to rise....
3. Try and keep the brief as simple as possible. Remember that English may not be the first language of some of the freelancers and whilst I have never had any communication problems (in fact, most of the programmers I have used have a better standard of written English than the majority of my fellow countrymen!), it makes sense not to over-complicate matters with slang etc that may not be understood.
4. Don't always opt for the lowest bid. All of the freelance sites listed below allow you to view feedback ratings for freelancers and I usually base my decision on this rating. I would rather pay a bit extra and use someone with a superb rating than save a bit of money and use a new freelancer. They may be great at what they do but unfortunately when you are dealing with people at a distance, you have no way of knowing and in my view, it isn't worth the risk and potential extra hassle. Go with someone that has already proven themselves.
5. If your project is to create something that you want to resell (for example a software product or an eBook) make sure that you stress in the brief that at the end of the project, you will own the copyright and will have access to the source code/files. Obviously you want to ensure that the freelancer doesn't come back to you in the future complaining that you are selling his/her work and that you can edit the product if you need to without having to find the original creator. It would also be wise to include a condition stating that the freelancer is not allowed to use your product in the future for someone else or indeed sell it themselves.
As for which freelance site to use, there are three that I recommend but my absolute fave is The Trader Online and this is definitely my 'site of choice'.