Contracting out work to free lance developers

Jimmy Jacobson Full Stack Developer and Cofounder at

May 16th, 2013

Trevor McKendrick has written a great article (in a series) about how he learned to manage contract developers for his bootstrapped iOS app. It's been a lot of fun watching him learn and go through this process.

And since this is a topic I see pop up from time to time here, I thought I'd share.

My favorite part is, "don't pay someone else to think for you, give them detailed mockups of what you want and let them do it"

Benjamin Curtis Co-Founder at Honeybadger Industries

May 16th, 2013

As a technical guy and freelancer, I've had this conversation with clients many times, and his advice is excellent. However, I'm on the "pay me a lot to think for you" end of the spectrum, so I have to provide a counterpoint. :) There are advantages to you as a client to be on the right-hand side of that spectrum, like freeing up your time to focus on marketing, bizdev, etc., while the tech guy figures out how to turn your ideas into reality. As always, it's a time/money trade-off, so you just need to figure out which one you have in greater supply, then act accordingly. -- Benjamin Curtis - Modern error tracking for Rails developers

Eric Rogness Technical Product Manager

May 16th, 2013

Actually, a business person telling a developer precisely what to build is a missed opportunity. First of all, no matter how well you manage them, I don't think it's likely that you'll get good results out of a subpar team. So please, do yourself a favour, hire talented developers in the first place. "don't pay someone else to think for you, give them detailed mockups of what you want and let them do it" was actually my least favourite part of the post. If you make the effort to bring your developers into your head, and get them to understand who will be using it,, what their motivations are, what your motivations are, and the partners in between, they'll be able to add significant value to the project.

Malcolm F. Current Obsessions: Ultralight travel & tackling the problem of ocean plastics

May 16th, 2013

Jimmy, your post came through as I was in the middle of vetting candidates for a second try at outsourcing for my new project after 1 failed attempt- good timing, thanks. Trevor's article is a good read. 

+1 on Benjamin's comment

In my experience "freelance" is a loose term so depending on your needs and schedule be sure to ask how much time someone has available per week/month, etc for the expected(and padded)duration of your project. Personally I only consider "full-time freelancers" because of too many issues in the past with people that had a 9-5 but thought they had enough time in their nights and weekends to do my project. I find the search features and interface on oDesk much more useful than eLance. oDesk makes it easy to see how many hours a freelancer has put in on projects over a set time period. So for me, seeing that someone has put an average of 30 hours a week over 6 months and received rave reviews is huge.

I also came across the following links in the comment section that are interesting: