So you have decided to hop aboard the freelance web developer’s train and ride it to your millions. You read all of the prerequisites like SitePoint and the new must-reads like Freelance Switch. You scoured the job boards around the net and have finally connected with your first client only to run into a major roadblock; one part of the project requires you to build something that you don’t know how to do. It doesn’t matter if it is as pointless as Flash or as crucial as an application written in a particular language. As developers, we can’t possibly specialize in every known technology, yet as a freelancer, you will often find yourself in the position of not having the full set of skills necessary to complete the job.
Outsourcing To The Rescue
Like in all sectors of the modern economy, outsourcing is becoming a major force to be reckoned with. And while I won’t go into detail about why I think the United States and Europe should stop freaking out about this phenomenon, it is clear that this could give the average freelancer a huge edge. Suddenly, you can cost effectively hire yourself a team when need be, but maintain your freelance status. It is like having temporary employees working for you, but only when you need them. The savings potential is massive and meanwhile you can pass yourself off as the most versatile freelancer out there.
But here is the dilemma: Should you tell your client that you outsourced a component of their project?
The Ethical Dilemma
You could easily not tell your client that you had to outsource a part of their project. Meanwhile, things go off without a hitch and everyone is happy. Unless of course something goes wrong with that piece and you don’t know how to service it. Then again, you could always outsource the fixing of the issue. The point is, this could continue and your client would never know the difference and you still look like the whiz kid.
Just like in any other economic sector, everyone will be reaping the benefits of this outsourcing. You will look like a true professional, your client will be happy about your relatively low prices (compared, to say, a boutique designer), and the end user will get that well designed, well functioning website that they came looking for. You aren’t necessarily obligated to tell anyone how your development process went.
Potential Pitfalls In Outsourcing
This is not to say that you won’t run into problems. The real issue will be finding a company to outsource to that is reliable and produces excellent results. There are tons of these services out there, located everywhere from India (where else) to Illinois and choosing the right one is no small task. In his ebook, Outsourcing Web Projects: 6 Steps to a Smarter Business, Dave Hecker puts it well:
“Remember that there are no barriers to entering the web development business. Any person from anywhere in the world can simply say “I’m a web developer” and start bidding on jobs. As a result, there are large numbers of inexperienced and unqualified vendors in the web design industry, and most of them lack the experience to execute your project properly”
Overall, outsourcing can be an invaluable tool for a web developer and is an option that should not be shrugged off. At the same time, you cannot ignore the potential problems and should always do some research about the company you are interested in. Either way, you can end up looking like a true professional. How do you feel about outsourcing your work?
This article was written by J David Macor.
Originally posted on September 19, 2007 @ 6:00 am