OUTSOURCING YOUR CODING
Yesterday, we wrote about the concept of outsourcing your content to the legions of freelance writers available on the net. Today, we'll discuss another, often overlooked, area of outsourcing for the busy radio DCM: your coding. In radio especially, many of us assigned webmaster/webmistress duties are simply the resident internet nerds. While we can certainly navigate our way around the company's CMS, when push comes to shove and an important client needs something web-ish that's going to tear the roof off the market, you may break into a cold sweat when you can't get the company coding czar on the phone. Or worse, maybe you're IT and you're not sure where to begin. As we discussed yesterday, fellow gatekeepers of geek, you may relax and call upon those mightier than you. In this case, today we'll talk about farming out your coding nightmares.
While coding and programming forums can, at first, be daunting places for noobs to visit, they are easily the best places to learn. While the subjects may at first be confusing (akin to reading Algebra for the uninitiated), you’ll eventually find that you’ll begin to understand the topic at hand. It’s not recommended that you immediately jump into the forum with your question. For this, you run the risk of being flamed by seasoned programmers who have little tolerance for those seeking an easy way out. A good noob takes the time to search the forum to see if their question has already been asked/answered (often, if you’re genuinely new to the language in question, it probably has been asked on the larger forums). As you search, you’ll find that you’ll learn more along the way. Even if you hit a dead-end for your particular query, you’ll probably begin to develop a better understanding of the language/coding project.
If you’ve thoroughly searched and still come up empty handed, pose your question. Don’t expect an immediate response (if your project is due tomorrow, move on to hiring someone if you must). Often it may take days for someone to respond to your post. This doesn’t mean that you asked a stupid question. You may have actually (yes, actually) stumped your fellow coders. At least, that’s what you can tell your co-workers over a few beers at happy hour.
A word about what to post. If you post something along the lines of “I want to create a Facebook clone. Can you please post the code for that?” Well, you’re asking for it and you deserved to be flamed or banned from the board. Remember, these forums are for specific questions. “This script is not properly sorting my data by Artist Name. Why? What did I do wrong? (post your code)” is a legit question. “Can you tell me how to write code to post my Selector/Prophet logs on my website and allow listeners to click on Artist Names and go directly to their website?” is a very rambling, nonsensical post to a professional coder. Foremost, they probably have no idea about the tools of your trade (Selector and Prophet, in this case) and second, sure they could probably tell you how to do this but, it’s gonna cost ya. In other words, you’ve posed a question far too difficult to answer in a forum. So, keep it simple and direct. There are great teachers at these forums that are willing to help. But, remember, you’re on their turf.
If you have exhausted all of these options (say, the free options), it may be time to hire a professional. In recent years, a number of services have arrived online that allow you to seek the services of pro coders who will happily assist you for the right price. The good news is that many of these sites allow you place your project, set your budget and chose the bidder that falls within your requirements. Most of these services are free and, among many of them, you can get answers right away or begin a project immediately.
Probably one of the more popular services is the European website GetAFreelancer.com. While here you will need to place a small deposit on your credit or debit card to place an ad, you will likely see your InBox flooded with experts offering to take on your project within minutes. Do note that since this is a European website, you may encounter many workers for whom English is not their first language. Of course, you should be respectful of this but the bottom line is, if you’re having trouble communicating with a bidder, it’s not likely that you’re going to be able to effectively communicate when a project gets underway.
Another great site which has recently become popular for just this sort of thing is LivePerson.com. At this website, you can hire anyone from a coder to an astrologist to a forensic scientist (really). The thing we like most about LivePerson is the ability to speak with your potential employee in real-time online before you assign them the project. You can also read reviews about their past work (these are legit reviews as even the negatives are available, so the bidder doesn’t have an opportunity to edit his or her reviews). With LivePerson, you agree on a price before the project begins and you can negotiate a deadline with your candidate. You only pay for the project if you’re satisfied with their work. A pretty fair deal and the level of expertise available at the site is quite extraordinary. It’s probably your best bet for outsourcing coding projects. And while you’re there, you may as well negotiate a hostile takeover of your company with one of their high finance experts available for rent. Look out, John and Lew…the IT Kids are comin’ atcha live.
So, what can you expect to pay for outsourcing your coding? It really depends. We hate to be vague but it does depend on your project. If it’s a simple piece of code, you can expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $20. If you need a sweet piece of Flash with lots of bells and whistles, you may cross over into the $100 world. It all depends. However, it’s certainly worth looking in to outsourcing a project rather than throwing your hands up in defeat. If wowing a particular client means a massive buy, your GM might very well approve the expense.