Margo Redfern's first attempt at building a website was a disaster. In 2007, she started a business, FlattenMe.com, to sell personalized children's books and cards. To build the site, Redfern hired a team of freelance programmers that a friend of her husband's had recommended.
Six months and nearly $10,000 later, she ended up firing them. Redfern says they were slow, had wildly overstated their programming skills, and would often go more than a week without answering calls and e-mails. "There was zero visibility to what they were doing," she says.
Whether it's building a website, developing an iPhone application, creating a widget, or customizing a program for internal use, many businesses are turning to freelance programmers to get the job done cheaply. But as Redfern discovered, it can be tough finding good help, especially if you don't have a technical background.