Successfully using eLance for static-website design

To develop my professional screencasting site I chose to out-source development via eLance.  Knowing that out-sourcing smaller, easily-defined jobs is likely to become common-place as time passes, I figured that diving in and working with someone elsewhere on the planet for my new site would prove to be an interesting and useful experience.

Lo and behold – it worked, it was easy and dare I say fun to boot!

As I blogged a few weeks back I had seen Patrick McKenzie discuss using eLance for one of his new sites.  He wrote positively about Gursimran Kaur and I chose to ask her to bid on my proposal.

After 7 days of bidding (attracting 22 bids from individuals and companies in the US, Europe and the Far East) I opted to work with Gursimran – her price was average against the bids and communication with her was clear and professional.

Most of the bids were cut/paste replies backed by uninspiring sites, several stood out including Gursimran’s.  Gursimran went the extra mile to re-work my proposal and suggest something more substantial (for the same price), I was impressed and the deal was done.

I had hoped to have the site up in 1 week after bidding, ultimately it took closer to 3 weeks due to the larger proposal and our out-of-sync working hours (she’s in India).  The end result is well worthwhile however and cost the equivalent of 1.5 UK man-days, including logo and site design, css implementation and stock photography.

If you’re looking to develop a simple static site (ProCasts is 5 pages of html, with custom logos and styles) then I definitely suggest using eLance.  I recommend Gursimran (in eLance), you might also want to invite Danet.Solutions (in eLance) to bid (their example sites were good, their communication was also very good).

The only scary part was submitting money after I’d chosen Gursimran into eLance’s escrow system – it makes it clear that the money is non-refundable (unless the selected service provider fails to come through).  Once I’d bitten the bullet, everything else was easy (the site’s not entirely intuitive, but better than eBay’s horrid interface!).

My suggestion would be to start with a small job if you’ve never done this before – something where you don’t risk a ‘large’ (relative to your comfort zone) amount of money.  Now that I’ve been through the mill I’d be happy to use eLance to run larger projects.