Outsourcing2

How to Outsource For your Blog Effectively and Affordably

Leslie Samuel Productivity 31 Comments

It’s no secret, I almost gave up on this whole internet marketing/blogging thing. No, bump that – I actually did give up.

It was too stressful. I was spending so much time at my computer and hardly anytime doing any of the things normal people do.

BUT, when I came back, I knew I had to do things differently. I knew that if I were to build something bigger than myself, I would need to get help. I needed to Outsource!

Fast forward to today – I get much more done online than I would’ve ever imagined. I have a Biology Blog that runs on autopilot (literally).

I spend MAYBE an hour or two per month working on that blog and it generates a passive income for me every single month.

I have an assistant that manages that blog, and a team of 6 writers (I think it’s 6) who submit content for the site so that there’s fresh content every single weekday.

I honestly don’t even know much of what happens there, but I know it’s happening, which is a great thing because Become A Blogger keeps me pretty darn busy.

Why is it running so smoothly?

Because I outsourced and I did it EFFECTIVELY. That’s a very important word, because I’ve outsourced in the past in ways that simply cost me money and more of my time.

So, I want to share with you some of the things I do to ensure that things run smoothly.

A word about cost

One of the biggest objections I hear when it comes to outsourcing is that it’s too expensive. I can definitely see how this can be a concern.

If you don’t have money to spend, $1 can be A LOT. I know exactly how that is.

I’ve been in situations where I had no idea where my next meal would come from.

If you asked me to outsource then, I just simply couldn’t do it. So, lets say you’re not in that situation, and can afford to spend a few bucks.

The great news is that you can find people to do GREAT work at an affordable price, if you are willing to go beyond and think in a more global way.

I’ve outsourced to people from various Croatia, the Philippines, India, Pakistan and some other places I don’t remember. Personally, I LOVE working with people from the Philippines.

My best workers have been from there, and my current assistant (who I just love) is from there.

I’ve been able to find very qualified individuals to work for me for as little as $2.50/per hour. I know what you may be thinking – that’s slave labor, right? Not at all. Because of the currency exchange, that ends up being a pretty decent wage for them over there. Sometimes, I feel like moving to the Philippines and living like a king because of that whole currency exchange deal :)

My current assistant started at $3/hour but is now up to $5/hour, because of how great a job she’s doing. So, cost is not as big an issue as many people might think because the benefit really outweigh the cost!

Where and How to find outsourcers.

There are a bunch of places online where you can find people to do the things you don’t want to do (or can’t do). I’ve used a number of them in the past, but my absolute favorite is Odesk.

Why? Because they have some awesome features. One of the features that REALLY stand out to me is how they allow you to track the work your team is doing. I’ve had situations in the past where I was quoted a very low hourly rate, but then SIMPLE projects would take MANY more hours than you would imagine.

Odesk randomly takes screenshots of your outsourcer’s computer screens and tells you how active they are at each point by giving you a report of how many mouse clicks and keystrokes they did during a given time period.

So you can quickly glance at their report and see if they were actually doing what they were supposed to be doing.

How to know what to outsource

This is a very tricky thing, but I figured out a way to determine what things need to be outsourced that could reap the greatest benefit for your blog and your online business.

  • Step 1. Make a list of EVERY task that needs to be done in your business.
  • Step 2. Make note of the things that ONLY you can do in your business
  • Step 3. Make a note of everything that NEEDS to be done, but can be done by someone else

The things you noted in Step 3 are ideal candidates for things to outsource! For me, those things were tasks such as checking and responding to my biology email, transcribing my videos and posting them to the blog, reaching out to other blogs and websites in my niche and a number of other miscellaneous tasks.

How to choose the right outsourcer

When I’m looking for someone to do a particular ongoing task (like transcribing my videos), I make a very detailed posting of what I’m looking for. With oDesk, you are very likely to get a ton of people applying for the job you posted.

This is because they have a ton of people there who just respond to job posting in masses.

So, I use a trick that I was told by my buddy Chris Deals from DayJobKnockout.com. When I post my job, I ask them to reply in a very specific way.

For example, I tell them that they will only be considered for the job if in their first line they say “Yes, I would love to be a part of your team”.

What this does is very simple and effective – it shows me that they actually read the post and can follow instructions. If I don’t see that in the first line, I delete their application and move on to the next.

This helps me to narrow it down pretty quickly to the few individuals who actually follow instructions.

Then, I actually end up hiring 3 people for the job. I give them all a task to complete, and let them know that they are competing with 2 others for the position.

I then wait for their completed tasks and choose the best from the three to continue working with me. It’s a beautiful thing, because I usually end up with an AWESOME worker by going through this process. It also lets them know that you are serious about your business

How to Train your outsourcer

This is the most important part of the entire process. You can have the best worker in the world, but unless you give CLEAR, STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS, you may just end up wasting a lot of time and money, and the only difference to your business will be the added stress.

Before I hire an outsourcer, I like to go through the processes that individual will be doing, and put together guidelines and procedures so that they know exactly what to do. That way, I don’t leave it up to chance.

What do I include in those manuals? Well, rather than telling you, I’m just gonna give them to you. You can check out the ones I provide for my assistant and feel free to use them for your own purposes.

Feel free to modify them to suit your needs. All I ask is that you don’t provide them freely to anyone else besides yourself.

Click Here To Download My Training Manuals

If someone else needs them, send them over here to grab them for themselves.

Setting the Tone For your Business

I like my business to have a certain feel. When people encounter my brand, I want them to feel something different. I want them to feel as if they are encountering someone who cares about them, and wants to provide them with tons of value.

Every point of contact needs to be something special. Something different.

Since my assistant checks my email, that’s a very important touch point. So, I made sure to let her know how I feel about my business and that I want everyone who encounters my brand to feel something special. I gave her specific examples of how I reply to people and asked her to include similar elements in all of her communications where she is representing me.

What followed was absolutely amazing. She did what I asked even better than I do it myself. Here’s an example from an email she sent to one of our writers recently:

Hello XX,

Thanks for being prompt as always with submitting your articles. You’re doing a really great job. . . Well, what can we say? You are one-of-a-kind writer. We (especially, Leslie of course) are glad to have you on the team.

The photos are good choices for your articles. I’ll add them as I schedule the articles.

Thanks for all that you do once again, XX. Really great to have you.

Take care!

Noemi D.

I read that and it just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. If I were on the receiving end of that email, I would feel special.

That would most likely not happen if I weren’t absolutely clear about the kind of tone I wanted my business to have. So as you consider outsourcing, think about the tone of your business, and if you outsource to someone who interfaces with your audience, make that extremely clear.

So, in conclusion

Outsourcing can be GREAT for business. Odesk is a great place to start. Use the strategies above for finding a great outsourcer, training your outsourcer (download my manuals), and setting the tone for you business. You’d be surprised at what it can do to help grow your blog, and you online business in general.

Today’s Question: What tasks have you outsourced and how did it help your business?

Let me know in the comments below

Leslie SamuelHow to Outsource For your Blog Effectively and Affordably

Comments 31

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  1. provergent

    Leslie, I am happy you included the explanation about the exchange rate being the determinant factor for the per-hour labor price. I’ve found in other ventures that people from Thailand are also great and dependable too.

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      Leslie

      Interesting. I’ve actually never worked with someone from Thailand before. Cool. Glad to know of your experiences there.

  2. Scott

    Leslie – I have a question – don’t you worry about someone overseas who has alterier motives and could hack your websites for criminal activity? Have you heard of anyone who has outsourced overseas and has encountered such a problem?

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      Leslie

      I personally have never heard of that happening, but I can imagine that it’s a possibility. However, I have a good backup system in place and I use Lastpass to manage all of my passwords that I give people access to so that they can’t really see what my passwords are even though they can login.

      Also, I look at the reputation of the people I hire. If they do good work and are dependable, they will most likely have great feedback. I’ve never hired ANYONE who doesn’t have great feedback. That reduces the likelihood of that happening. You gotta be smart about how you do it.

  3. Chris @ NPI

    Hi Leslie, great tutorial about outsourcing. May I have two questions:
    -do you outsource also commenting on other blogs/websites
    -how do you outsorce writing articles for your blogs – do you give detailed instructions (for example points) for every post, or only general requirements and directions for your blog posts?
    BR, Chris

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      Leslie

      Great question Chris,

      1. I have outsourced commenting on other blogs in the past when I used to run a forum. I didn’t mind doing it then because the concept of a forum itself is a place for EVERYONE to share content, not me. My blog is more of a personal thing, so I haven’t done that for my blog. However, now that I have multiple writers and it’s bigger than me, I’m considering doing that again.

      2. For my writers, I have given some instructions, but not detailed instructions for each post. The reason for that is it would take me too much time to do the research. So I basically give technical instructions (what kinds of articles we want, where to get images legally, how to write the titles and format the content, how to submit the articles for approval, etc). That’s pretty much it.

      The key is that you have to hire good writers who are passionate about the content. I had an application process and my assistant chose the best of all the submissions.

      Hope that helps!

    2. Chris @ NPI

      Yes, your answer is really helpful. I’m thinking about outsourcing some of my blogging task (as you wrote ;) ) but I’m not sure, if quality of it will be good enough.
      BTW – are you always happy with the content of outsourced articles?
      BR, Chris

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      Leslie

      Actually Chris, for the most part, my writers are doing a pretty amazing job if I do say so myself. I don’t read every article, but anytime I do a quick check, I’m impressed.

      I’m VERY much into quality of content and because of that, we were VERY selective in choosing writers. So I’m very pleased.

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  4. rharper

    Leslie,
     
    Great article, but I have a question.  You mention that you give technical instructions about type of articles, where to get images etc.  I didn’t see any of those in your manuals you shared.  Are those resources your willing to share?

  5. Lean Muscle Matt

    Hi Leslie,
     
    This post came at the perfect time for me. I just finished recording my second episode for my upcoming podcast, and it’s my first interview. I’m SUPPER excited! :)
     
    I’d like to hire someone else to transcribe my episodes, but the only thing I’ve ever outsourced is my logo (via oDesk). Would you recommend using a service like foxtranscribe that charges $1.50 to $2.50/minute, or would oDesk be a better option. Part of the problem for me is that I think you pay by the hour with Odesk rather than the minute, and I have no idea how long it should take to transcribe a 30 or 40 min episode.
     
    Any thoughts?
     
    Thanks in advance.
    -Matt
     
    P.S. My podcast would not have come to be without BAB and your guidance, and because of that I wanted to thank you publicly for your tips, tricks, and patience. :)

    1. Leslie Samuel

      @Lean Muscle Matt First off, congrats on launching your podcast. That’s just awesome.
       
      In terms of transcription, I ended up hiring someone to transcribe everything for me. That person is now my assistant and has been working with me for over a year.
       
      $1.50 to $2.50 per minute can add up. An hour long episode can easily cost over $100 that way. My episodes that are around 30-45 minutes takes my outsourcer around 4-5 hours. Maximum 3. If you’re paying someone $3.50/hr, that ends up being $17.50 maximum.
       
      Not only that, but by hiring someone, you can train them to be the worker you want them to be. That’s definitely the way I would go.

    2. Lean Muscle Matt

      @Leslie Samuel 
      Hi Leslie,
      I just wanted to stop by and report back with the action I took.  I ended up posting the job on oDesk, and within two days I had over 120 contractors respond! Amazing!
       
      Like you suggested I requested that all applicants respond in a certain manner (with a specific reply in the first line of the message), which effectively thinned out the pool by about 30% to 40%.
       
      I ended up hiring a gentleman from the Philippines, and the finished product he produced for me is PERFECT. Total cost to me? Just over $8.00 for a 30 minute transcription.
       
      Needless to say I’ll definitely be using him again! 
       
      Thanks again for the recommendation.
       
      -Matt

    3. Leslie Samuel

      @Lean Muscle Matt HAHAAA, that’s what I love about you Matt – you take ACTION. That’s what I’m talking about. 
       
      See – you get SOOO many responses on Odesk, but that little trick helps you to narrow them down Quickly.
       
      Keep up the great work, and make sure to treat that guy very well. From time to time, give him little bonuses ;)

  6. Rodlie Ortiz

    Thanks for the recommendation about ODesk, Leslie. I connected with them, found someone, and he’s currently in the process of moving my sites from one host to another–a job I didn’t want, and couldn’t quite do myself. So far so good!

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  7. suel

    that’s a great article! Thank you for that. I’m about to start a blog and I’m realy exciting and looking forward to it. We will see how it goes and how successful it will become, but I’m defenitely thinking about outsourcing. But I’m always kind of anxious to put my work in the handy of someone else. I don’t know, but is it something like missing trust in other people? What if they use to like “spy” on my idea and use it for their good? What if they not good and my product gets worse, so that in the end I need to put more work and time in it… Questions over questions… But did you have kind of fears in the beginning aswell? I mean, it turns put very well… but all beginning is difficult right!?

    greetings from berlin, SE

    1. Leslie Samuel

      For me, I wouldn’t call them fears. I would call them concerns. And yes, I did have those concerns, which is why I was very selective in my outsourcing process, provided direct guidance, and as they earned my trust, I started giving them more to do. Now, I trust my outsourcers with just about anything.

  8. Ryan Gray, MD

    I’m staring on my VA journey and used this post as a guide.

    I want to add one thing that I added that I think gave me a little more insight filtering the initial proposals.

    oDesk lets you add custom questions to your job. I removed the default questions and added:
    What is the hardest part about being a VA?
    What is the best way that I can help you as a VA?

    I’ve gotten some great responses, and some not so good responses.

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