Businesses are continually seeking cost-effective and flexible solutions to meet their talent requirements. That’s where Upwork, a leading online job marketplace, comes into play.
In the 461st episode of the Outsource Accelerator podcast, Harold Ladaran, the CEO of SPLACE BPO, shared how he began as a freelancer on Upwork and will now expand his company to 500 employees by the end of the year.
What is Upwork?
Upwork is an online marketplace that connects businesses and individuals with freelancers and independent professionals worldwide.
It offers various services, from web development and design to content writing and digital marketing. Upwork can help you find the right talent if you need a project completed.
Benefits of using Upwork as an online job marketplace
Here are some benefits of using Upwork as an online job marketplace:
Global talent pool
One of the most significant benefits of Upwork is its vast global talent pool.
According to DemandSage, Upwork boasts a user base of more than 18 million skilled freelancers as of 2023.
You can tap into a diverse and skilled workforce from all corners of the world.
It means you can find professionals with the specific expertise you need, no matter their location.
Harold mentioned that his individual freelancer and agency profiles are currently at the “top-rated plus” level on Upwork, indicating high recognition on the platform.
He also highlighted that Upwork has connected him with enterprise clients, resulting in significant projects and opportunities.
Upwork offers flexibility that traditional hiring methods can’t match.
Whether you need a freelancer for a short-term project or a long-term collaboration, Upwork allows you to choose the duration and terms that suit your business.
It’s like having a virtual workforce at your fingertips, available on demand.
For many businesses, the cost is a significant factor. Upwork shines in this benefit. It often proves more cost-effective than hiring full-time employees.
With freelancers, you can pay for the work done, eliminating the need for benefits, office space, and other overhead costs associated with traditional employment.
Harold Ladaran of SPLACE mentioned, “I can offer support and management for free, so they don’t need to concern themselves with operations or monitoring the agents.”
Harold underscores that his service offers comprehensive support to clients, handling various aspects of their business needs.
He also explains his pricing strategy: “We charge this rate because we designed our business model to fully operate as a third-party outsourcing company that can help them in terms of running their businesses.”
Scalability is crucial in a business’s growth. Upwork makes it easy to scale your workforce up or down based on your business needs.
Whether expanding rapidly or temporarily downsizing, Upwork’s flexible hiring model allows you to adapt without hassle.
Common challenges of using Upwork
As with any platform, Upwork comes with its set of challenges. Being aware of these issues is essential to make the most of your experience.
Finding the right talent
With thousands of freelancers to choose from, finding the right talent can be a daunting task.
How do you identify the perfect fit for your project, someone who understands your vision and can deliver high-quality results?
The SPLACE CEO noted, “One of the common roadblocks when I talk to clients is they think that the Philippines has a cheap lifestyle and a low cost of living, and they believe we don’t deserve to charge them as much as, say, $8 an hour.”
When working with remote freelancers, maintaining quality standards can be a concern. How can you be sure that the work you receive meets your expectations, especially when you can’t monitor it in person?
Harold further explained his approach to proposing services to clients.
“I propose our services based on what they can get on top of what they are paying us because basically when a client pays an hourly rate or a fixed rate in a month, they’re paying only the manpower itself,”
Harold highlighted the additional value that clients get alongside the hourly rate, which he includes in his proposals. This approach helps clients understand that the cost is justified by the quality and value of the services they receive.
Successful projects are built on the foundation of effective communication.
However, when working with freelancers from different time zones and cultures, language barriers and communication gaps can become significant hurdles.
Collaborating remotely with freelancers may present project management and team coordination challenges.
How can you ensure everyone is on the same page when they are not physically present in your office?
The SPLACE founder mentioned, “I’m more than happy to help them and educate them that this will work because everything now is like cloud-based, and we can have Zoom or conference calls. We can install the video cameras stuff.”
He highlighted the value of technology, such as cloud-based solutions and video conferencing, in addressing clients’ requirements.
How to address the challenges of using Upwork
Now that we’ve outlined the common challenges let’s explore how you can overcome them effectively.
Define clear project requirements.
Defining clear project requirements is crucial to finding the right talent.
Create a detailed job description outlining your expectations, project goals, and specific skills required. The more precise you are, the easier it will be to attract the right freelancers.
Careful freelancer selection
When evaluating freelancers, review their profiles, portfolios, and client reviews. Conduct interviews to assess their compatibility with your project. Being selective in hiring increases your chances of finding a qualified professional.
Effective communication is vital to overcome language barriers and misunderstandings. Use collaboration tools, hold regular meetings, and set clear expectations.
Clear and consistent communication helps bridge gaps and ensures everyone is on the same page.
Manage scope creep
Scope or project creep can be a problem on any project, whether you’re working with in-house teams or freelancers. Implement robust project management practices to monitor progress and set clear boundaries to prevent scope creep.
Why use Upwork when hiring remote staff
Now that we’ve addressed the challenges, you might wonder why you should choose Upwork over other hiring methods.
Upwork enables you to build a team of skilled professionals tailored to your project’s needs without long-term employment commitment.
This freedom and agility make Upwork appealing for businesses seeking remote staff.