Over the years, I think I have spent over a couple hundred thousand for freelancers in freelance marketplaces. I have had good and bad experiences. I even farmed some of my own skills out on occasion. I love the idea of dumping the annoying office people and working from home. I love the idea of working without the burnt popcorn microwave odor wafting from the office kitchen. I love the idea of coding for a few hours and my girlfriend coming over and sitting on my lap to see how I am doing. I truly love freelance marketplaces.
I love them so much I built one! Being successful in the freelance marketplace is sometimes just a matter of doing your homework, and other times, it is a matter of best practices and marketplace enforcement of solid project management methodologies. This is a simple list that I put together that has kept me using freelance marketplaces successfully for years.
1. Pay attention to provider profiles.
I know this sounds simple but the truth is that you only want to hire those providers with the very best profile. Hopefully, you’re using a marketplace that is able to track and report when providers are meeting their deliverables. Providers that run late or underbid consistently are probably not the best choice. If you’re searching for provider in a freelance marketplace that does not report this information, my recommendation is to find another marketplace.
Good reviews just aren’t enough. Do they do what they say they’re going to do and are they able to do so on budget? I know in my own marketplace, we do track deliverables and budget and it is reported in the provider profiles. It’s extremely important and it is on my list as the first item for a reason!
2. Check the work before you release payment.
To be completely honest, every dispute I have ever heard of happening on a freelance marketplace is because the client released payment before they fully checked the code they received. Understandably, some clients will not be technically skilled.
However, the freelance marketplace should offer you a means by which to check the technical integrity of the work. For example, you can always hire a tester. Someone who can be a third-party who is able to review the code before you release to the developer. It is also possible to hire a project manager or other developer to help you review the code to ensure that it is of high quality.
This may not be necessary throughout the entire project. It is an extremely good idea to do so at the beginning of the project while the relationship is new. Unless you check your code before you release payment, you are virtually nullifying all value of using freelance marketplace. So no matter how you do it, either check it yourself or have somebody else check it for you but definitely check the quality of the work before you release payment!
3. Plan your project carefully.
It’s extremely important that you plan out your entire application ahead of time. This means that you must write down all functionality and specs. Then with the help of your developer, you can place all of this information into a series of milestones. Order each milestone into a development sequence that will not cause any roadblocks through dependencies.
A well-planned project can actually reduce your development time and costs by 3 to 4 times. Most people find it painful since they want to just begin the development of the project and get the show on the road. Planning your project is the most important step of all. This step is even more important if you plan on using a freelance marketplace.
4. Most marketplaces do not read code, especially generic freelance marketplaces.
This means that if you request assistance to resolve any kind of dispute, they will not consider quality when resolving that dispute. Unfortunately this means that most freelance marketplaces have absolutely no quality standards whatsoever. Some marketplaces do have quality standards and do read code. If you do have a dispute with a client or provider, you are going to want to be using a marketplace that is able to read the work and help determine if a dispute on quality is a valid claim or not.
This actually has a major knock on effect as well. Chintzy providers that put out bad work know that they won’t have any recourse on a marketplace that is willing to make quality judgments on work quality. They are far less likely to work in a marketplace with quality standards and if they choose to, chances are they won’t last long.
5. Use a freelance marketplace that has testing and ticketing integrated into the transactional process.
Don’t forget, you are going to require testing at the completion of your development. Many times testing is not included in the bid price for the development of your app. Be sure to use a freelance marketplace that includes testing in the bid. And that is also able to track tickets and time as well. Signing up for third-party ticketing system places the work tracking outside of the marketplace and outside of the transactional protections of that marketplace. Thereby leaving clients and providers unprotected.
6. Don’t be cheap.
Many times when clients hire freelancers they feel it is acceptable to continually negotiate down and down and down the price. Remember that freelancers to are running a business and are actually there to make money. You can pretty much guarantee the less money they make the less time and effort they’re going to put into your project. Numerous are the clients who whittle away and whittle away at price and then complain and have disputes at the end of the project. Good quality providers choose their clients. So if you’re planning on attracting a quality provider, plan on being a good quality client.
7. Give feedback and expect feedback.
It is so important that everybody remained engaged with the project on the daily but basis. This means that providers and clients must communicate on a daily basis. If it’s been a while since you’ve heard from your provider, it’s time for a meeting about engagement. Take a no tolerance policy. If your provider is going silent or disappearing for swaths of time, there are no 2nd chances getting a new provider. As well, providers need their clients to be engaged. Milestones and specs always, always require clarification. Additionally, as a client if you are not engaged it’s difficult for you to hold your providers accountable since making the milestones and specs clear is 100% the client’s responsibility.
I love freelance marketplaces. I think they are the best thing since sliced bread. But they must be used properly in order to protect all parties. They also have to be used diligently and with a myriad of integrated tools in order to build quality apps. Remember, the better your project runs the better your app will be.