I am building a small startup.
We haven't raised any money yet, and we're in the stage where we need the help of some very talented free lancers (mostly graphic designers).
The prices they are asking for are high (for us at least, 40 $ /h).
Apart of giving them percentages in the startup, or truly paying this sum per hour, do you have any original idea of how to get this work done?
In short I am looking for an original way to pay less, yet interest the free lancers to do the job.
If you have any idea, I'd be happy to hear.
As a freelancer, here are some solutions I've had entrepreneurs offer me.
If you believe in your startup you'll find a way to fund it, even if it means working two jobs for a few months.
Of course, the fact that you want to do it on the cheap, or even for free, suggests strongly that you don't have faith in it. If that is the case, you should stop now.
Of course, IMHO, YMMV, etc.
While it is nice to see that the overwhelming feeling here is that you need to go for funding and you need to pay relatively high prices, the reality of the situation is that wecan't all get funding, or just dont have the option to invest a lot of money. It's called bootstrapping for a reason, you get inventive.
I choose to do the same: i don't want any external funding for my project (http://tribily.com) because I 'want to be the boss'. That means I'll have to 'suffer' the consequences of that: not being able to pay top dollar, not growing super fast. But that's okay. It's been a year now and we're break even, which I'm proud of but it is only possible because we did everything on a budget.
I found a great sysadmin in India who does very good work for me for relatively low prices. Why? Because I also give him consulting gigs through my other project which bring in more then enough money and he's thankful for working with me on my project.
I found a friend/ex-coworker of mine based in Holland willing to do graphic design/front end dev for 20EU/hr next to his day job. Why? Because he gets freedom to do what he wants that he doesn't get in his dayjob. I tell him I need a new frontpage, he'll go and figure it out. That allows him to play with graphic design and to do html5 and al kinds of cool things, while still seeing teh fruits of his labor in production.
I found another friend who studied communication but couldn't find a job who's doing stuff for me for free. Why? Because I told her she can put it on her resume and she gets real-world experience, which improves her chances for a job n this shitty economy. She just found a job for 32 hours with a good company, but she still wants to keep doing stuff for me as well
I found a C-developer in Malaysia, where I lived for 7 months last year (Kuala Lumpur IS the new Silicon Valley ;) ). Same story: low cost next to his dayjob, excellent quality. Why? Motivated by the technology and the fact that all our stuff is open sourced (http://github.com/tribily)
In short, giving good people in your personal network the freedom to do what they want (use google's 20% rule if you want) works well. It's not all roses though, I went through quite a few people to find this great team. It also doesn't move very fast, but that's okay with me. It allows me to keep building on a project I believe in, while doing something I love. And that's all that counts to me :)
Hope this helps :)
Startups are powered by sweat equity-- working for free as a form of investment, which, in theory, pays off later through stocks and other forms of payment throughout successful funding rounds.
NEVER offer this to freelancers; they aren't part of your quasi-company. That's like offering to take care of a stranger's child. Freelancers don't care about your product, and it's not because they're heartless bastards. They just aren't drinking your startup's kool-aid.
If you don't have the money to pay freelancers, then you need to attract more poison drinkers willing and able to be paid in sweat equity. Go to more startup-oriented mixers and find people interested in both networking and helping each other. That's why those drinking-parties-by-another-name exist. Mingle with the crowd and be on the lookout for interested developers. Give them the 10-cent pitch and go from there.
If you can't attract people to your startup by way of enthusiasm or outright brilliance, then it doesn't matter if you do have the money to pay employees or freelancers, you're doomed from the start.
I came across a wonderful website that offers talents from all around the world. You will be amazed what you can find there. Try to find what you are looking for on odesk.com. Some people will perhaps disagree on jobs being sucked up by cheaper labour but I believe cheap for us is a good living for a freelancers around the world.
I would personally prefer to go local to generate local jobs as much as possible but I am in a start up and I am suffering the same. ( i have a slightly different question to ask as well)