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Hi Srex,

I agree completely with what everyone else has said, but as someone who has employed contractors through oDesk before and who manages the social media communities on the Aussie shift for both oDesk and Elance channels, I have a couple of additional pieces of advice. (They merged back in December of 2014 to become Elance-oDesk but still maintain separate company profiles and websites.)

It’s possible to find Aussie contractors on both platforms – I’m one of them, but you need to specify this in your job description. You also need to be prepared to pay more for them than you would someone from the Phillippines, India or somewhere similar because our cost of living is much higher. Doing so would negate any major time difference though.

You can also search for freelancers that meet your criteria and invite them to an interview, as opposed to advertising your job to the masses. This way you’re not bombarded by everyone who has a spare few hours a week who doesn’t fit your criteria from applying.

If you decide to use either platform and invite people to interview, do the following before sending the invitation:

  • check out their work history to see if they’ve done similar work before
  • Have a look through their portfolio to see if you’re happy with the standard of their work
  • Have a look at feedback left for them by others
  • Make sure you actually talk to them via Skype or some other mechanism so that you get a feel for how the two of you get on

If you find someone you think may fit your brief, ensure you have a very small task prepared for them to undertake or make it clear to them you’ll hire them for x hours per week as a means of seeing if you’re both a good fit. I like to set specific tasks and ask how long they think it might take and only hire for that period, asking them to meet with me regularly over that period of time that so that I can assess how good they are at communicating any issues or concerns, updating me on progress, etc.

This approach will hopefully help you determine the best person for you and give you a feel as to whether you’ll be happy working with them. If there are no issues during the trial phase then you could proceed to giving them more and more work as they prove that they’re worth their money.

One final thing: don’t forget to check the screenshots of their work diary once you receive email notification that the working week has ended to ensure that they’ve been devoting their time solely to you during the time you’re paying them.

There are some great freelancers out there – both in Australia and overseas. As long as you plan out exactly what you want done and take care when selecting freelancers to work on your jobs, there’s no reason why it can’t succeed, but you do need to take into account the issues that others have brought up as well.

Hope this helps a little!

PS: These views are my own and aren’t associated with Elance or oDesk in any way.