— January 4, 2019
In my opinion, we world-changing entrepreneurs are best served by building long-term relationships with our contractors.
A virtual team of freelancers who are intimately familiar with our business models, expectations, and needs can deliver top quality, consistent results. That said, when a project falls outside your team’s expertise, hiring through a freelancing site can be an absolute life-saver.
And! If a one-off project goes well, you’ve connected with a new contractor who can support your future needs. (I’m a big believer in referrals, but also a big believer in hanging onto talent wherever you find it!)
If you’re pondering hiring a contractor through a freelancing site and hoping to find someone who might become a trusted long-term resource, I recommend using Upwork over other sites.
Of course, even the pickier sites have their risks! Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of hiring contractors through freelancing websites:
Freelancing website pro: Low risk
These websites offer entrepreneurs a low-risk way to hire an unknown freelancer thanks to the escrow system that most of them use.
You’ll deposit the funds for agreed-upon jobs into escrow, but only release them to your freelancer once you’ve received and reviewed the agreed upon work. If it’s not up to snuff, you don’t have to pay for it.
Freelancing website con: Platform exclusivity
Many hiring sites have gotten wise to the fact that business owners like to shop around, and have adjusted their Terms and Conditions accordingly.
Once you begin working with a freelancer through Upwork, you may be locked into that platform and unable to work with that contractor outside the site.
Freelancing website pro: Huge talent pool
You’ll get access to thousands of contractors with a wide variety of talents. This is absolutely essential of you’ve got a one-off task that your current team members can’t quite handle.
It also means you can screen and connect with freelancers who have skills that you didn’t need initially, but find you will need moving forward.
Freelancing website con: Time-consuming
You may have to wade through a lot of proposals to find that one perfect person. The downside of getting access to thousands of folks in the talent pool is you’ll have to hunt down the specific talents, experience level, and price range you’re seeking.
This is not the end of the world, of course, but can be irritating if you’re on a tight timeline or juggling a packed schedule.
Freelancing website pro: Price
Contractors who offer their services through freelancing sites know they’re bidding against a boatload of equally qualified candidates, and price accordingly. There’s no doubt that you can get some great work at shockingly low prices.
Freelancing website con: Communication
Many of these sites enable a “race to the bottom” of the pricing scale, which may mean that your new freelancer is located on the other side of the world. Sometimes that’s no big deal, but it can definitely cause timezone issues and communication breakdowns.
Bottom line: In order to hire smart through freelancing websites, you MUST be very clear on what you’re looking for, research how to create a good job listing, and be prepared to spend some time sifting through the responses before finding your perfect fit.
And even then, you need to be willing to try again if the first person you hire isn’t a good fit.
There is an element of trial-and-error when you’re hiring someone based on an online profile instead of a recommendation and phone interview! But the tradeoff is that you’ll be able to work with skilled new contractors all over the world, potentially at bargain rates.
Weigh your priorities, and proceed accordingly!