Ask anyone what is the first thing that comes to mind when they think about the Philippines and the t Read more [...]
Article Category: Article
There are several websites that allow you to outsource one-off jobs to others. The number of such sites is increasing, spurred by an uptick in specialisations.
One of the earliest sites was Elance, which came up in 1999. It, interestingly, derives its name from a Harvard Business Review article, The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy. It was originally envisaged as a platform for outsourcing IT work but soon evolved to include other sectors as well. In 2013, it merged with a competitor, oDesk, and was re-branded as Upwork.
Freelancer is another site that came about in 2009. The problem with Elance was that the site allowed payments to be made only in the U.S. dollars. Some countries had (and still do) regulations on the amount of foreign exchange that could be received and/or converted into local currency. This limited freelancers’ capability to bid for projects and Freelancer resolved the problem by allowing payments to be made in local currencies.
Fiverr was established in 2010 with the aim of providing high-quality work at low prices. Everything starts at $5, and this is a boon for many cash-strapped individuals/companies needing some work done.
A paradigm shift in the workforce: why freelancing is the way to go
There are several advantages of outsourcing work to freelancers:
It is cheaper
Because of the competition, they do not quote extremely high rates. At the most, they could charge you what it costs to hire a full-time employee. If they price their services higher, they know you would rather hire a full-time employee instead. They tend to charge you for the work done. Often, they can turn it around in lesser time than your employees. This saves you money if you calculate your expenses in terms of man-hours. There are also several hidden cost-savings to be had. You do not have to spend on providing employees with training and/or benefits.
If you outsource your work to freelancers in the Philippines, you stand to save even more. The Economist rates Filipinos the best speakers of business English in the world. This means that you could significantly cut down on misunderstandings in communication. After all, time saved is money earned.
According to the International Labor Organization, the Philippines ranks among the bottom three worldwide when it comes to wages.
It is of the same or higher quality
A lot of freelancers are experienced in the area they offer their services in. This enables them to do quality work, drawing upon their experience. Because they always would like more work, you can be assured that they will turn in their best, hoping to impress you.
You can get more work done
Freelancers are not bound by 9 AM to 5 PM office timings. In fact, you could outsource work to them while leaving for the day, and it would be done when you come in the next. They can also work over the weekend. If you do this right, balancing jobs between freelancers and full-time/part-time employees, you could in effect ensure 24/7 business continuity.
The three most popular freelancing sites active now
Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr are the three most active and popular freelancing websites worldwide.
Upwork has 12 million freelancers registered with it, as well as five million clients. Some three million jobs are posted every year, with $1 billion changing hands. It is the largest freelancing site in the world.
Freelancer has 21 million users across the world. It won the Best Employment Website award in 2015, a feat which it repeated the following year. Fiverr has three million services listed on their website. As opposed to other freelancing sites where jobs are posted, users list their offerings, pricing them between $5 and $500. This enables those interested in getting in touch with them directly.
How it works
You can post a job for free on the website. After this, you have two options – you can either invite bids or look at freelancer profiles and make them an offer. Responses are based on who is available in real-time, but for the most part, they start coming in within minutes. You can also chat with freelancers through the site. When you opt for the bidding process, you are still free to select the best ‘technical’ bid. In other words, you don’t have to go with the cheapest quote, but the best quote. This could mean a higher price, but more or a better quality of service offered.
Once you have finalised on a freelancer and awarded him/her the work, you can communicate with him/her through the website. This is encouraged, as constant communication ensures better clarity regarding what needs to be done, and how it needs to be accomplished. Freelancer makes it possible for you to chat, share files, and collaborate with your freelancer on the go.
If it is a complex project, and the freelancer is unwilling to risk hours on the promise of getting paid at the end, you can break it down. You could then pay him/her based on the milestones/goals achieved.
And you don’t need to pay upfront. Only if the work has been completed to the best of your satisfaction, then you need to pay your freelancer. All payments are made through a highly secured and encrypted state-of-the-art system. Should you face any problems, you can contact Freelancer support round the clock.
Is it worth it?
Those who have tried Freelancer say they have to part with their money before starting a relationship with a freelancer. Technological problems seem to all too prevalent on the website. One person found that he was billed twice. Upon inquiring, he was told it was because he had created a duplicate milestone. He disputed the charge, but could not outsource any more work during the time or leave a rating for his freelancer. The latter did an excellent job, according to him.
And freelancers too have the same problem. Milestones disappearing, money being deducted from their accounts mysteriously – and Freelancer support is not very helpful.
Freelancers can also leave reviews of those who hire them. One person found to his dismay that the freelancer he hired left him a negative review. The freelancer bluntly told him that this was to force him to leave the former a stellar rating. Upon doing so, the freelancer would edit the review.
How it works
Fiverr is amazingly simple. You cannot post any jobs or seek bids. What it offers are freelancers, called ‘sellers’. They are grouped by category. There are only a few categories and subcategories, and most of them are for creative personnel. You can see sellers under a particular subcategory, like Music & Audio > Sound Effects. They are ranked in order of their star ratings, and the number of reviews.
Their profile(s) list the services they offer.
Is it worth it?
Fiverr is good – if you are seeking to hire creative people for short-term or one-off projects. The categories are limited to Graphics & Design, Writing & Translation, Music & Audio, Video & Animation, Programming & Tech, Digital Marketing, Fun & Lifestyle, and Business.
A lot of freelancers stay away from Fiverr because the buyer can cancel the project even after the work has been delivered, and get his/her money back. Those who use Fiverr as buyers (that would be people like you, who are seeking to get help) say that many freelancers/sellers on Fiverr post their best work online, and deliver low-quality work on projects. This is why there are only a few with five-star ratings and excellent feedback from buyers.
How it works
You can post your job on the site. The portal matches you with the best freelancers for your project. It wouldn’t be easy otherwise if you started hunting for them yourselves. There are, at the time of writing, 12 million freelancers registered with Upwork. And while it can be tempting to think you know better, remember that only Upwork knows which freelancers can be trusted. This is determined by their ratings. Despite what people say about themselves, positioning themselves as experts and so on, a higher number of projects delivered points to true expertise in the field.
Someone who truthfully says she/he has only four years of experience but has delivered 200 projects might be a better bet than someone who claims to have 20 years of experience, but only two successfully delivered projects.
But this is best left up to you. It is your project, and you would be the best judge of whom you need. The professional with 20 years of experience might be someone who has started freelancing only recently. He/she could provide you with professional references, and you could verify this independently.
Upwork provides you with a list of freelancers that it feels would be best-suited for your project. They are ranked based on their relevant skills and projects delivered/ratings received, but you can interview them personally before deciding on one. The Upwork platform can then be used for sharing files and communicating with each other. Upwork makes it possible to even do this on the go. The freelancer can raise an invoice only through Upwork, and payment is also done through the site. Upwork Protection guarantees that you don’t pay for any work that you didn’t commission/authorize.
Upwork also offers premium packages, in which freelancers are handpicked for you by Upwork staff. You also get access to dedicated account managers.
Is it worth it?
People who have used it say that only 10% of the freelancers on the site are really experts at what they do. If you are not careful, you could end up hiring someone who doesn’t have the skills for your project. There are also instances of top-ranked web developers editing their profile descriptions and then bidding for translation jobs. Their high ranking makes it easier for them to bag the contract, and they then outsource it to lowly-ranked translators. The work you end up receiving doesn’t meet your expectations.
So as long as you stay on your guard, you can hope for very high-quality, professional-level work being delivered.
Should you sign up any of these services?
Of the three, Freelancer appears to be the site to stay away from, at least until they have ironed out their technical issues. There is also another problem – freelancers are allowed only up to ten free bids. This prevents many freelancers from using Freelancer.
Between Upwork and Fiverr, the one you choose depends on what kind of work you need done. Fiverr still has some good freelancers left, although the pricing can be misleading. They offer their cheapest service at $5 (it is shown as ‘Starts at $5’), and this prompts you to check out their profile(s), even though what you need done may cost $500.
Upwork’s basic version is free to join. The people who have complaints with Upwork are the freelancers – they say Upwork charges them 20% as commission for up to $1,000. They also have to pay $0.99 every time to bid on a project. This keeps some away.
Make it a point to interview every freelancer you are considering hiring for your project.
There are several from India and Nigeria who are nothing but con artists. They work the system, listing themselves as freelancers, and also as those looking to hire for projects. For the latter, they use aliases and other computers to prevent the scam from being traced back to them. They then ‘hire’ themselves at low prices, giving the freelancing platforms their cut, but also awarding themselves five stars. This gets them ranked higher, and when you contract them, they deliver very poor quality work. Or bill you for hours they never worked, if you choose to hire them by the hour.
Ask every freelancer if there is a satisfaction guarantee. What do you do if the work delivered is shoddy and/or doesn’t meet your expectations? Are they willing to re-do it without any extra charge? What kind of protection does the freelancing platform provide against such fraud?
If you are on a deadline, you should mention this as well in the job description. As long as you stay vigilant, paying attention to every minor detail, you can avoid being scammed. Some have found this out the hard way, losing hundreds of dollars in the process.