The Difficulties Of Working With Freelancers

As I mentioned in a recent post, I started a serious babies website, and while the initial reaction has been great, I want to take it up a notch. Through Facebook sharing only, we manage to get about 300 visitors to each new image. It’s great, and the parents of the baby do a great job sharing, but not everyone is as excited as sharing someone else’s baby as I think they should be. And after the initial bump, traffic drops back down. To build a sustainable site, we need a reason for people to come back to the site, not just when we post to social media channels.

We’re Redesigning The Site To Be More Social

We know we have a great idea, we just need better execution. So instead of having one image and having people share a pictures of a baby, we’re going to turn this into a meme-type site, where users can caption each serious baby with their own caption, and share that. You could have one image with multiple captions, and people will be able to share their captions, not just the images themselves. You’ll be able to see what others are captioning, which ones are most popular, and it will be very easy to share on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, something we have not explored yet.

Elance Is My First Stop For Programming Needs

As usual, I went on Elance.com to find someone to help with the redesign and the coding. I had a pretty good idea of the functionality and I still wanted the main colors to be baby blue and pink, but I wasn’t stuck on exactly what borders and trim, so I was open to suggestions. I waited a few days for the bids to come in and settled on a team that had a very cheap price, just over $100. For what I was looking for, I was really excited. And they said it would only take a week! It was perfect, so I awarded them the job and we started talking. We had a skype phone call and they started designing. I liked their ideas, but it was very difficult to communicate as English was not their primary language. After some back and forth where I was misunderstood and they did extra work because of it, I decided that we should part ways before getting too deep. They did help me with the design, so I offered a bit of money for that, but they declined saying that if they didn’t complete the job, they didn’t want my money.

OK, back to the drawing board. I went back through the other submissions, looking for someone that wasn’t quite as cheap but that had excellent communication skills. And I wanted someone with good design, so after a little back and forth, found my second group to help, for $150 to do everything I needed. They were in the UK, so language was no barrier. Very quickly, they surpassed what the previous group had built, and then started working on some of the new features. I had to make some corrections and then things started to slow down. I got less response, and they were building it according to their own specifications, not mine, and they ignored my feedback. I tried getting everything back on track by describing exactly the functionality I wanted and the flow that would be very user-friendly.

This is where we ran into trouble. They started saying that what I requested was more work. I’m ok with pushing them to complete the job, I was not actually asking for anything new, just a more use-friendly way to navigate through the site. Instead of getting a thank you message, it would bring users straight to their completed caption, and I wanted the caption text split into two lines dynamically instead of having characters squeezed into one unreadable line.

Negotiating and More Negotiating

It became apparent that they wanted more money to complete the project, but we had already agreed on one price for the project, not an hourly rate. They were also not looking for an additional $25, rather they quoted another $150. To me, they built the easiest parts of the sites and then quoted more for the more time-intensive issues. I did not like that, so I tried to argue back, but they stopped being available on Skype. Soon, I just wanted to salvage what we had, and find someone else to complete the project.

Once again, I went back to Elance, this time listing exactly the changes the site needed, 5 in all, and in perfect detail. There could be no mistaking what I wanted. I got a quote of $100, which I think is reasonable. I went back to the UK company and while I hate to pay for half a job done, offered $75 for the work they did since I’d have to pay someone else to fix it, going over my intended budget. They declined and removed all traces of their work from the test server. For some reason, they’d rather get paid $0 than $75, so that was that.

Finally, I went back to my third elancer, we agreed on $150 to start from scratch, and I gave him exactly what I wanted and how I wanted it, along with some screenshots I had. It took me 3 freelancers to find what I was looking for, but I guess the third time was the charm! We’re just about done with the site, I’ll do some testing, and then we’ll launch the redesign for everyone to use!

Tips For Using Elance

Elance has been a great resource for me, it looks like I’ve spent nearly $2,000 on the site over the past several years, and I keep going back for more. Typically, the price can’t be beat, and despite some initial issues, the finished product always comes out the way I want. My best suggestion is to have a document stating exactly what you want. The more detailed, the better, because if you have any disputes later, you can point to the document and show that it was agreed upon from the beginning. Also, find someone who is on a similar schedule as you, or at least someone who has a schedule that overlaps yours. I’ve worked with people in India before and it’s been great because when I am home, they are working, and we can chat via skype about the latest changes. Then, when I wake up, I can see the work they’ve done and make suggestions for when they get back to work.

Do you use Elance or another online service to complete projects for you? What have your experiences been like?

One Response to The Difficulties Of Working With Freelancers

  1. Crystal says:

    I generally use blogging buddies for anything site-related. I have trust issues. Although I do get my eBook art and holiday banners from a great designer on Fiverr, Nisha. Can’t beat $5, and his designs make me smile.

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