Choosing A Contractor

Choosing A Contractor

There are dozens of outsourcing websites including many for specific countries. I have posted some more links at the end of this article.

I mainly use they are one of the oldest (formed in 1999) and most established outsourcing websites. As of today they have handled $700 Million in completed contracts & have over 800,000 registered contractors for you to choose from. I am using them for all these tutorials, but the general principle for hiring is the same with all these types of website.

Find a Contractor, Payments and Reviews. I show you in the video how to look for a contractor and many of the strategies I use to select the best one for my project. The basic premise for all of these sites is this.

  • A contractor will offer his services. He or she will provide a resumé and description of what they offer and their average hourly rate. They will be responsible for paying a finders fee to Elance.
  • For purchasers there are no fees for joining Elance. Simply register and then advertise your job, sit back and wait for the offers to come in.
  • Once you have chosen a contractor and you both have agreed terms and the time to complete the work, you hand over a deposit to Elance via credit card or paypal..
  • Elance hold the money in escrow and will only release payment once you have agreed that it has been done to your satisfaction. If you are not happy then you ask the contractor to put it right.
  • The purchaser then has the option to post a review of their experience with the supplier. This is the same principle as EBay and is a great way of ensuring that the work is completed to the high standard you were promised.

If it’s a small job, perhaps I need a writer for an article, I will consider people who have limited experience, if I think they will be suitable for me. The escrow method means you only release payment when you are happy so you don’t have much to lose and many potentially good contractors may be new to Elance so they can’t get work because they have no reviews so it’s a bit of a vicious circle. There are lots of people on Elance who have no previous work history there, but may have lots of testimonials/references elsewhere.

However, in general I always try to choose people who have 5* reviews and the more the better. If it’s a big project then I will look for someone who has completed 100’s of jobs. The system works on the same principle as ebay. When the work is completed and paid for the client can place reviews/comments for others to see.

How to Research a Provider  Log in to your Elance account (its free for purchasers) here is the link to create an account: Find a world of talent online at Elance.

Click on “Hire” followed by “search contractors”. Then either type in the job title in the search box or look in the “By Work type” box on the left of the page. I usually search by “level high” or “review” in the sort by drop down box near the top right of the page. Now you have the list of providers that fit your description & criteria.

  1. Look at the Company or individuals overview.
  2. Scroll through the “Job History” and read comments from previous clients.
  3. Portfolio- Check it out. Some web designers for example may have a very good ranking but you might not like their “style.”
  4. Skills- I prefer those contractors who have taken the time and completed Elance’s independent testing. Anyone can claim to be an expert, we need to see the proof.
  5. Finally check out their “service description” this area will show proof of accreditation by Google, Microsoft and any other references.

In the video I show you an example of a company who have an almost perfect résumé. I have not used them so can not give a personal recommendation but;

  • They are web programmers.
  • They have a 4.9 out of 5* rating from over 1200 jobs.
  • They are 98% recommended.
  • They are level 17 (contractors start at level one).
  • They charge from $20 an hour which is half that which I am usually quoted in the UK or USA (India & Pakistan have a lot of software & programming companies that employ highly skilled graduates but as the cost of living is so much cheaper you receive the cost savings benefit.)
  • They have earned over $7.4 million so they are not going to be tempted to scarper with your $250!

Once you have narrowed down the short list of contractors, google them. Have a look and see if they have a website. Is it of good quality and well maintained, ie no broken links. Have a look at any testimonials. For a big job consider contacting the testimonial writer. TIP: Do not be tempted to contact the Elancer direct. They probably offer their best rates on Elance and you have the security of both the eskrow and reviews should anything go wrong.

Once you have chosen the contractor you wish to work with you accept his proposal. You will be asked to fund your eskrow account with Elance (they hold the money and will only release any funds once you are satisfied with the work). You should agree “payment milestones” with the contractor. Some will ask for a payment upfront depending on the type of job, most will agree for you to pay in instalments as you go along.

Then you need to make a a very detailed schedule of work for him so that both parties know EXACTLY what is required. My first few attempts at outsourcing were not a brilliant success but it was due to mistakes on my part. I accepted someone who had no history and the instructions I gave him were far too vague.

tipsScroll through the “Job History” section of your contractors and read some of the reviews.

Then click on job description -this is often great for copying or using as the basis of your job description.

One of the hurdles to overcome when you are new to outsourcing someone who is possibly 1000’s of miles away, you MUST be VERY specific about the work you require.

Telling someone you “want a website with flashing lights for power tools” is a surefire recipe for disaster. What you and they envisage is likely to be miles apart.

The following is one of Elances own video tutorials showing you a brief overview and how to award the job. One point to note in this video they show an example of the hourly rate as being $35 to $40 an hour. Notice how most of the offers fall into this bracket. I would have entered $20 to $30. Contractors who see that budget will logically pitch around that level. There is always the chance that a higher cost contractor is currently not very busy and you may get them for a cheaper price.

Hire a World of Talent at Elance

Some more examples of sites including the incredible where suppliers offer work for only $5!!
www.people per       ok for finding people BUT they just raised their fees to contractors to 18%!!         ODesk and Elance have merged as of December 2013

In the  following “Tips When Choosing A Contractor” article I explain a few more do’s and dont’s when hiring.

Author: Marc Walton

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