The Best Websites to Hire Freelancers

According to oDesk (now called Upwork) I currently have made 154 hires on their platform. Double that number to count for the hires outside of oDesk, on other platforms like Elance, Freelancer and forums. While I don’t claim to be an expert at hiring freelancer, I’m going to share some of my thoughts about the websites I’ve used to hire freelancers and why I like each one.

The biggest website is oDesk, which was founded in 2003. I’ve used this platform the most. It is very straight forward. This platform has a lot of spam applications. Basically, you will post a job and a bunch of freelancers will apply, without reading your posting, and they’ll just paste a cover letter. There are ways of dealing with this, like using Google Forms to qualify their interest. oDesk also has their own survey system built in but I like the capabilities of the Google Forms. Many of your applicants will not even respond because by the time they’ve finished spamming, they’ve lost track of all the jobs and what they’ve applied to. oDesk is planning to limit the number of applications that can be submitted per day, after Elance found success in doing that. oDesk recently renamed themselves as Upwork, likely to rebrand and remove all of the negativity surrounding their brand.

Elance is the sister company of oDesk and was founded in 1999. I tried their platform in the past but never stuck with it. Recently I tried it again after getting sick of the spam on oDesk and I’m starting to like it. Freelancers are limited the number of applications they can submit per day. This causes freelancers to take a quality over quantity approach to job application. Many will read and understand the job before applying. This is a big winner for me because I usually post complex jobs and I’m very particular the way something is made, especially when it comes to coding. With Elance you generally get a smaller amount of applications but they are higher quality. However, that doesn’t mean some coding jobs don’t get 15 or 20 applicants.

While I have not used Freelancer in a while and I did use it consistently for a few months, I think much of their platform is based on gamification. Your account starts at level 1 and as you have more activity, you gain experience which levels your account up. You can win rewards at higher levels which is kind of cool. I think the highest reward was a call with the CEO. That is kind of cool but I don’t really have any reason to talk to the CEO.

While I am really enjoying Elance, I still post to oDesk. The amount of responses that a data entry post on oDesk gets is overwhelming. You can find qualified data entry workers for $2/hour, and lots of them. I’ve had some jobs gets over 50 applications. However when it comes to a project that I am allocating a larger amount of time, effort and money into, I like to post on Elance because they give so many metrics about the freelancers. My favorite metric is likely the percentage of clients that rehire the freelancer. If a freelancer has done 20 jobs in the past 12 months and most of them were rehires from previous clients, I have a strong feeling that that freelancer is hard working, honest and knowledgable.

Why I Hate Using Metrics to Gauge Expired Domains

I’ve sold hundreds of expired domains to all sorts of private blog network builders in all industries. I notice many newbies fall in the trap of metrics, thinking that they should be trusted for all aspects. While Moz’s Domain Authority and Majestic’s Trust Flow are very helpful metrics, there are a number of other factors to consider.

Reason 1: Metrics depreciate on expired domains

I talked to Moz about their metrics to determine their accuracy on expired domains. They told me, once a domain is expired, the page authority will be set to 1 and the domain authority will depreciate a few points here and there until it’s at zero. This means a domain with good backlinks, will eventually end up with a domain authority of 1.

Reason 2: Most data sources won’t factor in all the domains

While Ahrefs has the biggest and most accurate database, their metric is rarely used and people usually use the metrics from Moz or Majestic which almost always have found less of your backlinks. If you could incorporate all of your backlinks to get a score, it could be a more dependable figure.

When should you use metrics?

Metrics should be used when comparing a massive amount of domains and you want to do a quick and dirty search through a heap of domains. Metrics can help you trim many domains that are believed to be weak from your list, but the accuracy will never beat a manual inspection of the backlinks a site has. I’ve seen domains with a do-follow contextual link from a Forbes article have a domain authority and trust flow of 1.

While automation is great, in SEO over the past few years, we have begun to notice that automated methods such as automated blog commenting is not as valuable as manually inspecting each blog and writing a unique, engaging blog comment. We should also use manual methods to sort through domains.

How Much Specialty Coffee Actually Costs You

specialty coffee

It doesn’t matter how you look at it, specialty coffee is a waste of money. Which is why I wonder, why does arguably one of the brokest first world demographics, the student, waste so much money on it? Kevin O’Leary has said it before, and I’m going to break it down by the numbers. Suppose 5 days a week, you buy Starbucks, averaging $5 a day, or $25 a week. You do this throughout the school year, which is about 34 weeks a year. This ends up being about $850. $850 might not sound like a whole lot initially, but once you calculate this for 4-5 years of schooling, and then add the interest you could have made if you decided to put it into a retirement fund.

Suppose you invested this $3400 into a S&P 500 index fund which averages a return year-over-year of about 10.5%.  If you let your $3400 in Starbucks money ride in that fund for a few decade, the rewards could be quite worthwhile.

Year 1: You would have $3757, which is an annual earning of $357
Year 2: You would have $4151, which is an annual earning of $394
Year 3: You would have $4587, which is an annual earning of $435
Year 4: You would have $5069, which is an annual earning of $481
Year 5: You would have $5601, which is an annual earning of $532
Year 6: You would have $6189, which is an annual earning of $588
Year 7: You would have $6839, which is an annual earning of $649
Year 8: You would have $7557, which is an annual earning of $718
Year 9: You would have $8351, which is an annual earning of $793
Year 10: You would have $9227, which is an annual earning of $876

The 3 Best SEO Books of 2015

A good SEO book is hard to come by. There are a lot of people in the industry who like to pretend to know what they’re talking about, and because of that I felt I needed to make a short blog post explaining where SEO beginners should look to learn. All 3 of these books talk about the basic essentials of keyword research, social media and link building but they each go into detail on some different aspects. In no order, these are the top 3 books I recommend for learning SEO in 2015:

Search engine optimization 2015: Learn SEO with smart internet marketing strategies Paperback  by Adam Clarke

Adam’s book talks in detail about Google Analytics and local SEO, including how to get a Google Places listing which is important if you’re a small business. This book is shorter than the other 2 and is probably best for beginners who want a light introduction. This book would serve best for a business owner looking to educate himself and tweak his website and digital approach.

SEO 2015 & Beyond: Search engine optimization will never be the same again! (Webmaster Series) (Volume 1) by Dr. Andy Williams

Dr William’s book discusses a number of types of backlink types, instead of bushing all of the types of link types under the carpet which is very common. He breaks SEO into 4 parts: quality content, site organization, authority, and the visitor. This book is best for an IT professional who does web design for a living and wants to get a deep understanding of how SEO is and has been understood for years.

SEO Success: Dominate Google With Unstoppable Strategies Paperback by Silvia O’Dwyer

Silvia’s book goes into some of the my favourite tips and tactics for link building including using infographics to generate attention and using HARO to get the attention of reporters. This book is more for the aggressive entrepreneur looking to do whatever it takes to see massive results and experiment with new things.

As always, books are not the only source of knowledge, remember to check the Google Webmasters YouTube channel for latest answers by head of webspam at Google, Matt Cutts.

3 Websites to Get a Logo Made

Recently I’ve been hiring a lot of graphic designers. Normally, I hire Fiverr when I’m bootstrapping to create a minimum viable product but this time I had a bigger budget and was not really sure where to look. After asking around, a number of people held firm and continued to recommend Fiverr. I told them if I can’t find a good logo designer soon, I will probably drop $100 on Fiverr and see if I like another of the 20 $5 logo concepts. However, this logo was needed for a large company with a reputation, and I wanted to get it professionally done to ensure I had rights to all the graphics used, as you never know on Fiverr if the seller illegally copied someone else’s work and when he’s based in India or another foreign country, he quite frankly doesn’t care. I needed a logo that could be shown on a 10′ by 10′ sign, embroidered on thousands of hats and jackets, and hung on many sponsor banners. After contacting a few freelancer designers that were recommended, they all had an excuse as to why they would not take on another logo order. I also knew 99Designs.com from back when I was just getting into the industry and was also recommended to find people on Dribbble. Let me explain my thoughts on Fiverr, 99Designs and Dribbble and why and when you should use each of them.

Fiverr

For budgets under $300, I’d recommend Fiverr. Fiverr is a marketplace where freelancers offer services for $5 each. I’ve used Fiverr to design almost a dozen logos, and a few apps. I generally only work with the most rated sellers. For logos, at least 100 ratings and 4.9 stars or higher. Sometimes, I’m in a hurry, and I’ll choose 24 hour turn around times, but those logos are never that great. Also, if they say “unlimited revisions” that doesn’t mean the logo will be good. It just means that they are aware that they lack that much creativity that the logo will probably be bad and you’ll have to walk them through how to make it better. You will need to include samples to reference and the colours you want. Always check the samples that they provided and their last 10 most recent reviews. Look for reviews that discuss repeat orders. Logos that take about 3 days are generally higher quality than otherwise. Although every project might not be a score, if you order a couple logos and follow my advice, generally one should fit your needs.

99Designs

If your budget is in the $300-$1000 range, this is where you should be looking. 99Designers is a contest platform where designers compete to build you the best graphic. I’ve only done 1 contest on 99Designs and it was a fantastic success. It was for an established business, so the contest looked like a good opportunity to designers. Whereas a startup looks like a risky contest since you never know if the startup will change their mind and cancel the contest. If you guarantee a reward, you’ll remove that freight that the designer has and have a much higher chance at receiving many designs. You’ll also want to include samples of logos that you like. There are a number of pricing options. I chose the $299 plan, and it brought 200 concepts, more than most receive. You should comment and rate every design you receive to show the designers that you are a good, responsive, rational employer. You can contact support to extend your deadline, which will bring more submissions. Once you get 100+ submissions, you’ll be ready to move to the next phase of choosing the finalists. You should choose 6 designers. If you have trouble choosing, they also have a poll system where you can create a poll, and then share the link with your customers. I shared mine on Facebook and received 29 votes and comments. Upon completion, you’ll receive the the final work and the designer will sign the Design Transfer Agreement.

Dribbble

Lastly, our most expensive option, Dribbble is for those with a budget over $1000 for their logo. Dribbble is a social network for designers to show off their work and receive opinions from other designers. On here, you’ll find some of the top designers around the world such as Mackey Saturday, who designed the Instagram logo. To access these designers, you’ll have to pay a fee of $20 to search and email an unlimited amount of designers for the next 12 months. Being as naive as I am, I contacted a number of designers. Most of them took a few days to respond and the lowest quote I received was about $750. Another said $1150 per 2 Concepts with 2 Revisions on the concept of choice, then another $100 for an additional concept. Another for $3000-$5000, while another said his typical project is $6,500 for 5-7 concepts and two rounds of revisions. Mackey Saturday humbly declined and a number of others quoted in the $4000 range. Dribbble definitely puts you in contact with the best in the business and you can see how qualified they all are by looking at their work and what other talented designers have thought of it. If your budget is over $1000 and want a high end designer, this is the way to go.

Out of these 3 options, we’ve looked at a marketplace, a contest platform and a social network as a method of sourcing logos. They each conveniently divide themselves up into budget categories for us to choose from.

The Importance of .com Domains in SEO First Page Rankings

Recently, I did a study of how important domain extensions like .com, or more specifically, how common they appear in Google search engine results. These numbers are derived from tens of thousands of tests, which is a sample size large enough to consider this data fairly accurate.The data was gathered from a server IP based in France. However, this didn’t have much of an effect on the results as only 0.5% of the first-page results came from .fr domains.

I found that out of tens of thousands of results, 79.9% of the first page results were from .com domains. As for the .net extension, 1.17% came from .net domains. The .org extension held much of the remaining share left behind from the .com domains with a 9.6% market share in the SERPs. Now the .info domain is where a big answer is shown. Only 0.07757% of the results were .info domains. This really explains how useless .info domains are when it comes to SEO.

When I looked at just top 3 results, 78.497% of the domains were .com.

This data was gathered by Josh MacDonald on December 20, 2014. Anyone who wishes to use this data, please pay respect and give credits to this page.

How to Build a Simple Viral Social App on a $0 Marketing Budget

Back in September, I was starting out in mobile development. I knew eventually I wanted to get into social apps. While I had the technical knowledge, I wasn’t quite ready to jump on something of large scale. I wanted to test some theories on a small scale. Coming from a small town, I thought they were the perfect audience, so I decided to build something for them. I knew if I built the right kind of app, it would easily go viral, even if I just sent it to 3-4 people. While people have thought the era of “Facemash” or “Hot or Not” type websites died, I decided to give it a run to see if I could prove people wrong. With the right well-connected, opinionated audience, I thought it could be replicated. However, it can’t be a website like Facemash as that will never catch on in this day and age. Snapchat, Uber, and Instragram only had their intense growth because they were on mobile platforms. So I knew building a website wasn’t going to be needed for this. This clip may jog your memory:

GoDaddy Closeouts: Page and Domain Authority Checker

Software Screenshot

Find thousands of great domains names available for just a few dollars on GoDaddy Auctions.

Out of the 150,000 domain names up for auction in GoDaddy’s Closeout section alone, don’t you wonder if you’re missing out on some hidden gems? With this tool, you’ll be able to scrape those domains, and use your Moz API (available free) to build a large spreadsheet containing each domain’s page and domain authority.

Domain authority is a metric ranging from 0 to 100 representing the authority of a website by analyzing its backlinks. This metric is crawled and computed by Moz and offered in both free and paid plans to marketers.

To download this free tool, fill out the form at the top of the website and you’ll have the tool emailed to you.