Handy Web Tools: Outsourcing Through Guru.com

Andrew Lock


If you’re running your own small business then you know the value of outsourcing. Now I’m not necessarily talking about having someone in India answer your phone, but finding freelancers to help you out as needed. Guru.com is one of the established sources for freelancers in a wide variety of fields. On the home page you can see the major categories they cover from Web site design and legal help to programming and finance.

Here’s the process they follow: first you can search for freelancers and invite them to bid on a project or you can just post your project in a category. Within hours the quotes come pouring in. You award the job to the person you think will do the best job for the best price — no, it’s not an auction where the lowest bidder has to win — and then you pay as the work is done.

You’ll probably want to put some money in escrow that the freelancer can withdraw once you’re satisfied with the work. Note that Guru.com is a free service for employers — we’ll talk about the freelance side in a minute. As an employer you’re under no obligation to hire, and you even get a little money back if you use their escrow service.

Guru.com claims 100,000,000 active freelancers, but how do you know they’re qualified? Well, freelancers publishes a profile of their experience including their rank in that category, feedback from other employers, their earnings at Guru.com, and where they’re located. OK, I probably wouldn’t pick someone from another country to handle my legal affairs, but you get the idea.

Let’s look at the other side of Guru from the freelancer’s point of view. The process is similar. You can search for projects, post a profile of your capabilities, submit quotes and after working on the project you get paid, minus a fee. That fee is a percent of the project price and it varies on your membership level.

With a basic membership you can register in one category for free, and you’ll get notifications of projects that meet your criteria. Pay for your membership and you can be listed in multiple categories, and you get more chances to bid on jobs.

As a freelancer you can keep track of jobs you bid on and, in my case lost, but don’t get discouraged. It might not be that the clients don’t want you. A fair amount of the projects don’t seem to get awarded within Guru.com. So Guru.com is an active marketplace for employers to outsource work and for freelancers to find work.

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You’re probably familiar with YouSendIt.com. That’s a Web site that allows you to send large files to someone. It’s free, and it’s a great resource, but YouSendIt actually has a lot more features than most people are aware of. You can now use it, in fact, from within all of these applications: Outlook, Acrobat, Microsoft Office, Photoshop, FinalCut Pro and even directly from your desktop.

Simply download the free application, install it and you’re all set. I particularly like the plug-in for Outlook because, lets face it, when you come to send a large file you’re usually already working in your e-mail program. So when you try to attach a file that’s too large for your e-mail system to handle, YouSendIt will automatically launch and send the file for you via it’s secure system. Pretty nifty indeed.

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5000Cards.com is an online print and graphics service that’s not limited to any specific geographic region. The home page asks you to choose from a number of regions, and since I live in the United States, that’s where I’d click.

They offer a lot more than just business cards, so the name is actually kind of a misnomer because they handle everything: booklets, bookmarks, brochures, business cards, door hangers, post cards, they can do lamination, letter heads, magnates, notepads, posters, stickers, metallics and customer sizes as well.

They can do a number of different printing types, coating options and binding…they’re able to do it all, and do it at a reasonable price. So if you’re interested in getting some printing done and getting it shipped to you anywhere in the world, you can go to 5000Cards.com.

You’ll find lots more marketing tips and resources from Andrew Lock in our Small Business Essential series, Lock in Your Marketing Resources.

Andrew Lock is a self-described maverick marketer and the creator and host of Help! My Business Sucks, a free, weekly Web TV show full of practical marketing tips, advice and resources to help small businesses “get more done and have more fun.”

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