In the words of the poet John Donne, no man is an island.

And when it comes to starting your own business online, that means there’s no reason to think you have to do everything yourself.

If there’s a particular element of setting up an Internet business that’s got you stuck — writing content or designing a website, perhaps — rather than giving up on the whole idea…

Hire a freelancer to do it.

Here are some tips to help you get the most for your money…

  • It may cost a little more, but it makes sense to use sites like www.elance.com, www.rentacoder.com, www.guru.com, and www.odesk.com to find people who will do a good job for you. These sites hold the payment until you say you’re satisfied. This helps to protect both you and the freelancer. (You can’t run off without paying, and the freelancer won’t get paid until you sign off on his work.)
  • If you’re not using one of the aforementioned sites and, instead, are dealing directly with the freelancer, don’t pay for the entire project upfront. Stagger your payments so you don’t lose all your money if the freelancer doesn’t perform. And if you are paying for the work at an hourly rate, ask the freelancer to submit a timesheet detailing exactly what he did and when, so you can be sure you are getting your money’s worth.
  • Ask freelancers applying for your job for samples of their work and testimonials from satisfied clients. Aside from the obvious reason, this will help you weed out “serial bidders” — people who apply for every freelance job going, even if they’re not really suited to it.
  • Be wary of new members of websites like elance.com who have no client feedback. They could be old members using a new login name to avoid being associated with negative comments from people who have used their services.
  • In your advert, ask for a specific (and unusual) bit of information — maybe something like “Include the word ‘flotsam’ in the subject line of your e-mailed application.” If they don’t do it, you’ll know they have not paid close attention to your requirements. (Not the kind of person you want to work for you.)

Bottom line: When you work with freelancers, be clear as to what it is you want and be fair. If they do a great job for you, reward them. If their work leaves something to be desired, be firm and demand better.

As long as you choose your people carefully, you can get high-quality work done at a low price — and that will give you an enormous advantage as an online entrepreneur.

[Ed Note: When you’re starting an online business, your most important job is to come up with the best possible way to sell your product or service. How do you get the rest of the work done? By passing it on to freelancers who specialize in the technical or creative tasks you don’t have time for. That’s just one of the techniques you’ll learn as a member of ETR’s Internet Money Club (IMC). Search engine optimization, website building (without technical hassles), copywriting, e-mail list building… it’s all covered in the IMC. Registration is open for a very limited time.

After studying business, economics, politics, and creative writing — and working for many years in local government — Glenn Fisher joined Shortcut Publications as the editor of their flagship publications, Shortcut Bulletin and Shortcut Confidential. Glenn has developed a loyal following for both publications, helping and inspiring readers to achieve personal and financial freedom. To receive Glenn’s free, daily e-letter, go here.]