Outsourcing has always been a struggle for me since starting my business online. In fact, I feel that almost every mastermind group that I belong to discusses the infamous "outsourcing" topic on a regular basis.
In the past, I have used eLance and Rent-a-Code rather exclusively. Both have lots of freelancers ready to do your work and my experience has been rather hit and miss. Both are good company, though.
But a few month ago, I was recommended oDesk and now it is the first place I go for any new outsourcing task.
Just like the eLance and Rent-A-Coder, it does not cost anything to join oDesk. You can go there, create an account and start browsing around.
One thing I first really like about oDesk is the amount of preliminary information about the candidates that it provides to you.
I love this outsourcing website! First, the job posting process is very simple. Then, the evaluation process is even better. They provide you with tons of details about each applicant for the task. This includes their past history, work ratings, and current assignments. Further, the applicants can take online skills tests which you can view the test results. This can include English literacy tests (great from when outsourcing overseas), technical tests (for programming assignments), even SEO tests for those looking for link builders and social media buzz generators. Payments are made onto your credit card on a weekly basis. This is a single payment to the sum of all jobs that are currently active (making multiple-job management a breeze). The other great thing about oDesk (maybe the greatest) is that freelancers must log-in to the system, which takes random screen shots during their charged time. This monitoring also provides activity levels during their charging times.
Like any freelancing/outsourcing website, oDesk has their "dud" users. Mind you, I have had more success finding good workers on oDesk than any other site, but I have also had problems finding the "right" applicant for certain jobs. Some skill sets are not well represented here, where I have had successes elsewhere. The project management software is above average. The logging diary is great...if you can find it. Managing the jobs once you start them (and even stopping then) requires a bit of playing around. Also, they put a lot of protection on your account (which is good!), but remember all of the security answers when you sign up...you will need them regularly!