Over the years, I’ve hit periods when I couldn’t figure out how to find the help I needed… Where to find a good handyman, or someone to do a deep clean after construction or pick up some pies for Thanksgiving? Eventually, I was able to find help for simpler “everyday” tasks through Task Rabbit. I’d type in my job and then scrutinize the reviews and experience of the “taskers” that were available, always finding excellent people.
But there are other skills that are more difficult to find: deep technical know-how of complex website coding or design, for example, or even as-tricky-and-sensitive-a-task as safely migrating years of data from an unstable, randomly-crashing website whose architecture was degrading (the old Improvised Life). For those kinds of skills I’ve come to rely on Upwork, a “talent marketplace” of freelance professionals from all over the globe that a business might need to hire, from design to IT to admin, accounting and translation. You can post your job and invite people to pitch you or you can create detailed searches to find candidates with qualities you need and invite them to interview.
You can often find people for whom a modest-reasonable hourly rate in US terms is a fine one in their country’s, hugely helpful if you’re on a budget. For extra security, you can communicate through Upwork’s portal, and pay only when you are satisfied with the job using Upwork’s escrow system. I’ve used Upwork for the aforementioned dilemmas, to find a designer to help set up a presentation on short notice, and quite a few other jobs over the years.
Upwork is how I found developer Omar Paz several years ago, when I needed to migrate Improvised Life from its ancient, degrading site to a totally new WordPress template and host, as though I were starting from scratch. He set up all aspects of Improvised Life’s digital presence from design to subscription services, putting out many technical fires that naturally arise with a new site. Now that it’s running smoothly, he does monthly “maintenance”, solves the random glitch and implements any changes I need. Omar is based in Venezuela whose timezone is close to New York’s, and speaks excellent English. He is knowledgable, technically savvy, creative, clever at problem solving, honest in his charging, and a joy to work with. He is “Top Rated” with 100% Job Success. He’s become a friend (though we’ve never met in person.)
Of course, there are many other kinds of help we sometimes need that may be harder to ask for. For inspiration, I turn to this little video of Amanda Palmer talking about why it is so difficult—and can be so healing — to ask for help, which is the subject of her book, The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help.