The 6 deadly traps of freelance outsourcing networks

July 25, 2007

We did several jobs through outsourcing using the well known outsourcing networks. These jobs included logo design, development and technical support. In this post we share what we learned.

  1. Do your homework.
    Take your time to browse over the various networks. Each of them has their specific niche and geographical target area. A good overview article is listed below.Take 1 or 2 full days of surfing to look for stories, reviews and articles.
  2. Decide if you want to go ‘fixed price’ or ‘time and material’.
    Each network is specialized in one of the two. The fixed price ones let you post jobs and wait for offers. You basically shop around to see which offer and which seller you like most. On the typical freelance sites, people offer their services at an hourly rate.We suggest you start with ‘fixed price’.
  3. Select your jobs carefully.
    Not all jobs are possible to outsource. Evaluate each job on following criteria:

    • Can I clearly define what I want?
    • Can I clearly define the starting conditions?
    • Can I clearly define how I will evaluate and accept the result?
    • Ideally, can I have the project delivered in steps?
    • Is your Intellectual Property protected?

    If you can’t say yes to all of the above, forget outsourcing.

  4. Review the ratings, carefully, very carefully.
    All sites offer some kind of rating system. For both sides. Don’t be impressed with a score of 8/10. On some of the networks, you can get 10 to 20 qualified people with ratings of 9.6 or 9.7. Also be careful on first time bidders. A score of 10/10 is easy if you only did 1 or 2 jobs of a week. There is much more value in a score of 9.6 of somebody who did 30 projects that took on average 1 month.

    Selecting a freelancer with a better rating on more jobs saves money in the long run.
  5. Don’t forget the stereotypes.
    This is probably the most controversial statement. But I don’t mean it in a negative way. People doing a lot of international business will tell you the same thing.

    1. Being on time means a different thing to an average Eastern European and somebody from the former Soviet Union than to an American.
    2. A yes does not necessarily mean yes in China or India.

    [Fill in your own stereotype here]

  6. Beware of the bid spammers.
    Some of the companies post on any job they can. Only when they get granted a job, they read all the details. If you are lucky, the pull out of the job early (most networks offer this option to their coders). You lose a few days but at least you don’t end up with somebody who doesn’t know what he/she is talking about. If you are not lucky, they grab anything they can get. This is one trick we apply:Ask for a very specific but easy question to be answered in the bid.
    If it is not answered in the initial offer, remove the bidder from your list.


List of common sites


Established site, but sold its software division.
Now a more creative-based service.


Software consulting sector, public relations, advertising, and market research


Mostly coding jobs but also web design.


Less known site.


Mostly European focused


Freelancer site with clear rates, exam qualifications and ratings.
  • FP: A Fixed Price offer for a job.
  • T&M: Time and Material, meaning an hourly rate.


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One Response to “The 6 deadly traps of freelance outsourcing networks”

  1. Great Article.

    And I really believe know your facts and decide if you really need to outsource or are there really unquantifiable benefits expected from outsourcing.. I have written a blog on outsourcing best practices, 10 point checklist to use before outsourcing, probably you may like to visit


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