For those who don’t know, elance.com is a site where people can sell their services. Basically like an ebay for services instead of goods.
The way it works is you can post a job for anything from web design, data entry, marketing, ghost writing to virtual assistance and relevant service providers can pitch for your work. You then select the provider who you think best fits your request and they start working away.
Funds are placed in an escrow holding service and released once you mark the work as satisfactory.
Anything that can be done remotely can be organised over elance.
The key benefit of this system is the ability to take advantage of currency differences. You can pay someone market rates in India or Eastern Europe and have it come to a fraction of the cost in a western country.
But using this service to complete tasks does not come without complications.
I’ve done a few projects on elance now, some better than others.
Here are a few tips from my fails:
1. DON’T BE A PUSHOVER LITTLE BITCH
Seriously, this is important.
Treat your freelancer like your boss treats you – there is a job to do, no exceptions.
For people with no management experience, this can be tricky. I learned quickly as I saw a project expand from 2 weeks to 2 months! Setting rules is important as discussed below, but enforcing rules is equally if not more important.
Don’t listen to excuses like “the work was harder than we thought” or “you had too many change requests”. They shouldn’t have bid if the work was too hard. If they think your change requests are going to push out milestones, they need to request milestone changes. If they don’t, tough luck. You’re not the expert they are.
2. Make rules
Make rules for everything. How, when and in what format you want the work delivered.
Ask for periodic updates and set deliverable dates. Tell them if things are not up to your expectations you will pull the project or have them restart.
Be specific in your rules. If for example you’re having a website done, tell them if you want the site up and running on your host or if you just want the files sent. Tell them if you want social media integration, testing or support.
These should all be laid out before the job is accepted.
3. Punish rule breakers
Set penalties for rules being broken.
As an example a 5% penalty for every milestone not met.
That means, if they update you in 4 days instead of 3, hit them with a 5% penalty. Make sure you do this the FIRST time they miss a milestone. This will discontinue a pattern of abuse. Again, don’t be a pushover little bitch. Highlight punishments clearly in the rules before the project starts.
4. Don’t give feedback until you are completely happy.
This means that everything is up and running and you have tested everything. Don’t get conned into providing feedback after you see the site working well on their host, or you have a general brand theme without all items complete.
Elance workers like eBay sellers live for feedback. And once you leave feedback, you can’t change it. Many suppliers would prefer a 5 star review and 50% of the money over 100% cash and a 3 star review.
There is no doubt elance can provide quality work for cheap over a secure and reliable platform.
But if you let people screw you, they probably will.
The success of the project still rests on the project manager – you!