how to outsource

The Beauty of Outsourcing

The Beauty of Outsourcing

“Outsourcing” is the practise of hiring freelancers and therefore the two are inextricably linked and to understand one you should study both sides of the equation. In the earlier articles Suzie Larcombe showed you how to follow in her footsteps and create a successful business working from home, using the internet to “freelance” her services.

In these next few articles I aim to show you how to use outsourcing to make money either for work done or as a middleman. How to use the Internet as a shop window to make sales and or buy from others.

Outsourcing has existed for many 100’s of years. Countries have imported cheaper products & food stuffs from all over the world for centuries and nowadays we have a truly global economy. Your car may have been made in Japan. The kids toys in China. The clothes on your back from India, shoes from Italy. The food on your table from any where on the planet.

Since the start of the industrial revolution many companies would “buy in” parts to be used in the assembly of the final product, a good example of this was a car manufacturer. One company rarely made all the parts for a car but they would assemble the main body of the vehicle in their own premises but would buy the brakes from one company, the tyres from another.

Similarly in the last 50 years or so the sub contracting of labour became an accepted business practise.

Now in the 21st Century with the Internet and improved communications outsourcing simply takes this further in that you now have access to a worldwide range of suppliers, which also gives much greater flexibility than employing permanent staff & often with a more competitive price. At the end of the day, in current markets, the final price is often the all important thing.

You may inadvertently already be employing outsourced workers! Many  companies in the established western economies charge their normal fees and then subcontract the work to an Asian contractor, especially in the web designing & programming field. It’s a perfect business model. No permanent staff, but when you have work at say $50 an hour, subcontract it at $25 and make money as the middle man

Some people used to say “I don’t want to outsource because I don’t want to export jobs” however the situation is actually that there is nothing to stop workers in your own country offering their services .

I currently “employ” people from Britain, USA, France, Australia, Canada and India. I actually employ more people from the richer developed countries than from the Third World so it’s not all about the cheapest, cheapest is not best.

A few years ago outsourcing had very negative press. There were genuine complaints about jobs being exported abroad, problems of “call centres,” for example in India. Lots of banks moved their call centres offshore and then promptly have now moved them back again.

In Britain there were a lot of these and I remember buying a computer from Dell whilst living in Spain and it got lost and I spent  three weeks talking to a lovely lady in India about where the heck the computer had gone. She could do absolutely nothing for me and it was infuriating.

However outsourcing can be brilliant and things have improved and you just need to know what to do and how to go about it.

In the next articles I am going to show you the positive aspects of using outsourcing both from the perspective of a supplier and a buyer. If you have a skill to sell or you have an existing business and from time to time you need to outsource staff, perhaps if you have won a new contract?

For someone wishing to create a new company it can be THE best method.

You can employ an entire “virtual workforce.” If the business struggles initially then you simply cut back on the number of contractors until things pick up. If the business ultimately fails it’s a lot easier, less expensive and less stressful to close it down and walk away.

I have written an article entitled “Outsourcing for Ruthless Capitalists,” For over 20 years I employed people in  the UK and to be perfectly honest with all the legislation and the labour laws I just got to the point I was sick of it.  I was sick of the hassle and for me outsourcing is capitalism in its purest form.

I no longer have to put up with people letting me down, not turning in for work, their child is ill, the dog has died, they have to go to the dentist, they’re off sick.  I don’t have to pay them sick pay; I don’t have to pay them holiday pay. Contractors are responsible for all of this, the same as every self employed person in the world.

If somebody has worked for you for a number of years and suddenly the performance is very poor and you can’t help them get back into working at a more productive level it is very difficult this day and age to sack people. Outsourcing is brilliant, if someone’s performance dips and you can’t between you resolve the situation , then simply move on to the next one.

I also look from the perspective of those of you looking for work. Times have changed now so where before people were concerned about jobs disappearing from your country there is nothing to stop you now advertising your services via outsourcing.

The old criticism that you couldn’t possibly compete with somebody in India is not always relevant. Not everybody wants to deal with somebody for whom English is not necessarily their first language, or is in a different time zone and perhaps the standard of work will not be as good as yours.

In one of the following articles entitled “Outsourcing to Find New Customers,” one of my contractors, Kai, explains how he started offering his services as a writer and how he went from being rated 30.000th to 1st in just six months, so it can be done.

Outsource Your life

How much of your work and time you decide to outsource will obviously be a personal choice. In an article in the “Mindset”  module entitled “New Age Thinking” I tell you about one of the best books I have read in recent years “The 4 Hour Working Week,” by Tim Ferris & I strongly recommend that you read it.

Tim Ferris had built his own business and was making decent money but had fallen into the usual self employed trap, namely he was working 70 hours a week and stressed to the eyeballs.

His solution? Outsource EVERYTHING. Your goal is to work just those 4 hours a week.

It may sound preposterous but he tells you exactly how he did it and for me the most important thing to take on board is the mindset. A good friend of mine, Gosta, bought the book on my recommendation. In the last year he has managed to persuade his employer to initially allow him to work one day a week from home and now 12 months later he has just signed an agreement where he can work full time from his new home on a remote island in Sweden!

This strategy is explained clearly in the book. Gosta’s girlfriend (who is now a freelance writer working form home) has written an explanation of what they did and how they succeeded in creating their dream life and you can read that here: Living The Dream

How to Pay Contractors

The big fear for many people is money. How do you go about employing somebody from outer Mongolia? How are you going to pay them? How do you know that they are trustworthy and that the work will be of a decent standard and as I said the important bit how do you pay them?

You don’t want to hand money over and never hear from them again and that I think is what puts most people off outsourcing. Elance & the other providers take care of all this for you and in the following articles and videos I am going to show you how to use it  and the positive side of using an outsource company like Elance.


Hire a World of Talent at Elance

Author: Marc Walton

Make Money Outsourcing

Make Money Outsourcing

In this article I explain how to get started earning money outsourcing your skills including tips and tricks from one of my writers who went from 30.000th to 1st on a major site in just 6 months, so it can be done IF you have a plan & positive attitude.

Perhaps you have always wanted to work for yourself or even better work from home with few or no overheads?

The old, conventional way was to have some business cards made and advertise locally to try and find some new customers. Perhaps you live in an area that is suffering badly from the recession? The beauty of the Internet means that you are no longer restricted to your local area. Suddenly you have the opportunity to offer your services to the whole world.

This will not of course work if you are offering your services as a plumber, but administrators, book keepers, customer services & support staff, graphic designers, writers, website designers, programmers, ANYTHING that can be done remotely is now available and is in demand right now.

I will show you in the next few articles how these sites work and how great it can be for those wishing to hire talented people. What if you are interested in offering your services and would like the opportunity to approach a wider market?

Below is an article written by Kai, he is based in Scotland. I live 2000 miles away and we have never met, but using Skype for free phone calls and elance to contract and pay him, I have found a writer who I like and who is very reasonably priced. Here is Kai’s story:

The Freedom of Freelancing

So you’ve learned your trade and mastered your art.

You’ve studied hard, refined your skills, sought constructive criticism and endeavoured to be as good as you can be.

You’re not an apprentice any more – you’re a professional, and one who’s ready to start earning a professional wage that is commensurate with your talents.

You’ve even got the business cards and the website in your name set up to advertise your services. When industry needs an adroit freelancer in a hurry, who are they gonna turn to?  Who’ll be their knight in shining armour to ride to the rescue in their hour of need?  Why you of course.  You, you and you.  Forget all the other freelancers – they’re just there to make up the numbers: it’s you they need.  That much is plain to see.  All you gotta do now is sit back and wait for the job offers to come your way; it’s only a matter of time.

So you wait and you wait, and you tinker with the SEO for your site in the meantime in the hope of making it onto the hallowed first page of Google.  You even send out a few speculative emails, but nothing happens.  It’s not that you’re not good enough – you’re better than good, you’re great – but it seems that no one’s willing to give you a chance.  What are you gonna do about it?

Getting Started

This is the dilemma that every aspiring freelancer faces. You’ve got the skills but you don’t have the experience, yet without the experience, why should anyone risk their time and money by hiring you? I faced a similar issue five months ago, upon impulsively deciding to become a freelance writer.

It is a predicament that thousands of freelancers around the world face right now; graphic designers and copywriters and programmers, all hoping that a client will take a punt and award them a project that could lead to lucrative ongoing work. When I initiated my fledgling career, I knew nothing about the industry I was joining.  I knew I could write, but beyond that, I was blissfully ignorant of the professional world I was stepping into. My first thoughts were to create a website to promote my services. That seemed a sensible place to start.

I contacted an acquaintance who agreed to build me a site, and I prepared to craft some compelling copy that would make anyone reading it feel compelled to hire me on the spot.  That was my simplistic master plan in a nutshell. Five months on and my website’s yet to materialise.

It’s nothing to do with procrastination or technical issues; it’s just that I’ve been rushed off my feet ever since.  What happened in such a short space of time to change my status from self-appointed copywriter to actual bona fide copywriter? How did I go from having zero jobs to having a dozen jobs for a dozen different clients all needing delivered by yesterday?  (Including this one, I should add.)  Simple: I stumbled across the inspired concept of the freelancing jobs site.

Jobs Site as Saviour

Jobs sites?  Like recruitment websites?  No, not really.  They’re more like online portals that directly link clients with freelancers.

Sites like Elance and People Per Hour.  The concept is simple: if you need a job done, you post an ad outlining the service you require.  Then sit back and wait to be deluged with submissions from freelancers willing to do your bidding.

It could be a designer to create you a logo.  It could be a man with a van to help you move house.  I’ve even seen ads for boat-painting and babysitting services.  For the most part though, such sites are intended to facilitate services that can be performed over the web: images; data; words – that sort of stuff.  For a novice writer like myself, trying to earn a break, this discovery was great news.

Not only were there dozens of jobs that I could do, but the open application process created a level playing field.  If my portfolio and accompanying submission were more compelling than those of my fellow writers, the job was mine, surely?  In theory, yes.  In reality, the playing field was not quite as level as I’d anticipated.

Feed Yourself Some Feedback?

Jobs sites are based around the concept of feedback.

Every time you win a job and complete it to the client’s satisfaction, you receive glowing feedback.  It is this reciprocal trust-building arrangement that underpins numerous online portals, from eBay to Elance.

From the client’s perspective, it means they can check the freelancer’s previous feedback to ensure that they’re not a cowboy who’s prone to leaving jobs half-finished or poorly rendered.  For the freelancer, it’s a chance to prove that you’re every bit as good as you claim to be.

Great as the feedback system is, it presents something of a catch 22 situation for anyone starting out.  To be awarded jobs, you need feedback, but to obtain feedback you need jobs. So what do you do?  Well you have a couple of options.  There’s the hard way and there’s the easy way to go about it.

I did things the hard way: put in bids for as many jobs as possible, often as cheaply as possible, and refused to give up until I’d finally bagged a few. In hindsight, I probably could have done it the easier, sneakier way, which works something like this: get a couple of mates to sign up for your preferred jobs site and post a few ads. You then apply for the jobs and, by a curious twist of fate, are awarded them.

Your mates – sorry, clients – then pay for the work via the jobs website and award you glowing feedback.  You return their money to them (or keep it, if they’re really understanding mates) and there you go: you’ve got your first points on the board and are now ready to bid for ‘proper’ jobs with confidence.

Don’t Just be Good – Be Awesome

While feedback can assist you in securing work via Elance et al, the only way to turn one-off jobs into ongoing work is by being damn good at what you do.  Design your client some business cards that Patrick Bateman would be proud of and they’ll use you for all their graphic design work in future.  Build your client a Word Press site in record time to their satisfaction, and who are they gonna turn to when they decide to launch a new micro-site?  It all sounds so easy, doesn’t it, but is it genuinely that simple to earn regular money as a freelancer?


Post. Hire. Done.
The sort of money that not only pays the rent but leaves you with a few $’s at the end of the week to spend in your local restaurant?
It’s certainly doable, but be warned: freelance jobs sites aren’t for everyone.  The competitions’s fierce, the talent is global and everyone’s got their sights set on the jobs you’re after.When I first started bidding for work via my chosen freelancer site, I won less than one in 20.  Back then, I was the outsider trying to get a break.  Now, I’m one of those annoying freelancers that creams off all the top jobs and makes it harder for those newbies to get a break.  In five months, I’ve gone from being ranked 30,000th out of 30,000 copywriters to being number one.I’ve won more jobs and received more client feedback than any other writer in the country.  That probably sounds boastful, but it’s not meant to be: it’s a fact, and one that I frequently remind new clients of when bidding for jobs.  Clearly stating why you’re the best person for the job isn’t just for your own benefit – it also enables the client to make an informed decision and reduces the risk of them hiring someone who’s not up to the task.Of course, being the top dog on any freelancing site doesn’t mean you’re the best, any more than being at the bottom means you’re the worst.  Nevertheless, success breeds success, and as your inexorable rise up the rankings continues, it becomes significantly easier to obtain work.  Soon, you might be wondering whether you even need a personal website at all.  Mine’s still under construction.  It’ll happen eventually, when I get round to it.  Right now, I’m kinda busy.

There is a complete set of articles on this subject, how to make money as a contractor, customer & middleman & even how to create a “virtual company” without any fixed overheads or staff costs. In the make money online module there is also a mini course explaining how to become a writer using sites like Elance to find work. The main thing is do NOT rush in. I explain exactly how to approach this type of site and how best to display your talents. If you do these steps badly it will seriously restrict your future success. Having said that have a look around one of the biggest, best sites here:

Looking for Work? Sign up on Elance.Get Started Today.

 


Hire a World of Talent at Elance

For Companies

For Companies

You run a small but successful business; just you and a handful of trusted staff. Together you form a tight-knit team that consistently punches above its weight. You take personal pride in delivering every job on time, on budget and in excess of the client’s expectations. As your reputation grows, so do your finances.

One day, an opportunity arrives to tender for a large contract.  Land it and not only is the next month’s business assured, but the profits could fund the ambitious expansion programme you’ve been contemplating.

The only downside is that in order to fulfill the contract, you’ll be at full stretch: for this thing to work, everyone’s gonna have to pull their weight.  You submit the tender, cross your fingers and await the verdict.  Two weeks later, word comes back: you’ve done it.  You’ve landed the big one.

Before you can celebrate your impending success however, you’re hit by a double blow: out of the blue, one of your staff hands in their notice, having been lured elsewhere by a more lucrative offer.

Then, another employee takes ill and is signed off for a fortnight.  Suddenly, you’re faced with tackling the biggest job of your life without half your workforce.  What should you do: cancel the contract?

Desperately try and round up some temps, and risk paying twice as much for talent half as good as that you’ve just lost?  Or do you just sit with head in hands, rocking back and forth and reflecting on what could have been?  Actually, you shouldn’t have to resort to either, for there is a third option which, if performed correctly, might just prove to be your salvation: you could try outsourcing the work.

If you can find the right freelancers to help you out of this hole, there might yet be hope of redemption.

Outsourcing used to be a dirty word, often used to disparagingly describe companies seeking Third World labour to exploit, be it running a call center or providing IT support to customers struggling to to power up their newly-acquired PCs.  Not any more.

Outsourcing hasn’t just shed the grubby connotations previously associated with it: now it positively shines as a beacon of efficiency that many organisations would do well to adopt.

The nature of the work that can be outsourced nowadays is virtually limitless.  If you sell burgers out of a roadside catering van, even the cheapest of labour from the Indian subcontinent isn’t going to be of much use to you.

For most other industries however, outsourcing isn’t just feasible – in many instances it’s highly-advisable.  As the internet becomes faster and smarter, it is now commonplace for companies to outsource vast swathes of their IT and digital marketing work.

From SEO to data basing and from graphic design to voice overs – all can be performed remotely, often cheaper and to a higher standard than if the work had been done in-house.  Indeed, with the rise of cloud computing, not only is the labour outsourced and delivered over the internet, but many companies effectively exist only in hyperspace, with their data and software all stored remotely on virtual servers.

Of course, nice as it is that the internet can facilitate remote working, what exactly is the point of it?  Apart from the novelty of being able to say ‘My designer’s an Eskimo who lives in Greenland’, what tangible benefits does outsourcing impart?  Well, it would be fair to say that cost is one of the prime factors that may tempt companies to seek external expertise.

The internet may be a great leveller, but different countries still have different standards of living.  If an SEO guy in Mexico can generate 100 back links for half the price of his British counterpart, it seems foolish not to utilise his reasonably-priced skills.

Such cost-cutting measures mustn’t come at the expense of cutting quality in the process however.

As the saying goes, ‘If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys’.  Outsourcing is not some universal panacea that can cure all your employment woes.  The reason why businesses have offices in the first place is so their staff can work together under one roof, collaborating, bouncing ideas off one another and reacting quickly to project developments.

Just because it’s possible for the modern office to consist of little more than a laptop running Skype doesn’t mean that this is the most efficient means of working, cheap as your overheads will undoubtedly be.  While video conferencing technology and other communicative tools have served to make the world feel a lot smaller, it’s still easier to relay instructions to someone if they’re sitting at the next desk.  Bashing out an 800-word email every time you want something done just isn’t practical.

Few would dispute that outsourcing can be a money-saving exercise, but to write it off as purely a cost-cutting measure would be to grossly simplify it.  Sure, you might save some money in the process, but that’s not the best thing about it.  Outsourcing’s beauty lies in the power it provides to hire the experts you need as and when you need them.

The average online retailer or B2B provider probably doesn’t need a full-time copywriter, SEO expert, graphic designer and server administrator.  At some point however, they’re almost certainly going to need the skills of all of these.  Most of us don’t pay a retainer to secure the services of a plumber – rather, we elect to use such professionals as and when required.  To do otherwise would be profligacy of the highest order.

Deciding to hire a freelancer is one thing.  Deciding which one to hire is another.  How do you determine which professional to outsource specialist work to?  Type ‘Java developer’ into Google and you’ll come up with around 7,000,000 of them, all claiming to be the knight in shining armour who can answer your prayers.  The sad truth however is that many of these self-appointed experts will be nothing of the sort.

Thankfully, employing the services of a freelancer doesn’t have to come down to a leap of blind faith.  There are a number of cleverly-designed jobs platforms out there that match skilled freelancers with the clients who require their services.

Post up an ad stating your requirements, then sit back and wait for a flood of submissions from freelancers eager to do your bidding.  Because such websites are based around reciprocal trust-building between customer and client, reaching a decision can be as simple as perusing the freelancer’s job history and checking the feedback they’ve received.  By the time you’ve performed a few cursory checks, read their portfolio and factored in the price of their bid, you should be ready to reach a decision.

 

But what if something goes wrong – suppose the freelancer fails to live up to their glittering résumé, and the work you receive is not up to scratch?  While there is no denying the potential for things to go wrong, it should be noted that this hazard is not merely limited to remote workers.  Most employers will admit to having hired candidates who, in spite of acing the interview and having an impressive CV, just couldn’t cut it in the office.

Another common concern with outsourcing pertains to payment.  How do the finances work?  What if you were to put down half the cash and then never hear back from the freelancer?  It’s not as if you can fly halfway round the world and chase them down.

As you might expect, these considerations have been taken into account in the construction of popular freelance sites such as Elance and People Per Hour.

The way such platforms tend to work is that the client, upon awarding the job, pays an escrow deposit, which may be around 20% of the total job price.  This money doesn’t go to the freelancer however.  Rather, it is held by the jobs website, until such time as the work is completed to the satisfaction of both parties.  Thereafter, the client pays the invoice (minus the escrow deposit that has already been levied) to the jobs website.


Post. Hire. Done.

The website doesn’t directly charge the client, but rather takes a small cut from the final balance they pass on to the freelancer.  In the unlikely event of there being a dispute, the freelancing website can mediate, using the written communication that’s passed between both parties as evidence of the work that was agreed.

For employers who desire cast-iron assurances as to a freelancer’s suitability, using a trusted jobs website is the best way to go about it.  It is worth noting that such websites tend to take a dim view of employers contacting freelancers out with their portal.

Once you award a job via the website, you’re expected to perform all invoicing within that framework.  Elance et al’s insistence on adhering to this policy is perhaps not surprising given that such sites stand to lose their commission if you cut them out of the process altogether.  Keeping payment within an accredited jobs website is good practice, not for the site’s benefit, but for your security.

Nevertheless, don’t let this deter you from researching your freelancers on the side.  Good old Google is your best friend if you’d like to learn the sort of details you won’t find within the freelancer’s profile: enter their name into a search engine and see what turns up.  See who they’re connected with on LinkedIn.

More often than not, the freelancer will have their own website with a more extensive portfolio that will enable you to fully appraise their work.  Moreover, see how many glowing testimonials your search turns up from previous customers.

If you can’t find any – or worse still, find negative feedback – you might want to reconsider.

Many companies turn to outsourcing in their hour of need; for that website they needed built yesterday or that corporate brochure they’re struggling to come up with compelling content for.  Such one-off collaborations can often develop into ongoing relationships.

If you’ve been delighted with the work you’ve outsourced to a graphic designer while yours was on holiday, you may start to question whether you even require the full-time services of an in-house designer, complete with all the sickness, holiday pay and bonuses that come locked in.

The beauty of having established links with freelancers is that an inspired idea can occur to you in the shower that morning, and by lunchtime your micro-site is already taking shape, thanks to the web development team you’ve fired off a swift email to.

Developing a trusted freelance team you can turn to whenever work gets hectic or ideas blossom is like having a storage facility with $50,000 cash and a bunch of passports stashed in it: you never know when it might come in handy.


Because the internet is a marketplace without borders, your business competitors are no longer limited by geography: if you want to stand out within your field, it’s not just enough to be the best in your city – you need to be the best in the world, or at least capable of holding your own against the big guys.

Conversely however, the democratisation brought about by the internet means the skilled workforce at your disposal isn’t just limited to the professionals within a bus-ride of your office: the whole world is yours for the recruiting.

Of course, great as the advantages bestowed by outsourcing are, it’s not going to be right for every occasion.  Many jobs – even the ones that can be performed remotely – are best performed in-house, with the whole team gathered around the same table to bounce ideas off one another.

Moreover, if your time is increasingly being spent pinging emails back and forth to remote workers, perhaps the savings you’re making might not be as substantial as you first thought.

Assuming the most obvious pitfalls associated with outsourcing can be avoided, it is not just a viable way of working – it’s the smart way.  While the technology is already in place to abolish the conventional office model altogether, that’s not really what freelancing’s there for.  It’s more about the ability to add strings to your bow; extra firepower, ready whenever you need it.

When work gets frantic or staff fall ill, the danger of having to renege on contracts or turn away new business is obviated: just outsource and carry on as normal.  Do some basic researchidentify the skills you’re looking for and don’t just settle on the first or cheapest freelancer to come your way.  With the right team in place, you can take on the world with a little help from the world – and win.

Hire the Best Freelancers on Elance. Post your job today.

 


Hire a World of Talent at Elance

Author: Marc Walton

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