When building a successful online business or managing a website for an offline business, the need to outsourcing certain tasks will likely arise. Few business owners have the time or the expertise to handle all of their web programming, content creation, backlink building and other tasks which are needed to manage a successful website or online business. This is why you’ll need to find competent and dependable professionals to handle these tasks for you. In this article, we’ll be looking at how to find and hire dependable outsourcers for managing your website and your online marketing projects.
In a previous article, we talked about how to make good decisions and to hire freelancers for managing your website, creating content or taking care of tasks which could potentially eat up your time. In addition to knowing how to do this, it’s important that you avoid the pitfalls which have caused so many other business owners to have disastrous results when hiring freelancers. So, in this article we’ll be talking about several of the common mistakes which people make when it comes to hiring freelancers and how you can avoid them.
#1: Hiring At the Wrong Times
This might sound counterintuitive but the worst time to hire a freelancer is when you really need one. If you have a pressing project which needs to be done right and one on time, that’s the worst time to hire a freelancer. This is because you’ll be under too much pressure to hire someone right away and put them right on the project.
When is the Best Time to Start Looking for Outsourcers?
There’s an old saying that goes: “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” This certainly applies when it comes to hiring outsourcers. If you wait until the need for outsourcing is urgent, you’ll be under a lot of pressure to hire someone right away and are less likely to make a wise decision. It’s a better idea to plan ahead by determining which tasks you’ll eventually need to outsource and finding a few good candidates before the need arises. You can start by placing a very simple job on a bidding site such as Elance, Osdesk or Guru and testing out a few qualified candidates.
If they do well, you have no problems, but if they don’t it can end up being a total disaster. It’s a far better idea to set up a small test job before you ever get a big project and use that test job to find a few good freelancers who you can count on.
Set Up a Test Job
Make sure that the test job you set up is small enough to where if the deadline isn’t met or if the job is done incorrectly it won’t create a serious problem for your business. At times, it might even be wise to create a $50 job simply for the sake of testing a few freelancers and finding out if they’re good long term candidates. For example, you can do this for freelance writers by setting up a small job of three to five articles, and creating a due date for them to be completed by. The same method can be applied when hiring a web programmer or an admin/webmaster who can manage your website for you or analyze your traffic reports and bring you updates on a daily or weekly basis.
Having a minor test job during a time when you have no urgent need for freelancers will help you to make a good hiring decision based on performance of each candidate, without having to use them for a project which will have a large impact on your business. The most important part of creating this test job is to be 100% clear and up front about what you’re looking for and what you are willing to pay. Make sure that your detailed job description includes information about the type of job, the deadline, the resources available and your expectations for performance. This will help you to attract more qualified candidates and it will make your selection process MUCH easier.
This way, when the need arises for a larger project to be done, you’ll already have someone lined up (and a backup possibly) and you won’t have to be stuck with a bad hiring decision.
#2: Hiring the Cheapest Provider
This can be VERY tempting, especially when you’re just starting out and want to cut costs. However, hiring the cheapest provider rarely brings positive results when it comes to the quality of work they provide. Most freelancers (the good ones anyway) know what they are worth and they aren’t afraid to ask for it. As a good rule of thumb, when you set up your test job, try out providers from the low , the medium and the higher price range. This will give you a good feel for the type of quality that you can expect from each of the price ranges.
If you find a freelancer who will work for cheap but who still does good work, chances are that they are a new freelancers looking to build a reputation. This means that long term you can probably expect them to raise their rates anyway. So be willing to pay a little extra to get good work done, the quality you get will be well worth it.
One question which arises when hiring freelancers is how much is a fair amount to pay.This is difficult to determine because freelancing fees will range from just $10 an hour to as much as $100. Unfortunately a freelancer’s fee does not always reflect their value and the quality of their work. So before you award the job, test the higher end bidders by asking them to come down closer to the rates of the lower bidders. What you’ll find is that the fee they are willing to come down to is usually a more accurate reflection of what they are worth. After selecting a few candidates and having them perform a small test job, you’ll know enough about each one to select who you will be using long term.
Select More Than One Candidate
When it comes to selecting freelancers, it’s a good idea to have more than one candidate to choose from. So award your test job to a couple of providers that you like and let them prove their abilities to you. If you only choose one, you might find out that they aren’t what you’re looking for and you’ll have to start to entire job posting and selection process over. So choose two or three candidates to award your test job to and don’t just stick with the lowest bidders. Try some of the higher end and middle range bidders and see if the additional money paid is worth the service that they are offering.
#3: Having Unclear or Ambiguous Expectations
This is the mistake which can cause you to have problems even if the freelancer you’re working with is a very capable one. It’s impossible for anyone to meet your expectations if you are unclear about what you want the end result to look like, what you expect in regards to the process of working with them and what they resources are available to help them do their job. It’s also important that you are clear about what will happen if the expectations aren’t met. When you are clear about your expectations, you save a lot of time and a lot of back and forth between you and your freelancer.
You also have a MUCH better chance of getting the end results that you’re after. In addition to having clear expectations after hiring your freelancer, be clear in your job description when you are posting your ad on a site such as Elance, Osdesk or Guru. This way you’ll know that the freelancers who are bidding on the job are doing so with a full understanding of what is expected of them.
#4: Not Paying on or Answering in Time
Good freelancers are hard to find and when you do find them, you should do what you can to hang onto the relationship. One of the fastest ways to burn your bridges with a freelancer is to withhold payment for more than 24 hours after work has been submitted for review. Even if you are too busy to inspect the work right away, send at least a partial payment to your freelancer, don’t punish them because you are behind schedule. If you expect them to get work to you on time, it’s only fair that you fulfil your end of the bargain by paying on time.
It’s also important to respond to their questions in a timely manner so that you can keep interruptions and delays in the project to a minimum. Remember that you also have a part in making sure that the project is completed right and completed on time, and do everything that you can to make that happen.
#5: Accepting Fees at Face Value
When a freelancer places a bid on a job, it’s quite possible that the fee they quote isn’t a true reflection of what they are used to making. For example, you might have a freelance writer who bids out a job at $1 per word and who does good work, but you might dismiss them because their fee is too high. Ask for them to lower their fee instead. Many times, you’ll find that they are willing to work for half of their original quote and there’s a good chance that they’ve never been paid their original amount for anything they’ve done yet. By asking for a better deal, you might be able to hire a quality freelancer who you assumed at first that you couldn’t afford.
Proper Management of Freelancers
Once you have found a good freelancer, whether it be a writer, a web programmer, an admin, an SEO specialist or a webmaster, it’s a good idea to take care of the relationship so that they’ll be there to serve you for a long time. Freelancers (especially the good ones) have no obligation to keep working with an employer and if you don’t take care of the relationships with your freelancers, you’ll be spending a lot of time searching for new ones to replace them. Here are a few things that you can do to make sure that you maintain good connections with your freelancers:
- Always, always, always pay on time
- Be clear about your expectations from the beginning of every project
- Don’t try to get them to do extra work without paying them
- Be prompt in responding to their questions
- Stay in touch, even if you don’t have any work for them
Do these five things and you’ll maintain a good relationship with your freelancers and they’ll be happy to work with you and will probably keep their rates the same as they were when you first hired them. A good writer, web programmer, admin, SEO specialist or webmaster can be a valuable asset to your business and save you a lot of worry, giving you the space to manage the more valuable tasks for your business.
Save the five tips in this article and follow the process in our other article on smart outsourcing and you’ll save yourself a lot of time, stress and money on hiring freelancers. Remember that your ability to hire and to keep good help will be a huge factor when it comes to the success of your website. Good luck.