Viktor is a freelance graphic designer based in Ukraine. He’s good. I’ve known him for over 2 years now and I use his services regularly. His hourly rate is $US20/hr.
I have no philosophical issues with outsourcing to people in foreign lands. As a small business owner it makes perfect sense. I try and use freelancers for all of my core business functions – the notion of organising payrolled staff into a traditional office environment seems bizarre to me now.
There are many ways to find good freelancers around the world (or locally). I found Viktor through 99 Designs when I ran a competition for a new logo. He didn’t win the competition, but I liked his portfolio. I emailed and asked if he was up for freelancing work and he said he was.
Viktor usually responds within 48 hours with the first drafts of a new project. He itemises his hours on a Google Drive spreadsheet we share, and I pay him by international transfer about once a month. PayPal would have been a preferable payment option (saving me a $20 international transfer bank fee), but PayPal doesn’t operate in Ukraine. Language is not a problem – he uses Google Translate, and I make sure my communications are free of slang or jargon. All good.
But if you’re thinking of utilising the services of international freelancers, here are a few lessons I’ve learnt from setting up my own virtual workforce:
Kiss a Few Frogs
You won’t find great freelancers straight out of the gate. You’ll might go through 2-3 duds to find your guy. Assign a few small projects initially and if you’re not happy with the quality move on quickly.
Rarely Right the First Time
Be comfortable with more project iterations than you’re probably use to. Differences in language and culture, and a lack of face-to-face contact can lead to interesting first interpretations of a brief. I usually let Viktor throw anything together as a first draft, and then I use that as a core reference for what I want more and less of.
Pay Above the Standard
I pay Viktor a premium – $20/hr instead of his standard rate of $12/hr. It means he bumps my jobs ahead of his other clients. An extra $8 is not that big a deal to me, but it makes a big difference at the other end.
I pay Viktor within 24 hours of his invoice. He knows that the sooner he completes my work the sooner he’ll get paid. As in right away.
I send Viktor a little extra at Xmas time for his two boys. And occasionally we chat about stuff not at all related to the job at hand. He’s like a staff member when you think about, and he deserves the same respect.
Jealously Protect Your Network
If you find a good freelancer or two be wary about giving their details to your friends. I did this once and the guy became so popular he ran out of time to do my work. Let your friends go out and kiss their own frogs on the way through.
Image by DBduo Photography