The 12 Most Important Things You Need to Know About Outsourcing

Posted on February 26th, 2010 in Advice, Customers, PLR, Simple Cash Blog, Twitter | 2 Comments »

I’m giving you 12 amazing tips on outsourcing. These are the most important things that you need to know right now. This is advice you can take to the bank.

For the last 18 months, I’ve gone absolutely crazy with outsourcing. I make a huge investment in outsourcing every single month. If you’re serious about your online business, you must do the same.

Let’s jump into my 12 outsourcing tips:

First, you need to first filter people based on quality. There are many people available at many price points but quality can be harder to find. So, seek out people with strong skills and then start filtering on price. You can always negotiate prices lower by putting people in competition with each other. And, you can drive prices down by letting them know that you expect a quantity discount. Buy in bulk.

Second, you need to use outsourcing to augment your strengths. Just because you are good at something, don’t think you’re absolutely on top of your game. It never hurts to get outside advice. A good example is this: Get someone else to do tedious research on a topic, then use that report to clarify your ideas and your thinking. This is pure magic.

Third, seek to eliminate or reduce redundant tasks. Have someone else handle the routine tasks, even if you like those tasks. A good example is posting blog entries. There’s no reason you need to be in the blog updating business. Sure, you might write the content, but have someone else find a good image, develop the tags, choose the title, select the category and so on. For a few bucks you can get some real talent to handle this routine task.

Fourth, you really need a good project tracking system or the management of your workers will become your new job. Do you really want to spend hours and hours being a manager? Do yourself a favor and find smart ways to handle outsourced work and outsourced workers. Have smart systems in place. Get daily updates and ask for exception reports. Make it simple. Make it clean. But, don’t think for a minute these folks will manage themselves. Find a way to stay on top… with minimal effort.

Fifth, you should seek to build longer term relationships with workers. The cost of training is very high, both in terms of money and time. Especially time! So, try to find quality workers right out of the gate. This will absolutely drive higher quality. Also, as time goes on, you’ll become a top customer. That means better pricing, faster response time and higher quality from the same workers.

Sixth, always seek out people who pay attention to the details. I learned this one the hard way. I thought I should get more people who balanced operations and strategy. However, I operate quite differently now. You need to find people who are great at operations and execution. You want people who are detail oriented or downright anal about their work. I’d rather have someone obsess over quality and deadlines than coming up with the next big idea or fancy pants strategy. I can do that well enough, thank you very much.

Seventh, you must manage the basics first: requirements, ownership, timeframe, expectations. Don’t try to manage entire systems and don’t try to manage a vision, at least not a first. Instead, stick to the essentials and getting the job done. Manage outputs and delivery. Manage deliverables first and then time. This will keep your project on track at a reasonable cost. The greater you can focus on the details for your workers when they start, the great your return on investment and profits. Trust me on this.

Eighth, be prepared to do more work in the short term. This is because you will want to invest in training. If you think you can simply hand over work without some hand holding, you will be frustrated. You might even fail. Either way, without an upfront investment in time and energy, you want maximize your outsourcing opportunities. If you do this right, you’ll be extremely happy in the long run. I’ve learned this the hard way… but now I’m happy as a clam!

Ninth, you should always provide concrete, actionable advice. Don’t be vague. Don’t expect other people to read your mind. This is especially true if you’re only using email to communicate with your outsourcing team. If they can’t see you and hear you, they simply will not understand the nuances and ultra small details that really matter to you. So, buckle down and get as specific as possible, unless you’re willing to iterate several times. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for rework. If you’re not at least 90% happy, then ask for more work to be done. Ask for higher quality. But, be sure to be concrete.

Tenth, don’t throw “it” over the wall and expect miracles. In terms of an operational mode, it is smart to plan for several iterations and cycles. Instead of giving one date for a final product, ask for 2-3 checkpoints or updates along the way. Do this even with small projects that just take a few days. Ask for daily updates. Important: Ask to literally see the work. Get screenshots, samples and other tangibles. This will drive your team to deliver on time but it also gives you peace of mind and more material to manage them. Do this to work with your team vs. trying to just manage their outputs.

Eleventh, develop systems and templates and examples. If you don’t have these materials, it’s time to get to work. You want to have tools and processes in place for others to use and exploit. Rather than trying to explain what you want done, set up a mini “factory” that allows your team to crank out high quality without a ton of thinking. You want to focus on work and execution, not puzzle solving and mind reading. Be smart about developing those systems and you’ll make a killing. This is golden advice.

Lastly, I strongly encourage you to ask your workers for advice on increasing efficiency. Since they are doing tasks over and over again, they will develop shortcuts. It’s human nature. Listen to your team and they will help you drive up profits. They will become more “invested” in you and your business. Plus, if they create a breakthrough, you can move them to a zone of higher profit. That is, for the same amount of effort, they can help you make more money!

Here’s a nice summary of my points above. This is your cheat sheet. It’s your checklist…

1. Go for quality first and price second. I’m talking about filtering people.
2. Seek to augment your strengths (e.g., research to feed your thinking)
3. Seek to get rid of your redundant tasks (e.g., posting content to your blog)
4. You need a good tracking system or management of workers is your new job
5. Seek to build longer term relationships; higher quality and preference
6. Always seek out people who pay attention to the details; operations vs. strategy
7. Manage the basics first: requirements, ownership, timeframe, expectations
8. Be prepared to do more work in the short term; invest in training
9. Always provide concrete, actionable advice; don’t be afraid to ask for rework
10. Don’t throw it over the wall; iterations and cycles; work with your team
11. If you don’t have systems and templates and examples, get to work
12. Always, always, always ask your workers for advice on increasing efficiency

IMPORTANT! If you want to apply these ideas with “razor sharp” precision, and you have a ton of private label rights (PLR) content on your hard drive… you need the PLR Bonecrusher.

Download the PLR Bonecrusher (free to Simple Cash Blog members!)

Or, you can grab a copy on the Warrior Forum right now. (The price keeps going up, up, up.)

And finally… I think you would agree that these are some of the best tips on outsourcing you’ve ever seen. I would really appreciate comments. But more importantly, please Twitter about this blog entry and post to your Facebook page. Or, link to this posting from your own blog. It would really mean a lot to me.

Take care!

~ John

How to Use Twitter

Posted on May 7th, 2009 in Advice, Twitter, Web Traffic | 6 Comments »

John S. Rhodes on TwitterI’m going to tell you how to use Twitter. This is primarily meant for people who want to use Twitter to drive web site traffic. So, it’s mostly about marketing but it is useful for anyone.

I encourage you to start with this: 10 Simple Twitter Secrets. It’s a blog posting I wrote back in August 2007, well before all the “Twitter Gurus” started popping up. It’s a amusing to find these “secrets” in $27 reports.

Next, take a look a this blog posting: How to Search Twitter. If you think you know everything about finding people and good stuff on Twitter, you need to reconsider. There are many tools outside Twitter that give you incredible power. (Twitter search will become more powerful than Google?) There is incredible value inside Twitter that you can extract, if you know what you’re doing.

At this point you should have a solid foundation. You know the basics of Twitter and you know how to tap the hidden value through search. Now it’s time to look at how to use Twitter to drive traffic. Furthermore, I’ll explain how to boost the power of your social network using simple tactics and tools.

You need to take an inventory of your business assets. For example:

  • Do you have a blog?
  • Do you have any products for sale?
  • Do you have an affiliate program?
  • Do you have any special skills?

Once you’ve compiled the answers to these questions you have created a pile of business assets. This step is crucial. So, please pause a moment to reflect on those questions even if you don’t write down answers (highly recommended).

What you’re going to do now is search for people who talk about you, your blog, your products, and so on. Use Twitter search tools to find “links” with other people. If you’re not Following them, start now. Also, start to use the @username functionality to connect with these people. If you’re lucky, these people will start Following you. Once that happens, direct message (DM) them and start real conversations. Interact with these folks. They are the backbone of your Twitter social network. I can’t stress this enough: be sincere, honest and 100% legitimate. Avoid spam and automated tools. They’ll work against you.

Now that you have built a Twitter network, start finding ways to help these folks. For example, run a survey or poll. Be sure to @username and direct message them. Find out what they want and what they need. For example, you might DM me (http://twitter.com/webword) about a new usability quiz or online marketing survey you’re running. Interact!

This activity will give you business intelligence. You’ll also find that people will re-tweet your messages without asking. They will help you because you’re helping them. Because you care, they care. Before long, a small (but loyal) group of these Followers will become friends. They can also become affiliates and joint venture partners. Knowing what you have — business assets — and what they want will be critical. You’ll be using Twitter to build your business and conduct business. This activity will naturally drive traffic without any special magic.

The process I described above sounds so simple. It’s almost childish. It might feel too manual or it might seem like a brute force tactic. But the truth is that this is so legitimate and since, that it’s got more traffic power than a tidal wave. You will see a constant stream of traffic with an occasional flood when some of your Tweets go viral — trust me, this happens. The interactions with my trusted network suck people in. There is excitement and buzz; traffic MUST flow.

As I write this blog posting I have well over 2,000 loyal Followers. Make no mistake: This 2K+ group of Followers is 10x better than an ill-be-gotten or manufactured group of 20K Followers. My Followers are legitimate and they are powerful. We work together to drive traffic, share ideas and make great things happen for each other. That is the “secret” of Twitter.

I’m going to leave you with one final bit of advice on how to use Twitter. This is what many readers — probably you! — care about. You can dramatically increase traffic with Twitter just by asking for it. Here’s what I do:

  • Post a tweet which includes a link
  • At the end, I say “Please Stumble” or “Please Digg” or “Please RT” or “Please share”
  • I direct message 3-4 people who care about the topic and ask for help

That’s it. Because my Twitter Followers actually care about what I write and have to say, they help me. Likewise, when they ask for Stumbles, Re-Tweets, Digg’s and so on, I help them. We don’t promote junk and they don’t promote junk. (When they do, I tell them bluntly and we move on.)

This is all possible because I’ve developed such a strong, loyal and LEGITIMATE (read: no trash!) group of Followers. We actually care about each other. As a result, we all benefit.

I’ll end by saying that using Twitter is a social exercise. It’s not about code. It’s not about using tools. It’s not about anything but … people. If you want to use Twitter for traffic you have to rethink how you interact and socialize with other people. Most of the lessons above are basic and eternal. It’s too bad that so many people forget that it comes down to humans talking to humans.

If you liked this blog posting, I’m glad! I’ve got plenty more to say: Follow Me on Twitter!

~ John

p.s. Show me some love please? Please Stumble, Digg, Tweet and share this blog posting if you want other people to know how to properly use Twitter. Thank you for your time and for helping.