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Outsourcing Work on The Internet

By:     Topics: Entrepreneurship

My first foray into outsourcing was before I even knew anything about internet marketing. I had read a blog post on Tim Ferriss’ blog and it blew my mind that I could hire people in India to work for me…all without leaving my apartment.

I had an internship at the time for a gym down in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and one of my assignments was to create a calendar of all upcoming gym-related events. In a moment of genius (or laziness), I decided to try out this whole “outsourcing” thing to create our events calendar.

I had someone from BrickWorks India, gave them my instructions, and patiently waited for my calendar to be completed.

48 hours later, it was done — and done EXACTLY to my specifications. Which was awesome. I know that a lot of people have outsourcing horror stories (and I do as well, though that’s for another post), but my first experience was flawless. Needless to say – I was hooked.

Since then, I have outsourced hundreds of projects to people all over the world, from Romania, to the Philippines, and to India. I’ve had logos designed, websites created, apps coded, linkbuilding done, and so much more that I can’t even remember at this point.

I’ve become pretty experienced in the “Art” of outsourcing – and because of that, Michael asked me to write you guys a post on some tips for better outsourcing — how to make sure you avoid a nightmare experience, and enjoy the true benefits that outsourcing can offer to you and your business.


Know What You Want

The most important key in outsourcing successfully is knowing EXACTLY what you want. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when they outsource is that they give vague instructions, and expect the person they are outsourcing to to understand exactly what it is that they want.

The simple fact is this: no one is going to understand your vision unless you tell them explicitly what your vision is. If you just say “Make it kind of look this” without providing specifics, you are likely to be disappointed with the results. This mistake usually ends with you wasting a ton of time trying to get your project right.

So, in order to avoid this, you need to figure out exactly what it is that you want done. If you want a website designed in a certain way – do a wireframe (I will literally draw it out on a piece of paper, scan it, and e-mail it to my designer). If you want an app or piece of software to provide a certain function, make sure that it is outlined completely before you ask the outsourcer to do the work. For logos, provide examples of what you’re looking for with specific instructions.

A lot of people make this mistake when they start outsourcing — and it almost always ends poorly. So make sure that you take the time to figure out exactly what it is that you want your outsourcer to do, before you ask them to do anything. And, along these lines, you want to make sure you’re very specific in your job description as to what you are looking for.

Where To Find People To Work For You

There’s a couple of great sources to find employees online, and I’ll outline a few here:

1. oDesk — While my experience with oDesk is relatively limited, I have had quite a bit of success with the employees I’ve hired from there. They are usually the cheapest, but they provide good quality work. oDesk also has internal time tracking, and will take screenshots of your employees desktop while they work, so that you know they are on task.

2. Elance — I’ve had the most experience with Elance, and out of all of the sites that I’ve worked with, it’s been consistently the highest quality. While the workers here are usually on the more expensive side, you definitely get what you pay for. I’ve never had a bad experience with anyone that I’ve hired from Elance.

3. Craigslist – While not really “Outsourcing” as Craigslist is generally local people, I still list it here as it is a very, very useful resource for finding employees. You can still get cheap work, and depending on how big of a city you live in, you can usually get responses very quickly. However, I will say that Craigslist is best for finding employees that are local (that you will see face-to-face) as Craigslist does not protect you like Elance or Odesk if you are just hiring someone to work for you online.

Some other resources for hiring that I have only limited experience with are:


Getting Started With Your Outsourcer

Before you dive in and give your outsourcer the reins to your business, you want to make sure that they are reliable, provide quality work, and communicate well with you, first. You don’t want to give them a huge project (that is important for your business) before you even know if they are legitimate or not. That is simply a recipe for disaster. Trust me, I’ve been there.

What you want to do is give them a small test project first. Something simple that is of minimal consequence to your business. For example, if you want them to eventually redo the design of your entire site, maybe have them redesign a banner or a specific portion of your site first, to test their skill.

The biggest thing you are looking for in this test, aside from actual skill — is reliability. Will they get the project done when they say they are going to get it done? I can tell you from personal experience that there are a TON of skilled workers out there to hire, however, only a small portion (I’d honestly say less than 5%) of them are actually reliable and can get things done by specific due dates.

And when you find the reliable ones – make sure that you hold onto them, as they are an extremely, extremely valuable resource to you and your business.

Keep Things Business

Another big mistake that you can make working with outsourcers is becoming friends with them. Now, that might sound a little strange, but hear me out. If you are hiring employees on a regular basis to do projects, there WILL eventually come a time when you have to fire someone because they are not getting the job done. It is an unfortunate inevitability when working with employees. I honestly wish everyone always got their work done on time, but that simply does not happen.

When the time comes to let go of someone because they aren’t getting their work done, if you are emotionally attached to them (by having become their friend), it makes it much harder for you to fire them. You might give them second chance after second chance because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. This is a mistake.

This is going to sound cold hearted – but what it comes down to is this. You have to decide which is more important to you – this persons hurt feelings, or your livelihood. If they are not getting the work that you need them to get done on time, it is THEIR fault that you are firing them, and you should not feel bad about it. They are taking advantage of you and you need to let them go.

If you are truly planning on being successful online, this is a hard lesson, but one that you need to learn early on, or it can be devastating to your business.

So because of this, it’s important to separate business and friendship – and keep them separated!

Questions? Comments?

I hope this post was helpful to you guys — let me know in the comments if you have any outsourcing or hiring questions, I’ll be here to respond.

And, if you like what I wrote here, chances are you’ll probably like our blog over at Real World Traffic. Make sure to check it out as well!



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