How to find a Freelance PHP Programmer?
June 19, 2006 8:24 PM   Subscribe

Where can I go to find a reliable freelancer to do some PHP programming for me?

Here's the deal, I have a project in mind that's pretty unique. It's either going to be really big and create a stir for a bit or flop real hard.

I've checked a couple freelancer site out where you put your project up and people bid on the job, it just seems a little sketchy to me. Has anyone use a freelance site? Was it a good experience? If not, what other methods do you suggest?
posted by bleucube to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
posted by purephase at 8:35 PM on June 19, 2006

I'm a freelance PHP developer. I don't use freelancer sites because they're all full of code farms that will underbid anything and have no idea what they're doing. I watch Craigslist, but I get most of my clients through previous clients or people who have seen my personal projects. Find someone who has done similar projects and ask if they do freelance work. If it's so unique that no one has done anything similar, it will fail because no one will understand how to use it, having never used anything similar.
posted by scottreynen at 9:05 PM on June 19, 2006

scottreynen speaks the truth.

It sounds like you should be looking for experience rather than the absolute lowest price. I'm a jack-of-all-trades programmer, and I do web work from time to time, and you wouldn't believe how many sites / web applications I've had to rewrite because the first guy did shoddy work. In the long run it's cheaper to hire someone good.

Ask around; ask everyone you know for recommendations. That's the best way to find someone that you'll be able to work with.

If all that fails, email me :-)
posted by bshort at 9:24 PM on June 19, 2006

I'd also avoid craigslist. I tried to get some simple HTML work done a while back and I put an ad on Craigslist. I was inundated with "outsource your project to our Indian team!" emails and clueless web "designers" that had nothing to offer but pre-canned templates or java+javascript+flash everywhere. It took me about a month before I found someone that was willing to do the job in plain ol' HTML.
posted by drstein at 9:40 PM on June 19, 2006

When you say "some" programming, how much do you mean? It sounds like your project might be pretty big from the sound of it. Are you looking at it as a startup that might make money?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:16 PM on June 19, 2006

Best answer: Absolutely avoid sites like craigslist for this. I have been working in the Web world for something like eight years and I don't know a competent professional of any kind who advertises in that way. Ideally, you will know someone, or know someone who knows someone, who can do what you need done. The key here is two things:

1) Accountability--whoever recommends someone to you will know that their own reputation is on the line, so they will recommend someone who can actually do the job.

2) Pay--you will have to pay more for a real professional, but the work will be better, and in the long run, it will hold up better, meaning that you will not have to hire someone to fix the mistakes.

If all this fails, hire bshort or scottreynen. I guarantee they're better than craigslist goofballs (nothing against the site, it's great for selling TVs and such).
posted by lackutrol at 1:01 AM on June 20, 2006

I've had good experience with Craigslist for both technical and more general purpose jobs. You just have to be very clear with your requirements. I got over 200 responses for one. I read all of the resumes, picked the most promising dozen and interviewed them. One stuck out. She ended up being a superstar contractor.

Another time, for a more technical set of positions, I got fewer responses, and wasted some time interviewing a few people who were clearly not qualified. But again, there was that one guy who was. His former employer had recently let go of his whole team. He put me in touch with the others, and I hired them all. I couldn't have asked for a better situation for getting that work done.

My advice to you would be to look for ads others have placed for PHP programmers so you can see what kind of requirements/experience are typically specified. Write a formal ad requiring a resume and cover letter. See what you get! Call some candidates up and chat. Tell them what you're up to and see how they respond. You'll probably learn a lot after talking to half a dozen.

In addition to Craigslist, you might look for a local PHP users group or a related users group.
posted by nonmyopicdave at 2:31 AM on June 20, 2006

I've used Get-A-Freelancer on multiple occassions. While there have been a couple of times where the programmer didn't live up to my expectations, I have usually been pleased with the work.

Try putting your project up. Choose a provider whose bid falls somewhere in the middle of the pack. Before choosing a provider, try posting a private follow-up message and seeing how quickly the provider responds and how understandable the answer is. Also look for providers that have some previous positive feedback.

I hope that this helps!
posted by richardhay at 5:59 AM on June 20, 2006

Rent-a-coder is another good site, much like Get-a-freelancer
posted by samsara at 6:42 AM on June 20, 2006

Response by poster: Appreciate all the responses....

"When you say "some" programming, how much do you mean? It sounds like your project might be pretty big from the sound of it. Are you looking at it as a startup that might make money?"

The project is a social experiment that will last 3/6 months during which I hope to make some money... not a lot but enough to pay for hosting, coding, time and effort.

Will need the following pages:

Admin Page - password protected
+ this will be used to approve payment

Buy Page
+ this will be a form and based on the user answers will pass information over to paypal to create a bill

Stat Page
+ this will take the information from the buy page and create a chart will show daily, weekly and total stats

Index page
+ this will be main page and will have a table of approved user information. The table will need to clear itself every 24 hours.

Is that a lot of PHP programming, is it complicated? Not sure.
posted by bleucube at 6:44 AM on June 20, 2006

Best answer: I've hired a lot of people through elance, and it works pretty well. The better you can describe what you want, the more accurate quotes you'll receive.

The best way to you can make this project work, and be pretty inexpensive is to create a prototype of exactly how you want the HTML to look. Create every single page, every error screen, how the admin pages look, etc.

If you're a little bit technical, describe what fields you want to store in your database: name, email address, etc.

Then post your project on elance, and point people towards your mockups so they can give you an accurate quote. You'll get lots of responses, and you can evaluate the various teams based on their past projects. If it looks like they can do the job, and have lots of good reviews from past clients, you should feel pretty comfortable about hiring them.

Another source is Scriptlance.

What will decide the price and success of the project is how well you prepare your prototype. It should just be paint by numbers for the programmers.
posted by fcain at 6:55 AM on June 20, 2006

Response by poster: If you post your project in such a manner, does it pose a risk to someone stealing it and doing it first?
posted by bleucube at 6:58 AM on June 20, 2006

I know a guy. Did a couple of projects for me, all communication by email, worked out fine. Email me for his details.
posted by londongeezer at 8:26 AM on June 20, 2006

Has anyone use a freelance site? Was it a good experience?

As a freelancer, I used for a little while and liked it fine. As a potential employer, I wouldn't have anything to do with because it requires that you pay your contractors through them, via their escrow accounts. Presumably, that's how they make their money on an otherwise free service.

I'm not saying I did or didn't do this, but I know lots of people who used Guru to find the right job or talent... and then took the discussion offline in order to negotiate and close the deal, to work around the "you have to pay through us!" part.

I wouldn't use Guru again because I don't like the business model, but the talent pool was quite large.
posted by pineapple at 12:08 PM on June 20, 2006

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