I'm a bit unclear on how the job posting works WRT budget. I want to post the job and just ask for estimates, then hire someone at their estimate. However, if I make the job fixed price, I have to declare a budget and it appears the freelancers see that. So, if I go high, they'll automatically want that. If I go low, they'll skip bidding, even though that's not my max.
What am I missing?
Jim, you are correct in your assessment.
The user interface presents you with an awkward situation.
One solution: post the job as an hourly contract, but state that you are open to using a fixed-price contract instead.
Then ask freelancers you talk to to provide you with fixed-price quotes as well as an estimated number of hours it would take to do the work.
Jim, the way clients often do this is to create a placeholder budget. Typically, it's $5, but it can be anything else, as long as you state clearly in the job description that the budget is a placeholder, and you request applicants to propose a budget they're willing to work for. The more details you can provide in the job listing about the scope of the work, the better the chances that you will get a range of proposals to choose from.
Another thing to consider is that putting a low end of what you think it will be and say in the description you understand there will be some negotation on budget. I like this better than $5.00 myself because some people will filter out jobs below a certain value. It also gives an idea of what the value you think this work is to you.
What also might not be clear is the freelancer can propose their own budget for what they think the work is worth to them. I personally do this a lot, but sometimes it is a bit of guesswork from my end as well because requirements are not always clear.
Hope this helps.
The ideas expressed in this topic are trying to help a client deal with a poorly designed system that makes it mandatory for clients to state a budget, while the disadvantages of such a system have been already discussed at lengths and firmly established.
Rene is correct.
Forum regulars and frustrated clients have talked about these same issues in many threads before.
In this thread we are mostly discussing work-arounds and "Band-aids."
We would all prefer it if clients had the option to post a fixed-price job description without specifying a dollar amount.
To get around this, I think Preston's suggestion makes the most sense. I have often bid on hourly jobs and been invited, where the terms have been changed to fixed-rate after an interview.
If you want to stick to fixed-price only, then make it clear that the $5.00 is a placeholder, and that you will consider all "reasonable" bids. This throws the ball back into the FL's court, but it is not an ideal solution.