Running a business is no easy task, especially when you’re just starting out. There’s much to do and since many business owners are new to a lot of the daily tasks, it can become very time consuming. In the past, this used to mean either working 80-90 hours a week (at least in the first several months of being in business), or spending a large percentage of your budget hiring employees to do some of these things.
These days, the world is changing. With the rise of the internet and the global marketplace also comes the ability to hire workers from virtually anywhere in the planet to complete tasks that don’t require the worker to be in the same city (or country) as the employer. Some of the popular tasks that a businessperson can outsource include:
- Market Research
- Data Entry
- Administrative Assisting
- Internet Research
- Content Creation
- Computer Programming
- Website Development & Maintenance
- Call Center Customer Sales/Service
- Video Creation
- Legal Services
- ...and any more!
The advantages of virtual teams are many. Hiring contract workers means not having to deal with the headaches of maintaining a regular employee such as doing payroll, paying taxes, benefits, etc. An outsourced worker can be hired often at a more affordable rate and can be paid either hourly or for a specific task to be completed.
Picking the Right Freelancer Website
The internet is full of sites that offer business owners the ability to hire outsourced workers. The challenge is that many of them are unreliable and produce lower quality workers. A business owner looking for the lowest price may find themselves often frustrated by sub-par work and having to waste more time getting the work re-done by someone else. To avoid these pitfalls, it’s recommended that you use a reputable outsourcing site that protects both the buyer (that’s you) and the service provider (that’s the freelancer). Our top request from our our previous post on finding the best freelancers "Odesk vs. Elance vs. GetaFreelance vs vWorker" is to compare Elance & Odesk, two of the most popular and well-respected outsourcing sites. We've utilized both and have put together this post to help you navigate their differences.
Elance at a Glance
Founded in 1998, Elance is one of the pioneers in the outsourcing business. Currently there are over 250,000 providers in varying categories offering their services through this site. To date, upwards of $300 million in total billings have changed hands through Elance, making it among the most trusted outsourcing sites on the web.
How Elance Works
Elance is set up with the goal of finding the right balance between protecting both the buyer and provider. Toward that end, the site has some unique terms and conditions that are not seen anywhere else (that we know of) in the marketplace. First of all, the provider is limited in the amount of jobs he/she is allowed to bid on. Upon creating an account, the provider must pay Elance monthly in order to bid on projects.
The lowest monthly fee is $10 and it can go up to several hundred, depending upon if the provider is a one person operation that only wants to bid on a smaller number of jobs per month up to a major firm that hopes to land thousands of jobs monthly. The effect of this monthly fee is that providers are forced to be more selective and are more likely to bid only on jobs where their pricing is competitive and they are confident they can perform the job satisfactorily.
Buyers undergo a certain level of screening as well. Upon registration, a buyer must pay a $10 fee before posting a project. Buyers must also verify they have a valid credit card to insure they are actually going to pay. When it comes to payment, Elance has an escrow system where money can be deposited and released to the provider upon satisfactory completion of the job. Buyers can choose not to pay through escrow, but if you go that route, don’t be surprised if you get far fewer bids for your projects.
For hourly projects, Elance has a ‘Work View’ system that allows buyers to get screenshots of a provider’s desktop while working on their project in order to ensure that they are actually using their time to work on your project and not off surfing the net doing personal stuff. The ‘Work View’ system also protects providers in the case of a dispute as it can offer proof that they have indeed put in the work they were assigned to do.
Odesk at a Glance
Odesk has been around since 2004 and has rapidly grown into one of the premier outsourcing sites on the Web. Since its founding, Odesk has had upwards of $200 million in total billings with a present work force of around 700,000 providers. This is nearly 3 times the number of providers on Elance, the reason being that Odesk does not charge a monthly fee to providers, which attracts more of them.
How Odesk Works
The Odesk interface is similar to Elance and is relatively user-friendly, allowing you to search for providers based on category, skill level, feedback scores, geographic location, and price range, and several others. Odesk also pioneered the time-recording screenshot system for ‘pay by hour’ workers, making it a very popular site for those looking to hire freelancers on an hourly basis. The big difference from Odesk to Elance is that providers on Odesk are not required to pay a monthly fee to bid on projects, and buyers are not required to pay a fee to open an account. There is also no escrow system for ‘pay by job’ projects.
Let’s look at how Elance and Odesk compare:
Who’s the Best?
Both Elance and Odesk have their strengths. Each of them has many satisfied buyers and providers. With both services, you can tailor your provider searches based on a number of criteria, and both have skill tests for providers to prove they have the qualifications they are claiming to have.
Though you can find good quality workers from both sites, Elance's difference is the monthly fee providers have to pay weeds out most of the scammers and forces providers to be much more careful about the jobs they will bid on. One word of caution when hiring from Elance; make sure your job description is crystal clear. Remember, providers have to be very choosy on the jobs they go after, so if you are too vague in your posting, you may find yourself getting little or no response.
The major strength for Odesk is the ‘pay by the hour’ projects, though Elance now has the same feature. Still, hiring a ‘pay by the hour’ worker at Odesk will lessen the chances of getting an unqualified individual, because they know the time they spend working will be recorded. This helps level the playing field in terms of quality of workers between the two sites.
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