The wide reach of the internet has opened up an avenue that was never before available to the small businessman – outsourcing work to a global pool of workers. WordPress is an extremely popular platform, and you will find thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of professionals working globally. This gigantic pool of talent is willing and able to handle almost every job imaginable.
Outsourcing is so easily available; to be honest, it’s almost a fad. You will find people shipping out work that doesn’t really need to be sent away, receiving completed tasks that wouldn’t be worth the bandwidth consumed, and expending way more resources than a job would have otherwise required.
Striking a balance is the key. In this article I will explain how to unlock the potential of outsourcing and delegate your work efficiently and effectively.
Why Delegate Your Work?
Businesses cannot run as a one-man show, especially if they intend to scale. A good team is the greatest asset of your business. Once you start delegating your work and free yourself of micromanaging tasks, you can put your energy and efforts into the core of your business and finding ways for it to grow.
You get more time for personal and professional gigs, and your business gets a shot in the arm. A small business probably wouldn’t be able to afford hiring several people, and that’s when you pick up sub-contractors.
Depending on how well you spread your talent search and your requirements, you might very well get hold of an experienced rockstar developer looking to make money on the side, or a total newbie trying to get hold of some job.
You could very well hire someone from the other corner of the world. There is an inexplicable joy in assigning work in the evening and waking up to find it completed and waiting for your attention. You may have been asleep, but the gears on your business continue to churn.
Outsourcing Your Work – The Basics
Before you attempt outsourcing, make a clear roadmap. Decide what can, and what must not, be outsourced.
What Not to Outsource
The core part of your business should never take a trip down the outsourcing lane. Identify the core competencies of your business and make it a point to keep them in-house. For example, as a WordPress developer you may want to keep your personal approach to WordPress development and problem solving to yourself. Once you let the cat out of the bag, you lose your unique edge over the competition.
Don’t outsource something just because you don’t feel like doing the work yourself. There must be a tangible benefit to outsourcing, and “I didn’t feel like doing it” is not one of them.
Don’t outsource what can be automated. Employ tools that can remove the grunt work from WordPress development and let you focus on creating code, rather than managing it. Tools like Grunt and Gulp can help to take monotony and repetition out of the equation, and keep your focus on things that really matter. Similarly, powerful WordPress themes like Divi can enable a developer to create a fantastic UI and front end with endless possibilities without too much work.
See if there is a plugin or resource available for your task. The WordPress repository has countless plugins to handle a wide range of operations. There are also several websites that offer paid (or premium) plugins targeted at specific tasks. You could find a free plugin, or buy one that would end up being cheaper than hiring someone.
In summary, you shouldn’t outsource:
- your core competencies,
- for the sake of outsourcing,
- when you could be automating, or
- if there is a plugin or resource.
What Can be Outsourced
The first thing to cross the threshold are usually the monotonous tasks. If your projects include tasks like data entry, they are prime candidates for outsourcing. Accounting is also something that most small businesses outsource.
Virtual Assistants are increasing in popularity. You get to take care of the heart and soul of your business, while the assistant handles simple jobs, manages your schedule and keeps your time available for more constructive work. A virtual assistant could also work as a first point of contact for your clients and answer basic questions or queries. Remember the previous lesson in a setting like this; your VA should not have access to core competencies of your business, nor a direct line to your clients.
You could also outsource for brainstorming and getting new ideas. Businesses often get trapped in the artificial boundaries of their own work culture. Allowing a fresh mind in to handle some tasks could bring in new ideas and shake things up a bit.
Financial benefits are probably the biggest reason and the largest contributors to outsourcing. Sending work to a developing nation can usually result in big savings. It’s not really difficult to find unskilled workers willing to work at $1-$2 per hour. However, do keep in mind that the quality of work is always dependent on the amount you’re willing to pay.
So we can sum up good jobs to outsource as:
- Repetitive tasks
- Administrative tasks (Virtual assistants)
- Highly skilled expertise
- Specialized knowledge
Ensuring the Quality of Your Outsourced Work
As we have already said, outsourcing is easy. So easy in fact, it’s almost a fad and very accessible to anyone wanting a taste. That is precisely the reason why the figurative streets of the internet are full of people recounting bad experiences of their outsourcing foray. You need to stay clear of the pitfalls that a lot of people will fall into:
1. Outsourcing is Cost-Effective, Not Cheap
Good, professional work is never cheap. The gains of outsourcing to a developing country come from the difference in the cost of living. Always pay fair and keep the local costs in mind. If someone is developing a custom WordPress site for $20, only a miracle will return a decent site.
Fair pay for a fair day’s work. That is how it should work, and how it does work. If your project is lower than the basic pay in the sub-contractor’s country, it is likely to be ignored by most freelancers. Sometimes, new contractors will agree to work for a low wage to build clientele. A low paying project will be squeezed out as soon as a better project comes along.
2. Research Your Sub-Contractor
Get to know the person you are handing the job over to. Do a web search for your freelancer and see their reviews. An established sub-contractor may be slightly more expensive, but you can be sure that your work is in safe hands. An established freelance reputation is of course, the best part. However, it pays to remember that everyone starts new.
Don’t be scared of considering those who have just made their entry into the world of outsourcing. Being thorough should land you with an excellent sub-contractor who has a lot of time to devote to your project.
3. Know Exactly What You Want
Before you hit the market to outsource your work, make sure you are clear about what you want. Spend some time creating documentation for the job. You get to clear your ideas, and the sub-contractor will have the ropes to get started.
Asking your recruit to design a “magazine-style WordPress theme” is unlikely to get you anywhere. Be clear and upfront with your requirements and expectations. This will also give you a good idea of whether or not the sub-contractor is the right person for the job. If he can understand your approach and your ideas, you’ve got your man. Being clear about what you want enables you to be certain about the person you hire.
4. Keep the Communication Channels Open
Clarity in communication is indispensable. You want to make sure that the sub-contractor knows exactly what you need so that he can deliver the goods. Sub-contracting work is a lot like a regular job, and you are the supervisor. Be available to clarify on points, give clear instructions and make sure the sub-contractor and you are on the same page.
A successful outsourced job is heavily dependent on the relationship you share with your recruit. You will be the one setting the tone of the conversation, so set up channels to communicate for your convenience and benefit. Treat your outsourced professional with the professionalism you would offer to an in-house employee. Share your vision and ideals with the sub-contractor to make them really invested in the job.
There will be mistakes; be prepared for them. Your sub-contractor is only human and will take time to settle into the specifics of the job and the work environment you set up. Give it time and let your sub-contractor grow, but don’t lose sight of your goals.
5. Have a Firm Grasp on Your ROI
As with any other business, the ROI is the deciding factor when it comes to the success of your outsourcing overtures. Build on your success to create a team of skilled professionals, and cut your losses if you have to.
Tangible gains are what you want, and there is no reason to settle for anything else. Your sub-contractor should be bringing in more money than what you spend on him. It is equally important that the contractor also be a valuable addition to your team.
Ideally, outsourcing is your tool to building a skilled team without the expense of having full-time employees. You should no longer have to worry about tasks that can be completed without your direct attention and the entire setup should move smoothly.
Be objective, but add a degree of ruthlessness. Your team should meet reasonable deadlines and bring results to the table. There is no room for inefficiency. Your time and skill should be spent on developing the core competency of your business, not on managing your sub-contractors.
Where to Find the Right Sub-Contractor?
In an outsourcing market full of possibilities, finding the right place to go to can be an overwhelming task. Kevin has a great article on useful websites for hiring a developer for custom jobs. We’ll take a quick look here at some channels you could use for finding sub-contractors:
This tried and tested method is exceptionally useful. Finding a freelancer through the recommendations of people you know has a lot of positives. Word of mouth is the strongest form of advertising there is, and it does increase your possibilities of finding the right person for the job.
Visiting WordPress meetups provides an excellent opportunity for networking as well as finding people with the skill set you desire. Social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn can be excellent hunting grounds.
Reddit is one of the most popular websites out there and has thousands of members. The website offers a thriving community of developers and an easy way of posting jobs for your specific requirements. You can visit communities (or subreddits as redditors call them) and post a job listing.
The process is simple; you make an account, add a post to the relevant subreddit and if you find the right candidate, you negotiate a deal with them. Unlike several other boards and websites, Reddit job boards are about direct person-to-person contact. So keep in mind that there will be no dispute resolution or payment assistance from the website.
Envato has made a good name for itself in the world of technology. Their offerings like Themeforest and CodeCanyon are already very popular with WordPress users and developers, so it is quite natural that the website make WordPress specific job outsourcing more accessible.
A benefit of using Envato Studio is that you can be confident of hiring experienced and vetted professionals. Envato allows shopfronts only after its review team goes through the application of the freelancer. You can rest assured that the person you are hiring has demonstrable skills in WordPress development.
Smashing Magazine has been a popular resource amongst developers for a long time as a hangout for developers and designers, but it makes great place for job listings as well.
Listings on Smashing Jobs are paid. You will have to pay $75 to publish a freelance position, and $200 for a full time position. That might sound a bit steep, but it has its benefits. Applicants know that the job poster is serious and the targeted demography of the website can potentially return better results.
The WordPress.net job boards are handled by developers of WordPress and offer a neat and targeted platform for your outsourcing requirements. The site offers a fair number of candidates and the ability to list across various job categories that are directly related to WordPress.
Job Boards With Limited Visibility
The huge WordPress ecosystem and the massive number of jobs associated with it has led to the development of several job boards and sites targeted directly at WordPress developers and users. These boards cater specifically to WordPress, but the job listing will be exposed to fewer potential candidates.
If you want to be swamped with attention and be spoilt for choice, freelancer marketplaces are the websites to be. Elance, Upwork (formerly oDesk) and Freelancer are the most popular freelance marketplaces.
These websites generally work on the principle of reverse bidding. You post a job and desired budget, and several people bid for your job. The competition amongst applicants can be fierce, and job-seekers will offer competitive prices to undercut their competition. You can take your pick from all of the applicants.
Again, be careful about deals that are too good to be true. If someone is making an unbelievably low bid, it would be wise to tread carefully. You get what you pay for.
These websites generally offer some form of payment protection system. You will pay the sub-contractor directly through these marketplaces and it’s sensible to take advantage of the simplified payment systems they have to offer.
Each of these marketplaces has different charges and fees associated with jobs. Upwork for example, will allow free posting, but will take a 10% cut from the freelancer’s payout. Working on a similar principle Elance offers a slightly lower cut at 8.75%.
Freelancer has a more convoluted system where their fees and commission are dependent on membership plans and job posting. Most of the plans will see the job poster being charged 3% of the amount per job awarded and the freelancer will have to pay fees around 10%.
Delegating your work and outsourcing it is the smart thing to do. You get to build a skilled team that handles jobs that are suited to their specialized skills, and keeps you free to focus on building and growing your business. You get to have a brilliant team at your disposal without having to bear the expenses of full-time employees.
Outsourcing is easier than ever and the number of sub-contractors and the level of skill on offer is impressive. Embrace it and delegate your work to people who are likely to be more qualified in specific areas. Take the time and profits from outsourcing to invest in the core of your business and see it grow.
Upwork (Elance/oDesk) alone is looking at $10 billion in freelancer revenues. As big as that amount is, it is only a small portion of the entire outsourcing industry. There is no reason why you should not have a piece of that pie.
Let us hear about your experiences and comments with outsourcing in the comments below!
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