Starting a business is easy, but turning it into a success is where the hard work begins. You'll need a wide range of skills, from design and writing, to marketing and programming, to ensure that your services reach your target audience. Do you have all those skills yourself? If not, you may tempted to hires permanent staff in these areas. There is another way. You can outsource your work to highly skilled freelance workers, found on websites such as Elance and Odesk. In this article, we'll look at why this could be the perfect option for your business, and how to find the resources you need.

Hiring staff is a costly and time consuming activity. You have to pay for adverts to be placed online or in papers, and then spend time sifting through applications and holding interviews. If you're not used to interviewing candidates, it can be hard to find the perfect staff member.


The other problem with hiring staff permanently is that by doing so, you're limiting yourself to workers within your own geographical area. We live in an increasingly global world. Workers with the skills you have could be at the opposite end of the country, or even on another continent. With the advent of freelancing websites, finding these workers is becoming easier than ever.


There are a number of websites that are full of freelancers who want to work for you. The most popular sites are Elance, Odesk, Freelancer and Guru. They're free to join, and finding workers on these sites is much quicker, and cost-effective, than direct recruiting. These sites contain freelancers from across the world, and who have a wide range of skills and abilities. Many of these freelancers have portfolios and credentials listed on the site, and you'll be able to see reviews of work that they've done, left by other businesses just like yours.


Before you can place a job advert, and find a freelancer, you'll have to sign up to the site. Let's have a look at how this process works on Elance.  Signing up is easy and, best of all, free. There are no fees like you'd expect to pay to a recruitment agency. It's important at this stage to put as much information as possible about you and your business. Remember, the freelancers aren't just selling themselves to you, you're selling your business to them. Many freelancers on the site are highly experienced, and very well qualified, so they'll only work for businesses that they see as professional and trustworthy.


Once you've created your profile, you can place your advert or adverts. There's a wide range of categories to choose from, so whether you're looking for an IT designer to create a new website, a marketing expert to run an outbound campaign, or a virtual PA to take care of all your administration needs, you're sure to find just what you want.


You want your advert to attract the best quality freelance workers, so how do you increase your chances of doing that? The simple answer is to put as much information as possible within the advert. Vague adverts will attract vague applicants, including people who don't have the skills you need. For example, if you're looking for a superior quality copy writer to create fresh new content for your website, don't just say 'copywriter needed for website', explain how many pages of content are required, and approximately how many words per page. State what sector your business is in, there may be copywriters who have years of experience in working in your specific field. If you already have a website, then put a link to it within your ad. It gives valuable information to the freelance applicants, whatever section the advert is in.


One of the main selling points of these freelancing websites is that placing an advert is completely free. Elance, as an example, takes a fee of 8.75% on top of the freelancer's payment, but the price you see within the bid is the total price that you'll pay.


Another advantage is that these sites can help you find the perfect candidate. Working on the information that you provide, they use an algorithm to find matching candidates. You can then send an invite directly to them, rather than hoping that they see your advert and apply.

The sites are intuitive, and easy to use, and their ethos is built upon making things easier for both the client and the freelancer. Payments can be made directly, and safely, through Escrow systems so you won't have to worry about the security of your payments.


You'll be surprised how many high quality freelancers are out there, so how do you find the ones that are an ideal match for your needs? Freelancers who respond to your ad have to send you a brief application. Look out for freelancers who have tailored their response specifically to your ad, rather than sending a generic 'cut and paste' reply. This shows an enthusiasm, and attention to detail, that will pay dividends when they're working on your project. There are also opportunities for freelancers to send you samples of their previous work, or links to it. This can be an invaluable aid to your candidate selection.


We now come to the subject of money. You can decide to pay an hourly amount, or a fixed price for the completed project. You can also set a maximum price, per hour or project, that you wish to pay. It's important that you don't select your candidate based purely upon their bid. Picking the cheapest bid may be tempting, but it can be a false economy. Remember the cost savings that you're making simply by using these sites. It's worth paying a little extra at the stage, to get high quality work that will show your business in  the best possible light.


Once you've found your perfect freelance worker, it's essential to keep in touch with them whilst the project is ongoing. Good communications on both sides help prevent misunderstandings that can result in the work needing to be done again, or even having to be outsourced to a different freelancer. Many businesses find freelancers that they work with again and again, through sites such as Elance.


If you're happy with the work that your freelancer has done, then be sure to leave them positive feedback. They may do the same for you, and this can make it even easier to attract high calibre candidates with your future postings.


Freelancing websites are a vital tool, especially for smaller businesses or start-ups. They free up your time and money, provide a source of high quality work from leading professionals, and allow you to find expert freelancers from across the globe. Make sure that you consider these websites for all your business needs.