Welcome to the twentieth module in the ‘Journey Into Internet Marketing’ tutorial series. In this unit, we are going to consider how you can expand and develop your business using various outsourcing resources.
I am also going to explain why what is a relatively simple concept can in fact be the key to taking your online marketing activities to a previously undreamed of level.
If you have not done so, it is recommended you read over Part 19 – Video Marketing Basics first.
As suggested, the basic concept of outsourcing is extremely simple.
In a nutshell, instead of doing something yourself, you pay someone else to do it for you.
Now, you must admit that in terms of conceptual complexity, outsourcing is not the most difficult idea to master.
Nevertheless, understanding what outsourcing is and why it can be such a potent weapon in your online marketing armory is a completely different thing.
So, with the basic explanation out of the way, let’s consider where outsourcing fits in with the standard online marketing business model.
Even the ‘big dogs’ started where you are…
To an online marketing ‘newbie’, it might seem difficult to believe but almost every household name Internet marketer, the guys (and girls) who run multimillion dollar online business empires, started off exactly where you are today.
Like you, they started off with very little money to invest in their business, working part-time at home four or five nights a week in search of the ever elusive first sale.
Just like you, they did not have a team of dedicated employees at their beck and call and they couldn’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on ‘trick’ software that would automate their business.
But to a man, every top marketer who I have ever heard or whose comments I have read has sworn that the moment they stepped into the genuine ‘big time’ was when they embraced the outsourcing concept.
This suggests that whilst the outsourcing concept is extremely simple, it is also truly powerful. Understanding why will help you to comprehend why outsourcing must be a part of your future business development.
When you are doing everything…
As someone who has just launched their online marketing career, there are 1,000,001 tasks to deal with each and every day. Every single aspect of running your business eventually falls on your shoulders.
On the one hand, unless you have thousands of dollars to invest in your business, this is absolutely inevitable. There are jobs to be done and you are the only person to do them.
On the other, there’s no denying it’s a pain sometimes…
But the fact is, you are the person who writes the marketing articles when you submit them to EzineArticles. It is you that creates the mini-sites in your link network, and you who makes and publishes videos as well.
Then there are all the immensely time-consuming back office tasks like dealing with prospects and customer enquiries, fixing broken links on your website, responding to e-mails and keeping adequate records because at the end of the year, everything needs declaring to the tax man.
As anyone who has ‘run the gauntlet’ of being an online marketing beginner is fully well aware, all of these are tasks that need to be dealt with. And as you are the only person working for your business, you do every one of them.
But here’s something you must understand.
Whilst your business is being run in this way, it is immensely inefficient.
The fact that you are spending no money means that you are losing even more, a situation that will never change as long as you carry on doing things in the same way.
You’ve probably heard the definition of a lunatic as being someone who keeps repeating exactly the same action expecting a different result.
Running your business in the same inefficient way and expecting to make more money is something very similar.
You deal with a dozen or twenty different tasks related to your online business every day. You are good in some areas of running your business, but there are some aspects where you’re not good at all.
Let’s imagine as an example that you loathe creating content for your websites. What you love and what you are good at is marketing – promoting products and services.
But because you need content for your site, you decide to deal with the task despite the fact that you hate it. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that you are not going to do a particularly good job.
What would take someone who specializes in this kind of work an hour takes you a full evening, four hours of your life which could have been productive, gone forever.
Now imagine that instead of hating every content-creation moment, you decide to pay a freelancer $10 to do the job for you. This frees up four hours of your time to concentrate on marketing.
Do you think you can make more than $10 from four hours of concentrated marketing effort? All I can say is, I hope you can for your sake!
In these four hours, you might make $20, $50 or even $100 extra profit that you would not have made if you were forcing yourself to write site content.
Paying $10 to your freelancer has therefore been an excellent investment in developing your business. Now imagine scaling this up to a tune of 10 or 100 or 1000 and you begin to understand the potential benefits of outsourcing.
I understand that as an online beginner, you probably don’t have much spare cash available. However, when it comes to outsourcing, it’s not that you can’t afford to, it’s that once some money starts coming in, you cannot afford not to.
And here is one final thing to consider before moving on.
Most online business owners who work on their own are completely convinced that they are the only person who can run their business.
They are so convinced that it is their ‘special knowledge’ that keeps things going that they believe that they are irreplaceable.
If this is you, let me tell you, it is complete nonsense.
Every single task that you handle in the day-to-day running of your business is something that somebody else could do just as well. In fact, because you hire a totally focused specialist when you outsource, they can probably do a far better job than you ever can.
Understanding this is crucial to understanding the value of outsourcing.
When you’re ready to use the services of outsourced workers, the way that you connect with them is this.
You post information about your job on a suitable website. You invite freelancers who use that site to find work to quote for the job.
You apply a selection process to choosing the most appropriate applicant, or if there are none, you start the search again. But assuming that there is someone who you believe is up to the required standard, you ‘take them on’.
You do not employ this individual as you would a regular employee.
You are not for example responsible for their working space or for providing a computer. You do not need to worry about paying their tax or national insurance either. All of those responsibilities fall on their shoulders. All you are responsible for is giving them the work and paying them for the job.
Now, if you find a very good freelancer, it often makes sense to try to hold onto them for the longer term.
But even in this situation, the normal ‘holding tactic’ would be to pay them a slightly higher rate. You do not employ them. They can still walk away from the arrangement at any time they like in the same way you can.
And of course, by outsourcing your work, you only pay for the work you need, when you need it. If therefore you have no work, you have no responsibility to look after them either.
Preparing to outsource…
Outsourcing different elements of your business as soon as you can is a good thing to do. However, doing so in a haphazard way carries the risk of losing many of the advantages.
It is therefore essential to plan your outsourcing activities well in advance. The first thing to plan is, what are you going to outsource?
Start by keeping a diary or journal in which you record everything you do within your business. If possible, keep this running for a couple of weeks and record every single thing that you do which is directly related to your online marketing.
Also, keep a record of how long you spend on each individual activity.
And in any situation where there is a direct benefit from an individual task – marketing activity that generates a sale for example – add this information to your journal as well.
Noting your activities for a couple of weeks records a microcosm of your business. Armed with this information, you can effectively analyze your activity.
For instance, you should be able to see where you are wasting your time, and you’ll be amazed just how much time is wasted too. You will begin to recognize the tasks that you are not very good at and those where you excel.
Some of the tasks which waste the most time will be the jobs you dislike.
On the other hand, the jobs where there are clear benefits (e.g. sales) will be the ones on which you would like to spend more time.
After analyzing what you do on a day-to-day basis, you next need to rank the tasks in your journal.
At one end of the table, you should have the tasks where your performance or ability is lowest as well as the jobs that you hate doing. At the other end of the task ‘table’ will be those jobs that you’re good at or the jobs which you enjoy that make money.
Okay, now you have an organized list with the ‘bad at’ or ‘hate’ jobs at one end. These are the ones that you should outsource first.
You may have items at this end of the list which cause you to wonder whether these are jobs that can really be outsourced. The answer to this question is, every job can be outsourced as long as it does not involve money.
Writing articles, making videos, fixing broken links, keeping the books, social bookmarking, marketing support, dealing with customer queries, submitting articles to directories, they can all be outsourced.
However, checking the daily bank or PayPal balance or making spending decisions are not suitable for outsourcing. Other than this, everything goes.
Once cash flow allows you to outsource, the first thing to do is put together a detailed description of exactly what you’re looking for.
The key to this lies in the details because you cannot afford to assume that other people do things exactly the same way you do. However, you can assume that if you don’t tell your outsourcer exactly what you want, you won’t get it!
As an example, say that you are going to outsource article writing which is one of the easiest jobs to outsource.
If you have been creating articles for a few months, you will have a certain article style and character. If your writing efforts are paying dividends, you don’t necessarily want big changes when you pass the work to someone else.
You would have a certain way of using keywords in your articles. If the way you do it works, you don’t want a freelancer to change this winning formula. Hence, you need to have a detailed plan of exactly what is required.
One way of doing this is to write it out.
A far better way is to make an instructional video that demonstrates to anyone who sees it exactly how to handle the job step-by-step.
The advantage of making outsourcing videos is that you can use them time and again. Every time you need to find someone else to do the job, you can use the video to show them exactly what is needed.
However loyal an individual freelancer seems to be, they all walk away eventually. Having detailed instructional videos that you can send to any new freelancer is therefore an invaluable attribute.
Posting your work and selecting the best candidate…
As hinted earlier, there are many sites where you can find highly qualified freelance workers to whom you can outsource every element of running your online business.
The sites detailed here are amongst the best known and most widely respected, but there are many other similar sites:
Which site is most appropriate normally depends on the nature of the work you want to outsource. For example, whilst Elance and Odesk are both very strong if you’re looking for writers, Scriptlance and Rent-a-coder specialize in script creation and software programming.
For the purposes of walking through the recruitment process, I’ll continue the article writing example with Odesk.
If you do not have an account, the first thing to do is sign up for free. The application form is straightforward enough:
On the next page, there is confirmation that you’ve completed stage one of the process and that you’ve got to confirm your e-mail (at the bottom). In between, you are asked to enter details of your business and the job that you want to post:
The details about your business can be as brief as you like as long as they make your operation sound professional. The job description should on the other hand be as detailed as you can make it as this acts as a first ‘filter’ that prevents unqualified people wasting your time by applying.
You would for example make it clear that the keywords will be supplied, that there will be a training video available that they must follow and that every article must be Copyscape unique.
Make the job available to the whole network to attract as many applicants as possible.
Leave the opportunity open for a week and for something as basic as article writing, quote a fixed price for a ‘batch’ of articles, say $50 for ten at 500 words each.
When an applicant appears like they might be interested, take a look at their profile, because you can find an awful lot out by doing so.
For example, this lady in the Philippines has done exceedingly well in several Odesk English tests, being the top performer twice (1):
Her English is clearly up to the task of writing articles and yet she has been paid less than $10 an hour for the last few jobs she’s done (2). This puts her right in the price bracket we are considering, hence she’d be someone that you would definitely want to talk to.
Once there are enough applicants, narrow them down to a short list by looking at their Odesk profiles. Ask those on your short-list to submit a sample 300 word article on a subject of your choice, give them the keyword to be used and a deadline a couple of days hence.
The fact you choose the subject ensures that they don’t send you their best-ever sample, and imposing a deadline tests their punctuality. You may sometimes find a freelancer who does not want to co-operate on this – fine, there are lots of others to choose from.
With Odesk, you verify that you have the ability to pay and negotiate with your freelancer how the money is to be paid. Some want paying upfront whilst other times, you can negotiate stage payments.
And that is basically it, you get the work that you hate doing done for you by an expert, leaving you free to concentrate on doing the things that you are good at, those things that make money!
It’s called leverage.
At the beginning, I mentioned that even the million dollar superstars of the online marketing industry started out where you are. They got to where they are today by using leverage through outsourcing.
What this means is that as more and more money comes into your business, you outsource more and more of the ‘daily drudge’ of running your business. You move through the list of jobs that can be outsourced to get them done by others. In this way, you leverage your own time so that eventually, the only thing you do is make (and count) the money.
All of the rest is done by others.
Getting to this stage quickly and easily, without the hassle of hiring full time employees, finding office space, and buying office hardware is the reason why outsourcing is something that should do as soon as you can.
Once you have some money coming in to your business, outsourcing is the quickest and easiest way to take things to the next level. Given that there are only so many hours in any working day, there is only so much you can do too.
Getting other people to handle the menial tasks that ultimately don’t make money leaves you free to concentrate on the jobs that do.
It is now recommended you proceed on to Part 21 – Where To Next?