Stop Working So Hard!
One of the biggest problems experts face is that they try to do too much themselves. Instead of focusing on what they do best - thinking about their ideas and expressing them to others - they get caught up in the itsy bitsy stuff of creating the products. Things like proofreading, editing, administration, formatting, even the writing itself.
If you've ever fallen into this trap, there's light at the end of the tunnel - and it's called Elance.com.
Elance is one of a number of Web sites where you can list your projects, and a bunch of eager beavers will bid enthusiastically to do this work for you.
I've used Elance for transcribing, editing, ghostwriting, software development, and more. It's an excellent way to get other people to do your "dirty work", so you can concentrate on what only you can do.
Because I've used Elance a lot, one of their staff writers interviewed me and published an article in the Elance newsletter, so other people could learn from my experience. I'll share some of the questions here, because they will help you when you start using Elance.
Q. You've awarded a number of projects in a variety of disciplines. How do you choose the winning bidder?
A: Two things matter for me: Proven results and prior experience.
For proven results, I look through the feedback they've received for past projects. Many providers get good feedback, but a few get outstanding feedback, and that's always a good sign. Of course, if the feedback is recent and for similar projects, that's even better.
For prior experience, I usually ask for a sample of past work they've done for similar projects. That gives me an idea of the quality of their work, and demonstrates that they know what I'm looking for. For instance, if I'm getting a book written, it's more useful for me to see a sample chapter of a previous book than a single article.
Q. What can a provider do to differentiate themselves from other bidders?
A: Respond directly to my project description.
Sometimes I've seen bidders provide a generic description of their services, without any real connection to my project. If they don't even bother making a genuine attempt to make their bid specific to my request, it makes me wonder how much effort they'll put into the project itself. I ignore these bids immediately.
On the other hand, I favour the providers who clearly demonstrate that they've taken the time to read my project description. Some of them provide a sample of previous work, which is excellent. A few have even gone as far as DOING part of my project as a sample, which is even better (but not essential for me).
Q. Providers say that you provide good instructions and feedback. Do you have any tips for new buyers?
A: When you write your description, remember that this is all the provider has to assess the project and make a bid. So provide enough detail for them to make a realistic assessment. This means you're both clear on your expectations. And you'll probably get a better price because the provider doesn't have to bid higher to allow for unknowns.
For instance, if I'm asking for audio transcription, I'll include a small sample of the file so the provider can listen to the voices, sound quality, etc. If I'm asking for writing or editing, I'll include a sample chapter. If I'm asking for software development, I'll write a detailed requirements specification.
Q. Any experiences where confusion about a project scope or instructions occurred; and if so how did you resolve the problem?
A: Generally, I request some intermediate milestones, so the provider can send me work they've done so far to review. That allows me to check that they're on track, and gives me the chance to correct things if they seem to be going wrong.
Q. Have you developed any ongoing business relationships through Elance?
A: I like creating on-going business relationships in general, not just through Elance. So yes, I often go to Elance to find a provider for an initial project, but with the intention of on-going work with them. In fact, I often state this in my project description.
Hope you got value from these little tips, based on my own experience. If you've never used Elance before, I do urge you to consider it. It can really free up your time and focus.
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Gihan Perera is an Internet coach for speakers, trainers, consultants and other business professionals. He's the author of "Fast, Flat and Free: How the Internet Has Changed Your Business". Visit http://GihanPerera.com and get free e-books, webinars and more.
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