September 30, 2011
If you’re unfamiliar with Elance, it’s probably best described as what I like to call the eBay of freelancing. It is a great place to outsource any number of tasks – one that offers increased security with features like Escrow payments, fairness for providers with a $50 minimum project amount and the opportunity for each party to leave feedback after a project’s completion.
Personally, I wouldn’t look for freelancers anywhere else – despite there being a myriad of options including Fiverr, Craigslist or forums such as Digital Point or Warrior Forum. Coming from a developed country I morally object to getting someone to perform any professional task for $5 (it’s called exploitation) – that and with all these options you never really know what you’ll get, or in worse case scenarios if you’ll get anything at all.
Though from what I’ve read some people can also have trouble getting the right results from providers at Elance – which is why I’ve put together this list of best practices.
1. Title Your Project Effectively
Your title is what appears in the search results when freelancers are browsing for jobs. For that reason it’s best you make it as detailed as possible. Rather than “I need 20 articles written” I would suggest “20x 400 Word Articles On Thailand Travel” (or whatever your topic is) because the provider can instantly see what the project requires.
2. Provide A Detailed Outline
For what your title doesn’t convey to potential applicants, you should include in the description you post with your project. This will save time going back and forth once the job is awarded and will ensure providers are able to give you the most relevant bid. Above all, include specific topics along with target keywords for the articles you want (assuming you’re hiring writing talent) and what information should be contained within them – this will ensure you get exactly the content you’re looking for, without the provider trying to guess what you want. As a former freelancer I can tell you the clients who are the most vague are the hardest to deal with, and you generally try to avoid them whenever possible.
3. Be Realistic With Your Budget
If you’re expecting to get 100 articles written for $50 then go somewhere else. Providers on Elance are generally professionals who perform their chosen craft for a living, and as such cannot afford to offer services at such a ridiculously low price. You will always pay more than anywhere else, but generally I find you do get what you pay for.
4. Get Your Listing Featured
I have never needed to pay the $25 fee to get my listing featured, but if you’re struggling to attract the right providers then you may need to. In Elance’s words it “shows providers you’re serious” but if you post an effective title and project outline then it usually works just the same. Keep in mind, providers usually get the latest jobs posted to them by email, so if your post catches their eye then there’s a good chance they’ll bid on it.
5. Be Wary Of Provider Location
In most cases it’s safest to go with someone from a native-English country if you’re hiring writing talent, but on others I’ve found people who live elsewhere can provide a result that’s just as good. Other problems can arise, however. The most common is communication difficulties with providers being located in a different part of the world, and in extreme cases it’s possible to not hear from someone for several weeks due to limited access to the Internet in a less-developed country.
6. Avoid The Lowest Price
While it may be tempting to go with someone who offers to work for next to nothing, it’s best to avoid them for a number of reasons. First, they usually have limited experience or skill and the result will be less than pretty. Second, they plan to copy and paste someone else’s work or spin a bunch of PLR articles that will do you no good. By offering a lower price a provider is always trying to compensate for something – just be mindful of that.
7. Individuals Over Companies
Quite commonly you’ll see companies post a bid on your job. Personally, I try to avoid them because I prefer to deal with someone personally. Companies will always hire third-party personnel to work for them, which means the price is always needlessly higher to allow themselves a profit margin. That and you never really know if you’re talking to the person who is supposed to be doing the work, which can lead to a breakdown in communication in several cases.
8. View Most Relevant Samples
A lot of the time you’ll post a job about a specific topic and you’ll get a bunch of proposals that include work samples that are loosely related, very closely related or not related at all. I give the most credence to samples that are the closest to the topic in question, unless another provider offers work that is generally of a higher quality.
9. What Experience They Have
Providers that have been around for a number of years are generally more reliable. They have the experience to meet deadlines and generally their work is of a higher quality. Newer providers can be a bit of a risk, and though they may be talented, some can quite easily choose to disappear on you. That and they have a very small amount of feedback or a limited portfolio to help you decide what quality of work you’ll get.
10. Feedback From Other Clients
At the end of every job clients will have the option to leave feedback for the provider. Usually, checking this is just extra peace of mind but sometimes it can reveal some worrying patterns. You might, for example, notice that several clients have said a provider is late in delivering work or they had to make extra edits on it themselves. If it’s obviously a problem with the provider, then you can choose to avoid them, but more often it’s one tricky client who is being extra critical or just had a bad experience.
11. Discard Automated Applications
If a provider can’t put effort into writing a job application then how much effort will they put into the job? I know as a former freelancer it’s not uncommon to send out dozens of applications daily and not expect to get every job (or any of them). But I would at least show the client I had read their outline and show why my experience was relevant to that particular job.
12. Does The Provider Want The Job
At the end of the day those who are most excited by the opportunity, who are most passionate about a topic and those who simply want the job more are those I pay the most attention to. You’ll get something of quality and the extra enthusiasm the provider brings means that will rub off on anyone who views the finished product. At least 90% of the time this is how I finally decide who to give the job to.
Article by Brent McCoy. Millionaire Studio is an online entrepreneurship blog that features articles on online business, blogging, marketing and social media: http://millionairestudio.com/