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Thread: Outsourcing. Advice Please

  1. #1

    Default Outsourcing. Advice Please

    I have had to look at outsourcing some of my work for my company. Specifically, Content writers, web designers, developers and mobile app developers. Has any one had good experience with outsourcing? Has anyone used sites like upwork or freelance?

    What is your experience good or bad and is their any good websites that you would recommend?

  2. #2

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    Do you know any stay-at-home moms who are web developers/software engineers near you? If you can find reliable ones, you may be able to reap the benefits of outsourcing while still being able to meet with them face to face.

    The pros: Grateful for work and flexibility, happy to accept part-time work and be paid only for the hours they work, they work from home so no office overhead. May be willing to work at a lower price, and you don't pay the overhead of the middle man.

    The cons: management and scheduling is tricky. Stay at home moms need flexibility in case of sick kids, and may want the summers off. 60 hour/week projects are not doable, and they will need a bit of notice for a project (when the customer needed it yesterday, it's not a good scene). You have to break things into smaller chunks (5-10 hours), and someone who is full-time should be there to pick up pieces if someone has an epic fail. Meetings may be at playgrounds or with toddlers in tow.

    The reason I suggest it is that generally often the people picking up work off of upwork and freelancer are WAHMs. So if you already know some, you can cut the middle man, and have the benefits of knowing that they're in your time zone and may be able to meet with you.

  3. #3

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    First things first - you get what you pay for.

    One thing that you really have to watch when outsourcing is intellectual property. You must be sure of who has what rights. One disadvantage of using sites like Upwork is the lack of recourse for IP infringement; the most you can expect from that sort of arrangement is a refund while you're left holding the bag if the IP owner brings a lawsuit.

    Quote Originally Posted by TerriM View Post
    they work from home so no office overhead
    That's a common misconception. There's really not that much of an overhead increase between working from home and leasing an office. Web developers in particular will find it difficult and frustrating to work with typical residential Internet upload speeds as well as the fluctuation in download speeds and will often opt for business class service with much higher upload speeds and guaranteed bandwidth. They'll generally still need the same insurance policies as if they were leasing an office, and depending on the locations of the home or leased office the premiums could actually be more for someone working from home. For me personally, the increased total cost in leasing an office (including transportation) would amount to a less than 5% increase in expenses.
    || VMdoh - Drupal development, consulting, and support

  4. #4

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    I did the WAHM thing I was describing for 5 years, and I had no problems doing web development from my house, but we were in a large city with good internet options. My boss was more than happy not to have us come in because he could lease half the space. We were 1099'd, paid by the hour. So no insurance or benefits needed.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by TerriM View Post
    So no insurance or benefits needed.
    I was speaking about insurance for the contractor, not the employer. Liability, E/O, IP, etc.
    || VMdoh - Drupal development, consulting, and support

  6. #6
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    I think this common belief that goes around that there are just tons of starving college students and bored housewives sitting around with all of these skills, yet work for peanuts because they don't understand the value of real money or what their services are actually worth is one big, huge, over stated fantasy that too many people WANT to believe.

    The benefit of hiring a freelancer is that you may get better rates, but more importantly that you'll get personalized service, and creativity. Some freelancers can compete on price against agencies but within reason. No one gets into business just to give it away. Especially when it comes to highly specialized fields that require a lot of knowledge like coding, design, and marketing.

    So to reiterate what Brian said, you get what you pay for. Of course you can pay $5 and get something.

    I've worked with many people who have cost cut themselves right out of business.

    The reality is that people who are always looking for the lowest possible price, rarely get a high level of service, knowledge and professionalism. They get good enough to get paid.

    Not many people go out of their way to give a cost cutter and price shopper 120%, and a bunch of free work, time, and knowledge. They just don't.

    So this notion that there are all of these people out there who just do it for fun, and will work cheap is a ridiculous fantasy.

    When it comes down to it price shoppers know what things cost. They're just hopping to find someone desperate enough to do it for peanuts.


    So yes, outsourcing is great. Everyone does it to some extent. I make my living because people outsource to me. So of course I'm all for it.
    There are some really talented freelancers out there.

    But you still have to do your due diligence, know something about what you need and the kind of person you're looking for, and be realistic. If you're looking at outsourcing as a way to hire people for peanuts and get the world, you are going to waste a lot of money.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold Mansfield View Post
    I think this common belief that goes around that there are just tons of starving college students and bored housewives sitting around with all of these skills, yet work for peanuts because they don't understand the value of real money or what their services are actually worth is one big, huge, over stated fantasy that too many people WANT to believe.
    Harold, this is a reality. As a woman, I know very well that a flexible, part time schedule comes at a cost. Living in the Bay Area, I also know that it is very difficult to get a flexible, work at home part time job from a company as a programmer at Bay Area wages. Despite the huge demand for programmers, it just isn't going to happen. I have a college friend who is a CEO of a mid-sized company lamenting how he can't compete with Google for programmers because he can't pay that much, and I said to him "Here's my limited experience over the last 10 years with kids--would you hire me?" He said "Absolutely--just do something simple--like program an app to display your photos of your kids on your iphone to show me you can still learn something." I said "Would you hire me part time?" "No." Flat no.

    My neighbor is a WAHM who is using those sites--freelancer and upwork--to get part time work. She had a full-time job offer 5 miles away from her house at competitive wages with stock options, but it was full-time, and she has younger kids she wants to spend some time with. She turned it down. She admitted that the pay on freelancer isn't so good, but she's finding a niche and at least keeping her skills up, so she's "happy." The reason a lot of WAHMs use freelancer is the easy access to gigs. Going out and doing cold-call sales is not something most programmers enjoy--that's why they work with computers--not to say all programmers are anti-social, but a lot are introverts, and sales is not an introvert thing. The problem with freelancer/upwork is that you're bidding against people from India and Russia at not-so-hot wages. That is the downside.

    I have another friend who will be facing this same dilemma--she has 5 kids, and the 5th is slated to go to Kindergarten next year. Five kids is a full-time job even if they're all in school. She'd love to not have to work, but if she wants the option of putting her oldest into a private/parochial high school, she has been told that the only way to get financial aid is for her to work. She has no clue what she's going to do, but I'm betting she'll be getting work off of freelancer/upwork (unless I hire her to do stuff for me).

    I have a third friend who is taking time off work because she still has a 2 yo, plus two other kids. She and I were working together for the same company I was talking about earlier. When I was pregnant, she took over my work. When she was pregnant, I took over hers. Meetings were on the playground. We'd babysit for each other for free to get work done.

    So your can go hire those people via freelancer, or you can look around--do you attend a church or have a social group with educated moms who would gladly take you up on short-term flexible work? Sometimes you just have to ask.

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    I've used the website Freelancer before and had great success with finding quality content writers at cheap rates. There's plenty of freelancers to choose from, you always get multiple bids on your listing, and you can read reviews on people as well. Only thing is you have to pay the site fees, but as long as you're getting enough quality work, it's more than worth it.

  9. #9

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    Hi,

    I use Fiverr to outsource small projects like flyers, postcards and voice overs for video projects. I've used it once for content but you get what you pay for ($5-$10 per project) and I ended up having to edit the crap out of that 300-word piece.

    The only downside is not being able to immediately get your edits/comments through to the designer, you have to rely on them being online to get an immediate response. It works well for small projects if you give enough detail and provide logo files, copy, etc.

    There are other sites like elance which are pretty simple to use. For web developers and web design, I would recommend 99designs. Not cheap, but, again, you get what you pay for.

    Hope this helps!

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    I have outsourced four jobs.

    One via Upwork - it went very well. I had a very detailed application, and the applicants had to follow specific instructions. This particular candidate did follow my instructions, had some experience to back it up, and I was willing to pay the right price (he was in no way the most expensive, but I wasn't trying to get the job done super cheap, either).
    The last project I outsourced was with a guy I got to know (online) through a common marketing course. He is awesome and I only plan to expand the work I do with him.
    Two via Fiverr - both I have mixed feelings about. I don't feel great about Fiverr at all, but if it's a low budget thing it could work OK.

    My main suggestion is to have a detailed application with a few steps the applicants have to follow. Those who don't follow them exactly, just ignore. The ones remaining, you can interview. If you're able to give them a small project to "test" them out, even better.
    Finally, be willing to pay well. You get what you pay for.

    Since you are looking for a lot of marketing talent, I suggest you check out marketers247.com, a lot of good talent there. But it isn't going to be cheap, like you will find available at Freelancer or Upwork.
    P.S. Want to ride the coattails of your most successful business competitors?
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