Outsourcing – What it means to you, should you do it and how you should go about it.
Outsourcing in our line of business means subcontracting services for use with our online presences.
For us online entrepreneurs, this may mean web design, web development, content management, content production, translation services, SEO services, Social Media Marketing, PPC, and the different platforms of programming.
When done correctly, it will save you a ton of money and it will free up chunks of your time.
This freed-up time can then be spent with loved ones, while you check your email for updates every now and then.
If done incorrectly, it will lead to frustration, wasted resources, and squandered time.
To keep things simple, I’ll be using content production as an example. It’s one of the basic services we can outsource.
However, it’s very important that you do it right. In the wake of the Google Panda and Penguin updates, search engines have become more sensitive to quality content.
Okay, so let’s get to it. Let’s assume that you want to make your website better by adding useful content. You know what content you need, but you don’t have the time to devote to content production. Outsourcing is an option, but you’re not sure about it. What do you need to do to make sure that it’s a viable option for you?
You need to make sure that you will not be affected by any of the risks that outsourcing may bring.
These 6 Steps To Practical Outsourcing will make you awesome at outsourcing.:
- Know The Landscape. Non-native English speaking countries are cheaper. It doesn’t matter where you outsource from, as long as they have the skills to complement your business. The trend in outsourcing has taken the turn towards Asia. The outsourcing capital over the past decade has been predominantly India. India, a former colony of the United Kingdom, has many English-speaking citizens. However, over the last 5 years, the Philippines has slowly taken over the top spot in outsourcing. The Philippines is a bi-lingual country and was colonized by the U.S.A. for decades after World War II. It makes sense that their English literacy is higher than most of Asia. However, this is not a guarantee that anybody from the Philippines will be a decent English article writer. It just means that there is a HIGHER chance that you will find one from there.
Practical Tip: You also have to figure out how you will make your payments. PayPal is preferred, both for you as the contractor and for the hire. So, if where the applicant is from has no way to withdraw funds from PayPal, it’s not worth your time.
- Check The Directories. There are many websites where you can find freelancers. Right now, we’re going to stick with using the local Craigslist sites in Asian countries. Why? Because it’s not popular with newbies in outsourcing countries. New writers are more nervous about using Craigslist in the beginning. They prefer to use more popular local job websites. The contractors who use Craigslist usually have more experience under their belt. This post covers finding writers. link building services, and web design/development. (See Practical Tip) Program development for companies, banks, and other institutions may also be commissioned, but you’ll be needing the services of a local outsourcing consultant to get the best people.
Practical Tip: Other job websites like oDesk and Elance are also viable sources for finding contractors. This is where you’ll find other services offered. But, they charge a percentage or a service fee. We want to NOT pay any fees when searching for writers.
- Get Crafty. Posting is a useful skill. When you craft your post, make it interesting. People are looking for jobs, and will probably read a ton of job offers. The thing is, you want to get them INTERESTED in your ad. Your advertisement must stand out. A catchy headline and an exciting hiring spiel is a must. Discuss what you can disclose about the project so that applicants will have an idea of what type of writing styles you want. Add your website to the offer, tell them to look at the writing there if you have samples posted online. In any case, this will add to the traffic you get. Make sure you tell them to make a sample and try to be specific when giving work details. In my experience, applicants submit better samples when they get detailed instructions. Other things to consider when asking them to write samples can be found here.
Practical Tip: The best ways to entice a skilled writer is through competitive wages or the promise of training. Check out the other job offers, and be competitive in pricing. Cheap writers are more trouble than they’re worth. Here’s another tip: when you post your ads, make a word or two stand out. This gives higher conversions. People tend to LOOK AT BIG WORDS first.
- Screen The Applicants. Do a quick screen by adding a specific instruction in your job postings. (See Practical Tip.) Those who didn’t follow instructions and just submitted a generic application, without even reading your instructions are automatically off the list. A more thorough screening comes next, look through their samples, and be critical about reviewing them. It is better that you do this now rather than later on. Small issues have a tendency of building up. If they show promise, and you think that their work just has some style issues, send them an email requesting a revision of their work, regardless of how well they did. Explain to them how you would prefer the sample was written according to your specifications. This is to show them that you know what you are talking about. It will also keep them on their toes, and keep them from being complacent with their work.
Practical Tip: Some advertisers ask for a specific word or phrase to be included in the subject field of the email. This way you can avoid cluttering your inbox with spammed applications. You may also opt to create a new email account, just to accept applicant emails.
- Start Working. After you finish screening them, make sure that they’re ready to work. Start giving them assignments. Keep these assignments small. You have to ensure the quality of their work by first monitoring their initial submissions. Review their submissions. Make sure you go over everything. Check for grammatical mistakes and do a plagiarism check. If everything passes, then the quantity of their assignments can be raised. Keep monitoring the output every time you raise their number of assignments. You have to ensure that the quality of submissions doesn’t decrease whenever they add on more assignments to their plate. There is a limit to a writer’s daily submissions, at which point it’s time to add to your workforce. You can motivate your writers by telling them about some of your plans for expansion. Tell them that you have larger plans for your site/s and that they should do their job well, so later on, as your business grows, they can grow with you. They may eventually become an editor or content manager for your project.
Practical Tip: Freelancers, especially new ones, are afraid of scams. Pay them right away for the first day’s assignment. A small payment of a day’s work will settle their fears of nonpayment and will allow them to focus on the task at hand. Tell them that they will receive payment as soon as their submission is accepted without the need for revisions. Further payments will follow as scheduled. A weekly payment or payment per batch is normally preferred in the beginning. Once transactions are stable, you can pay them every two weeks or monthly.
- Lay Down The Law. You’ve screened them, motivated them and hired them. Make sure you give them definitive guidelines and consequences. This will make sure that you treat them fairly. They will understand that delays and quality must never be compromised. A successful business must always be efficient. Make them sign Non-Disclosure agreements and Terms of Agreement.
Practical Tip: Confirm all your avenues of communication. You’ll need them to be online on Skype, Yahoo Messenger or Google Talk. Give them some work to do, but make it something light. Ask them for their Gmail accounts, or ask them to make one if they don’t have one already. Place their assignments in a Google Document.
These steps and tips are all you need to outsource content. There are different things to consider when outsourcing other jobs. These are simply the building blocks of practical outsourcing. Add to and refine this process to cater it to your specific business needs. Remember that trust is the key to a successful business transaction of any kind.
If you’re thinking of getting something done, ask me about it. I can give you advice, or just do the whole thing for you.
You can also check out my Outsourcing Services and Outsourcing Strategies pages for more insights on practical outsourcing.
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