Life gets faster, competition increases. Outsourcing select tasks can help your business be more productive. I'm not saying you should outsource your core service, but outsourcing certain design and marketing tasks (depending on your business) can definitely help you save money and provide you with greater talent pool.
Before reading further please make sure you take a look at a great post "Outsourcing marketing without looking your voice" by Unmana Datta. This will help you avoid some of the outsourcing pitfalls. So, there's a couple routes you can go to outsource your online marketing projects: 1) Contest your project and 2) hire an actual person to do the project.
At the end of the post I will provide you with a list of 10 websites I looked at. The list include some of the web metrics that can help you understand how those sites compare and how long they've been around.
Start a contest
These sites usually work in three steps: 1) you define what you need 2) a group of designers create the product 3) you choose the best one you like. You, as the client will first need to pay the company to get in front of designers. Then you pay a designer if his / her design is selected. The key benefit of these sites is the variety of proposals that you get from designers all over the world. Here's a few choices you have:
Design Contest provides a number of contest options including logo, website, Twitter background, icon design, etc. As I explained above, they follow a standard contest process: 1) create RFP, 2) review designs, 3) choose and pay.
DesignCrowd has many of the similar contests, including some of the offline marketing collateral such as posters, and works pretty much the same.
Hire the world is the only Canadian-based company from the list I looked at. What I liked about them is that they offer both contests AND "hire a professional" outsourcing options. Also, based on the data table, this is the youngest website out of the 10 reviewed.
Hire a professional
This outsourcing option works very similar to hiring a local freelancer. The difference is that here you can hire a freelancer from Russia, Ukraine, Philippines, etc. at a fraction of the cost. By the way, make sure you take a look at "6 facts about outsourcing content to Philippines" post by Bingo Ventura. You should consider this type of outsourcing for a longer term or on-going engagement with freelancers. Let's now look at some of the top performers in this area.
oDesk is probably the most popular with the SEO community. Here you can hire A professional or build an entire team of freelancers working on your project. One of my friends has been using oDesk for a couple of years now. He manages a community of language learners and outsources translation, writing, and coding.
Freelancer offers a lot of the same features but looks like building teams is not in its arsenal. A useful option here is to stage the payments for longer projects. Based on the spreadsheet below, this is one of the oldest sites of its kind.
Elance concludes the top 3 international outsourcing sites with many of the same features as the first two. Take a look at the spreadsheet below to see what differentiates them. I recommend watching a quick commoncraft-style video on how it works on their homepage.
Data: 10 websites to outsource your design and marketing tasks
Get this Outsourcing Design and Marketing spreadsheet via Google docs.
Please share your experiences with outsourcing through these websites in the comments. Specifically, your feedback about payment systems, freelancer relations will be greatly appreciated. Let me know if the table was useful and if I should produce one every time I do a site list review.