Thoughts about freelancing or buying from freelancers/shops

12 replies
Hi all,

I am starting on a project to transform freelancing sites into something, well .. that isn't broken. I know a lot of you might have had some experience as either the buyer or the seller, whether its as a programmer, designer, small site owner etc ...

Here are my thoughts:
1) Hard to "win" bids as a freelancer, language barriers, differences in economies etc
2) Buyers don't post enough information to complete the project, so it is hard to give a decent pricing for the job on something like "I need an eCommerce website" without a lot more information
3) Designers need programmers and vice versa, perhaps both need a project manager for larger projects. (A competent one)
4) Jobs get sub-contracted to oblivion - Person 'A' who is good at writing winning proposals gets the bid, but is not a programmer or designer, reposts the project at a lower amount and collects the difference - assuming the project completes at all. This is horrible for the buyer for a multitude of reasons.
5) Large projects are hard to manage "solo"

Would love to hear more of your thoughts about freelancing, I am trying to be open to a lot of suggestions, "it would be so much better ifs.." - and/or feature requests.

Thanks in advance for your time...
-j
#buying #freelancers or shops #freelancing #thoughts
  • Profile picture of the author IdeaBox
    I loved vworker.com. Then they sold out to freelancer.com and now it blows ass. I worked on over 1000 projects on vworker and since the sell-out I haven't been able to land a single bid. I'd love a US ONLY freelancer site.
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    • Profile picture of the author jminkler
      Indeed, vworker was the $#^* - abritration, escrow etc

      Freelancer.com is horrible. I had a buyer disappear on me on a $700 bid. Freelancer charged ME 10%. It is not my fault that your site doesn't have escrow .. geesh.

      I wonder if Ian is looking for a new opportunity


      US ONLY - Interesting thought. I assume you are worried about lower rates, and or not being able to land work?
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      • Profile picture of the author IdeaBox
        Originally Posted by jminkler View Post

        Indeed, vworker was the $#^* - abritration, escrow etc

        Freelancer.com is horrible. I had a buyer disappear on me on a $700 bid. Freelancer charged ME 10%. It is not my fault that your site doesn't have escrow .. geesh.

        I wonder if Ian is looking for a new opportunity


        US ONLY - Interesting thought. I assume you are worried about lower rates, and or not being able to land work?
        When you open a site like that to the world it gets over saturated with people from 3rd world countries willing to do the work for 1/10th of the price someone in the US would charge. That takes away business from people in the US. I've bid as low as $200 on POS applications (which is extremely low) and was outbid by an India worker that bid $88.

        My time is to precious to only charge $1.50 an hour. If I'm taking time away form my wife and kids I should earn what my time is worth.

        If there was a US only freelancer site, I'd be the first one to sign up.
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        • Profile picture of the author jminkler
          Originally Posted by IdeaBox View Post

          When you open a site like that to the world it gets over saturated with people from 3rd world countries willing to do the work for 1/10th of the price someone in the US would charge. That takes away business from people in the US. I've bid as low as $200 on POS applications (which is extremely low) and was outbid by an India worker that bid $88.

          My time is to precious to only charge $1.50 an hour. If I'm taking time away form my wife and kids I should earn what my time is worth.

          If there was a US only freelancer site, I'd be the first one to sign up.
          What if you didn't have to bid, and rates were set by community voting using something similar to the time estimation formula (a + 4m + b)/6 perhaps with minimums similar to how people per hour has/had a $50 min?

          What types of projects did you complete on vworker? Do you prefer large or small projects?

          Also, do you think those low bidders actually complete the projects?
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    • Profile picture of the author wayfarer
      Originally Posted by IdeaBox View Post

      I loved vworker.com. Then they sold out to freelancer.com and now it blows ass. I worked on over 1000 projects on vworker and since the sell-out I haven't been able to land a single bid. I'd love a US ONLY freelancer site.
      Everything goes to hell when freelancer buys anything. I was a part of a great forum which I was happy to be a moderator at. Then freelancer acquired it and "transformed" it into something perceived as useful to their business model. The whole place quickly went to hell.
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      • Profile picture of the author jminkler
        Originally Posted by wayfarer View Post

        Everything goes to hell when freelancer buys anything. I was a part of a great forum which I was happy to be a moderator at. Then freelancer acquired it and "transformed" it into something perceived as useful to their business model. The whole place quickly went to hell.
        They have a business model? :p

        So, so far I have the thoughts about US only, and "make it like vworker was" - anything else? What features are most important? Escrow?

        Personally I didn't like the Expert Guarantee at vworker much, sort of like a plumber paying you up front to work on your pipes.
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    vworker was the best site around BEFORE they got bought out and destroyed by freelancer. Follow their example and you can't go wrong.
    Not paying for bids is a big step in the right direction. Asking questions is another.
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    • Profile picture of the author jminkler
      Originally Posted by laurencewins View Post

      vworker was the best site around BEFORE they got bought out and destroyed by freelancer. Follow their example and you can't go wrong.
      Not paying for bids is a big step in the right direction. Asking questions is another.
      Yes, I think vworker did well to ask things like which language, what kind of hosting, etc. But I think they actually could have gone further. For example, by asking more questions of the buyer it may be determined that WP install might be "OK" for them, and why not just go right ahead and install it with the optimal plugins, and go ahead and get details on what the content will be. Ask for logos, images etc. Why not automate a large portion, and call in the freelancers when they are needed? Who wants to drudge through a boring WP install for little incentive?

      While vworker had some very good tools, and features, I don't just want to clone vworker, I actually want to take things to the next level - to the point where I am even considering no bidding, if we can figure out how that will work.

      It is very interesting that everybody is mentioning vworker. Am really now wondering why freelancer was in a position to buy them out. Were they really doing that much better, or did they just buy out their competition with a large offer?

      Anyone know the details?
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  • Profile picture of the author wayfarer
    Just be aware, that escrow takes some serious cash to get started. First of all, to do escrow you can't just wing it, you need to be a licensed escrow company, at least in the US. There's just a lot of legal hoops to jump through. Something to research if you're serious.
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  • Profile picture of the author David Beroff
    Another vWorker refugee here. Not going to badmouth Freelancer here, but suffice to say that they did their darndest to lose my business, and that was despite assigning me a "personal concierge", since I had outsourced over 200 jobs at vWorker/RentACoder over seven years. Thrilled with oDesk as a replacement.

    Originally Posted by jminkler View Post

    Buyers don't post enough information to complete the project, so it is hard to give a decent pricing ...
    Yes, this is one big issue for both sides. vWorker tried to address this with their "Sherpa" idea, but that never really took off. I've actually played this intermediary role (unofficially) for a few clients, and it worked out very well. It comes down to being a good educator/communicator/manager to make sure each side knows what the other needs, but of course, that has to come with a cost.

    Originally Posted by jminkler View Post

    I wonder if Ian is looking for a new opportunity
    He isn't. I asked.

    Originally Posted by jminkler View Post

    What types of projects did you complete on vworker? Do you prefer large or small projects?

    Also, do you think those low bidders actually complete the projects?
    I always break large tasks into multiple tiny jobs. That's what I am doing with AboutTh.is now. About five out of six providers complete the tasks satisfactorily, and I don't worry about the sixth one. (Went to arbitration, and never lost, on vWorker, and it's even easier now with oDesk, since no money changed hands.)

    Originally Posted by wayfarer View Post

    Just be aware, that escrow takes some serious cash to get started.
    An even higher cost is the "free" arbitration that has to go hand-in-hand with an escrow system. I fear that this is what ultimately pushed Ian to sell.

    Originally Posted by jminkler View Post

    Am really now wondering why freelancer was in a position to buy them out. Were they really doing that much better, or did they just buy out their competition with a large offer?
    I fear that it was mostly the latter. They obviously had zero interest in keeping the ecosystem that they had just purchased, and had somehow felt that they'd be able to "keep" all of the members with their strong-arm tactics.

    Originally Posted by IdeaBox View Post

    My time is to precious to only charge $1.50 an hour. If I'm taking time away form my wife and kids I should earn what my time is worth.

    If there was a US only freelancer site, I'd be the first one to sign up.
    And I'd be the last one to register as a buyer. I realize that my view is hugely unpopular with my fellow Americans, and this is absolutely nothing personal, IB, but the rate that you earn at an outsourcing site is what your time is worth. Buyers come to the site, typically looking for the lowest rate, (although not always), and by definition, it is a free market which yields the "correct" rate for a given job. If you don't want to work for a dollar an hour, no one is forcing you to sell your services on such a site.

    As for the people who ask, "what about keeping American jobs?", my answer has always been that I have taken the money that I saved and then spent or invested it in other things that either built my business or helped my family, and the vast majority of the time, this money did go back into the American economy. The key is that it was spent on other American workers, not the ones who wanted to charge ten times what people in Bangladesh ask. So money saved on a software project went to pay for American-made bicycles for my children, and so on.

    Economies have always shifted and changed over time. Smart people have to adapt in order to succeed. I used to write software for a living myself, for two decades. I don't any more, and I actually got out before the Web really took off, around '97. It certainly does not make sense for an American to sell their software design services on an outsourcing site, but it definitely makes sense for one to buy them.
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  • Profile picture of the author jminkler
    Some interesting points here. I think both the Dollar an hour coder and a 40/hr coder have their places though.

    Hire a security consultant for a dollar? Think not. Move some css around? Sure.

    I think both can co-exist and work together.

    Though I would never go to the lowest bidder. You tend to get what you pay for. I have seen enough bids to clean up sites like that. Worst case, guy paid 5k to have site coded. He then contacted me to consult on the code. It was an abomination. Full of sql injection and xss holes. He couldnt afford to have it all fixed. Site was hacked and taken down within 2 months.

    There is real risk in going to lowest bidders
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    • Profile picture of the author David Beroff
      Originally Posted by jminkler View Post

      I think both can co-exist and work together.
      Exactly!

      Originally Posted by jminkler View Post

      Though I would never go to the lowest bidder. You tend to get what you pay for.... There is real risk in going to lowest bidders
      True, but paying top dollar isn't a guarantee, either. Over the past seven years or so that I've been outsourcing, (around 200 projects), I've tended to have a problem once every six projects or so. On vWorker, these would be sent to arbitration; on oDesk, a simple justification post and then no payment. Move on to the next person.

      I keep things small... very small. Maybe $5 or $10 per project. $5k in one shot is insane.

      I don't necessarily select the lowest bidder because of their bid; I usually go by the pre-hire interaction/interview process. Often, one will find talented people who are just trying to get their foot in the door.

      Oh, and I did have one guy once who actually tried to insert (obfuscated) hacking code into his delivery to me. He didn't last long.
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