Let’s talk outsourcing!
Outsourcing is something I’ve mentioned many times in previous posts and I can’t stress enough how important it is to start outsourcing some of your business tasks as early as possible. Why? Because if you don’t do this, you’ll find you’re just exchanging one job for another rather than building a true business which you run as a business owner.
The beauty of running an online business is that you can actually delegate most of your daily routine tasks and build your business WITHOUT having to hire employees, which brings a lot of cost and additional problems.
When you outsource specific tasks rather than hiring a full-time employee, you can control your expenses much better and spend your money more efficiently by choosing the most suitable person for each specific job.
QUALITY is another important aspect of outsourcing! If you just can’t write then you’ll never get good product descriptions on your own, no matter how long you spend on them. A professional writer, on the other hand, will craft you superb descriptions in no time at all which will then positively affect your sales (better product descriptions = higher conversion rates).
So what exactly can you outsource?
Pretty much anything!
For eBay and eCommerce Shop owners this includes:
- Design (logo, eBay template, website design, business cards, product packaging etc.)
- Coding (website, newsletter, eBay template, blog etc.)
- Writing (product descriptions, video transcripts, reviews, info text etc.)
Start with these three. Design is definitely something you want to outsource, unless you’re a professional designer yourself. It’s simply not worth your time and energy to learn this skill when you can outsource it to an expert so cheaply.
The same can be said about coding/programming – you can get high quality coders working for you for less than $5 an hour. It simply doesn’t make any sense to learn these skills on your own when you can spend that time on other, more productive tasks.
Writing is a tricky one. Most people think that they can’t write while in reality they just haven’t tried it. But if you absolutely can’t write, outsourcing is the best way to get product descriptions, category descriptions, and info text done to a high standard.
Then as your business grows, you can start looking into more advanced outsourcing tasks, such as:
If you’re receiving 30-50 emails a day, it would be a wise decision to start outsourcing this task. As it’s so time consuming and we all know that time is the most important resource for any business owner.
When you outsource customer support, you really only want to work with the best in the field so that your company’s reputation doesn’t suffer… and I’d therefore recommend only hiring native English speakers for this position and ensuring you train them to handle emails as you like before they start work.
You can pay a fixed fee per week or ideally, a fee per email/support request. Monitor replies constantly so you know your customers are being treated well.
Yes, even order processing can be outsourced, especially if you use a cross channel selling platform such as Linnworks.
I have covered fulfilment houses in previous blog posts but just so you know – IF you sell goods that are priced higher than 20-30 pounds with decent margins, you can outsource the entire order fulfilment task which includes stock storage, packing and shipping, at a very reasonable cost WITHOUT the need to rent a warehouse and hire dedicated staff.
If you sell on eBay and have hundreds of listings with dozens of new products coming in each month, you can outsource the listing creation too. And no, this doesn’t mean you have to share your eBay account details with anyone. Your freelancer could just create such listings in Turbo Lister and then export the final work so you can import it into your own account. Most listing creation programs will have an Export & Import feature so you’re not limited to only using Turbo Lister.
Why not…? You can create a strategy/guide on how to find new, profitable products and simply teach a freelancer to do this work for you full time. For these research jobs you can hire a FULL TIME employee from the Philippines for just $200-$300 per month. Even if they only manage to find 10 good new products each month, it’s still well worth the investment.
As you can see – the sky really is the limit when it comes to outsourcing! In fact, I can’t even imagine a single task that can’t be outsourced these days. So take control and start being a business owner and not an employee!
People often ask me – “Andrew, how do you manage to run so many projects simultaneously?” And the answer is simple – I outsource! Design, programming, writing, even research, supplier verification and order fulfilment – I outsource many aspects of my business to allow me to concentrate on what’s important!
But if outsourcing is a totally new concept to you, start with simple tasks such as design, coding and writing. I look at outsourcing as a new skill you have to master with its own learning curve so start small and expand once you feel more comfortable delegating tasks to others.
Where to Hire People?
My favourite place for hiring part time & full time employees is oDesk and OnlineJobs.ph. oDesk is more suitable for fixed task jobs and OnlineJobs.ph – to find full time employees and virtual assistants from Philippines.
For writing, design and coding, my favourite place is eLance. There are dozens of similar sites out there but I always come back to eLance for one simple reason – quality!
eLance attracts some of the best talents, and the highest quality professionals you can hire online for graphics, coding/programming, and writing. It’s also one of the busiest freelancer sites out there – you can literally post a project and get 10+ bids within an hour for simple jobs such as writing or programming. I have completed more than 100 projects on eLance now and with 90%+ of them I have been completely satisfied.
How to hire on eLance @ 75% Discount!
Here’s a simple trick I learned a few years ago and use often to hire the BEST professionals on eLance at rock bottom prices.
Here’s what you do:
1) When you post a new project on eLance, set the price open (no max limit) OR set it rather high compared to your actual budget. So for example, if you plan to spend $100 max on this writing gig, set your bid to $300. Usually, 2 or 3 times as high as you intend to pay.
This does two things – it filters out some of the cheapest/lowest quality freelancers as from the price they’ll see that you’re looking for high quality work. Secondly – this will attract more expensive writers who would never bid on a $100 project (in our example).
2) When you start getting bids, you’ll see that there are some really good offers but at higher prices than you’re willing to pay (as expected). Now, just start a conversation with the freelancer and cover some of the basic details – ask questions about their past work etc. so you have some personal contact made and the freelancer has noted that you could be interested in hiring them.
3) After leaving the project open to bids for a few days, you get in touch with these best freelancers again and simply say that you would love to do business with them but are only looking to spend $100 (or whatever the amount is in your case).
You’ll be surprised by how often these freelancers actually accept such counter offers and work for 50% and even 75% less than the amount they initially bid.
This works great for design, copywriting and programming. Once I had a bid from a really great copywriter to write the copy for a product leaflet for $800. I managed to get the work done by the same person for just $100.
And it makes total sense of course – if you’re a freelancer, sitting without a job, you better do something and earn $100, than nothing, right? Exactly! And we, business owners, are always looking for ways to cut expenses so it’s a true win-win situation.
There of course will be times and projects when this strategy won’t work, like for example if you need 10 articles written; a writer who charges $30 per article won’t do it for $5 apiece. BUT if they’re not super busy, they could still be interested in doing it for $15 per article. When you hire, you’re the boss and are in a position to dictate the rules – USE this to your advantage and negotiate!
Another time when you wouldn’t want to execute this strategy is when you’re looking for someone to work with long term. Like, if you’re looking for a writer to do regular writing jobs for you every week. Then you want to get a writer you can actually AFFORD and pay the price they ask for on a regular basis.
Try it for yourself with your next project and report back with the results in the comments box below this post. And remember, this strategy is not specific to eLance, you can use the same approach on any outsourcing website!