How To Use Upwork To Outsource And Scale Your Merch Business

How To Use Upwork To Outsource And Scale Your Merch Business

A Better Way To Find Talent

Upwork is seeking to fix a problem for big and small businesses alike in the online world: finding reliable talent. As a platform and service, Upwork serves many different purposes all at once. For freelancers, it creates a reliable, safe way to reach out to companies looking to hire them for their services and get paid a fair rate for services rendered. For the company itself, no longer will you have to scour the internet for the best of the best in the freelance world, and hope for the best.

No, now professionals will come to you, complete with solid portfolios and profile pages on Upwork. They're rated based on previous employers which help you get a sense of their work history and dependability.

All of this combines to make the perfect balance of give and take in the world of online freelance work and hiring. The cream rises to the top in terms of talent, and as long as you act like a professional and hold up your end of the bargain, you should have no problem hiring excellent talent to help you realize your goals.

The Pros And Cons Of Hiring And Listing Your Company On Upwork

PRO: The Talent Comes To You

The internet is a wide, vast place. Seeking out talent, for whatever project you're putting together, can be an intensive, unending process. Once you've found who you think is the right person for the job, there will still be that nagging feeling at the back of your mind that if you had just researched a bit longer, you could have found someone better. With Upwork, it's a simple as posting a job listing and letting the professionals come to you.

CON: That's A Lot Of Talent To Sift Through

Still, there is a lot of talent out there on Upwork. Once you've made a job listing, you should be prepared for an onslaught of responses. 

Designers, programmers, and illustrators alike are all hungry for projects, and once you've raised your hand, you are going to have to dedicate a solid day or two just to look over portfolios. Still, given the level of talent on Upwork, you can at least be guaranteed to be looking at talented, professional work.

PRO: No More Lost Investments

If you have any experience in hiring freelancers online, you no doubt have at least one horror story. We've all been through it- you find who you think is going to be a competent, talented freelance designer/artist, they have a solid portfolio, and you hire them. 


After paying a portion of their rate to get the wheels in motion, you sit back and wait for the work to start rolling in... only it never comes.

Sadly, this is an all-too-common occurrence on the road to starting a business. Unreliable freelance designers and artists are all over the internet, and the more you hire them, the more likely it is that you're going to get burned. Those small investments can add up over time, costing you big and cutting into your finances.

CON: Quality Talent Means Higher Prices

quality manager

On the flip side, if you go through a verified platform like Upwork, you're going to be dealing with a higher caliber of freelance creators. 

With that more refined approach comes higher rates. So, it might be a smart idea to take that into consideration when planning out your production budget. But rest assured- that money will be well-spent.

Getting Started

First, you're going to want to get your Upwork account set up and activated. Once you're at that point, it's time to make your first post.

Step 1: What Are You Looking For?

From your account dashboard, fill out the page that asks for all of your project specifics. Going from top to bottom, you will have to list the project title, what type of project it is (ongoing, one-time, etc), and if you're looking for a single freelancer or multiple agents.

Step 2: The Specifics

From there, you're going to have to get into the nitty-gritty. Head over to the category/subcategory tab, and select the task that lines up most with what you're looking for Designer? Artist? Just pick. Next up, you need to list out in detail what the specifics of the job are. This is the chance to write what you're looking for and set the terms of the deal.

Are there benchmarks the freelancer will have to meet? Partial payment up front? Is there a firm deadline? What is the ideal budget? How about the desired level of talent- are you looking for seasoned vets, or is fresh talent welcome to apply as well? It all goes here.

Perhaps most importantly, let the applying freelancers know just how much or little creative freedom they're going to have with the project. If you have a clear vision that you need them to stick to, letting them know up front will help keep their expectations in check when they hit that submit button.

Step 3: Screening And Hiring

Once your job is posted, it won't be long before your inbox starts getting flooded with applicants. As mentioned earlier, you're going to have to set aside a fair amount of time for this process, as it's an important step on the road to getting your company off the ground.

Making smart business choices here is important. Compare and contrast portfolios.

At first glance, you might think that you've found the perfect applicant, but go back and look at one of the others who were close but not quite on the money. Are there strengths that one has over the other? Something that you perhaps overlooked? It's common to miss these things, and that's another reason why you should take your time with this step.

Also, consider a few back and forth exchanges over private messages. How do you get along with your ideal freelancer? Are they polite and considerate? Are they easy to talk to, interact with, and do they seem competent in their craft? Sometimes it's about more than just the work- this is a person you're going to be building a brand with. There needs to be both professional and creative chemistry.

So, now that you've made your first hire, start small. Keep the project goals short and reasonable. Giving them a project and deadline that is small in scope will give you a sense of how they handle the larger projects. If they go above and beyond what you requested, or even turn it in ahead of schedule, you'll know that you're dealing with a winner.

Investing In Yourself

Upwork offers a unique opportunity in the world of online small business development: the chance to invest your money wisely. While there may be a larger investment up front, you'll ultimately end up with more capital to work with when it comes to the company itself. You're going to have to pump every dollar you can into your Merch business, so don't waste any of it chasing after unprofessional freelance artists and designers.

Keep that in mind the next time you consider hiring that lone freelancer online that seems too good to be true. You know what they say- you get what you pay for. Don't get suckered by an offer that's most likely going to cost you big in the long-term.

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