Outsourcing sites facilitate and streamline the process of hiring freelancers. Each platform has its own approach, but all will allow you to do more or less the same things. You can post a job description, have people bid on the project, negotiate on pricing, and check work history and previous ratings before settling on a contract or per-hour rate. For most sites, payment will be held in escrow and released to the freelancer when the project is complete.
There’s a theory that outsourcing makes workers more accountable. Rather than hiring employees that waste time standing around the water cooler or playing solitaire, freelancers will get the job done competently and quickly.
Hiring staff only when you need them is another reason why you might turn to online outsourcing. Digital platforms make it easy to find top-quality people at a much lower rate than hiring from within your own country. Both these points can mean a significant amount of savings.
At the end of the day, it only makes (financial) sense to outsource if you can make more money by outsourcing than by not outsourcing. Make sure you do the math before you post a project description on an outsourcing site.
Each outsourcing site has different layouts and uses different systems. It could take a few days to get used to the one you choose. However, all sites will allow you to:
- Post a project description
- Receive proposals from candidates
- Compare profiles, reviews, ratings, credentials, portfolios and price
The method of payment and how you collaborate with contractors will vary from site to site.
7 Tips for Posting Projects
When you write up a project description, make sure you incorporate the following:
- Write the description as if you are explaining the project to a child.
- If you don’t want to put a spotlight on what you’re doing, you can keep the description vague and share details only with the people you’re interested in working with.
- If you’re using milestones, set clear ones.
- Leave a small “test” to make sure the person has read the description (for example, including the word “giraffe” in the subject line or asking them to answer 2 questions).
- Make the project sound exciting and include that it will look good in their portfolio.
- Ask someone to read your description before you upload it, to ensure the post makes sense.
- You can create an NDA if you’re worried about protecting your intellectual property or idea.
Project-Based vs. Hourly Rate
For the most part, you can hire freelancers on a project basis or an hourly basis. Generally, project-based work is “safer” for you because there is a predetermined fixed amount you pay after the work is complete.
When you hire someone by the hour, you won’t have a good idea of exactly how much you’ll spend on the project. However, an hourly rate makes more sense for longer-term work, or in instances where you have a variety of different tasks for one freelancer.
Tips for Project-Based Work
If you choose to hire on a project basis, make sure to include detailed specifications and requirements in the project description. List exactly what you want to happen and how you will determine when the work is complete.
Freelancers, especially if they’re desperate for work, will often agree to a project without considering how difficult it might be to complete. To avoid this, make sure to select someone who has experience doing projects that require a similar level of complexity.
Tips for Hourly Work
If you choose to hire on an hourly basis, you’ll want to monitor your freelancer’s activity to confirm that they actually worked the hours they submitted. An outsourcing site might have monitoring tools available, like taking screenshots of the freelancer’s computer at certain intervals, or you can use independent timekeeping software.
Individual vs. Team
You’ll find that all outsourcing sites generally offer two types of workers: individuals and teams. Individuals are better because you know exactly who you’re working with, and you can get acquainted with the contractor’s working style. Working one-on-one means you can negotiate lower rates if you’re planning on hiring a freelancer in the long term or by the hour.
On the other hand, teams might come with more training, synergy, and a work culture that encourages people to ask for direction and advice.
Picking the Right Freelancer
I’m going to be honest with you. Outsourcing work isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes, you’ll end up with a contractor that can’t complete the work to your standards. Or, they leave halfway through a project. To avoid this, you’ll want to hire people who have good ratings and feedback. If I post a complex project, I specifically look to hire someone with more than 30 completed jobs and ratings of 9 out of 10 or higher.
Another way to weed out bad freelancers is to toss out those with cookie-cutter responses. This is where adding a “test” in your project description comes into play. If they can’t address you and your criteria clearly, then it’s probably not worth looking at their profile.
Once you work with dozens of different freelancers, you’ll come across a few who are dependable and consistent. With time, you’ll develop a list of preferred contractors who can deliver the work you need.
Best Outsourcing Sites
Ready for it? Below are my top five outsourcing sites to save you time and money.
Freelancer: Best for Project-Based Work
For one-off, project-based work, Freelancer.com is a great option because you can upload your funds into escrow, giving you the assurance that the worker won’t receive your money if the job is incomplete or not completed well.
If disputes occur over the submitted work, disagreements are mediated well. However, make sure to submit a clear project description to avoid any issues. Payment is released when the contractor completes each project milestone.
Upwork: Best for Hourly Work
Upwork’s (upwork.com) Work Diary lets you see each of your freelancers’ keyboard and mouse activity levels as well as webcams and screenshots of their computer to hold your workers more accountable. You only pay for verified time spent working on your tasks.
Guru: Best for Freelancers Based in the United States
Although marketed as a worldwide service, Guru.com particularly attracts freelancers based in the United States. If you’re looking for native English speakers to work with, you’ll want to try this outsourcing site. Payment is released when work is completed.
DesignHill: Best for Graphic Design
DesignHill.com is an online marketplace where you can source high-quality designs such as logos, business cards, websites, packaging design, and more, without breaking your budget.
Fiverr: Best for Quick Digital Jobs
You can find just about any product or service you’ll need on Fiverr.com for just $5. Gigs include logo design, contract writing, and translations. Get Fiverr offers here.
TaskRabbit: Best for Odd Jobs
The convenient and affordable way to get things done around the house. Services include house cleaning, moving and packing, furniture assembly, home improvement, and more. See TaskRabbit offers here.