Outsourcing has moved upward in the most-improved columns of efficiency and respectability through eLance.com. This website offers time-saving access to high-quality expertise that enables you to offload projects for quick completion, while maximizing your budget and letting you focus on those items not easily delegated. If the project you have in mind falls into one of the twelve categories currently supported by eLance, you are literally in business: 1) Software & Technology, 2) Writing & Translation, 3) Sales & Marketing, 4) Management & Finance, 5) Legal, 6) Website Development, 7) Graphic Design & Art, 8) Search Advertising, 9) Administrative Support, 10) Training & Development, 11) Audio, Video & Multi-media, and 12) Architecture & Engineering.
Once you are registered on the site as a Buyer (a sliding scale of fees is involved), eLance provides an extremely user-friendly series of steps and links that guide you through the project listing process. This article serves as a summary of those steps, with a few suggestions and tips merged in along the way for added success. First, you need to select one of the twelve categories, and then a sub-category (e.g., Writing & Translation?Editing & Proofreading). You will then select a Title for your project and give a detailed description of the job-at-hand, including specific expectations, any required expertise, and so forth, followed by the total number of days and the date range that your project will be open for bidding. Next you will establish the timeframe for job completion once a bidder has been selected, and you will set your budget.
Let's take a sidebar for a moment here to discuss the subject of budget. Although outsourcing does enhance your ability to save money, eLance is not a marketplace for slave labor. There are always exceptions, but for the most part, the Service Providers bidding on your job(s) are sincere professionals eager to return a quality product at a fair price. Prior to setting the budget for your project listing, take a little time to understand the market for the type of work you are posting. Google your main and sub-categories, and then check out websites and pricing to get a feel for going rates. You might also want to consult with applicable local businesses and with colleagues as well, to help determine a price that is affordable for you but not insulting to prospective bidders. Buyers who attempt to milk the system-or who are sub-contracting, for pennies, work they themselves have acquired through bidding-will quickly discover that only the very least qualified suppliers are submitting bid proposals for their jobs. Simply put, be reasonable and fair in your pricing expectations.
Once you've established your budget, you will have a couple of options that can assist you in pre-screening in-coming bids. You'll have a choice of whether or not you wish to allow Service Providers to communicate with you, via Private Message Boards, prior to their actually placing their bids. This communication is optional but advisable, because you will receive more comprehensive bids if the Service Providers are able to clarify their questions in advance of bid commitments. You will also be able to list up to three questions you'd like bidders to answer, which will further assist you with your pre-qualification.
Perhaps the most important decision you'll make as you're creating your listing is whether you want your project to be at the Basic or the Select Level. Either one will give you access to top-notch Service Providers, but there is one key difference between the two: At the Select Level, Service Providers cannot see the other bid proposals being submitted. This results in more detailed but fewer responses, generally from the most seriously invested tier of registered providers. At the Basic Level, where Service Providers can read each other's submissions, you will still receive bids from highly-qualified individuals, but you'll have a larger number of responses, with less proposal detail. This Basic level also produces a lower bid range, since providers view all the other bid amounts and competitively bid against them. Participation in the Select Level costs more for both you and the Service Providers than Basic, so you'll need to decide the best option for each of your project listings. eLance gives you additional information on the listing levels to help you make the most advantageous choice.
Once you've paid a fully-refundable deposit of $25 to re-confirm your identity, your job will be posted and bids will begin pouring in. This brings you to the most difficult part of the entire process: hiring the best match for you and your job-at-hand. Some bids will be rejected right away due to inflated pricing or an obvious qualification mismatch, but you will generally end up with a collection of contenders. If your project has been listed at the Basic Level, you will have received bids from both Select and Basic Service Providers, and in the upper right hand corner of each proposal, you will see the eLance statistics for each bidder: average feedback rating, number of feedbacks, and total dollars earned through eLance projects. These statistics, in addition to the bidders' Profiles, Feedback Comments and Portfolios, will help you complete the “pictures” created by each proposal submitted. On a number of proposals, you will also see the words “New Provider.” Please don't discount these bids out-of-hand, even though there might not be much of an eLance track record yet. You will frequently find the most qualified, cost-effective option in someone who has just signed on to eLance and is eager to build a strong clientele base and a solid reputation. If your project was listed at the Select Level, you'll see all of the statistics as before, but only Select Service Providers will have placed bids. There will be “New Providers” in this category as well, though, so take the time to review their credentials.
Once you've read all the relative proposal and background material and then made your selection, you will go into the Buyer Activity section of “My eLance” and “offer” your chosen Service Provider the job. When the Service Provider “accepts,” you will pay him or her according to the terms stated in the proposal (usually a deposit of 25-50% of the total bid amount), a process most easily accomplished using eLance electronic funds transfer or Pay Pal. At that point, you and the Service Provider can begin communicating directly, based upon your mutual agreement, through the Private Message Board, email and/or telephone, to get the project started-and voila!, you can cross that task off your list.
Assuming your outsourcing requirements fall into one of the twelve eLance categories, you will discover that managing those demands has just become immeasurably more…well, more manageable. There is a legion of talented freeLancers out there, ready and willing to do everything possible to help you get your you-fill-in-the-blank job accomplished through new, efficient partnerships. As you begin building associations with a group of Service Providers, you'll soon find that you'll want to avail yourself of the option enabling you to invite individuals to bid on projects, a time-saving feature that lets you quickly hire your favorite(s)-and together, you can make each other's day-one right after the other-the eLance way!
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