On December 31st, while contemplating my next list of year-long resolutions, I had an idea. Nothing earth-shattering, just a small idea that would make the visitor experience for one of my websites a little better. It seemed like a pretty easy task, but as I dove into the mechanics I soon realized that this small idea needed big help. And where does a millennial turn to when they need help? “Hey Google…”
This is not an endorsement.
First of all, I know you’ve come across this template before, so I want to make a disclaimer. I did not get (am not getting/have no plans to be) paid by UpWork.com. There are plenty of other, much more extensive “how to” posts about using that specific site, and I am in no way endorsing or making any guarantees for your own experience. Do your own research, especially if (like me) you are giving a complete stranger access to your website.
Asking for help is the first step.
I was raised with the understanding that I could do anything. I know that it’s a generational thing, but it’s how I was raised and continue to operate to this day. I have also been able to program and customize my website on my own, and had kept up my programming skills on a need-only basis. This particular idea, however, took me down a Google/YouTube/blog rabbit hole that occupied me for hours. It started with Googling “how to…”, which led me to a blog on learning new programming languages, which led me to a video tutorial on server customization, which led me to brainstorming how to start a server farm, and eventually got my brain so far off track, I’m pretty sure I believed I could cure cancer with all the new skills I would learn. I was primed and ready to take on the world…wait, what was my idea?
Unfortunately, all the actual results I had to show for an hour of “labor” were a bunch of open browser tabs and a growing, overwhelming anxiety. So, I decided to reel back my brain to my original small idea and get some help. “Hey Google, I need to program a small script into my website. How do I hire a freelancer to help?”
I’m terrible at talking about myself.
Hiring a freelancer, especially without any experience, is a like your first experience on a dating app. “Hi! I’m a fun-loving entrepreneur, who is looking for a smart programmer to help take my website to the next level. I enjoy long walks on the beach, traveling, yoga, and family is really important to me. If you’re looking for a good time, we should grab a coffee and see where this goes!” Of course, you don’t really write a bio like that (though I think I really nailed it), but you do put a brief description of your project out there and freelancers bid to work with you. After 24 hours, I was impressed that I had almost a hundred responses from freelancers around the world who were competing for my attention. I finally know what ladies go through on actual dating sites…
You have chosen…wisely
The scariest thing about this whole process was making a choice. I knew that whoever I chose would need to have direct access to my website and be able to make necessary changes. My imagination ran through scenarios where they used access to bring down governments and run terrorist organizations. I knew I couldn’t fully prevent a legitimate hacking onslaught, so I decided to trust the process, believe the reviews, and chose my new Indian friend, Mahendra. He quickly got to work and within a week of starting, accomplished the exact idea I had been stewing on for a month!
The more you know.
In retrospect, the process was unexpectedly painless. The only real problem was our timezone difference as he worked when I slept, and vice versa. Otherwise, for a couple hundred bucks and a week’s worth of communication, I had the new script for my website and was a very satisfied customer. I know my experience is not universal, and any number of review sites will damper your expectations of safety and security. However, if you’re willing to take the risk, the rewards can be…well, rewarding. And looking back, I know that it wasn’t so much about the actual freelancing experience as it was about reminding myself to reel it in. Or, as the famous philosopher Ronald J. McDonald used to say, “Keep your eye on the hamburger, but bite off small chunks at a time.”