Outsourcing Lessons Learned
It’s almost the New Year and a great time to share a few of my own experiences as I’ve come through a year of first hand study in the outsourcing world….a world I completely engulfed myself in.
It’s all well and good to learn about outsourcing from others (I did take Tyrone Shum’s Outsource Mastermind)…and the info they can provide surely gives you a road map to follow, but as with all things that involve other humans, you must take the plunge and try it out for yourself because no two situations will ever be alike.
There were three places I started my search for Filipino outsourcers:
OnlineJobs.ph: (John Jonas’ site)
EasyOutsource: (I love this site…and, the best part about it is it’s free!)
Best Jobs.ph (this site is no longer available to anyone outside of the Philippines)
Wasn’t long before I found what I thought to be the perfect writer/SEO person…which was my first objective (hey this wasn’t going to be so hard after all) Tyrone, John Jonas and Jeff Mills all say the most important element to look for in an outsourced worker is their command of the English language.
Was I just lucky? Here she was…26…the perfect age, she had her own blog (personal)…in fact, she had two! I spent lots of time reading on her blogs and my business partner and I interviewed her on Skype.
She seemed perfect. She could write as good as any English person I knew and spoke well too, and she knew all about blogging!
She seemed to have a great command of SEO and what needs to be done so we started her on backlinking. She also had some strong techie skills and we were going to use her to set up our outsourcing blog, but eventually we were really after her writing skills.
We hired her. That’s right…we hired her…part time. That was her availability and was perfect for our needs at the time.
Notice I didn’t mention anything about testing her writing first. With everything we had read on her blog, we didn’t feel the need to test her writing skills.
It wasn’t long before we asked her to write an article for Ezine articles on an IM topic and submit it to Ezine articles. Although she did send me the article first…I was very busy and did not take the time to properly review it…feeling so certain about her writing skills.
The article was not approved by Ezine. I was both shocked and surprised.
When I read it I could not believe this was written by the same person that was writing on these blogs. Although there was a command of the language, there was no structure to the article.
It was a complete mess and the title did not match the content of the article.
It seemed she could handle writing about family, friends and local activities, but when it came to writing and constructing an article in the IM world she simply did not have a clue.
The problem resolved itself as she had to take on more work outside of home…so we let her go. Lucky for us. We were going to try and use her SEO skills…but her writing skills were obviously not what we thought.
How she seemed to know structure on her blog but could not apply this skill to articles still has me baffled.
Lesson here is this:
You must test every worker you are thinking of hiring. There can be no exceptions to this rule. No matter how advanced they are, you must test them for your business to see if they are the fit you are looking for.
The first thing we tell any writer we are considering is that they will have to write a test article on a subject of our choice.
You will be amazed at what you will find out through this exercise.
I actually use the same article title for all of them as I like to compare what they write and the amount of time it takes for them to submit it.
Ok…so, we were on the search for another techie person who could set up the blog (and auto blogs) and had SEO skills. This time it was a guy. Wow, he had a blog too…and a very nice one. All about the Philippines. He even had a classified ad site similar to Craigslist.
We were impressed!
Ok…we liked his skills…and his supposed know how…sure he was a bit younger than what we had hoped for (20 years old), but with those skills we thought we had run into a bit of a genius.
We did not test his writing skills as that is not what we were looking for from him.
After our interview on Skype we hired him for a one month trial so that we could test his abilities. His test was going to be to set up our blog.
But suddenly after reviewing many blog themes etc. he was no where to be found…for a week. Just disappeared. Strange I thought. So, I checked him out at Odesk where he had revealed that he worked sometimes.
Sure enough…although he did have some good reviews, someone stated that “he simply disappeared.” You would have thought that would have been enough to scare us off but he showed up the next day…with the excuse that they had power outages (you will run into this on occasion)
Since it was our first situation with him we gave him the benefit of the doubt….even after reading what I did on Odesk.
Although you can’t judge someone totally by what you read, you must also pay attention to anything that sets off an alarm. But that mistake seems mild compared to the next one we made with him.
He approached us one day and told us that he was desperate for money and could we please give him a pay advance for a week?
By that time we had worked with him for a few weeks…liked what he was doing for us…so, we bent our own rules and paid him an advance…thinking that a happy, fed outsourced worker is a better producer.
We even explained to him that this was highly unusual and not something we would do again. But we were anxious to get moving forward and the thought of losing him and starting over after working with him for a few weeks was simply not appealing.
Never….and I mean never pay an advance to an outsourced worker. As soon as he received the money, he disappeared again…only this time he never came back. We were out over $100.00.
Lesson learned…the hard way.
There have been many other “lesser” experiences this year as my knowledge of outsourcing has grown from first hand experience. We had a wonderful lady we interviewed on Skype who we thought was going to be perfect.
We gave her the writing assignment…and, never heard from her again.
If you want to be a master in your niche…you must pay the price
All in all, my year of outsourcing has been an over whelming success. We now have a Project Manager that is over the top special and such an integral part of everything we accomplish.
Sure, we had to muddle through a few loses before we found the gem…but it was worth it.
We have a lovely lady that creates awesome videos…you’ll see one at our outsourcing/entrepreneurship blog (no, not officially open)…and, we’ve used a lovely lady for SEO purposes…although we are thinking of automating a good deal of these tasks.
Outsourcing is the way to go if you want leverage your time and expand your business quickly and efficiently, but you must be smart. You must treat your outsourcing as a business…not a personal hobby.
I’ll leave you with a favorite quote:
“Treat your business like a business and it will produce like a business. Treat your business like a hobby and it will produce like a hobby.”
Very wise words indeed
Next post I’ll give you my own short list of advice when hiring your freelancer/outsourced worker
“Happy New Year” to everyone. May 2011 be your most prosperous year ever! Thank you for sharing this year with me.
Wishing you health, wealth…and excitement in 2011!
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