Stuck in a Work Rut? Outsource it!

I’ve written about outsourcing before, but this afternoon the value of it sunk home a little bit further.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a terrbiel procrastinator if the thing I need to do isn’t exactly high up there on the list of things I enjoy doing. So, as a result, I’ve had a few things on my to do list nearly all summer long, and I’d just been pushing them off. Last week I finally sat my butt down and came up with my “If I don’t get anything else done at all this month EXCEPT these things” To Do List.

I deliberately kept it reasonably short, but each item was high value, high priority. With about 7 working days left in the month, this list has really focused my efforts.

One of the items on the list was to create a promo video of sorts for my webstore, and distribute it to a pile of social media sites using Traffic Geyser. In the back of my mind I knew that once I had finished the video, I would have to spend a good three hours setting up user accounts at the 49 sites Traffic Geyser supports.You can buy complete account profiles from Traffic Geyser for $100, but I needed a specific user name, relevant to my site.

Sitting there yesterday afternoon, it all of a sudden occurred to me that this three hour task I was dreading could easily be outsourced. I opened a Word doc and started writing out the requirements for the task. Less than 10 minutes later I had posted the project on Scriptlance, and less than 45 minutes from the initial idea, I had awarded the project to a fellow in India, to have it completed by the next morning, for $15 USD.

All of a sudden part of my to do list had been outsourced for far less than the value of my time, and I was free to focus on the video creation. With a clear mind I quickly and efficiently finished everything by the end of the night. This morning I woke up with a completed video, and an email containing all my account information to 49 social media sites. An hour on Traffic Geyser and now my video is all over the net.

Fast forward to this afternoon. I’ve been thinking of redesigning a website I’ve got that is about 4 years old. It is kind of ugly to look at right now, and doesn’t really do much for me. For quite a while I’ve wanted to take the time to re-design it, update it, probably put it on a wordpress platform for ease of editing and SEO purposes, and in general just give it a much needed lift.

Well I was sitting in my chair thinkng about this again when outsourcing light bulb triggered again. So I popped out my Word doc again, to start sketching out what the project would look like, requirements etc.

As soon as I had the requirements drafted out, I knew there was absolutely no reason I couldn’t post this on Scriptlance. So 10 minutes later, it was up there, and now I’m sitting here waiting for the bids to roll in. I actually broke it into two projects, one for site design, and the other for article writing.

The Moral of the Story

If you’re wondering how you’re going to complete a given project, why not stop right now, take out a pad of paper, or open a Word doc, whatever works best for you, and start defining the project in words, on paper. I find the very act of picking up a pencil helps concentrate my thoughts.

You might be surprised how much that step alone helps.

Now for the next step. What exactly is your project? Is it small, or large? If large, can it be broken down into logical sections? Go ahead and do that.

Now you’ve basically got everything you need to either attack this thing yourself, or simply outsource it. I prefer the latter.

Take your document, go to your outsource site of choice (depends on what you’re doing) and post it.

Especially for small tasks, you’d be surprised what you can get done for $15 or $20.

Let me know how it goes!

4 Responses to Stuck in a Work Rut? Outsource it!
  1. jeffrey
    August 29, 2008 | 5:05 pm

    Outsourcing can solve many problems when doing work in the internet marketing field. Sometimes it can make the difference between making it and not making it.

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  2. Ian McGraw
    September 3, 2008 | 11:06 am

    Hey Jonathan. Just thought I would share some experiences from the other side of the fence. Recently a colleague and myself decided to try and start a software outsourcing business (we both originally specialised in wireless telecoms). Since then we have never had quite so may people wanting us to do techincal proposals in order to bid on their projects. The proposals contain small amounts of our IPR as we have to demonstrate how we’d do a project woith giving away too much of our worthy knowledge. In the end most of the people we have done proposals for, literally read the proposal , say thank you very much, and then go away and give it to one of their own developers. It’s a tough process to strike a careful balance of technical knowledge during the bidding stage without giving away too much of your IPR.

    Oh and we also appear to have attracted quite a few scam artists too.


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  3. Jonathan
    September 3, 2008 | 11:18 am

    Hi Ian,

    Very interesting to hear, as you say, from the other side of the fence! Most of the projects I’ve had the opportunity to outsource so far have had fairly low requirements in relation to your experience.

    Most of my projects have been under a $100, and the bidders have usually completed something similar in the past which they’re willing to share. (ie, articles or graphic design etc).

    How is the business going? Have you found any way to get around this issue? I imagine consulting firms must run into that all the time; I wonder how they deal with it?

  4. Ian
    September 4, 2008 | 7:53 am

    I don’t know that there is any real way to get round this other than being careful with who you decide to engage with in a B2B relationship.

    There are services such as Dun & Bradstreet who, for a fee, with assess the risk of a new client for you and prepare you a report. Some firms also carry out their own checks on their potential customers e.g. credit worthyness, companies house records, letter heads etc etc.

    However I think most of it just comes down to common sense about where you choose to pick up business – if it’s at your local Chamber of Commerce then chances are you’re not going to be dealing with anyone looking to scam you. However we did pick up an initial couple of contacts via the likes of LinkedIn and People4Business in the early marketing effort.

    The initial requirements and subsequent bids for our ealry contacts were for quite high value contracts, in the end both turned out to be a couple of freeloaders looking to get us on site for ‘meetings’ or ‘ teleconf’ where we were ‘pumped’ for information (so to speak) – it’s a thin line you walk between trying to be a worthy & knowledgable service provider vs not giving away too much of you IPR for free.

    We’ll keep going but the marketing effort will be more focussed from now on concentrating on a narrower segment of the overall market.

    I think it really shows how easy it is get leads via the internet but in the end they are not qualified. Depending on your business model you’re probably better off trying to do as much business as you can face to face..

    However in such a global market place with dodgy enconomies here and there can you really afford to ingore the guy who contacts you from Manilla via LinkedIn looking for some R&D effort on an innovative new product ?

    I could write a whole other article on scam artists too, maybe I’ll save that story for another day.

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