The Essentials Of Outsourcing
Do you ever wonder how some people can afford to spend multiple weeks or even months out of the year traipsing around exotic locations while still managing to effectively run hugely successful businesses?
It doesn’t seem quite fair, does it?
You spend hours upon hours trying to improve your business and increase revenue, and you barely have time to get a soda from the vending machine, let alone jet set over to Thailand for three weeks.
What do these people know that you don’t?
Well, what these people have all discovered is the wonderful world of outsourcing.
Through the use of outsourcing, your business can practically run itself, enabling you to have tons more time to do the things you love.
In this article, I will share with you some helpful information about the 4 main questions to ask about the essentials of getting started with outsourcing.
Question 1: What are your goals?
Before you get started, it is extremely important that you establish what all of your goals or objectives are.
What I would recommend doing is writing down all of your goals in a notebook so that you can have something to refer back to if you ever begin to feel lost or overwhelmed.
In the notebook, you should allot three sections: one for daily to-do’s, one for middle term goals, and one for long-term goals.
Then, you are going to take a backwards approach to filling your notebook out, starting with the long-term goals and then working your way forward to the daily to-do’s.
The idea behind this approach is that your daily to-do’s will serve as the baby steps which will help you realize your middle term goals, which in turn, will incrementally lead you to accomplishing your ultimate, long-term goals.
Question 2: What is your budget?
It’s important to realize that outsourcing is not all or nothing.
There are ways to fit outsourcing around any budget, no matter how small it may be; you just need to figure out what your budget it so that you know what you are working with.
Even if you only have $50, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a significant dent in your daily to-do list.
For example, with $50, you could buy a website or have 10 awesome articles written.
The point is, don’t worry if your budget is small; you always have options.
Question 3: What is your desired outcome?
The reason that this question is important to ask is because there is no way that you can outsource everything all at once.
There are literally millions of traffic strategies that you can have outsourced, so you have to be smart about the jobs that you pick to outsource; choose the jobs with the highest amount of leverage.
Depending on what kind of website(s) you have, SEO and article writing are two outsourcing options that you may want to start off with.
SEO is good to outsource if you have a slew of tiny niche sites, whereas it is better to outsource article marketing if you are promoting one main, money-making site.
Question 4: What has been making you the most money?
Look at the strategies that you are currently implementing.
Which are working and which are not?
If something is working for you, then stick with it!
This may seem like common sense, but it happens too often that people get side tracked by the flavor-of-the-week strategy and then have disastrous results because that specific strategy wasn’t right for the needs of their particular website(s).
In essence, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The Easiest Ways to Use Crowdsourcing
I’ve always been impressed by effectively run businesses whose owners seem so stress-free and content.
Work almost seems like play to them, and you don’t see them working until all hours of the night or giving up their weekends.
But how do they do it?
Most people work tirelessly trying to test-drive new strategies and increase revenue, and their work is typically very demanding.
However, in order to run a successful business, this does not mean that you have to do everything yourself.
In fact, your success rate is likely to be positively correlated with the amount of help that you have, and by “help” what I mean is…crowdsourcing.
So, first of all, what exactly is crowdsourcing?
Crowdsourcing goes hand in hand with outsourcing.
Crowdsourcing is a fantastic way to have thousands of already trained employees at your disposal without having to go through the arduous task of interviewing and hiring a ton of people individually.
In a nut shell, all you have to do is go to a crowdsourcing website and type in the kind of task that you need to have completed.
Then, your task will be viewed by thousands of trained people.
It’s that simple.
Plus, your work will get done extremely quickly.
When a task is completed, you can individually review the work completed by each person and decide who should get paid (with crowdsourcing, you don’t have to compensate the people who deliver unsatisfactory work).
How can you use crowdsourcing?
There are numerous advantages to be had from using crowdsourcing, and you can use it in a number of ways.
For example, you can use crowdsourcing to get articles written for you, have people post on your blog, generate large amounts of social proof, or get top-notch search engine rankings.
You can also use crowdsourcing to gain friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter or to gather data for niche research.
Basically, no matter what needs you have, you will be able to find a crowdsourcing solution to meet them.
The best crowdsourcing sites
Mechanical Turk and Microworkers are two of the easiest to use crowdsourcing sites available.
Mechanical Turk has a very fast turnaround rate, and it is not uncommon for receive upwards of 500 respondents to your job posting within a day or two.
Just keep in mind that many of the people on Mechanical Turk are not native English speakers, so you may want to stick to tasks that don’t require a lot of English, such as liking a Facebook page or retweeing a message.
With Microworkers, on the other hand, you can select workers from non-English speaking countries or, if your project requires better English, you can choose workers from the United States, Canada, or Australia.
The only downside to Microworkers is that it can take between 12 and 24 hours for your job posting to appear on the site, and should a problem occur (which they sometimes do), you will need to wait an additional 12-24 hours for it to be reposted.
Mechanical Turk and Microworkers are two of the easiest crowdsourcing sites to use, but should you not find them to be satisfactory, you can also look to CrowdFlower or ShortTask to fulfill your crowdsourcing needs.
Crowdsourcing is a great way to get more of your business needs met in a timely and efficient manner.
The top 5 outsourcing sites
There is a reason why some people have more success with outsourcing than others.
At first glance, outsourcing seems like a pretty straight forward concept – other people work for you, your business improves, and you make more money.
However, as with most marketing strategies, there is a competency to outsourcing that must be learned and employed in order to achieve optimal results.
A significant component to achieving this competency comes from knowing where to turn for your outsourcing needs.
These are the 5 best traditional outsourcing sites to use in order to significantly capitalize on your business’s operating efficiency.
In no particular order…
Scriptlance is very inexpensive and has lots of talented workers, who are especially good at creating software and plug-ins.
You are going to find a lot of international people working on Scriptlance, so you will have to watch out for language barrier issues.
In general, the returned work that you will see on Scriptlance will be 65% good and 35% subpar.
These percentages are pretty standard for any of the outsourcing sites as most freelancers are freelancers because they don’t care all that much about structure and rules.
Elance is more of a premium site, so you are going to be able to find higher quality candidates here than on other sites.
In order to apply for job positions on Elance, applicants have to pay.
As a result, you won’t get a ton of spam bids or people who just will apply for the sake of applying.
Elance is a bit more expensive than other outsourcing sites, however.
There is a $50 minimum fee for any job that you post, so Elance isn’t the best site to use for menial type work, but it can be a great resource to use to fill premium positions, such as a joint venture broker or an affiliate manager.
3. Craigslist USA
Craigslist USA is a fantastic site where you can find people with Master’s degrees who are willing to work very inexpensively.
To use Craigslist, just post an ad under the “writing gigs” section.
You can find some pretty great writers this way, who you can then use for other tasks if you develop a good working relationship.
A great Craigslist tip is to post your job listings in cities that have a lower cost of living, such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, or Houston.
4. Forums/Message Boards
Forums and message boards are one of the best kept outsourcing secrets.
In looking to forums and message boards, you are going to find a slew of people who are extremely passionate about whatever the forum or message board’s particular topic is.
What you can do is dig through the forum or message board’s content to find the people who have the most posts or seem to be the most respected.
Then, you can send these people a private message and tell them that you are interested in working with them.
You can find a lot of really top-notch people this way because people in forums and message boards tend to be willing to work for less since they already know what they are talking about and don’t need to do a lot of research.
5. Burn Your To Do List
This company will do everything FOR you in exchange for one monthly fee.
You don’t have to worry about finding people, training people, or giving people feedback.
The company handles everything for you and all you need to do is tell them what you want.
Outsourcing sites are definitely not limited to those 5, though.
In fact, there are tons more great options that you can use.
How to create an outsource job advertisement
Creating great job advertisements that attract high-caliber candidates can be a challenge.
What you may not realize is that job advertisements are the basic building blocks for effective marketing campaigns.
An inadequate job advertisement can have a snow-ball effect, doing damage to your whole campaign.
An inadequate job advertisement can lead to a lackluster pool of job applicants, which can lead to sub par job performance, which in turn, can result in an overall, ineffectual business campaign, which can ultimately mean less money for you.
Therefore, you need to make sure that your job advertisements are in fighting form so as to save yourself from forthcoming damage.
There are 6 main points that you want to keep in mind when creating an outsourcing job advertisement:
Point 1: Explain exactly what you need to have done
You want your job advertisements to be as clear as possible, presenting lots of concise, well-organized steps.
The more detailed your advertisements are, the better bids you will get.
High caliber job applicants don’t want to say they can do a task if they aren’t sure; they want to know exactly what they are getting themselves into.
Point 2: Ask for a sample
In asking candidates to provide a sample, you will be able to know who the most capable candidates are right off the bat.
As a side benefit you’ll immediately find out the type of people who can follow instructions and who can’t.
Point 3: Testing people
This point is optional, but you may find that it is a good idea.
There are two ways that you can go about testing people.
First, you can give them a specific task to do that is related to what the actual job assignment entails so as to gauge their level of competency.
And second, you can create a test on Google Docs asking candidates a few questions about the type of job that you want to get done.
If a candidate passes the test, then you know that he or she understands what you are looking for.
Point 4: Include a qualifier
This is a very effective strategy, which is highly recommended.
Somewhere in your job listing, what you want to do is include something like, “Respond with the phrase ‘purple cow’ at the top of your cover letter.”
It doesn’t matter what phrase you use; it doesn’t have to be ‘purple cow.’
The point of including a qualifier is to ensure that candidates are reading your advertisements in their entirety and that they can follow instructions.
In general, asking for a qualifier will knock off 70% of the applicants right away.
Point 5: Pay per task
In their responses, ask candidates to include a price per task, not an hourly rate.
The reason for this is so as to avoid having people take their sweet time to complete tasks which should not take very long to finish.
Point 6: What’s in it for me?
Aside from money, make sure that you tell people what’s in it for them.
For example, if there is a possibility for extra work, then let people know; if the job is fun, let them know about that too.
You will be amazed by how much the pool of applicants will improve after describing a job as being fun.
Creating an effective job advertisement may seem like a lot of work, but it will definitely be worth it in the long run.
So, you’ve come up with a list of your outsourcing goals and created an effective job advertisement that found you some great people to work with.
Well, that’s all wonderful and kudos to you, but what’s the next step?
Are you finding yourself stumped for what to do after you award an outsourcing job?
If you are, it’s OK.
You just need to take it one step at a time.
Here are the 5 best tips for what to do after you award an outsourcing job in order to get your business campaign going in full gear.
Tip 1: Effective communication
After awarding an outsourcing job, you want to provide clear, concise instructions to your workers, while giving specific examples so that they know exactly what you are looking for.
You should also make it known that you are always open for communication should anyone have a question.
At the same time, however, make it clear that you do not want to have to repeatedly answer the same questions.
Tip 2: Milestone work
Milestone work is an especially good idea if you are working with someone for the first time.
Say, for example, you want to have 30 articles written.
A good idea would be to ask the writer to send you the first 5 articles once they were completed so that you could review them and make sure that the two of you were on the same page as far as the articles’ content and style were concerned.
Tip 3: Progress reports
Depending on the type of job, you might want to ask for daily or weekly progress reports, which can be especially useful when you are working with a joint venture broker or an affiliate manager, and you want to keep tabs on their progress/handle any questions or concerns that they may have.
What you might consider doing is at the end of each day, have your workers submit a report saying what they accomplished that day, what challenges they faced, and any questions that they have for you.
Tip 4: Videos
A great way to train people to do custom tasks is to make a quick, how-to video so they can have a clear visual of exactly what is it that you want them to do.
A good video tool to use is Jing. It’s free unless you upgrade to Jing Pro, which costs $14.95 a year and will take the watermarks off of your videos.
Tip 5: Time Doctor
Time Doctor will monitor the websites that your workers visit over the course of the day and then give you a report of all sites that they frequented.
Yes, Time Doctor is Big Brother-ish, but it is also very useful.
You can use Time Doctor either to find out if people are spending too much time on “poor use” websites or to have screenshots taken of their computers every couple of minutes.
This program is currently in beta, so for right now it’s free, but afterward, it will cost 20 cents per hour logged.
The list of things to do after awarding an outsourcing job does not stop here.
There are numerous other strategies that you can employ to maximize your experiences with outsourcing.