Whether you hire other independent contractors or you use a crowdsourcing site (think elance, oDesk, 99designs and others) for projects, I want to hear from you.
Tell me a little about your experience hiring another independent contractor.
You don't have to mention the site by name, and you can answer as many or as few questions as you like.
Thanks for your feedback on this topic, everyone!
Had a wonderful experience hiring a freelance graphic designer via eLance. I needed a cost-effective solution for a client, and my personal artist contacts were priced too high for my client which is why I went the crowd sourcing route. At first I was overwhelmed by the number of applicants, but I began by eliminating resources that were provided outside of the US. I decided that if I needed to speak to the designer I wanted to be able to do so in a timely manner. Even after eliminating applicants outside of the US, I still had a good amount of choices so I began going through portfolios and doing further research on my own. Ironically the resource I ended up hiring lives only a few miles from me and we have built such a rapport that I have hired her for other projects. I found the entire process very efficient for my needs.
My company, Jailyn Apparel, designs and manufactures women's apparel. This requires contracting out work extensively both:
-to obtain professional skill sets I don't possess for work like production pattern making, contract sewing, photography, and marketing, and
-for jobs where the person needs to look a certain way, such as fit models in several different sizes to develop the line's intricate sizing, and fashion models for the product shots and advertising.
While some of the contracting experiences have been shockingly negative, costing me a lot of time and money, far more have had a positive impact on my business. I feel quite fortunate for how many wonderful people I've met, and it certainly reduces stress to know I'm working with true professionals.
For the models, I get a lot of applicants, and it is overwhelming because it's very time consuming to go through them all to determine whether they conform to the requirements advertised, and then try to figure out who among those would likely be reliable.
I use a crowdsourcing-type site, as well as Craig's List for the models and get a good response from both. The main difference is that on the model crowdsourcing site, the models typically have their pertinent information and a portfolio already set up for you to view. With Craig's List, the applicants frequently include very little information or helpful photographs, even when given a form to complete, so that can take up a lot of additional time with limited payoff.
Hiring apparel industry professionals is quite the opposite situation. Finding these people is a huge hunt. They do not advertise, and not a lot of them are in the Austin area, where I live. Sometimes outsourcing beyond the immediate area is necessary, but happily I've been able to keep it all within the United States.
That's great to hear, Eileen. I used 99designs for some logo design work over a year ago now. I was a little underwhelmed by the responses, but I did get a lot of them. Although I've done work through Elance, I've never hired through them. I'm going to keep them in mind, as I've got some pretty big blog/website projects in the pipeline for fall. Thanks for your feedback!
Jodi, your story is pretty fascinating. I'd honestly never even thought about outsourcing for models before. Thanks for sharing your experience!
I've had both good and bad experiences with "outsourcing" work. I do web development but I'm much better on the programming side than the graphics. I've outsourced graphics design with a company where I had a designer assigned to me. I loved the interactions and his work and since it was something I couldn't do as good on my own I was grateful for the help. I have also outsourced other things where the work wasn't as good and you have to go back a dozen times to get things right. In my opinion it depends on the individual in a lot of cases.
I once outsourced a project that I could have done on my own. The work was ok but there were parts I didn't feel were finished. I didn't want to spend more money on it as the bulk of the work had been done and it was launch-able so I figured I'd just finish it on my own. It isn't completed to this day although it hangs over me every time I think of that site.
I have never used crowdsourcing personally but I have had clients who have used 99designs. The work they got completed was well done and they had a good number of designs to choose from so it was great in their case. If you have a single project and only need a simple task or design (logo or theme) and you aren't entirely sure what you want I'd say crowdsourcing is good for a business owner/buyer. If you are looking for multiple projects to outsource over time I'd recommend working with a single individual that you can go back to later if there is work that needs fixing, changes, or updates.
Using the tools that are out there help to give you better talent at a cheaper price. My suggestion would be if you are going to do a larger project, start with a smaller task and make sure they communicate well and they understand what you are looking for. Make sure you know what you are looking for because if you don't know it is hard to have someone build something for you. If done right, working with others (on things you can or can't do) is a great way to increase what you can accomplish. If you have the wrong person doing it, or you make mistakes with managing them it can be a great way to waste time and actually hurt your bottom line.
I've had good and bad experiences outsourcing, but overall they've been wonderful. Specifically, here's my answers to your questions:
- Positive, definitely
- You can always do it yourself given enough time to learn, but it's a question of what your time is worth and what you could have been doing with your business during that time. If you could be moving your business forward faster or doing other things to up your profits, then outsourcing is money well spent.
- In a couple cases, I outsourced some tech stuff that I really couldn't have done well myself. Again, money well spent.
- I've only had one case where I used Odesk to find a couple writers and I chose from the first 5 applicants. It's all about be very specific in your job specifications. Otherwise, I've always used people that were referred to me or were from a private mastermind group that I belong to.
- Since I get my best outsourcers from recommendations, finding qualified applicants is not an issue.
- I think of crowdsourcing more as getting information from a group of people, such as when a company like Google holds a contest for the best design of their search logo. Or when you ask your readers to all contribute their opinions on a topic, like you're doing here. Definitely a lot of benefits. You can build excitement and involvement with customers, get real-world case studies, take the pulse of your market, etc. etc. Plus, you're not spending the money you'd otherwise have to spend on things like focus groups or paying a contractor or employee to do the work.
My advice is to always spend a portion of your profits to reinvest in your business by outsourcing tasks that can free up your time to do more strategic work.
I did try outsourcing a coding project last year on Odesk. Didn't go well. It was something I could have done myself but was swamped at the time. So hired one coder, who agreed to the work and terms, halfway through it and changed his mind and decided he didn't want to do it. so site is half finished. 2nd coder I tried took months to make progress, so I finally ended that contract. So basically now I am back at square one. Now I'm back at square one but will be working on it myself this time.
I would like to try outsourcing again sometime, but I think you really need to manage it well. Needs to be managed like any other project. Communication is key, as I think, is very specific set of deliverables.
Part of it for me was I was new to the whole concept of outsourcing so both times were true learning experiences for me. though costly ones specially in terms of TIME!