Don’t worry. Most of these websites are generally “the same” meaning they offer the same people, just on different websites. Most freelancers have their profiles on at least three different websites. Probably more. (I include myself in this list.) On our side of things, we need to make ourselves exposed to as many eyes as possible – competition is fierce. So when you’re searching on different sites, you may get the same person returned to you.
At this point I’d like to say that I do not endorse any one particular site. I will tell you that I registered on eLance, Guru and oDesk when I started out. Those seem to be the “top 3” when I talk to my other freelance associates. They are all good and all bad in their own way. I’m not here to talk about what each site needs to do to be better, or to sing their praises. When you, the employer, start searching, you just need to know you’re going to get in touch with a good list of people.
To be fair, let me list (posting them in the order they currently appear) the top 5 Google returns for “hire a freelancer” so you have the links at your fingertips.
Of course, you don’t have to just use these sites to find good freelancers. Talk to your own business associates and ask them if they’ve used a freelancer before. If you want someone local, you could try Craigslist. Even better, go to your state government’s unemployment agency and look through their talent bank to find someone. I know when I was unemployed, I would have been thrilled to have someone offer me a “work at home” job!
Stay tuned for step 3 when we talk about posting a job to get the right freelancers bidding on your projects.