Missed the Elance Meetup? Here are Takeaways from TOMS!
by Abby Kaplan
Over half a dozen freelancer enthusiasts braved the drizzle on this cloudy Friday morning for coffee and conversation at TOMS Roasters on SoCo. Led by Elance/oDesk’s Austin City Manager Jess Lowry, the intimate talk covered everything from mastering freelancer management to overcoming the obstacles of a remote work environment. St. Edwards Professor of Entrepreneurship David Altounian and True Inbound’s own Scott True were featured as experienced Elance users in the super casual panel discussion.
David, who started up a hardware company Motion Computing with a heavily virtual team is no newbie when it comes to Elance and remote hiring. These are some of his insights:
- With remote hiring, you have the advantage of not being swayed by personality alone, so you are more likely to be objective and effective in selecting a freelancer.
- For any jobs in a company that are not considered core, it makes more sense to hire a freelancer, who is more likely to be skilled in a specific specialty, rather than try to hire a full time person who has to be expert in many fields.
- Even if you hire a freelancer that you don’t find on Elance, you can use the service to streamline management and payment and keep everything in one place.
- You can only have one account per email address, so make sure you are smart about which you want to use for what!
Tips & Tricks:
- Elance has an incredible breadth of talent in their freelancer pool. David has even used the platform to find a statistician that taught him Amos software, which he was having trouble mastering for months!
- If you are worried about finding quality workers in what can seem like an anonymous pool of infinite possible hires, you can take his approach and limit your search to Elancers from North America WITH portfolios AND ratings to ensure you’re getting someone good.
- To narrow down an applicant pool, you can hire multiple freelancers for miniature jobs and compare results to find your favorite.
Scott started using Elance back when he was a real estate agent and hired a remote assistant. Now, he uses it to manage a freelance web developer who is based in India. He also uses it for one-time projects or to hire out tasks he doesn’t have the proper skill set to complete on his own. He is pleased with the service as a tool for finding talent, and his main concerns are overcoming language barriers with international hires and deciding what constitutes a successful working relationship with a remote freelancer.
Q: How do you make sure you will get the right freelancers for your projects?
A: Since some people won’t have the expertise to even know what skills they need in a hire, Elance can walk you through a job posting and help decide what the necessary milestones and team members are to be successful.
Q: How do you handle NDAs, non-competes, and file sharing in Elance?
A: Elance features a workroom, where you can exchange files with your freelancers just like you would with an outside hire.
Q: How do you handle it when an individual agrees to take on a project, but they are actually working with a team?
A: Elance is working on advancing transparency with all freelancers, so everyone will know the exact nature of their working relationship. With an international platform, there are always cultural differences to overcome.
At the end of the Meetup, Emily Leach, head of the Austin Freelancer Facebook group and founder of Genetically Unemployable, announced the first ever freelance conference taking place on October 28th in Austin! 9am-4:30pm at Abel’s on the Lake in the upstairs glass room, featuring speakers from around the world. Visit freelanceconference.com for details.
Hope to see you at the next Elance Austin Meetup!