Elance Blog

Best Practices for Outsourcing Online

You've got a great idea, and you've now realized that there are hundreds of thousands of expert professionals out there that can help you turn your ideas into reality. Before you bolt forward and get ahead of yourself, take a minute to prepare. Quoc Bui and Michael Moon, founders of FreeTheApps!, stop by again and share their best practice for outsourcing online.

Many of you have read our story about how we’ve built a successful iPhone app company by leveraging the power of outsourcing and Elance. We’ve received tons of emails asking for advice on how to get started creating apps and finding the right team to help you with your project. We’ve released over 20 apps on the app store, so we’ve made our share of mistakes and we’re here to share with you some tips and strategies that we’ve learned along the way.

1. Keep it simple

Simplicity is the key. Especially for your first app you will want to stick to the K.I.S.S (Keep it simple, stupid!) principle. Keeping it simple will allow you to keep the development costs and time low. This means you will have your app out there in the app store sooner, getting downloads and motivating you to continue to make more. Try not to include too many features and functionality in your first application. If you look at our apps, most of them are very simple but useful. Use your first application as an opportunity to learn the process of designing your app, getting it developed and getting it released on the app store.

2. Create a wireframe
A wireframe is a basic picture of the screens and flow of your app. You can do this the easy way with just a paper and a pencil, or use some of the many tools available online. The basic idea here is to draw the screens, buttons and show what should be happening when a user performs an action such as pressing a button or swiping on the screen. This should be a very simple representation of your application that can be used by both the graphic designer and the programmers developing your application. We usually give our graphic designer and our programmers a written description as well as a wireframe to give them a better idea of our app design.

3. Choosing the right person for the job
One of the most difficult parts is how to choose the right person for the job. The big factors are usually budget – how much am I willing to spend, feedback – how many jobs have they completed on Elance and how well, and communication – how well they can communicate to you. Communication is key to a project so before we choose someone, we will make sure to send a couple questions through the Elance workroom to see how fast and how well they respond to our messages. Another big thing we look for is if they’ve done something similar to our project before. If they’ve done something similar in the past, then that means that they will be able to do your project quicker and without problems.

4. What if my idea gets stolen?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions we receive. The truth is, there’s always a small risk that your idea may be stolen when working with others, but this goes back to doing your homework and finding someone you trust to help with your project. Elance also provides a sample Non-Disclosure Agreement for both parties to sign to protect against intellectual property theft. (Also, there is a confidentiality agreement that is a part of the Elance Terms of Service that applies to every job that is agreed upon. Read the Services Agreement between Client and Provider.) In the end, you’ll see that contractors on Elance are not here to steal ideas, they are here to utilize their expertise to help you build cool stuff. There are plenty of ideas out there, what sets yours apart from the others is your execution of the idea.

These are just some things we’ve learned along the way of developing and outsourcing our projects. We’re not experts and we’re still learning what works best and what doesn’t. The main thing is to not let your ideas and inspirations go to waste. Go get started and hopefully you’ll be able to share some tips with us in the future. Good luck!

About the Author:
Quoc Bui and Michael Moon grew up together in San Diego, California. These young entrepreneurs are best friends from high school and have used the power of outsourcing through Elance to create Free the Apps!, an iPhone apps company with over 18 million downloads across more than 20 applications in the iTunes App Store, and publish their eBook, “How to Make iPhone Apps With No Programming Experience”.