How to Build a Business Using Freelancers Part 2: Trust
How to Build a Business Using Freelancers Part 2: Praxis
Here at Dannybuntu.com, we strive for "praxis" to the best of our abilities. I personally value openness, sometimes even at the cost of privacy, because I believe that if you're not doing anything wrong then it's worth putting out there. On the other hand, if I'm doing or saying something wrong, then it's also worth correcting.
I also believe in full disclosure, that's why right off the bat, I am disclosing that I am writing this blog post as a contest entry for the $15,000 contest being held right now by Freelancer.com. In the interests of full transparency, I'd also like to say that I am recommending freelancer.com (affiliate link) should you need any freelance work done.
As freelancers, we don't have any brick and mortar facilities and all we can rely on is our social networks and what we know how to do. That's why cultivating both online and offline relationships and building trust is of paramount importance.
Ben Stroup expresses the importance of relationships when it comes to online freelancing in this video: The Importance of Relationships in Freelancing
Visit Ben Stroup's Website on TheContentMatrix.com
Trust in Your Social Circles
I distrust most of the people in my social circles since most of them are complete strangers.
However, I trust a few of them. I know exactly who to go to for legal advice. I know who to go to for medical advice. I know who to go to when I want straight in your face honesty about something I am doing.
Generally, most people think in the same way. We do, act, buy and believe things based on trust.
But What If We Cannot Trust Anybody in Your Social Circles?
Put in another way, what if you can't trust anybody to do something for you particularly?
I mean, you can't trust a lawyer to give you sound medical advice. You can't trust a doctor to give you legal advice. What if you have none of those in your social circles? What if nobody in your social circles can recommend a good lawyer, doctor, web developer, mechanic or social media manager?
This is where Google and other search engines come in.
You search for a mechanic on Google, so you type,
"Good, honest, affordable mechanic in San Jose, California."
If you're lucky, the results that Google will give you are trustworthy and you'll soon find a good, honest and affordable mechanic near your area.
Google Is a Trust Engine
It's not just a search engine. We say that it's a trust engine because we assume that the results that a search query will give are accurate.
I'm not sure if anybody else used the word "trust" to describe Google's service, but if you think about the core business of Google - which is search, and think about the intrinsic implications of the things you find in search results, Google is basically saying,
"Here, you can trust these results. You wanted to find a good and honest mechanic in San Jose California, here's the list of good and honest mechanics. You click on one of the search results and bingo you're ideally supposed to find a good and honest mechanic.
How building a business using freelancers should center on trust
Not let's say that you're trying to build an online business where you're selling physical or virtual goods online. The problem with most small startups like yours is that more often than not, the market that you're trying to capture is already dominated by the big boys, namely Amazon, eBay, Google and countless other ecommerce websites and marketers. But there's one thing that's lacking when it comes to these big guys - they don't have that personal touch.
This is where freelancers come in.
The Online Business Battle Plan
The main challenge facing small and medium business owners when it comes to competing with the larger businesses is scale. Amazon.com has 24,300 employees (2009) and eBay has 13,700 (2007).
At any given moment, these large businesses can command a large number of their employees to focus on a particular task.
You can only imagine Jeff Bezos blasting an email to all departments instructing them to center their attention on improving customer trust. Right after sending this email, smaller focus groups within their organization hold meetings on how they can achieve Jeff Bezos' directive.They then execute according to how they apprehend that directive.
It's like a huge hydra extending its heads - all focused on one goal. But still, it doesn't have that small business charm.
Impart trust as a vital component in your relationship with the freelancer
Initially, your image as a small business hinges on the personal accounts of people who work with you or work for you.
This includes the freelancer.
As the project creator or the person who hires the freelancer, the very act of engaging or contracting is in itself an opportunity for you to show that you can be trusted. Freelancers may be a loose band or a rag tag army of diverse backgrounds, skills, nationalities, etc - but they do communicate with each other and tell each other about the good and the bad.
A Hypothetical Scenario
In my previous example in the first part of this series, we were trying to sell blue bananas online. So you proceed to:
- Hire a freelance developer to make your website
- Hire a freelance graphic artist to design your logo
- Hire a freelance designer to pretty up everything
- Hire a freelance writer to write about your products
- Hire a virtual assistant to help you manage your projects
- Hire a freelance customer service agent to answer inquiries
- Hire a freelance social media strategist to engage your customers
That's about 7 people you don't personally know, who are tasked with various jobs for your company.
- Imagine what could be the net effect if you treated them extra-specially.
- Imagine the number of people that these people can reach about your product.
- Would they enjoy recommending your product or your service after their experiences with you?
- Would you personally add them to your social networks (i.e. Facebook, twitter, Google+) or would you just forget about them as if they were just some random people on the Internet?
- Would they think of you as a friend or a task master?
- Finally, and most importantly, would they trust you, your product or service after their experiences with you?
These questions form the core of your relationship not just with the freelancer, but also with their social circles.
I once had a client who I wrote several blog posts for and to this day, she is still my facebook friend even though I no longer work for her. It's been more than a year now, but we're still facebook friends. She'd email me and ask whether I was doing ok, how my kids are and even how I was personally doing.
In short, she made me feel good. That's why I trust her. I trust her enough that whenever she posts something on facebook that I like, I make it a point to share it with my own social circles.
That's the power of trust and recommendations.
Know fully well, that building a business isn't just about the physical and technical apparatus that you're establishing. Without the people who love your product, you, or your service, there would be no business at all to speak of.
Build your business using freelancers and build it with trust.
My Freelancer user name is daniel1024