Outsourcing: The Art Of Knowing What You’re Shit At

I’ve noticed a large number of blog posts related to work ethic and time management recently. Barman seems to be responsible for the large majority of them with a crazy posting spree on PPC.bz. Ruck chimed in with his own advice on the Convert2Media blog (less forum lurking, more pushing his berries). I’m not going to preach about the importance of setting to-do lists and sticking to them.

The truth is, no matter how many good ideas you have floating around your head, if you don’t have the expertise to bring them to reality – ideas is all they will ever be. One of the biggest stumbling points I’ve encountered is the mindset that I know everything about everything. I used to be, and still can be, a stubborn piece of shit when it comes to outsourcing jobs to be done professionally.

There are still times where I have to convince myself. I’m sitting there thinking hey, you know what, I can strum up a banner in Photoshop. Ain’t no sweat. So I’ll bust out my hand palette of gradients and go wild until I’ve wasted half a day pissing up the wall any hope of a decent clickthrough rate.

If you want to get shit done, and get shit done well, you need to know when to outsource various tasks to people who are better equipped to get them done properly. It comes down to knowing your own strengths and weaknesses. Even then, you still need to gauge the important parts of your business that require your time instead of anybody else’s.

I recently outsourced the redesign of this blog (thanks to Ramona of Dojo-Design for the great work). A couple of friends asked me why I’d decided to outsource my own web design when I come from a working background of several web agencies. True, I could have done the work myself. But it’s not always the best decision to do things yourself.

What you’ll notice about the successful guys in affiliate marketing is that they tend to spend their time at the decision-making business end of their day jobs. Testing new traffic sources and researching media buys…this requires expert knowledge that you can’t outsource without giving up your own school of thought. It’s like a pyramid of growth. If you spend all your time battling over design tweaks or copywriting mistakes – you’re going to find that this is all you succeed in becoming successful at.

We all have to put in our hard graft. I’m still in the process of growing my own business. I work incredibly long hours because it’s necessary to cover all of the ground that needs covering for me to remain successful. But while I haven’t employed anybody yet, I’m always looking to outsource tasks that create what I call “low value reward”.

Affiliates need to think innovation to stay one step ahead of the curve. If you don’t have a pair of eyeballs watching for the next acai berry trend, you’re going to miss it. Shit happens quickly in this industry. Good luck spotting the next gravy train when you’re treating every small task as another notch on your to-do list. Too much reading is a bad thing. Too many hours pissed away typing in to an AIM window WILL lose you money. I think we can all agree on that – but you can’t work like some badger in a fucking hole. Get somebody else to do the tasks that don’t require what got you here.

Outsourcing the day to day basics of your business will go a long way to giving you a more creative freehold over what you’re doing. What have you spent today doing?

Did you spend too many hours trying to find the right words for your latest flog? Maybe you’re an SEO guy with a mountain of creative thought who just spent his afternoon submitting links to PR0 directories. If you look at what you actually do in a day, you could probably find 2 or 3 tasks that somebody else is willing to manage if you taught them how.

The reluctance to outsource, for many new affiliates, stems from spending money. We seem to have a paranoia for investing money in to a campaign that might bomb or never flash a profit.

How many campaigns have you tested that failed because you threw together a sketchy 5 minute landing page and didn’t see the results that you wanted after a day’s traffic? It’s this kind of lazy marketing that costs affiliates so dearly. Not in expenses, but in lost revenue. The moneymaking campaigns that got away. Not because they were doomed to always fail, but because the affiliate was so keen to get those zero click stats ticking over.

If you’d just commit to a job and get it done properly, you’d probably find that the idea was a good one after all. So the next time you think of a great campaign, run over the requirements in your head.

You’re going to advertise on MySpace? You should probably get a banner professionally designed. That’s if you want to know for sure whether there’s money beyond that initial dollop of impressions, right? You’re going to send a shitload of traffic to a flog? There are guys out there who write the damn things for a living. It’s become a micro-profession. They could probably do it better than you, sat there in your tightie whities, larking about on MSN, scratching your balls and pretending to be hard at work for 20 words per hour.

Filtering The Retards From Your Outsourcing Shortlist

Okay, so outsourcing isn’t just the art of knowing what you’re shit at. It’s the art of knowing what half of digital India is shit at too.

The second you offer a whiff of a payment, you’re going to be fighting off messages and Skype calls from every last impoverished kid with a computer in the far east. This is just the way it works. You can get burnt with one bad job and never outsource again, or you can use it to learn and recruit somebody better the next time round.

I’ve done my fair share of outsourcing in the past. Where do you think all this typing anger stems from? The next post will feature some tips I’ve picked up along the way. What to outsource, when to outsource it, and who you definitely don’t want to outsource it to.

About the author

Finch
Finch

A 29 year old high school dropout (slash academic failure) who sold his soul to make money from the Internet. This blog follows the successes, fuck-ups and ball gags of my career in affiliate marketing.

3 Comments

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  • Man, I need to be more ruthless about getting rid of bad outsourcers from my past. Even if it’s just a few emails responded to or even read & ignored, emails suck the frickin life out of my workday.

  • Couldn’t agree more. As a one man band myself, outsourcing is a kick ass tool. Not to get all ‘Tim Ferriss’ about it, but honestly speaking, I hate distractions, and do everything possible, when working with outsourcing partners to let them know the ground rules from the get go (in terms of acceptable times to contact me, decision making parameters etc…) and so far it’s worked like a charm. I power through each day, staying on track and getting all my sh*t done. It just ain’t gonna happen any other way. Also, a few tricks I’ve learnt that can save money are:

    1. Demand a ‘Trial’ or ‘Evaulation’ period with outsourcers (most will go for this as they’re eager to get the gig). This way you can assess whether their skill-set and your expecations are aligned.
    2. Budget & job permitting, hire multiple people/companies concurrently, and then play them off one another to discover the best, Darwin’s theory applied to outsourcing if you will. This has worked great for article writing jobs I’ve needed, as an example.
    3. Praise. It’s a cultural thing I suppose. Most of the companies and individuals I’ve worked with have been based in India, and even though it has a goliath of a service industry, I’ve found that when warranted, if I take a few minutes to give a proverbial pat on the back it has worked wonders, especially when it comes time to call upon their services again, they never have trouble rememering me, and I get to jump the queue or receive preferential treatment. Think of it as slipping a $10 to the valet or doorman….

  • Outsourcing is an interesting topic because everyone does it a little differently. Just like running any business, no 2 entreprenuers <–(I know mispelled fuck it) ever skin the cat the same.

    btw this blog layout and setup is bad ass!

    good day

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