Bryan: How does the outsourcing process work? Please walk a new user through the steps.
Matt: It works like eBay, but on reverse: instead of the "buyers" placing bids on a "product", it's the "seller" who does the bidding.
If you're an employer, all you have to do to start is to post a project. After which, you will receive bids from our freelancers willing to do the work for you. Their bids would include the number of days they could finish your project, and the amount you have to pay for their service. Hire the freelancer of your choice, set up a Milestone payment (our on-site escrow service), and start on the project. You can release the payment after you're fully happy with the result.
If you're a freelancer on the other hand, just search for a project you're interested in and are qualified for - there are tons of them, and there's a job waiting for all forms of skills and talents. You then place a bid on the project you want, have the employer create a Milestone, work on the project to the best of your ability, and get paid!
Bryan: What's the smallest/simplest task you've seen handled on Freelancer? The most complex?
Matt: One very easy job that's open for bidding right now is by an employer who wants to get a 4-month subscription to last.fm. He says the country he's in isn't serviced by PayPal so he's hiring someone who has a PayPal account and who can buy the subscription for him.
For an example of a complex job, there's this one employer who wants a small circuit to be used for an automobile. It's still open for bidding.
Bryan: What securities are in place to protect employers? Both in terms of work quality and information confidentiality?
Matt: We have a reputation system whereby before you pick someone, you can see every job they've ever worked on, with feedback and ratings from their previous employers. As a freelancer earns a reputation on the site, they appear higher on the bid list. The people that appear really high on the bid list earn about a million dollars a year, and would most definitely think twice before doing something that could put a dent on their reputation.
We also have the Milestone payment system that works just like escrow. This system works both ways, meaning it's good for both the employer and the freelancer.
When you hire a freelancer, you deposit money in the system. This ensures the freelancer that you intend to pay; but ensures you of an output because they won't be able to access the funds until you release them. At the same time, an employer can't just take the funds back unless the freelancer refunds them. This gives each party half of the control over the Milestone payment.
If the project is completed, the employer can release the payment. If the project is cancelled amicably, the freelancer can cancel the payment and the money will return to the employer's account.
If the parties can't agree as to the outcome of the project or an agreement has been breached (i.e., confidentiality agreement), they can go through our Dispute Resolution service. It's a system that's created to help the users work their problems out between themselves, but if it comes down to it, they can also get a human arbiter to go and make a decision for them.
For the purposes of confidentiality, an employer can opt to post a private project as well.
Bryan: How can an online business owner get started?
Matt: There are tons of possible online businesses one can venture into. Technical know-how helps a lot in getting you started, but is not necessary. As long as you have that spark of an idea, freelancers can help you turn that idea into reality. The most important things to consider are:
- an attractive user interface
- user-friendliness, and
- search engine optimization
First, you of course have to buy yourself a website and a domain. The next thing you would want to do is to create a logo for your business. You can do that cost-efficiently by crowdsourcing it - hold a logo contest, for example. That's how we got ours.
After which, you can have a programmer and a graphic designer work on the backbone and the graphical interface of your site. Next, have a search engine optimization expert market the site for you. If you have a small capital, you wouldn't want to hire a ton of people yet. You could outsource these services to help you get started. Start thinking about full-time employees once the revenue pours in.
Bryan: Many businesses are well established, easily handling their current workload and are very profitable. How can Freelancer help this type of business?
Matt: Our platform promotes open, dynamic, and cost-efficient solutions to even the most well-established businesses. Especially with the current global economic situation, more and more businesses are looking to outsource tasks that do not require a full-time work force. Established businesses can also benefit from outsourcing simple tasks in order to have the in-house labor force concentrate on other aspects of the business.
Outsourcing is revolutionizing the way people look at businesses and work forces. The wave of the digital information economy will normalize this process while Freelancer.com continues to be at the forefront of revolutionizing work as we know it.
Bryan: What are some of the most profitable (or highest cost saving) tasks that can be handled on Freelancer?
Matt: During the third quarter of the year, Google AdSense saw the highest rise in percentage (76%) in terms of job demands.
In general though, the most profitable are the technology-based skills. 3D and Cocoa is rising fast with a 64% and 54% increase in demand respectively. Other programming languages (HTML 5, Objective C, CSS etc.) are quite profitable as well.
Another very profitable category is writing. Product descriptions, ghostwriting, eBooks, blogs, and reviews are seeing a strong market.
Most cost-saving would be design tasks that could be made into contests. For as low as $100, you could hold a graphic design contest and get hundreds of design choices from designers across the globe. So far, contests being held on our site have attracted about 800,000 designers completing about 400,000 design jobs. Every contest receives an average of 195 designs. That's 100% more than the number of designs you will ever get if you hire just one graphic designer for the same price!