Today, more and more people are looking to escape punching a time clock and want to work for themselves. With the advent of the Internet, a lot of people are realizing that they don’t have to necessarily wait for a boss to give them vacation time; they can take the initiative and be their own boss.
To be fair, however, it’s no small feat to do so; it takes hard work. Don’t struggle and overextend yourself, however; professional freelancers are out there waiting for you to hit them up for your project.
My wife and I outsource just about everything (she actually outsources more than I do) and it has been a godsend for us - and those marketers that I’ve talked to at seminars. Many have actually come up to me months or years later and told me that outsourcing made the difference in their business.
If you are opening a small business online or in a brick-and-mortar situation, you should familiarize yourself with outsourcing. The practice of outsourcing has gotten a bad rap because of a few corporations’ tactics, but as an Internet marketer or small business owner you will find that you can’t live without it.
You can outsource data entry jobs, illustrations, writing and editing projects, retouching a photo, web designing projects – pretty much anything you need.
The 10 Steps to Take
People have a lot of ideas in their heads when it comes to outsourcing, but you have to really look into it to have some perspective. Arlene and I learned of Elance around 2004 and using it streamlined our operation. Seven years and four hundred outsourced projects later, we’ve learned the following.
- Don’t Assume That You Can’t Afford It – Many people will assume that outsourcing is too expensive and will waste time and money trying to do it themselves. Websites like Elance make it easy and fairly inexpensive because freelancers will underbid each other to get to work with you.
- Lay Out a Clear Description of Your Project – If you want to get the right product, you are going to have to clearly state to your freelancer what you want. If your project isn’t thoroughly described and outlined, you may end up with something that is nothing like what you imagined. If you don’t give your freelancer a lot of details, you are responsible for the results.
- Set Milestones/Deadlines and Use Escrow – Sites like Elance have various features in place to protect the money of you and your freelancers. Milestones and deadlines can be set up and escrow accounts are in place so the freelancers are assured that they will get their money once the project is complete.
- Take Time to Evaluate Prospects’ Feedback – Before you assign your project to a particular freelancer, take the time look at the profiles of the freelancers that have bid on it. The Elance feedback system gives you a good idea about a freelancer’s past behavior. Look at their score and any comments left by previous providers so you know what you are dealing with.
- Negotiate Your Price – Once you know that you are going to pick one of a few freelancers, try to haggle a bit. Send them a message and ask how low they would be willing to go on their price to get the project. You will find that many will reduce their bid to get the job.
- Answer Your Messages Quickly – If you want to get your project done on time, you have to communicate with your freelancers expeditiously. Don’t let your project get stuck in limbo because you don’t return messages and answer questions.
- Pay Fast – Release the escrow funds as soon as your freelancer turns in the finished project. Websites like Elance have a failsafe in place that releases the funds automatically after a time, but be a good provider and take care of it yourself so your freelancer doesn’t have to wait long. We all need to make a living, after all.
- Do All Business Within the System – Many freelancers will try to get you to deal with them outside Elance to save money. Doing so will cost you the protection of their escrow accounts and feedback system, so don’t take the bait.
- Build Relationships – You can use Elance and sites like it to build a team for your projects. Hold onto any freelancers that give you the results you want.
- Build Your Feedback Score – You will also receive feedback on Elance, so be a good provider and let your score demonstrate to prospective freelancers that you are reliable and communicative.
Freelancers are the Experts You Need
No one is an expert at everything they need for their business, which is why we hire freelancers. Freelancers are the professionals we need to get the job done. Whatever a freelancer does is probably all they do for a living. You will probably never be as good at their profession as they are. By utilizing their skillsets, you gain access to expertise at a level way above your own and this will make the finished product shine.
Another important thing you can look for when outsourcing is a freelancer with a deeper understanding of the subject matter. For example, when my wife and I were creating our website for mothers with epileptic children we purposely looked for freelancers who had experience with children with epilepsy. Thankfully, we actually found two mothers of epileptic children that were writers as well. In the end, the website’s content had a truly genuine perspective.
One Step Further
All this is a good start, but you can also go further and listen to some podcasts or attend a marketing training session. There is always more to learn, so get out there and communicate with others in your situation.
So now I’ll turn it over to you folks in the comments section. Many of you have probably already outsourced to freelancers, while some may just be getting their feet wet and have a lot of questions. So let’s discuss our experiences and learn from one another.
James Martell is a full-time affiliate marketer and has been successfully teaching others to do the same since 2001 via his affiliate marketing trainings. James is a recognized expert in affiliate marketing, natural search, and outsourcing and is a sought after speaker at industry conferences. He has been hosting the first and longest running affiliate marketing podcast since 2003 and resides in White Rock, BC.