How to choose a freelancer

Matt BarrieOutsourcing is by no means a new phenomenon. Large enterprises have been doing it for years; outsourcing a call centre to India, opening a manufacturing plant in the Philippines or commissioning a freelance writer to work on a niche topic for a newspaper or magazine. However, small and medium sized businesses are now realising the benefits of outsourcing as a cost effective way to contract out small or one-off projects.  Additionally, while outsourced labour is significantly cheaper, owners of small and medium sized businesses are also taking advantage of not having to pay additional employee benefits such as superannuation, sick pay and annual leave.

What a lot of businesses don’t yet understand is just how easy the entire process is and how the secure the payment system works.  The employer’s interests are protected at all times and the general rule of the industry is ‘if you’re not happy, you don’t pay.’

Freelancer.com.au works like an ‘eBay for services’.  ‘Employers’ can post projects online, set a desired budget and in minutes begin to receive bids from freelancers across the globe.  The employer then awards the project to their preferred freelancer and work commences.  A milestone payment system acts like an escrow service whereby Freelancer holds funds on behalf of the employer while the freelancer carries out the work.  The employer can choose to release the funds gradually or upon full completion of the work.  If the work isn’t completed to 100% satisfaction, the employer can choose not  to release the funds and lodge a dispute.  Less than 1% of projects end up in dispute as freelancers rely on their reputation to gain more work.

When posting your project, keep in mind the following:
· The Project Name should state clearly what you need e.g. ‘Bright Logo Required for Edgy Wine Company’ not ‘I need a logo’
· The more detail in the Project Description, the less chance of misinterpretation
· Provide examples
· Browse other projects similar to yours for ideas
· Set an appropriate budget – if you have a significant amount of work, set a realistic budget (use other similar projects as a guide)
Some projects will require larger briefs than others.  If you are looking for someone to build you a website, you will need to explain, at minimum, what the subject of that website is, what design or application elements you need to have on each page, and what pages are required. If you have an existing website that the freelancer can draw from, or like what your competitors have done, say so and give details so that the freelancer can assess how much work is involved and whether or not they have the right experience to do a great job for you.

[Next: How do I know which freelancer to choose?]

How do I know which freelancer to choose?
· Price – don’t always choose the lowest bidder.  The bids are going to be low anyway so make sure you consider all factors
· Reviews – Just like eBay, Freelancers are rated upon completion of each project.  Look for Freelancers with a high star rating and who have completed multiple projects.
· Portfolios and past work – take the time to look through the freelancers portfolio to see if they are at the standard you are looking for
· Private Messages – give priority to those Freelancers who have personally taken the time to message you in detail about your project.
· Samples – request samples from freelancers before you award them the project, to prove they fully understand your requirements

Matt Barrie is the CEO of Freelancer.

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