The great challenge of today's life is not to earn as much money as possible, but to save time. And using freelancers can help you with it.

This is not something philosophical. There is always time to get rich, but there's no new technology or business opportunity that can recover the time you are losing.

If I think about the period when I started working, I can only regret the months I wasted on low-paying jobs that left me nothing or on things that I thought were normal, such as spending an hour a day in the car to get to the office.

I still have the chance to make a lot of money in my life, but nobody will ever help me to recover the time I lost in my 20s.

Today I have optimized my workflows and my life to prevent situations like these from happening again.

If I have a professional opportunity which requires my physical presence outside my workplace, which is my home, even if it involves earning a thousand euros a day, I decline it.

First, because for the kind of skills I have, there is no reason to prefer physical meetings over Skype. Second, because if the person who pays me still has the mentality of those who demand a meeting, it means that I am not able to make them change their mind, since even COVID-19 has not succeeded, and it's better for us both to interrupt your business relationship as soon as possible.

Now that you understand what I think, you also know why, when I can, I always hire a freelancer.

When you need a freelancer and when it is better to do it yourself

On this website, and in my course and book, I teach how to sell photos and videos online. There's a weird assumption to be able to make business with microstock (weird at least for those used to offline business):

to make money with stock images and stock footage, the creation of titles and keywords affects earnings more than the content itself.

That's why many photographer say microstock is a scam. They don't understand that what they are focusing on is not the most important part of the job.

Consequently, I would never outsource the creation of:

  • keywords
  • titles

of my stock footage, because it is a crucial task and I have improved it so much over time, that I'm sure I'm so good at it that I don't even waste my time looking for someone as good as I am, as I would never be able to find them.

When I wrote my book, I didn't look for a freelancer ghostwriter who would take all the texts I had already published on my site and put them together to allow me to monetise them, because I knew that it was impossible to find someone who could do the following at the same time:

  • be a good writer
  • know about photography and video making
  • learn everything they need to know about microstock

So I wrote the book by myself, even if it meant wasting months of my time.

However, when 99.99% of the text was ready, at each reading I found new errors. I was perfectly aware that they were such, but I had not discovered them because I was distracted. So I went to fiverr and looked for a freelancer to help me.

So I went to Fiverr and looked for a freelancer to help me.

The first person I found did a satisfying job, but it was not perfect. Therefore I had to search for a second person.

Unfortunately the new freelancer was awful, regardless of his 4.8 (out of 5) stars feedback. Hence, by hiring him I lost my:

  • money
  • time

Something that proved that bad outsourcing is even worse than not outsourcing at all.

There are basically three situations in which it is worth finding a freelancer:

  1. jobs you can't stand
  2. one-time jobs
  3. jobs that don't add any skills to your experience

The correction of the advanced draft of my book belongs to the first category because, even if  I love what I have written, re-reading it twenty times was not pleasant, and I have worked hard all my file to choose the things I like to do.

The second category (one-time jobs) includes those tasks that must be done a few times in life, and which, although feasible from a technical point of view, must be outsourced because the time you lose to learn how to do them is not worth it, as compared with the cost of a freelancer.

The business model of this site is based on a paid membership area. Setting it up is not out of my technical reach if, thanks to Google, I lose a day on the tutorials that are published on the net.

But once I learn how to do it, the next membership area that my business will need will have to be set up in several months, by which time I will have forgotten everything. Considering the costs and benefits, it is therefore worthwhile to hire a freelancer.

The typical example of the third category (jobs that do not add any professionalism to one's experience) is data entry.

On footageforpro.com I have published my collection of historical films which I sell to documentary producers around the world. I now have more than a thousand videos for sale.

Without going into details, which I explain in my book, the tool with which I find customers is YouTube and the data I write and publish there (title, description, keywords) must be copied and pasted on three other platforms:

  • two WordPress sites
  • Vimeo

Doing so requires 34 steps of copying and pasting, as per the detailed instructions I created once:

I would be crazy if I did that job, because I have the same skills required as a freelancer that I can find on Fiverr for $2 per hour and in the time I save by giving the job to someone else I can earn a lot more money by focusing on the things I can do best.

But unfortunately, outsourcing is not always possible. Otherwise there would be no value added in what I do. Still today, I write and edit the videos that I publish, because, sorry to say it, there is not a single freelancer in the world who is as good at writing and editing them as I am, when the topic is microstock.

But when I work on the script of an episode of my podcast, which lasts from thirty to forty minutes, I used to miss some writing errors. At that point, instead of wasting another hour on a job that I don't like, I hire a freelancer that correct my mistakes.

With the money I spend, I buy an hour of my time that I use to:

  • do other jobs
  • study
  • live my life

For these reasons, whatever your business is, you have to delegate. If you can't, you are hurting your business (and even yourself).

The three main websites where to find freelancers

Finding a freelancer today is so easy that if you are unable to do it even after following my instructions, then you won't have to look for a freelancer, but you will have to take a course about internet.

As usual, I will be brief and concrete. There are three sites you can use:

Upwork

The first (Upwork) is the most used.

Among digital marketers, most people talk about it, since looking for freelancers is the basic operation to be able to scale the business, and scalability is the particle of God of making money with internet.

I have never used it because the alleged advantages it gives, such as being able to remotely monitor the person hired to see if they are doing their job during the hours they promised to do so, never seemed useful to me.

To do this test, I therefore have to register an account, playing the role of the newbie, a bit like you would be.

You register in a minute, using an email or your Google account. Even though I don't like the second option, for a few reasons (remember Cambridge Analytica? It was Facebook's fault, but I don't trust internet giants that much), I use the second method to make it fast.

Upwork is intuitive, at least for a person used to surfing the internet.

So, if you have a project, something like: Translate a text of 2000 words from English to Italian (or viceversa in my case), write in the search box at the top:

translate 2000 words italian english

Upwork suggests freelancers to contact, more or less like this:

You will know their:

  • hourly cost
  • money earned on Upwork
  • percentage of works completed successfully

You will also read a small presentation that will help you choose.

If the freelancer replies to your request once you've contact him, they will tell you how many hours it takes to finish the job. For this reason, Upwork gives you the ability to control the freelancer remotely to avoid you being charged for hours in which they do something else.

In my opinion, it is much better to receive an offer that tells you how much what you need costs, leaving the freelancer the freedom to do it independently. This way you can free yourself from the burden of checking whether that person is actually working for you.

Freelancer.com

I used the second freelance site many years ago and then abandoned it for two reasons:

  • poor quality of the freelancers
  • the platform did not issue an invoice (I think this is still the case)

This second thing shouldn't be a problem in many countries, but it was in Italy where I have my business.

Freelancer.com works with the auction method.

Years after my last log in, I signed in again to show you how it works.

At the top right click the orange button Post a Project:

Let's say I'm looking for a logo:

  1. I write Logo creation

I add some more information about the project and click Next.

On this page:

I have to write the technical skills that the freelancer must have. Since the job I requested is quite common, Freelancer.com already writes some of those skills automatically.

Then I indicate that I want to post a project, rather than start a contest:

After this, the site gives me the option to pay:

  • for hours worked
  • for the project

To avoid problems, I choose the latter and indicate a budget, which in this case ranges from a minimum of eight euros to a maximum of thirty, having marked the project as "Micro".

After a second the offers start and messages flood in chat. After five minutes (I don't go further), there are already a hundred offers, starting from ten euros.

I have already told you the negative side of freelancer.com. So, try to figure out if it is worth trying. Just in case, this is the link to do it with a 15 euros discount.

Fiverr

The freelance platform I still use today is Fiverr.

As already mentioned, compared to Freelancer.com that I used once, it issues the invoices. In addition, freelancers can choose without publishing a project, saving you a lot of time in your search for the right person.

It works this way. On the top left:

write what kind of service you need. Let's say it is removing the background of photos.

Dozens of people doing that job appear:

at an average price of five dollars for ten to fifteen photos.

Each freelancer has a feedback score, which goes up to a maximum of five stars, and the number of completed orders, which is the number next to the stars.

If any of these profiles interest you, click on its card and you will arrive in the next screen, where you can buy the service, which Fiverr calls gigs. To do this you have to click on the green button Continue:

To understand how much you will spend, you have to add the Fiverr commission to the price asked by the freelancer. In the case of the five-dollar gig, it is two dollars.

Now that I've told you that I use Fiverr, you may be wondering:

Is it a perfect platform?

My answer is: "no".

I still have problems in finding freelancers through Fiverr. The main one is that the feedback you see is not reliable. Many times it happened to me to hire a five-star freelancer who was:

  • rude
  • unreliable
  • unable to do the job

If you have problems, Fiverr refunds you, even if you already accepted the delivery of the work, but nobody refunds you for the time you lose.

Talking about unreliable freelancers found online, however, I leave the floor to a microstock producer who, anonymously, tells us what happened to him when he tried to outsource some work related to stock images and stock footage.

Why Fiverr and other freelancer sites are not perfect

Below, therefore, you will find the opinion on Fiverr freelancers of a friend of mine who was looking for someone to remove the background of his stock images.

I do not recommend using freelancers to work on stock images post-production or to delegate keywording.

In my opinion:

  1. People on Fiverr are ineffective 99% of the time
  2. The prices they ask are not cheap, considering the current earnings that are obtained with stock images.

The freelancers I hired delivered files that I could also create myself and that I had to refine because the images they gave me were not accepted by agencies, due to the poor quality.

The kind of background removal service you find on Fiverr is good for the first phase of the job. Then you have to waste more time reworking the photos they give you.

Those gigs are useful only for those who have to publish photos in e-commerce sites and want to spend little.

Only if it is difficult can there be a business opportunity

Good freelancers exist even on Fiverr. It's just hard to find them. And when you find them, they want to be paid the right fee (which is not cheap, of course).

For this reason, if you know someone good, please report it to me, so that I can share it with other photographers and video makers.

Talking about business opportunities, I'll give you an idea.

The basic key to sell something is solving people's problems or, according to another point of view, satisfy their needs.

Looking for someone good and reliable who sells their service on Fiverr is a problem because, just to mention a few things:

  • Not everyone who needs a freelancer knows the platform
  • The site is only in English
  • Feedback doesn't always tell the truth

In other words:

being an intermediary between freelancers and buyers is a service that someone could gladly pay for, as the payment can avoid the problems I mentioned.

So, suppose that the good freelancer you found sells something main stream, like for example:

  • translations
  • photo post-production
  • WordPress assistance

Considere that opening a website is cheap and optimizing for SEO today can give you good results without much effort (at least if you know about SEO):

Why not create a business?

Talking about microstock, many potential customers might be interested in buying the service of a freelancer who creates titles and keywords of stock images and stock footage, since that part of the job is the real hassle for photographers and video makers.

You need to select someone good (in the next paragraph there are some suggestions about it) and deliver a .csv that the contributor then loads himself, possibly adapting it, on agencies or services such as:

Who am I (the guy who wrote the guide so far)?

My name is Daniele Carrer and I have been selling my images and footage online since 2006.

A few years ago I opened this site, along with my course and book, I help photographers and video makers to make money with their content.

Who's the guy who shared his experience below?

Ruggero Piccoli (read his story) is a stock images and stock footage producer who shoots aircrafts.

Despite having another job, he has been producing content for microstocks for years and has founded a YouTube channel with thousands of subscribers.

This is Ruggero Piccoli's experience (by the way, thanks for sharing it).

A freelance for keywording stock images

The advice I can give to all those who want to hire freelancers is to test them first, initially giving them small jobs, and then:

  • evaluating the results
  • asking for reviews

Only after understanding that the freelancer is professional should you assign them more important tasks. It's easy to do such a thing on Fiverr as you can contact people without the need to publish a public project.

Some time ago, I looked for someone who could help me with the writing of titles and keywords to be associated with my stock images and stock footage. I wanted to see how different other people would do my job to understand if, by changing my method, sales would also change.

I prepared a batch of 150 videos of animals created with the photo-traps, asking the freelancer to create a .csv file with:

  • short description of 80 characters
  • long description of 200 characters
  • keywords

There aren't many freelancers who offer a keywording service on Fiverr.

I eventually spotted three of them:

  1. http://bit.ly/starcevicmarija Very professional, but unfortunately at the time of my request she was busy and could not accept the job.
  2. http://bit.ly/enricocaschetta Initially he accepted. So I sent him the videos with the name of the animal portrayed in English and in Latin, but after three days he replied that he was going to give up the job because he was not skilled in describing animals. However, he gave me the impression of being a qualified professional. Had this not been, he would have taken the job by delivering something imperfect.
  3. http://bit.ly/moisexvii In the end, he was the one who accepted and completed the job and at an affordable price.

The quality of the delivery was very good, but I had to intervene in the .csv that he provided, fixing some missing capital letters. So I think I will contact him in the future.

The freelancer to post-produce time-lapse sequences

My customer satisfaction changes when it comes to talking about someone who helped me save time in the post production of time-lapses.

When I have to transform a sequence of photos into a speeded up video, the operation that takes me the most time is removing the birds from the images, since there is no effective software to do this automatically and, if you don't, the final video will have dots that randomly move and spoil the image quality.

I used Fiverr again to find the right person. The goal, as always when looking for a freelancer, was:

  • save time
  • pay a reasonable cost

Compared to looking for someone who helped me with the keywording, in this case everything was more difficult. I have tested several people, but always with very disappointing results.

For this reason I recommend that you recruit people by going step by step. In other words:

If you have ten time-lapses to edit, you should pass one to each potential freelancer, choosing the most complicated ones to process to immediately understand who is actually doing the best job and pass the rest of the work on to that person.

In the first phase, despite having explained what had to be done, I found myself with:

  • images that still had birds
  • halos in the area of ​​the frame where the bird was erased

Even by soliciting the freelancer and giving very detailed instructions, the quality of the results was not enough and forced me to personally double check all the photos and take action on many of them. So, I might as well do it all by myself.

The only freelancer I can recommend, if you need someone to carry out the preliminary operations on the photos of your time-lapse, is the only one who has proved to be above average, sending me ready-to-use files:

http://bit.ly/ahmadsexperts

This is the result:

The opinion of another microstock contributor of freelancers job

I want to share the experience of another producer, Alessandro Grandini, who used freelancers to outsource part of the work with his stock images and stock footage.

This is what he wrote to me:

When I produced a lot of content for microstocks I delegated titles and keywords.

The following analysis refers only to:

I bought Gigs of many freelancers on Fiverr. With them I had both positive and negative experiences which, in the end, allowed me to select the best ones.

I have kept all the data of the jobs they made and currently the situation is this:

  • 2464 stock images indexed and accepted by Shutterstock
  • €1353 spent (about 50 cents per image)
  • $6382 earned (almost 5 dollars per image)

I also bought post-production photo services to lighten my work, but I was never 100% satisfied.

However, I didn't lose money: I spent 100 euros for 34 images (so about 3 euros per image), and from these photos I earned 400 dollars.

I also hired friends to help me with the shooting: 280 euros spent, with 320 approved images and a profit of 308 dollars. So for now I have made a draw, but the thing is more recent and I have excluded from the calculation the earnings I got from AdobeStock.

Conclusions: you need a freelancer!

The Internet has created millions of self-entrepreneurs as today it is easy and fast to start a new business.

With one hundred euros you can publish a website that can sell something to thousands of people around the world. It's a nice change from the years when to open a shop you had to:

  • invest the lifetime savings of your parents
  • spend months to (maybe) get a loan from a bank

And even if you could start the business, you used to get customers only from your city or neighbourhood.

Then to grow your business you needed:

  • years of work
  • big investments

One of the main problems of digital entrepreneurs, given how easy it is to make business today, is that they have the consumer mentality, so they always try to save on everything.

Costs are always something negative for them, and not the first step of a path that ends with a profit, without which the company goes bankrupt.

Paying 5 dollars to hire a freelancer who makes a copy and paste job for two hours does not mean spending; it means earning because, in the period of time that you free yourself, you are able to bring home much more money than those to whom you have outsourced the work.

Even if microstock today no longer generates the earnings it once did, at least to those producers who don't have someone who teaches them what to do, there are many tasks that don't make any sense to do by yourself, as someone can do them for you.

In other words:

Even if saving makes you feel good, pay a freelancer whenever you can. It will allow you to earn more money and give you time to live your life.