Usually employee benefits do not apply in freelance arrangements: redundancy, maternity leave, sickness and holidays. A lot of the hassle in terms of extra costs and bureaucracy that you would have by employing someone local to you simply is not there when using outsource services. Though do not expect to get work done for nothing – many freelancers do live in third world countries, but the market determines the rate and most quality freelancers expect fair pay for their time. There are no hard and fast rules as to what you should be paying, but freelance sites often have minimum rates per project.
Buy Cheap, Pay Twice
You can only work within the limits of your own budget, but if you can often it is best to stretch it further than the very cheapest option. The old saying “buy cheap, pay twice” applies in for outsource services. Buying the cheapest product, goods or services, you are likely to finish up paying a whole lot more in the long term.
We all have some personal experience of this; the cheap T-shirt that loses its color in the wash, the cheap hotel where we could not sleep all night because of the noise from the all-night disco next door, the cheap laptop that crashes when we have more than two programs open, the cheap pliers that snapped the first time we tried to cut wire and so on.
Should you only pay top dollar then? Always buy the most expensive product or service? No, absolutely not. It is about looking at more than just the dollar value.
For real, physical goods this is of course fairly straight forward. If you are buying a DVD player, unless you are have a lot of spare cash to flash around, common sense says not to pay $10,000 from a top of the range specialty shop, nor to pay $10 from a dodgy car boot sale. The sensible choice is to do some careful research and buy in the middle price range, selecting the one that has the features you want or a brand name you trust. With outsourcing services it is not quite so easy, but the principles are the same. Once freelancers have bid on your project, it is time to do your shopping around.
As with the DVD player you can research your options and make an informed decision, selecting neither the most expensive provider nor the lowest bidder, unless of course their ratings are very high and they have a reference list of happy customers. Look closely at those in the middle bracket. Freelancers may not have brand names to help you decide, but freelance websites that offer outsource services do have feedback systems that give you a pretty good idea of how reliable, competent and experienced a particular writer, designer or programmer is.
Check out their portfolio; do not be shy to ask any questions. Make a note of how quickly they respond and ensure that their English language skills are good enough for your purposes. If you are outsourcing content or copy writing then obviously language skills are very important. If, on the other hand, you are outsource services such as a graphic design project then their English skills are less crucial. Just ensure they can communicate sufficiently with you to understand what you want completed. Some of the top graphics designers do not have the best command of English, but you are paying them for their design skills so it does not matter.
You are using outsource services partly to save money so do not overpay people, but equally do not underpay them – remember the ‘buy cheap pay twice’ rule. You may find yourself paying for an inferior product and starting your project all over again.
Extremely low bids should be a red flag. You want to ensure you are hiring a serious freelancer. It is not unknown for people to simply copy content from the internet and pass it off as their own, particularly writers so be cautious.
In terms of actual transfer of funds for outsource services, we recommend using an escrow service where that is practical, and using an electronic service in any case. Most freelancers are used to a starting payment and a completion payment, but payment in phases or thirds for longer projects is not uncommon.