Whether you’re a freelancer or an agency owner, you’re going to reach a point in your business when you need to outsource work. When this happens, it’s hard to know who to turn for an extra hand.
That’s why we reached out to some $10K Graduates to get their thoughts on outsourcing work: where to turn, who to trust, and how to get results.
The web pros we spoke with reported two basic approaches for outsourcing work:
- Find help on online marketplaces and job boards like UpWork (formerly Odesk), Fiverr, Freelancer.com, or Craigslist.
- Using a direct network of trusted sources like friends, former colleagues, and other web professionals from past collaborations.
Let’s tackle these in order…
The Ups and Downs of Online Marketplaces
When it comes to utilizing online marketplaces, results were often mixed. Some reported 50/50 results when using sites like Freelancer.com or UpWork. Users of Craigslist fell on both sides of the fence, while Fiverr overwhelming received the best endorsement with people saying they consistently find good help there.
As to the mixed results of Craigslist, one person reported not having “good results yet,” while another noted, “I have been lucky with posting ADS on Craigslist.” We’d hazard to guess that posting exactly what you’re looking for versus blindly searching for help probably makes a big difference here.
The problem with outsourcing work through these sites, noted by many, was simply a lack of experience by those listing profiles online.
One web pro said, “When someone says they are a web designer, I assume they ARE creative and can do basic coding…I assume too much.”
Another offered this straightforward advice: “The key with [these] sites is to look deeply at the reviews and only hire people with 5 star reviews.”
Lastly, one web pro offered this system for hiring help, should you choose to use an online marketplace:
a) Don’t hire the first freelancer that comes along.
b) Don’t let their rate be a negative if it seems too high. Look at their experience and recommendations.
c) Do an interview! I cannot stress this enough.
d) Ask them how they would solve certain issues related to the project. How they respond lets me know if this person wants to contribute to a project or just wants to follow instructions.
A Strong Network Is Your Best Bet
Overwhelmingly, people’s preferred methods for outsourcing work was through a tight network of personal referrals, family, friends, and past collaborators.
“If we are outsourcing, we only use people we know and trust. I rarely if ever use online job boards.”
Likewise, those without strong networks recognized a need to connect with more like-minded people, stressing the importance of having people they can trust, rather than just hoping for the best.
One response simply stated, “I always, ALWAYS use my own direct network or referrals from trusted sources,” reflecting many reports of negative experiences through online job boards and marketplaces, further stressing the importance of having a tight network.
This should come as no great surprise. Anyone who has been in the position of trying to find someone trustworthy and reliable to take on work knows the challenges of this. It’s one of the main reasons uGurus has worked so hard to create a strong community. In fact, many respondents mentioned the importance of the $10K Community in the growth they’ve been able to accomplish since graduating from $10 Bootcamp.
And while we’ve worked hard to create a strong network to serve our community, others have taken matters into their own hands as well.
Start Creating a Farm System
Trust isn’t easy to come by, especially when your reputation (and payment) is on the line!
Sure, when you’re in a pinch for help, you turn to the easiest option, but many of the web pros we talked with offered up a more reliable long-term solution: nurturing talent.
Similar to Major League Baseball’s farm structure, these web pros are nurturing talent and building a stable of professionals they can rely on when work is abundant.
Wikipedia defines the MLB’s farm system as “a team or club whose role is to provide experience and training for young players, with an agreement that any successful players can move on to a higher level at a given point.”
This is the same concept echoed by a number of the web pros we talked to. They’re not looking for one-off help. They’re looking to nurture talent and slowly bring them into the “big leagues” with more work and bigger projects.
One respondent mentioned a unique system of leveraging interns from a local university. “They give me interns for three months. I pay them a small amount and I keep the good students as part time and later full time employees. It’s a great way to find talent.”
Providing clarity of expectations and a willingness to invest time in the right people seems to be the most important part of this process. As trust grows, so does the opportunity for lasting partnerships. “I try to use people on small projects/tasks first to test things out. When we find a good one, we keep him/her with us.”
Even the web pro mentioned earlier who placed ads on Craigslist said, “I make sure I state exactly how [potential hires] need to respond and if anyone responds accordingly, I put them aside as a potential hire.”
This strategy takes time, but can lead to long-term relationships that benefit both parties.
One Final Note: Stop Getting Lucky
Interestingly, a perception of luck seems to dictate these hiring experiences more than we anticipated. A number of responses fell along the lines of people saying, “I have been lucky…” or “I’ve had some luck with…”
There seems to be a heavy attitude of fortune involved in the process of outsourcing work. Many people are “rolling the dice” and hoping for a good outcome. This no way to hire extra help or to run your business.
We tend to agree with the majority of the responses we received; having a reputable, reliable network is hands-down the best way to find good help when you need it. Luck should never be a part of the equation.
If you’d like to join one of the strongest, most talented networks of web professionals in the world, talk to one of our strategists to see if you would be a good fit for Bootcamp. We are now accepting applications for a FREE business strategy call.