The Delicate Balance of Outsourcing a Project

As you know, I’m a strong believer in outsourcing.  When it comes to any business there are certain tasks that are monotonous and repetitive.  They’re important, but they also don’t allow you to focus on what’s called your core genius.

During my travels through Europe, I work only about 15 hours a week.  But that doesn’t mean this is the only “work” being done.  In fact, I have a couple of different people handing a lot of aspects of my business.  One person adds posts to my social media accounts, while another writes a weekly article.  Even better, I have one person who handles a number of “growth activities” that I can’t do myself.

Bottom line…Outsourcing is awesome!

Finding the *Right* Outsourcer

While I think outsourcing is an incredible tool, it can also become your worst nightmare.  A few years back, I used to have a lot of problems with my outsource workers.  Projects were late.  And the quality could only be described as piss-poor.

What was going wrong?  Well when I look back…I’ve come realize the bad results were my fault.  Instead of looking for the best worker, I was often hiring the cheapest.  Once in awhile you can find a great worker.  But usually cheap workers mean cheap quality.

A New Look at Price per Hour

After a number of frustrating projects, I focused on the quality of the worker, not just the price.  In the long run, this has saved me a TON of money.  Let me explain…

Say you hire a worker at $7 per hour.  This person is slow and requires constant supervision (ie: YOU have to waste your time). Overall it takes a total of 10 man-hours to complete the project.  That’s a grand total of $70 (not including the time you spend explaining things).

Okay, now let’s talk about someone who is more expensive.  This person charges $10 per hour for the same project.  The good news is she understands what needs to be done and needs minimal supervision.  It takes her half the time of the other worker (5 hours).  Ultimately this costs you only $50.

Obviously you can see which worker gives you the best bang for your buck.

Find Great Workers and KEEP Them

Now this is just an hourly example of what it’s like to manage an outsource worker.  Sometimes you’ll hire somebody on a specific project.  My advice is to not just look at the price.  Read the feedback previous customers have left.   Plus review examples of their work.  If you find a great worker that’s a little more expensive, then hire this person.  Trust me…you’ll save a lot of money and time in the long run.

Finally if you find a great worker, keep using this person.  All the outsourcers I currently use started on a small project.  I use them now because they consistently give me excellent results.  I never have to worry about the quality or what I’ll get back.  This helps relieve a lot of the stress that comes from having a semi-automated business.

Outsourcing is a pretty complex topic that can’t be covered in 500+ words.  So if you’re interested in this topic, I recommend reading the following posts on this subject:

Like I said at the start of this article, outsourcing has really simplified a number of things in my life.  If you’re having trouble staying on track then I highly recommend using a service like this.

Take Action. Get Results.

21 thoughts on “The Delicate Balance of Outsourcing a Project”

  1. Good morning Steve:

    A popular topic you have chosen today as everyone wants to out source their jobs. But then so many jobs are going out of the country on an alarming rate. Where will the unemployed go from here. May be I am mistaken, as opportunity has to be used wisely.
    Just a matter of thinking. I should change it with the trend. Steve I need your input in this so I may feel what majority feels on this topic. Thank you.

    However, your suggestion to think and get to know before hiring for any assignment is a great idea.

    So, which is the best country to use for outsourcing. In case I needed and how to find them? On the Internet I guess.

    Nice post for a Monday.

    Make it a great day for yourself

    Fran Aslam

    • Well outsourcing sources can vary. I mention the specific outsourcers I use in one of the linked posts. But as for the country, that depends. I do outsource some repetitive tasks to a girl who happens to be in India, but for the most part I have found good out sourcers here in the US.

      Personally I do not look at country at all in most of the decisions. It is quality and price. It is not always the cheapest, as I stated that can end up costing you work and effort.

      • Steve, I’ve used outsourcers in the US (In fact you put in me in touch with one!), India and the Phillipines and here in the UK. Overall it doesn’t matter where the jobs are being undertake as long as you’re getting results.

        Too often people believe that you have to ousterouce for $2 an hour, when to be fair you might not be getting value for money.

  2. I found that for software projects, if you are not an expert in programming, outsourcing programming work to low-cost foreign programmer teams may actually turn more expensive in the end than hiring a local in-house programmer.

    • I really haven’t tried any real outsourcing for software. I would assume the same theory holds true, once you find someone who does great work for a reasonable price, it might be worth it to outsource.

      But programming might be such a commodity skill that everyone who really can do the great work might be employed or price themselves out of the running. I can see where programming could certainly pose some outsourcing issues.

      Seems like you have a hell of a lot of useful tools on your site, so I certainly bow to your superior knowledge on programing!

  3. Wholeheartedly agree with you here Steve.

    I recently had the example of where my VA at a large company went away for a few days and her tasks were picked up by someone else. I sent though my task which was broken down step by step and I had an email from the guy who picked it up saying that he’d spent 40 minutes working out what was required and had questions.

    I complained to his supervisor and got the time credited. You have be clear in your requirements but also not tolerate poor service. This is as true in India as it is in UK/US.


    • Yup there are a lot of quality people to be out there for hire. There are also some that just require too much effort for your money. It is just a matter of of finding the best people and using them again and again once you do. Paying them a few extra bucks is almost always worth it.

  4. Hi Steve,

    I have never outsourced, but I can see many benefits for outsourching as you mentioned. I agree with you that outsourcing helps us focus on the more important tasks such as thinking. When I used to work in one of the companies a few years ago, my old boss used to say that he gets paid for his thinking and doesn’t like to waste his time doing tedious work. I never forget this… Thanks for sharing my friend.

    • Dia,

      Good point that I didn’t bring up. That is really what outsourcing is: making your project more business-like. Starting out you are still going to do the majority of the work yourself, but once you are able to begin to outsource many of the smaller tasks it is so freeing for the important stuff.

  5. Outsourcing can be hard until you find the right person for the job.

    In my experience it is a matter of trial and error, sometimes you get lucky on your first try, sometimes it takes time to choose the right freelancer. But with people trying to save money and with freelancer competing for a job opportunity at $3 per hour it can be hard to choose and it can be very easy to miss the right thing.

    There are a few great writers hiding in the low price section, but it is hard to find them, so like Steve said, if you don’t want to experiment better go with someone that has experience but charges a bit more, it will cost you less in the end.

    • To find the really good ones, you often have to be willing to pay a “little” more rather than fighting for the scrappings at the bottom of the barrel.

      It is very possible you can find some “gold” there too, but it is tougher, and once they get a little established they will likely want more.

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Zarko.

      HAve a great day!

  6. Hi Steve

    This is very timely as I’m looking to outsource as we speak. I have some pressing projects and am in need of someone to assist me as well as help maintain my blog.

    I definitely agree we should not go on price when it comes to something as important as outsourcing – most times the cheaper option usually ends up being the more expensive one.

    Thanks for sharing


  7. Hi Steve
    My dream is as soon as I monetize my blog and I am making a reasonable amount I would love to outsource all programming. I have read different blogs on outsourcing and I guess my main concern is choosing the right person! It can be a risk I suppose and hopefully on my blogging journey I will bump into a good programmer that won’t charge over the top prices for their work. Will have to wait till the $$$s come in.
    Saying that I would love to write for blogs but for the moment I have too much else going on. Thanks for an insightful post of your own experiences in this area.
    Patricia Perth Australia

    • Programmers is one thing I havent really done outsourcing for. But I assume the process is similar.

      When you are ready, If you can devise some small project. Something that wouldn’t cost too much but would be indicative of the entire project, you could try a split test. Hire a couple of people to do the same job -don’t tell them it is a competition for more work- and hire based on who does the best work.

  8. Awesome awesome subject Steve,

    I’ve got a ton of niche site ideas I want to work on but I simply don’t have the time. If I could outsource the website setup and at least backlinking I could work on the content – but at that rate you’d think that hiring a writer would be best too.

    Likewise, I’m earning pretty decent active and passive income with my online writing for sites – if I could get a ghost writer I could really start pounding them out at a $0 cost since it would probably cover everything – sure, I’d make zero up front but each new article goes into the passive income pool and I could hire someone to write subjects that I care little about.

    • It could work, if your find quality writers and work them right. of course as matthew pointed out the best way may be to start small and scale it up. Being too scatter-shot with an approach can almost be as bad as NOT having ideas

  9. Exellent point Murray. I too have had lots of ideas, but the danger with too many ideas is that you don’t make progress.

    Better to focus on one thing, then move on to the next in my opinion!

  10. Hello Steve,
    I am really a big supporter of outsourcing but I find it difficult to find people that delivery what they are advertising.
    I am now on the look for someone to outsource link building and article writing. And I am a little skeptic about sites like odesk or freelancer where i got my last freelancers.

    Outsourcing I also great from a number of perspectives, my number one being the free time I get to take care of my other affairs. Also it can help you calm down and not worry so much about what you will write/work/etc tomorrow and maybe in some way will give you the feeling you are not alone.

    • Link building could be something tough to outsource. It is hard to measure results. And quality of sites etc. linked matter a lot. I think it would be very tough to pay someone for that without some good way to measure results.

      Writing on the other hand is easy to measure the quality. It is definitely something that you may not find quality for if you lowball. Good ones are out there…even on the cheap, but it may take a bit to find the. When you are willing to pay a little more you get higher quality (it doesn’t have to be a fortune)

  11. Hi Steve, I’ve had mixed results with outsourcing. I learned the hard way that hiring someone with a lot of feedback/experience is the way to go. Saving money does you no good if you spend too much time supervising someone, or they don’t give you the results you want. The more complex the project, the harder it is to get it done correctly.

    I also agree with keeping good people, even if you have to pay more to do so. After all, training people takes time. It may take a few weeks before they can do X task faster than you can. This was true when I hired a graphic artist. Now she is faster, and definitely better than I am. It’s worth it to outsource things you dislike doing and aren’t very good at.

    I usually use oDesk because I find their interface the easiest to use. Occasionally, I hire someone on Fiverr if it’s a really small project, like registering my website with search engines.

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