Imagine if you had a team of highly skilled personal assistants doing your bidding…
If you could sit back, haughtily lift your nose up towards the sky and simply point at all the things you want done. “Build me this website!” “Sort out my tax-return!” “Write me this article!”
Well you can… and the good news is it won’t cost you a king’s ransom.
I’m sure you heard about the existence of elancers and online assistants – the question is which websites provide what services, what can you expect to pay and where do you start?
This is the Insider’s Edge quick guide to finding great, reasonably priced, online freelancers to do jobs for you. Jobs that you might not have the time or the know how to do yourself.
Where to find great online freelancers to do jobs for you: from article writing and accountancy to website building and graphic design
There are several websites to choose from but the following offer some of the best talent at the most competitive prices.
While I wouldn’t recommend using Fiverr for any major jobs, we’ll start off with them because they offer by far the cheapest deals. It’s a great place to go if you want to come up with a quirky advertising image for a product for example.
I mean where else can you get someone to write your company name on their bum for $5 (£3.18)?
Joking aside (although you can actually do that) there are also some great value ‘gigs’ on the Fiverr website as they’re called on there.
For example for $5 you can…
– Get someone to translate a 600 word document into Mandarin Chinese
– Print and then post 100 A5 business flyers for you in Canterbury
– Have someone write you a detailed SEO report for your website
Pros: Cheap, has a variety of interesting and quirky gigs on offer, fun.
Cons: A lot of jobs here are ‘mass produced’, some are ‘black hat’ (meaning they use questionable techniques which can damage your reputation), it’s generally not suitable for large scale/more complex projects.
(Insider’s Edge Top Rated)
Elance is my favourite online freelancer website.
It does tend to be a little more expensive on some jobs but the calibre of freelancers on there is, in my opinion, often significantly higher which can save time and headaches
They cover a huge range of freelance jobs and you can find most services from proof reading and copy editing to programming, website tweaking and bookkeeping.
It’s one of the most popular sites of its kind and when you post a job on there you never have to wait long for the bids to come through. It’s always worth giving it some time for a good sample to come through so that you can do cost comparisons.
One really clever thing about Elance is that it has a special tool which allows you to track your elancer’s workflow. In other words you can view their work ‘in progress’ which, if you’re a panicky boss, is a really useful feature.
Pros: Huge talent pool, tends to attract more talented and skilled workers
Cons: Can be a little more expensive than some of its competitors
Freelancer is a great big juggernaut of a freelance site with nearly 7 million professionals on their books. They were already a formidable force but they recently acquired and swallowed up two niche but not insignificant freelance websites: ScriptLance and vWorker.
There’s a simple, logical layout to the site which makes a nice change. As with most of these sites you post a project, wait for bids and then go with your favourite applicant.
Their categories include: Websites IT & Software, Mobile, Writing, Design, Data Entry, Product Sourcing & Manufacturing, Sales & Marketing, Business, Account & Legal and the ominously named ‘Other’.
Jobs can get pretty pricey on here and the minimum price for any project is $30.
There’s also another ace in the hole for Freelancer… a section on the site called ‘freelancer contests’ (hover over the logo top left to access it). This is a very novel approach for design projects that uses ‘crowdsourcing’.
There’s a fixed cost for this type of gig and they’re not cheap. For example a Logo Design is $290 and a Website Design is $490 but here’s the clever bit. When the job goes live any of the 1.1 million designers on the site will be able to allowed to work on the job.
Here’s how it works: first you choose the type of design job you want done. Let’s say you opt for a Logo Design.
At this stage it’s a contest and designers will compete to produce the best designs for you. You rate the efforts you like and the same designers (and new designers) can improve them or come up with new ideas.
When you’ve found the perfect design you choose a winner. You’ll then be given the full size design – and the rights to it – and the winning designer will get paid.
Pros: Huge talent pool to choose from, crowd sourcing feature
Cons: Some jobs can be a little more expensive than some of its competitors, some complaints from freelancers that it’s too easy for employers to rip them off, need work integrating some of their recent acquisitions
Odesk claims to be the world’s largest and fastest growing online workplace and has a workforce of 2.5 million freelancers serving more than 350,000 businesses.
Like eLance and Freelancer they have some snazzy tools that help you track your contractor’s progress, should you wish. For instance you can see time sheets and daily logs from elancers working on jobs.
As you may have gathered the interface with all these websites is fairly similar. You post a job, wait for bids and then choose your favourite candidate. Odesk is no exception.
What I would say about Odesk is that having used it a few times now it seems more geared towards the tech side. They do cover a range of services on there including…
Web Development, Software Development, Networking and Information Systems, Writing & Translation, Admin Support, Design and Multimedia, Customer Service, Sales and Marketing and Business Services.
But for me the more technological jobs such as programming is where Odesk really finds its strength.
Pros: Huge number of freelancer available, very low prices available, can be good for ‘tech’ jobs
Cons: Tends to attract weaker candidates, lots of time wasters
iFreelance is another site worth taking a look at.
There’s nothing vastly novel about this one and it lacks some of the bells and whistles of the larger sites but it still works on the same general principle and there are some good deals to be found.
There are a wide range of categories covering everything from accounting and finance to illustration, telephony, training and search engine optimisation.
Posting jobs is free on iFreelance and workers on there pay a flat monthly fee to be listed on there and nothing else (in other words they won’t he stressing about commissions).
Pros: Displays company/freelancer portfolios well
Cons: Smaller talent pool, can be frustrating waiting for bids
6. People Per Hour
People Per Hour is a cracking little site that I’d not come across until very recently. The model here is more akin to Fiverr than it is to Elance, but there’s a greater range of project types on offer than on the former – thanks to the lack of price capping (Fiverr is limited to $5 or multiples thereof).
There are 3 ways to approach People Per Hour. The first is to browse through the ‘hourlies’ – which are are fixed jobs for a fixed price. So for example you might find some to give you an SEO health heck on your website for £20, or design you a logo for £50.
The second is to contact freelancers directly on the website, discuss potential projects and negotitate a price.
The last is the more traditional bidding model whereby you post a project and then wait for bids to come in. Compared to the major freelancer websites (like Elance or Freelancer or Odesk) this third option is still in its infancy phase and they really can’t offer the kind of competition or choice that their bigger (but not necessarily better) brothers can. They currently have around 300,000 registered compared to someone like Freelancer who have 7 million.
With that said the website is easy to use with an intuitive user interface. Certainly one to watch, especially if they can carve a deep enough foothold in this crowded space.
Pros: Intuitive layout, 3 ways to interact with freelancers
Cons: Smaller available talent pool, generally more expensive for a number of jobs
Guru is another site worth looking at. It’s no juggernaut so expect a little less choice here but it still hosts a respectable 400,000+ freelancers covering jobs such as:
Website & Ecommerce, Programming and Databases, Engineering and CAD, Graphic Design & Multimedia, Photography & Videography, Sales and Telemarketing and a range of other services.
One nifty feature which Guru holds over some of its bigger competitors is ‘Guru Loyalty Dollars.’ The more you use Guru the more of these points you can pick up. These can be redeemed on future projects.
Pros: Pleasant user interface
Cons: Smaller talent pool, can be frustrating waiting for bids
Sortfolio is a great little site but focuses on Web Design only. It just about squeezes into this list on the basis that it’s still a resource where you can find online freelancers.
Sortfolio is more suitable to those with big scale projects (and a bigger budget to match) as you tend to work with a team or business rather than individuals. You can whittle down selections by country and by city/area which gives you the opportunity to work with freelancers face to face if needs be.
Pros: Tends to attract more talented and skilled workers, you can select by ‘area’ so that you can meet with your freelancer
Cons: Considerably more expensive than some of its competitors
I hope this article helps. What do you look for in a freelancer? If you’ve used any of the above or a website not mentioned here please leave a comment below.
Please note this is the first part of a two part series. You can see the second part here.