3 Tips for How to Find an Affordable Freelancer

Earlier this week in my Tech Talk, we chatted about how to spend a small website budget. I hope it was helpful to many of you as you decide how to spend your hard-earned (and hard-to-part-with) business investment cash. In that spirit, today I'd like to share my thoughts on how to find an affordable freelancer. Let me give this warning early...

You get what you pay for.

#1 Tip for How to Find an Affordable Freelancer: Reach for the Stars If you watched the latest tech talk and took my advice of really assessing what you can and can't do for your business, you should have a pretty solid list of outsourcable items that will get you a lot of ROI. When you have a really drilled-down list, you can "think big" about who you ask to submit a proposal.

I suggest picking your top one or two items and reaching out to a few freelancers that you've bookmarked, pinned or dreamed about hiring. Tell them a bit about your site/project, be specific about what you need and ask if this is a type of project that they  are interested in. I said it in the Tech Talk and I'll say it again, I would take one amazing blog header from someone that knocks it out of the park than a bunch of piddly crap from random people that aren't at the top of their game. You might be surprised to know that with a focused game plan you can afford your top choice.

#2 Tip for How to Find an Affordable Freelancer: Consider In-Kind Word It's not unusual to find someone in need of the service that you offer and you in need of the service that she offers. If this happens, you may find yourself in the fortunate position to trade work with another qualified professional.

Don't hesitate to cast your net into professional groups and say something like "I'm a coach that specializes in helping female business owners and I also happen to be in need of some custom coding in my site's footer. If you are a coding whiz interested in trading work, shoot me an email." Again, be as specific as possible with what you need.

Fair warning: proceed with caution and always have a contract -- even if it works out that neither of you are paying for anything.

#3 Tip for How to Find an Affordable Freelancer: Outsource It Online OK, I've listed this tip last because I do think it should be something you only consider if you have a very clear picture of what you need. If you want to use a site like ODesk or ELance you need to go into the process with a fully spec'd out project -- even for the smallest of items.

In my experience using these sites is totally hit or miss. I've had freelancers knock it out of the park on the first try and I've abandoned after three failed attempts because people couldn't actually do what they advertised. Hit or miss, I tell you. Sometimes you get the cash back, sometimes you don't.

I see a lot of people go the online outsource route thinking that it "saves" them a ton of money only to have to spend 2x or 3x as much later to fix something that wasn't done right. Again, there are really great people on these sites but you need to (1) have a very detailed idea of what you need (2) a discerning eye...ignore people that don't actually respond to your specific project and instead send general proposals and (3) don't immediately jump on the cheapest option. Is it neat to think someone will do your coding for $5/hr? Sure, but a lot of the time you get what you pay for.