picture-1I get phone calls and emails almost daily from companies in India offering web and SEO services but business owners need to recognize that expecting quality work from these spammers is as likely as getting your money from the Prince of Nigeria.

Outsourcing just sounds amazing. When I first found out that I could hire freelancers online I got excited as I thought I could easily manage multiple projects while freelancers in other countries would do the work for a fraction of the cost. Hiring freelancers proved to be a bad idea time and time again.

If you’re a startup or non-coding entrepreneur looking to hire a web developer or computer programmer this is especially a bad idea. Aside from the fact that you’ll probably expect huge delays due to communication being lost in translation, if they sense someone is not technical then prepare to get taken for a ride as you’ll get inflated timelines and prices.

The quality of work you can expect is below mediocre. Most freelancers are just looking to get the job done as quickly as possible so they can collect their money and move on to the next project. There is no pride in their work.

I’ve outsourced to India numerous times through Odesk which has now become Upwork. The idea of Upwork is great. This website connects developers, designers, content writers, data entry and other admin personal from all over the world with those looking to hire online for a fraction of what they would typically pay. Unfortunately these sites are a haven for hacks.

I’ve would estimate I’ve hired roughly 100 people over the years for web design, programming, data entry, content writing and link building.  I’ve hired freelancers mostly from  India but also countries including Pakistan, Philippines, Ukraine, China, Russia and a few other countries.

In many cases I’ve spoken to freelancers using US, Australia, England Canada as their base location to give them credibility but eventually found out they were in India.

I’ve hired the following services mentioned below and had the following experiences:

Data Entry – For an ecommerce website that had roughly 1000 products I put together very detailed instructions in a word document along with an excel spreadsheet of the products to be added. They were to research the products and come up with unique descriptions. The end result – not all products were added, in fact they skipped most products thinking I wouldn’t find out. The quality of work so poor and also included wrong images, poorly formatted descriptions, scraped images and descriptions and so on. I ended up doing the work myself in the end.

Programming. I had a custom checkout designed. After about 10 different failed attempts by hiring programmers in India and Ukraine I ended up doing the work myself. In some projects they made code changes to WordPress core files which means that if you updated your WordPress software the changes would be overwritten and no longer exist. In the end I did the work myself.

Graphic & Web Design. Thankfully I never actually paid anyone for this. I thought it would be a great idea to give freelancers a small test and ask them to create 1 banner for a product I chose. The quality of work was atrocious. Freelancers would first try to entice me with work they clearly didn’t do. When they submitted the sample banners to me it looked like they were made in Microsoft Paint. In the end I created them myself.

If you are going to hire someone from a freelancer website here are some tips I would recommend:

  1. Understand what is involved in the project so they don’t exaggerate time and costs
  2. Let them know that proposed cost is non-negotiable from the start.
  3. Be careful with upfront payments. These can sometimes become donations. I only pay full amount on completion.
  4. Make sure the person you hire is who they say they are. I’ve hired people under fake names in countries they didn’t live in.
  5. Review all work submitted. I’ve been quick to pay people only to find out they skipped tasks.
  6. Look at the freelancers rating. Do not take chances on new freelancers as cheap is the cost might be.
  7. Put together a document that outlines exactly what you need.
  8. Ask for a portfolio or sample work they’ve previously completed
  9. It’s hard enough for me to come up with content for my own site but why anyone would hire someone who doesn’t speak English to write articles on behalf of their business is a mistake. The most overused cliche in web marketing is “Content is King”. If this is true, why would you put poor copy on your website ?
  10. Don’t let them work on live websites. Thanks to backups I’ve recovered from hiring poor developers.

While outsourcing sounds like a great idea for startups who have limited budgets, I strongly recommend hiring local companies or freelancers. You’re likely to get better quality work, meet deadlines, avoid blunders, help your own economy and likely achieve greater success for your business.