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When Does Outsourcing Website Content Make Sense?
There are many advocates of outsourcing website content. It’s not a bad idea, I agree. But you must know when the time is right and exactly what and how much to outsource.
This discussion is particularly relevant if you operate a concept or theme based website. Why? Because content is all you’ve got. That is your main product which you offer to your readers; and your product must be good!
What Should You Outsource?Generally I recommend sticking to what you do best yourself. If writing is your strength, then try to write as much as you can. Outsourcing makes perfect sense for housekeeping tasks so that you can focus on your core business.
However, if your core business (in this case we are assuming writing) grows to the point where your focus starts spreading between a few other things, then outsourcing might make sense so that you can keep updating your website with fresh content (even if occasionally).
It's always good to be aware of what you're good at, and where other people can do a job better than you. Even if you can always do something well enough, there are lots of occasions when it may pay to get someone else to do it.
Outsource content that is related to your site’s concept but topics that you may not be particularly interested in as much as others. Outsource articles / content that you CAN live without.
This doesn’t mean just slap anything on your website. No way. Your website is your identity online and in this case all you got to offer. Your content still needs to be superb.
But what’s most important is knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Then you have to factor in opportunity costs. Is your time better spent doing something else?
There are businesses that are 100% outsourced. They are just good at managing their resources and find a way to “make it all come together”. Outsourcing is a proven model and anyone can be successful using it if executed appropriately.
How Much Should You Outsource?The short answer is as much as you need. But be careful, don’t make the bulk of your content appear like it is not your own.
You will quickly loose credibility within your readership base if you do this. I’d say for every 5 pages of your own, outsource 2 pages at best. There is no magic number. This is just my hunch.
Whenever you receive outsourced work, always review it before posting it. Review it for accuracy, grammar and spelling. Edit outsourced content to add your flavor. Preferably modify the beginning and the end to add your tone and twist to the content.
Also run it through copyright services such as Copyscape to ensure the content is original and not copied from another website. You don’t want to get in trouble for copyright violations!
When Should You Outsource Website Content?Only after you have personally written 20 or so pages. Most would say 10 pages but I really think that the more you engage in writing initially, the better your website will shape up to your personal twist and unique voice. Again, this is how I feel personally.
You need to develop the trust and relationship with your visitor. Only you can do that with your own writing. So make sure the first few pages of your website are written by you. Only then “beef it up” by outsourcing more content.
You should consider outsourcing website content when it no longer makes sense for you to spend time writing it. Writing takes time, good writing at least. You need to dedicate yourself to it to be effective. If your business expands to a point where time becomes very scarce for you, consider outsourcing at this time.
Normally, it’s smart to get your content outsourced if you can find someone that can do it quick while maintaining a good quality product. You will also find many freelance writers that are “cheaper” than you might guess.
This is why it is very important that you take your time selecting a “freelancer” for your content. It’s very important to land the right person for this job. Remember, your content is all you’ve got. You will still have to manage them once you engage them so make sure you get along and communicate well.
If you have a web design business, you may decide to outsource when you are facing a tight deadline and “need to get things done”. This is a very common reason for last minute outsourcing.
If you find that you are good at marketing and promoting your business, then consider outsourcing more of your work. Sales mostly drive a business. So if you’re good at it you must focus on it!
You might also want to wait to outsource until you start making a little bit of money from your business. Unless you have wads of cash set aside from your venture, its best to use money generated from your business to fuel back into your business. It’s just my opinion.
Who Should You Outsource To?You should outsource to someone who you can clearly communicate with. Someone you can trust and who is reliable to delivering quality work on a timely basis. Of course their fees have to fit within your budget too.
The key is to interview many freelancers before deciding on any one. Make sure you ask for previous work samples so you can get a feel for their style and their work quality.
Start with smaller projects so you can test their communication skills and how well they work with you. If you try out a small project, you won’t be committed to pay a large sum in case you are not satisfied with their services.
Elance and RentACoder are my favorite places to get freelance work. It is free to use and you can post up projects for bid. You accept whoever you want whenever you want. The best part is that freelancers usually have samples of their work in their portfolio so you can review them in detail.
They also have feedback from the previous work they have done. This gives you a fair assessment of their quality and capability so that you are more comfortable handing the bid over to them. You can always set terms so that you don’t have to pay until you are fully satisfied.
Craigslist too is always a good place to post up random “gigs”. It might be challenging at first to find reliable and quality people to work with. But you only have to go through this effort once (hopefully).
Outsourcing can be a risky endeavor but risks can be totally mitigated. Just follow the guidelines above and do your due diligence and be careful initially. Once you find someone good, hang on to them. Good guys are few and far.
Finally, don’t discount outsourcing your work overseas. I know you might be skeptical (and you have every right to be), but there are some very good freelancers that live abroad. I have personally found some gems in Australia, India and the Philippines.
Build & Maintain RelationshipsAfter you find your gem, it is important to maintain your relationship with them so you can go back for more projects. Remember, everyone has a choice. They DON’T HAVE to do your project.
Communication is key in any good relationship. Make sure you are both on the same page in terms of expectations. Set goals beforehand and communicate everything necessary prior to starting the project. Make goals measurable and timely.
Stay in touch wit your freelancer on a regular basis. Ask them for updates. If you don’t hear from them, contact them yourself. Keep communicating.
Periodically spot check or review their work and provide them with feedback. It is important to identify and fix a problem as early in its process as possible. Remember, YOU are ultimately responsible for the final product to your customer or client.
Last but not least, communicate your satisfaction at the end of the project. If you are happy with the work done for you, make sure you tell them that. You can tell them personally, over email, or by leaving feedback if you are using services like Elance and RentACoder.
And by the same token, communicate your dissatisfaction if you are not happy with the services. Be clear and explain why you are not happy.
Many times the freelancer will be happy to resolve any issues you might have. That’s why it’s important to spot check regularly and communicate as early as you can in the process.
I recommend both Elance and RentACoder. I had outsourced some work on Elance in the past and was not satisfied with the freelancer. In fact they took 50% of my payment and didn’t do the work. The good part is that Elance is “fraud proof”. They will help you get your money back. In fact they have specific programs and protocols in place to assist you with that.
I will conclude by saying that time, quality and cost are the main factors that you should take into consideration when hiring a freelancer. Are they fast? Reasonable in cost? Do they product quality work?
One other thing; don’t hire anyone! Here in the US at least, hiring someone comes with its own set of problems; often heavy reporting and tax paying obligations.
When you need work, outsource it instead of hiring someone and paying them wages. Trust me on this. Just ask your lawyer or CPA. It’s much better and hassle free to pay per project.
So try outsourcing your website content and see how it goes. You don’t have to commit to a big project initially. Try a few small ones and you will be able to tell if outsourcing can work for your business model or not.
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