Leveraging the Infinite Virtual Workforce

When I began my career in web development, I found that I struggled most with finding great talent. There were many things wrong with my approach, but first and foremost while working with freelancers, I was using the wrong kind of talent. I was trying to do it all with full-time dedicated employees, and the web development business doesn’t work that way. You get very large projects that take enormous hours to complete, then you may go months with smaller projects. To staff up to these projects would be impossible. I learned early in my career that I needed flexible resources to augment my full-time staff. I decided that I needed to get better and finding great freelancers. My first step to finding freelancers was to learn where they tend to “hang out”.

I started as many do – searching the endless job-boards for quality talent. I found that while there are some great folks on these boards, it’s nearly impossible to find them through the noise floor. I finally settled on a few systems that seemed to produce.

I have had the best results with:

  • Guru.com
  • Freelancer.com
  • Craigslist (believe it or not, there are some great folks on craigslist)

The trick is in sifting through the responses and finding the quality people. You’ll have no shortage of freelancers who respond to your projects. They will respond from all over the world, and you will be challenged to sift through the responses to find the great freelancers.

I include a lot of detail in my job postings and I ask for specific information in the responses. This allows me to quickly sift through the responses where they failed to follow directions. This has been an enormous help when it comes to moving through a high volume of responses. I found out recently that the band Van Halen did something similar due to repeated failures by promoters to meet the conditions of their contracts. You may have heard of the infamous “no brown M&M’s”. This clause was inserted as a quick way to verify whether the promoter had read and complied with the full contract.

So, if you’d like to find great talent, start with a great talent site such as Freelancer, Guru etc, and then filter your responses by their ability to follow your initial instructions. In my next article, I’ll give you some tips on how to test your freelancers to weed out the weak from your new herd.