These sites take advantage of the internet as a perfect environment for bringing together people in this way, and a few of the sites have become very successful.
But are they a good choice for a small business owner who is looking to outsource in the name of efficiency? While these sites can certainly be beneficial when it comes to finding individuals for those one-off jobs, there are many reasons why it is a lot more sensible to generate an ongoing relationship with a multi-talented virtual assistant (VA) instead.
Rentacoder, Odesk, and Elance are just a few of the many sites that all tend to achieve the same objective. Here people from around the world are touting their services, looking for people who will hire them on a temporary basis, to do work that is beyond their ability, or may be too time-consuming.
On these sites you will find individuals who can write articles, create websites, write complicated code, specialize in graphic design and so on. The website itself acts as the intermediary, only paying the individual concerned when the client is happy with the work received. Generally speaking this type of arrangement can work well.
But on a long-term basis, and looking at this from a purely efficient point of view, this is not the way to handle outsourcing from a client perspective. While it is possible to find good quality outsourcers on these sites, and to generate an ongoing relationship, this is the exception rather than the rule.
You can also come up against communication issues as well, especially as a large proportion of the outsourcers here are from non-native English speaking countries such as the Philippines, India or Pakistan. The potential difficulty in communication should not be underestimated as it can certainly throw a your business of course when an urgent project is approaching a deadline.
The advantage of maintaining a good relationship with your virtual assistant is many fold. You will, after all, have ironed out many of those kinks in the early days as you are working out whether this relationship is good for both of you in any case. Once that initial honeymoon period has passed, communication should not be too much of an issue. In addition, a clear element of trust will build up in both directions and this can be crucial when the pressure is on, down the road.
A good VA will be able to offer a number of the services provided by different outsourcers you may find on Odesk. Usually, however, they will also be able to offer a number of additional services using a team from either within their particular organization or outside. You, as the client, will not need to worry about finding those “specialist” outsourcers however, as your key virtual assistant will already have gone through this process to ensure that their quality is up to par too.
Have you ever hired someone from Odesk, Elance, or any other “People for Hire” sites? What was your experience? Did it work out, or was it disastrous?