Working with freelancers is one of the best form of leverage you can get in internet marketing. You leverage on two resources: time and skill.
The disadvantage is you are now in a position to manage people, and people management can be problematic, sometimes.
This is what one of our members, Gerald Lum, is facing.
Read his full question to me:
I’m facing some problem with my online business. Its not as easy as it seems to be. Being an affiliate is easier than become the creator of the site. One of the problem that I faced is finding the right freelancer for my website development. I also have problem with designer. I usually outsource my website programming and design separately as my own experience tells me that most programmers have no good design senses.
My lst project I got ripped off $1k without getting my website till now. My currently new website designer cannot be contacted for a month. I have not gotten my design for my new website project and hence its delay. My programmer does give me a cheap prices. This could be the reason of the bad services. But I have budget and I really have to try my luck.
There is so many freelancer websites like elancer.com, getafreelancer.com. But how can we really find a good freelancer with budget prices? I have wasted a lot of time waiting for them to deliver my project. How do you find a reliable and with cheap services??
Thank you so much!
Let me reorganize his challenge into 4 separate questions and answer them one by one:
1) How to stop yourself from being ripped off?
The golden rule is: Never pay your freelancers in advance, regardless of how good your freelancer “sweet talk”!
I had an experience where a freelancer, who had worked with me on several projects, requested that I pay him some money in advance because he had some financial problems. Considering our past working experience, I agreed. He then went missing for a couple of months.
If your freelancer insists that you pay him first before he can start work, the best you can do is to transfer the money to an escrow account. It is a third party account where your money is held by the freelancing website and will only be released to the freelancer when the project is completed to your satisfaction. Escrow protects both you and the freelancer.
You should never be ripped off if you insists on paying after project completion or using an escrow service.
2) How to prevent your freelancer from going missing in action?
You can’t stop this problem from happening, but you can prevent it.
And you prevent it right at the beginning……
Before you award a freelancer with the job, you should always PM (private message) the freelancer. You can PM a few preferred freelancers and see who can respond fast and well. Those who don’t even bother to reply a PM will never get a job from me.
Through PM, you can tell whether they are serious and competent in the project. Sometimes, you can also tell if they are professional or simply a student trying to make some quick bucks.
Also check if they use Skype, Yahoo or MSN Messenger. I will not engage a freelancer who is not ready to chat online.
When the project begins, always make it a habit to ask the freelancer for a dateline in everything he does. Be friendly and not being pushy. You can ask something like “When do you think this part can be done?”. Let him suggest a date to you.
Frankly, I don’t expect freelancers to meet the datelines. Having a dateline is just a way to make them commit, to give them a clear target to aim for and an excuse for me to press them for results.
In the event if you feel that the freelancer is not progressing, you can always use the dateline as the REAL dateline for the project. If the freelancer failed to deliver by the dateline, you can cancel the project and get another freelancer. In my entire online career, I’ve only done it once. In my case, the freelancer went the extreme of not answering all my emails after committing to the project. Thus I cancel the project after the first dateline.
Lastly, make it an effort to email your freelancer every few days and ask them if there is any update for you. This will further reduce the chance of them going missing in action.
3) How to ensure that your job can be completed on time?
If you need something to be done in a hurry, you must let the freelancer know the urgency before you award him with the job. Or else, you should understand that “most freelancers cannot complete their project on time!”
Sounds like a joke but this is the truth.
Once you understand this fact, all you have to do is to give enough buffer for your real dateline.
Let’s say a freelancer says he can get the project done in 7 days, you can expect the project to be completed in 3 to 5 weeks!
I’m not exaggerating.
This is especially true for programming type of job, where there are testing and debugging to be done.
If you expect the completion date to be 3 to 5 times longer than the suggested dateline, you will be happy that most of your projects are done “on time”.
4) How to find good freelancer at budget prices?
The key is this: The more you know, the less you pay and the better freelancer you can get.
For a $1000 project, I can have freelancers bidding from $250 to $1000. The question is, do you dare to choose the low-bidder.
You can try your luck, but ‘luck’ is not always reliable.
Alternatively, you can ask.
During the bidding phase, you can PM a few low-bidders, check if they understand your requirement fully and understand how they intend to deliver the project.
Some low-bidders will not reply your PM. Ignore them. Some may tell you that they’ve under priced. Ask them to re-quote. But there are some who really understand your requirement well and are willing to provide you with their solutions for the price that they offer.
If the proposed solution sounds, you can go ahead award the project to that freelancer.
However, this is only possible if you know exactly what you want. That’s why I said “The more you know, the less you pay and the better freelancer you can get.”
In some cases, you may not know exactly what you want. In such cases, you may have to add a bit of premium to the project and get a freelancer with good reviews, which usually will mean a higher price.