The following are a few tips for clients posting work on Guru.com. I get a lot of work from guru.com and I often see a lot of projects that look like they could be very interesting, never spark any real interest due to a few simple mistakes. I am going to try to stay away from “things to look for” when selecting an proposal, because I am obviously biased, but I will try to give my perspective on common issues. Keep in mind that these are my issues, and won’t reflect on every freelancer or company.

Include lots of information

I know you don’t want to give out the secrets of your business, and thats not what I am talking about. What I am talking about is giving out as much information as you can. Talk about what you do, what you want your site to do, how you want it to work, how quickly you want the work done, etc. I see a lot of postings just failing to include this information. When I see these posting come across my desk, I just ignore them. If the customer can’t get excited about their own project why should I. Remember, most freelancers, my self included, will get emotionally attached to the work they do. If we wanted to just be coder monkeys we would be working in a corporate environment. Personally I left corporate environments behind, because they discouraged emotional attachment to projects and work.

Make sure to at least include the following:

  • Your name, it makes it easier to relate to a person then a vague message board.
  • What your site is supposed to do, a lot of postings just say “I need a website” and don’t really say what they want the website to do.
  • What you want the freelancer to do. Do you have all the graphics and just need things put together? Do you just need graphics. Consider your goals and make sure to list them.
  • Do you have any language preferences? If so list them, if not, just state that you are open. You don’t want A quote from me for Rails work if your only interested in .Net development.
  • Any specific requirements for documentation or legal paper work, for example non-compete contracts or NDA contracts. A lot of people leave these out till after much time and effort on both sides has gone into the proposal, only to be surprised at the end by a freelancer that won’t sign a specific type of contract. For example, I have no problem signing an NDA, but I am very careful about non-compete contracts (not to say I won’t sign them, I am just more cautious).

Again, we not talking about giving away trade secretes. Keep those for after a NDA has been signed, but you should be prepared to share the basics. The same type of information that you would post on the home page of your site. “We sell socks for men an women”, for example is fine.

If you can’t share that information, or are that worried about your “trade secret, ” then Guru is likely not the best place for you to look. However if you still want to use Guru you can try inviting to a private project, or just directly e-mailing developers from their “find a developer” search pages.

Be realistic about price

A lot of projects are just unrealistic about their pricing. I see tons of projects that never get anywhere because they just are not honest with themselves or their perspective freelancers about price. Good developers are not cheap, and Guru is no exception. If you want “a website just like Facebook”, keep in mind Facebook has spent millions over the years in development.

Be honest about your budget, if you don’t know, then select confidential/unsure. I always look at those way before I look at “Under $250”. Every developer knows that some times, “simple” websites can be very complex, thus driving up the cost beyond what the client want’s to spend, but when a project starts in that state because the perspective client has set an impossible budget, the posting just gets ignored.

Do a little research ahead of time, find out what other websites like yours have cost. Remember that there are several stages to go from absolutely nothing to beautiful website.

At the same time, it is also very dangerous to post a project for more then it’s worth. While I would never over-bid, I have seen projects that should only take 1–2 hours have proposals on them in the thousands. It is better to post a project budget that is higher then actual costs, but not so high that it attracts attention. If you think your project is going to cost $500 then posting at the $1,000 mark is not a bad idea, but the $10,000 is just going to grab a lot of attention that you don’t want.

Ask Questions

Surely you want to know something. Ask for a portfolio or samples of work. A lot of my work is covered under NDA, but I still have a few samples I can give and I alway state that more are available upon request. Ask about location, price, history, work ethic, everything. Never fear asking questions. They are a great way to filter out automated responses and to make sure your selecting the right developer.

Obviously you are going to want to stay away from the traditional personal questions, but if your building a web site for kids, it’s ok to ask, “Do you have kids?”. If your building a cancer website, ask “Has someone close to you had cancer?”. I know they seem like questions that are usually off topic, and they are, but again one of the largest benefits of a freelancer is the emotional attachment to a project. If your developer cares about your product/site, everyone is going to have a much more productive time. You defiantly don’t want a developer building a kid’s website that hates kids.

Don’t forget to ask the business questions too. Ask about hours, availability, methods of contact. Ask about procedures for payment. Guru has a prescribed method, but it doesn’t always work. If you have never used safe pay (Guru’s method) then ask about it. All developers on Guru will know how it works. Ask about transferring of files, or specific requirements. Treat the posting it’s self like a job interview. You can weed out a lot of perspective proposals just by asking a good set of questions.

Prepare for spam

It’s sad to say, but posting your project on Guru is going to get you a great deal of spam. Some of it good, and some of it bad. There are a lot of projects on Guru and a lot of developers will just copy and paste their response. In my biased opinion you should just discard those copy and paste responses. Look for answers to your questions and a genuine interest in your project. Either way, you should brace for several replies. Set aside some time to go though the all and pick the ones you like best.

Have real conversations

When you post on Guru, be prepared to set aside some real time to have real conversations. If you live local to your perspective freelancer, and it’s important to you then ask to meet face to face. If you don’t care about a physical meeting then set aside some time for phone calls. Either way, be prepared to spend a significant amount of time in real conversations with your perspective freelancers. Most freelancers care about their work, and want to make sure that the people they are working for do too. It can also be much easier to convey complex ideas and requirements over the phone or chat, as apposed to email, or Guru’s message board. Just be prepared to spend some real time in real conversation before you select your freelancer.

Think about location

Be honest. If you want some one local, say so. State how local. “I want someone in the same city as I am,” is fine. Same country, same state, same region, are all perfectly legitimate requests. Some people don’t want oversees developers. Some people don’t care. Some people want oversees developers. There are several reasons you may want a freelancer from a specific region. Maybe you want someone that is available during your hours, or that you could have a face to face with pre-launch. Maybe you want someone that deals with the idiosyncrasies of your target region. There is nothing wrong with that. There is also nothing wrong with, “I don’t care where they are as long as there good at what they do.” Either way, just have an idea going in, of who you want to work with, and where you want them located. be honest about it, and you will save yourself some time.

No form letters

I see this all the time. I just ignore any posting on Guru.com or another site where someone just copied and pasted in some form letter or template. Don’t do it. Show the people that you want to care about your project that you care too. Ask question be specific. If your going to post on several sites at once that’s fine, but take the time to make the effort. You don’t want your freelancer cutting corners, and as a freelancer I don’t want to work with someone who is going to cut corners on something as important as picking their developer.

Again, these are my personal opinions, they won’t match everyone’s. However, following these guidelines will make for better postings on Guru and allow you to get much better proposals.

Coteyr.net Programming LLC. is about one thing. Getting your project done the way you like it. Using Agile development and management techniques, we are able to get even the most complex projects done in a short time frame and on a modest budget.

Feel free to contact me via any of the methods below. My normal hours are 10am to 10pm Eastern Standard Time. In case of emergency I am available 24/7.

Email: coteyr@coteyr.net
Phone: (813) 421-4338
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