I have just started to participate in a great opportunity for beginning researchers and professional genealogists alike: Ancestry's Expert Connect.
You've probably heard the buzz about this new service, and it is well deserved. As with other freelance-type services, the fees that Ancestry takes from projects are somewhat steep - but, they do provide many, many leads that you would not be able to find elsewhere. Ancestry is continuing to develop this platform, and there are bound to be some problems for them to resolve. I can only speak to my first experience with the service.
Expert Connect only allows qualified professional genealogists to perform more advanced services like Record Lookup and Family Tree Outsourcing. However, I can perform Record Pickups and take local photos. While I also perform these on a volunteer basis, these services are handy for those who need their records quickly. Such was the case with my first client, who needed a death record from a local repository. I went down there, found the record (with some searching, and the help of very knowledgeable librarians, not to mention lots of luck), scanned it and sent it.
This repository also has many collections that I need to search for my own research, so this project afforded a much-needed opportunity to become more familiar with their library of materials. And it was fun! If you like searching through microfilm as much as I do, that is.
When asked to provide feedback to Ancestry on Expert Connect, this is I what said:
I received an email asking me to provide feedback on my first experience as a researcher on Expert Connect. It was a wonderful experience and it was very satisfying to be able to find and provide the record that my client needed.
I've worked with other freelance sites before, and if I had any suggestions as you develop Expert Connect further, they would relate to client/buyer education. Some other freelance platforms have become miserable and hostile places, because buyers do not know what to expect from professionals, especially what professional research entails, and why it costs what it does. This leads to some unprofessional behavior on behalf of client and provider, as clients have unrealistic expectations for cost and time-frame. I would suggest that Ancestry reviews the environment at some general freelance sites to avoid these kinds of pitfalls.
That said, I had an extremely positive experience with my client, and I look forward to working with [this client] more. Thank you for providing this service and the invaluable leads that result."