Outsourcing Sites: Threat or Opportunity?

We’ve looked at freelance outsourcing and crowdsourcing sites in the past – places like 99 Designs for graphics work or Elance for programming and other fields. Generally speaking, it seems that most web workers in our audience view these sites as a threat, encouraging rate cutting and spec work (depending on the site).

But it seems unlikely that the trend of global outsourcing is going to go away any time soon, or that sites which enable it will go out of business. As a result, it’s probably smart for web workers to learn what’s out there, and to figure out how to deal with it. A pair of recent columns from Dan Appleman survey the programming side of this trend. Appleman’s conclusion flies in the face of the accepted wisdom: though he sees the greatest benefit to businesses, he adds “but U.S. workers who are smart, professional and keep their eyes open can find good opportunities as well.”

Appleman’s keys to potential success: understand what you’re bidding on, learn how the system works, be realistic with our pricing, and be patient.

Of course, there are other ways to deal with global outsourcing besides being part of it. Savvy web workers can continue to work on differentiating themselves on skills from the vast global labor pool, and also on marketing those skills. It’s also worth thinking about whether there’s money to be made in being a middleman: taking a job at high rates and farming some of it out to distant freelancers at lower rates, becoming a global project manager.


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