How Tech Freelancers Can Help Your Business – And Where to Find Them
Chances are that you’re eventually going to have to hire some tech help for your small business. Hiring trends last year showed that there were more technical jobs to fill than talented candidates to fill them, and as a result, hiring tech employees can be expensive — and for some, the process can be daunting.
Most tech projects for small businesses can often be handled on a project-by-project basis rather than by a full-time employee, which means you can comfortably outsource to freelancers. Partially as a result of this line of thinking, demand for freelancers has been dramatically increasing — and you can benefit from the growing number of resources to help you find good candidates. Here’s some guidance on how to find the right hired help.
The Importance of Communication
Hiring someone who’s easy to communicate with is equally imporant as finding someone with the skills and experience you need. If the freelancer isn’t clear on what you need, or if you can’t understand what their work involves, you’re unlikely to get the job done on time and within budget. Make sure you’re both clear on the hiring terms, and get an agreement in writing that documents exactly what you’re paying for.
Fees and Payments
Most freelancers work on a hourly rate, project rate or monthly retainer. Hourly rates can vary vastly depending on skills, geographical area, demand and more. Make sure to get an estimate of hours it’ll take to complete a project before agreeing to an hourly rate — and feel free to ask for updates at specific intervals or a heads-up when the hourly cap is reached so you can understand how you’re spending money. Project rates and retainers are often better solutions for projects that are likely to involve lots of back-and-forth. Some freelancers — often design and creative folks — will stipulate a specific number of revisions for each project; anything after that is extra. Remember, you usually get what you pay for, which is a good axiom to keep in mind when hiring contractors.
Types of Tech Freelancers
The most common tech freelancers you may need for your small business include:
- Web designer. A web designer can help you to create the look and feel of your small business website.
- Web programmers. Depending on the complexity of your website, you may need a programmer who can code your site, and develop systems and plugins for your specific needs.
- SEO experts. Many website plugins can help boost your SEO, but if you need more help getting traffic to your website, you may need to hire an SEO expert who can access your website and add specific SEO tags.
- Software developers. You might come to a point in your business when you need to further develop your own software to manage or interact with your customers or otherwise support your business.
- Mobile app developers. Apps help customers engage with your business, and consumers are increasingly embracing mobile for many of their tech tasks.
- Data entry. A data entry person can help to manage and update contacts, invoices or other manual labor-intensive tasks.
- General IT support. Invariably, your technology will go awry, and sometimes you will just need someone to walk you through a problem. Who are you going to call when that happens?
Resources for Finding Tech Freelancers
Now that you know the lingo and potential roles, where can you find these freelancers?
- oDesk: Tech freelancers are in the spotlight on oDesk. Listings are organized by project, and you can search for freelancers to suit your needs. oDesk acts as a middleman when it comes to the payment and takes 10 percent of what you pay the freelancer. You can see the freelancers’ education, work samples and more before you hire.
- Freelancer: There are 11 million users on Freelancer.com, so you’re bound to find someone with the appropriate skills for your projects. Freelancer takes 3 percent of your cost or $3, whichever is greater, for the first project. You can also purchase a membership if you plan on using the site on an on-going basis — it’ll save you fees and offers other perks.
- Elance: Post your job for free, receive daily activity reports and Elance takes care of all invoicing and payment for you. The fees include 8.75 percent added to the freelancer’s bid, and you can pay an extra $25 to “feature” your project for additional visibility.
- Guru. Guru.com is an additional option that is similar in functionality; you pay for work only after final approval.
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