Etiquette of Outsourcing

5 replies
The Basic Etiquette of Outsourcing

Before I say anything else, I want to make two things clear.

  • I am aware this will probably ruffle some feathers.

  • I have a number of very good clients on this forum, please know that this is not directed towards any of you. In fact, I have been very lucky with all of the people here and never had to deal with any of the below from members of this forum. This is more of an observation than anything else.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve read numerous threads dealing with the relationship between someone outsourcing work and the people they hire. WF is not the only place I have been reading these types of threads, but it is the only place I actually post, so I’m going to share my thoughts here.

I work on both sides of this coin. My primary business is as a writer, so most of the time I am the one being hired. That being said, I’m not great at designing websites and making graphics, so I outsource those things for various projects I have.


Two of the biggest problems I’ve noticed being discussed by those who do the hiring are 1) pay, and 2) reliability.

I get the need to keep costs down, the more you pay for services, the more it cuts into your budget. However, for some things you really do get what you pay for. When I hire someone to design my website I want to find the best price I can. But bottom line cost isn’t what you need to be concerned about, value is. If you can get the same quality for cheaper, that's great. But if you can’t, it hurt's your bottom line in the long run. I know, I’ve went the cheapest route before, even though going in I knew the quality was inferior, and I left a lot of money on the table until I rebranded. I am not saying that more expensive is always better, it isn’t. But do your homework before hiring someone.

Which brings me to my next point, if this is the first project you have worked on with someone, they probably understand the need to stay in daily contact with them. Even if you have worked with them on numerous projects, keeping in touch is never a bad thing. What they don’t want, is to have to fill out a daily report. Maybe for the first project that won’t be an issue, after all, you haven’t worked with them before. But after that first project you either need to trust that they’ll get job done, or hire someone else. If you feel the need to monitor their progress, set milestones for the project before you begin work together. When the milestone date arrives and you don’t have what you were supposed to have, then you can start to worry. I don’t speak for all freelancers, but I can speak for myself. And if someone I was working with wanted daily reports on my progress, I may as well go back and work in the corporate world I left. In other words, things would change, or I would finish the project and conveniently be too busy the next time they contacted me with a job. Trust who you hire.


You are your own boss, that’s why you got into this game in the first place. That does not mean that you are your only boss. When you take on a client, you work for them. As I made clear above, nobody wants a boss breathing down their neck, especially a creative. But you need to stay in contact with your clients during a project. If a little while has gone by and you haven’t contacted them, shoot them an email, give an update and let them know what’s going on. This is your reputation, and if you want to get hired again you’ll build a relationship with the client.

At the beginning of any work I take, the first thing I tell a client is when they can expect the work to be to them. For me, that’s normally less than a week, but you can be sure that if I haven’t talked to that person and it’s the day I said I would have the work done, I email them, just to let them know that everything is going fine and we are still on track to for later in the day. Remember, these people paid you good money to provide them with a service, if you would like to continue providing them with that service you need to give them some assurances that not only is your work good, but that you get it done when you say you’ll get it done. And if you’re running behind, tell them. A great way to get a terrible reputation is to know a project is running behind, and just avoid talking to your client.

The other thing I’ve noticed from freelancers is the rampant complaining about pay. Here’s the deal, you set your rates, nobody else does. If someone comes to you with an offer you don’t like, turn them away, but there’s no use in taking the job and then complaining about people not paying well. By taking the job in the first place the only thing you are doing is letting your client know that you’re willing to work for that rate. Pick your business model, pick your clientele, and set your prices accordingly.

The reality of the situation is that you both need each other. Finding a reliable client and finding a reliable freelancer can make life a lot easier for the both of you. When a freelancer and a client come together, you are both hiring each other. If one of you doesn’t like what the other brings to the table, walk away and go your separate ways. But once that relationship has started, both parties need to do what they can to maintain it, it makes life easier for everyone.

And hopefully it will keep some of the clutter out of forums.

#etiquette #outsourcing
  • Profile picture of the author dvduval
    Generally my first job when I hire a freelancers is for a fixed rate job, usually small (less than $200). Then I discuss what I pay as an hourly rate, and their availability per week. Once they bill some hours, I start to learn about their efficiency, and I can determine if they will be a good fit for me and/or my customers.
    It is okay to contact me! I have been developing software since 1999, creating many popular products like phpLD.
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  • Profile picture of the author myeanne
    That's the good point in outsourcing project and how outsourcing became its finest.
    Staff Leasing
    We Lease Offshore Employees

    Hire inexpensive labor from the Philippines!
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  • Profile picture of the author Dave Owen
    Try hiring through

    It has great tools for making sure that people are honest about the time they have worked on your project...
    --->Your Website Needs THIS <---
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    • Profile picture of the author statelizard
      Originally Posted by Dave C. View Post

      Try hiring through

      It has great tools for making sure that people are honest about the time they have worked on your project...

      This is actually one of my biggest pet peeves about outsourcing. As I said I work as a freelancer and I hire freelancers. And I NEVER hire or work by the hour. If you're a professional you know how long it will take you to do something, assuming you have the parameters of the project. As such, you should be able to come up with a quote of what the project will cost. Should the project change somewhere along the line involving drastic changes or more work, then another quote should be worked up.

      When I hire someone, I really don't care how long they spend on my project, I want the quality they offered. If someone says the project is going to cost $500 and I'm ok with that , I don't care if they spend 15 minutes or 10 hours on it, as long as they deliver a quality product.

      Odesk and the time clock they have people use it not my cup of tea as a freelancer or someone looking to hire a freelancer. I know I don't want someone looking over my shoulder while I'm working, and most other people don't as well.

      My post wasn't about me having problems with this, or worrying about how effectively someone was working. If I had a problem with someone I hired or who had hired me, a public forum would not be the place I would handle it. With that person is where I would handle it.

      I was simply pointing out that I have seen a ton of this going on between the two parties, and there is really no reason for it.

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      • Profile picture of the author kiopa
        Originally Posted by statelizard View Post

        However, for some things you really do get what you pay for.
        Agreed, and I think this correlates directly to your frustration below where freelancers complain about pay rates. For example, the market place is currently flooded with people looking for $6/hour software developers. Thankfully I have some excellent clients who have known me for years, but realistically, how easy do you think it'd be for me to pickup a new client at $85/hour? Not very...

        Originally Posted by statelizard View Post

        What they don't want, is to have to fill out a daily report.
        Again, agreed. If someone told me to send daily reports, more than likely, I would tell them to get f**ked (in a polite way of course). For the first project I send out a quote which includes deadline, plus require a 50% deposit. If the quote is $1000+, it's 35% deposit, with milestone payment in the middle. Then I tell the client for every 24 hours I'm late with the deadline, he gets to deduct 5% from the total amount quoted.

        Assuming the first project goes smoothly (always does), I expect things to be more relaxed. Just know I'm going to take good care of you. I don't require any deposits, and clients always pay after the job is complete. Then again, I'm in a better position to do that. If they don't pay, I just take their business offline. :-)

        Originally Posted by statelizard View Post

        If a little while has gone by and you haven't contacted them, shoot them an email, give an update and let them know what's going on.
        100% agreed again. Ignoring clients is probably the worst possible thing you can do. Even if you just say something stupid like, "sorry, but decided to take a couple days off, but will get cracking right away again", that's far better than nothing.

        Originally Posted by statelizard View Post

        The other thing I've noticed from freelancers is the rampant complaining about pay.
        See my first paragraph. I think that's due to the current marketplace, globalization, and the economic downslide. Thankfully I don't need any clients, but if I did, where would I find someone I can bill at $85/hour? I'd probably be stuck looking for people at $25/hour, before anyone would bother listening to me.

        Originally Posted by statelizard View Post

        As I said I work as a freelancer and I hire freelancers. And I NEVER hire or work by the hour. If you're a professional you know how long it will take you to do something
        Sorry, but I don't agree with that at all. I'll never work on a per-project basis, and it's only per-hour. Generally, I only work on larger projects though, and although we spec things out as best as possible beforehand, 95% of the time project scope changes mid-way. After they start seeing things take form, and after consultations, new ideas start flowing and scope changes.

        I'm completely fine with scope constantly changing, but I will be charging for it. That, and small little 1 - 3 hour jobs keep popping up all over the place. So I just take care of whatever comes in, and invoice out every few weeks. Always get paid promptly, and never any issues. Works great!
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