If you have been following me for any amount of time, you know that I not only have my self-publishing work (Dreaming Reality Publications), but also work as a freelancer on Guru (Paradoxical). The purpose of this blog is to talk (and vent) about my freelancing jobs as well as offer advice to other freelancers and self-publishers. However, it recently dawned on me that most freelancers complain they don't like working on freelancer websites like Upwork (previously Odesk and elance) or Guru. The reason is they feel they are too competitive and most of the work goes to people living in third world countries. On the flip side, most people who want to hire freelancers also complain that there isn't any quality workers on these websites.
Now, I have done both sides of the coin on Guru. Sal and The Corruption both needed illustrators. Sal also had a page formatter because it was my first children's book, and then there are editors. Occasionally, I have worked on a job where they wanted me to find an illustrator for their cover art for them.
I would have to say, yes, I get cruddy employers sometimes, and, yes, I sometimes get paid less than I would like to make (or less than I am worth), but overall, I like working on Guru and I like most of my employers. As far as hiring goes- I have only had one freelancer that I did not pay and I asked for a full SafePay refund. This person did not do a good translation into Chinese for Sal and the Chinese editor I hired caught it. Since I hired two editors and both flagged this person as not know what she was doing, I think they were right. I don't read much Chinese, so someday when I am retired and learn more, my opinion might change. Right now I am satisfied.
So, how do you find a "Good" freelancer? First, you have to think about your job. You need to know how much you can afford to pay the freelancer to do the job. What is your maximum budget? Now, think about your work. How long would it take you to do the work yourself. If you started a book and just don't have enough time to finish it, how many hours did you put in? How many pages did you get done? How many pages do you think the book should be? If it is an editing job, go through and do a spell check. See how long it takes MS Word to check your paper and then multiply that by 10.
Once you have really thought about your project, how much you can spend, and how much time you think it is going to take (based on how much time it would take you to do it), then you can get an idea of what kind of freelancer you can hire. Do the math. If you can only afford to pay $5 or less per hour, you need to find a freelancer that could make that much and live on it in their geographical location. Note: Freelancers in developed nations will need a minimum of $10-$20 per hour. A good freelancer can live in a third world country- but don't expect them to give you perfect English. If you look at my slop-shod blog posts and turn your nose up because they need better editing- you probably won't be happy with a third world freelancer. Also, keep in mind that better freelancers don't want to just scrape by in the country of their choice. You can look in plenty of manuals to find out the average cost freelancers charge to do your job, too. That perfect English writer living in Malaysia is going to want to make a little more than $3/hr he or she will need to support himself or herself. You need to be realistic about what you can afford and then figure out how to make that work- or just don't post the job.
Once you have thought about how much it is going to cost and what you can afford, you need to post a specific job. "Editing job: Need some editing done" is not a good job post. You need to tell the freelancer up front how much you can afford and then tell them a little (no more than 5 sentences) of your story- why you want this done. Most freelancers want to connect with the project in some way and this will help them. Then you need to outline exactly what it is you want done- you may have to look up the terminology to do this. Do you want someone to format your book? Do you want someone to proofread your book (formatting and last round of editing)? Do you need a ghostwriter or will the author get credit? You need to know what you want before you post it. If you have a sample of the work (don't post the whole thing), you should include it. Again, all these things help the freelancer decide if you are going to be a good fit.
Hiring the right freelancer begins with knowing exactly what you want. If you are vague and the freelancer guesses wrong, it will lead to dissatisfaction on both sides.
Updated note: If you are hiring a freelancer because you want them to write an e-book from scratch that you can post on Amazon and it will be an immediate bestseller, you might as well expect disappointment now. If it were that easy (as plenty of others claim it is), then the freelancer would not be offering their services. They would instead be a famous e-book author. Selling books on Amazon requires good writing (which is expensive), good formatting and layout (which can be expensive), and good marketing (which is even more expensive). No single freelancer is going to be able to do all these jobs effectively for you because if they could, why wouldn't they just do them for themselves and make the money themselves?
If you want people to buy your books and keep buying your books, you have to devote time and money to doing it - in addition to hiring good freelancers. Because I have not found anyone willing to pay me the amount it takes (about $6000-$75,000) to write an average-sized (60,000 word or about 250 double spaced pages) fiction book nor does anyone seem to want to give freelancers the time (around four to six months) to do this when they post Guru projects, I have no desire to write anyone else's book. This is especially true when job posters want me to come up with the idea as well as write it.