Baby Steps into Outsourcing

Back when I originally read the 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss I thought outsourcing was the coolest thing. Pay someone to do those things that you don’t really want to do – especially when you can get them done cheap! Well, that was months ago, and I never really did much with it, or really got a handle on how it could help me in my business.

I should mention that I keep a spreadsheet that tracks my affiliate activities, and I’ve updated it every day for the last few years. I’ve always wanted a program that would basically do that for me. So I thought, why not outsource the creation of such a thing, at least to see how much it would cost?

If you’ve followed this blog at all you’ll know I’ve dabbled in Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. That was my first experience with outsourcing, and it went fairly well. It was also extremely cheap. So I thought I would take a step up, and try out another site, Scriptlance.com. Last week I posted this project on Scriptlance, to see what the cost would be. I’m currently a member of an online service which does something similar to what I wanted, and I’m paying $100 a month there. So I figured if I could get it done for a few hundred bucks, I’d be ahead, right? Well I ended up selecting a bid for $325. The guy has lots of great reviews, and many people have even paid him bonuses, so I figured he would be a good choice to build my software.

Anyways, we’re just now getting into the process of starting this, so I’ll keep you updated as we go along. However, the whole concept of outsourcing has seriously made a come back into my brain. Now I’m thinking of all kinds of things that I can outsource.

Link building, for instance. My web store needs some serious, dedicated link building and SEO work to attain a top position, and I’m no longer certain I want to be the one doing it. As I’ve written in previous posts, I want to learn how to do SEO, but that doesn’t mean I want to do it! I mean, link building is seriously boring work! Try it for a few hours and tell me otherwise!

So I came across this other site, called AgentsOfValue.com, and I’m considering now whether or not to hire a person through them. The idea goes beyond project based outsourcing; you’re actually hiring a full time employee! In the flimsy business development timeline I had in my head, I had never really considered hiring a full time employee, especially not so early in the game. I had an idea that hiring an employee would likely mean having someone working for me, possibly out of the basement in my house. It seemed like it represented a huge step in the evolution of my business… one that would likely take a few years to achieve.

And yet here I am, seriously considering taking on a full time employee, from the Philippines. I can get a full time (yes, we’re talking 40 hours a week) link builder for about $675 a month. Do the math. That is $5.63 an hour, for skilled labour. And for them, that’s higher than average pay, locally.

I sat back for a few minutes, thinking to myself: “Can I realistically keep such a person occupied on a full time basis?” ie – is it worth it?

So we get to the core of the question – what is YOUR time worth? In other words, presumably this work you’re thinking of outsourcing is worth doing, right? Well, how long would it take you to do it?

In my case, I probably can’t do the work a whole lot faster than someone else can, who is skilled and trained in link building and other SEO work. So you’re basically looking a the bulk of my time being used on this. And that is only for one web store, and I’ve got several other projects that I really want to start spending time on! So how much is my time worth? Well I won’t tell you what I’m making right now 😉 but let’s just use $20/hr as a nice round number. I think you can see where this is going…

If my time is worth $20 an hour, and their time is worth $5.63 an hour, then the choice is easy; pay them to do the work. This frees me up to start other projects and hopefully generate some new income streams.

You see, the whole question is about opportunity cost. Yes, I CAN do the work. But if I do, then I can’t do anything else while I’m doing it. What is the cost of that lost opportunity? Now, I’ll quit freely admit that I’m somewhat lazy and don’t exactly work like a mule at my business, but there again is a lifestyle choice that I value. I don’t want to be overworked, in fact I don’t even want to be working 40 hours a week, necessarily! So if I can outsource that work, why not?

As I’ve been writing this, more ideas have popped into my head. I might go so far as to outsource the entire creation of a new webstore, then the SEO after that. The part that I really don’t like – researching dropshippers… why not outsource the research? Pay someone by the hour to sit there and find every possible option, compile a list and essentially do the dirty work for me?

Product creation, customer support, graphic design, web design, writing, link building, programming; the list goes on and on as to what you can successfully outsource these days. The question is, are you ready for it? Can you make efficient use of someone else’s time?

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea. As my time is freed up, I will start new projects, which I have no doubt will create new tasks to throw at my personal link builder / SEO expert. I’m starting to think that it will be a leap of faith, but I can see it turning out to be an incredible step in my business development.

I’ll keep you posted =).

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