“Ultimate Page | 1 Leverage..!” © imutopia.com “Secrets that I use that could make and save you money-- lethally exposed..!” (Edition Two) Disclaimer The author is not responsible for misuse of information and even though much thought and effort was put into delivering you this product the author is not responsible for inaccuracies. There is not guarantee of a result of income by applying the materials herein. Results are dependent on a number of variables such as time out in, effort, and how constantly the individual worked at it to make the techniques work. Results tend to and will vary from individual to individual. Table of contents Page | 2 Introduction... Imutopia’s philosophy saves you time and money Part One: Before you start outsourcing a) Have the end vision in mind b) Communication essentials c) Project easily mapped out d) How many workers e) The survival kit for the buyer f) How to raise capital for outsourcing g) The science of Negotiating h) What to watch out for eniuses PART Two: Shopping for geniuses a) Freelance services and how to dissect them b) Excellent resources to find writers c) Craigslist: Free advertising for recruiting workers d) Understand each freelance service PART three: The hiring process a) Who is more bark then bite b) Designers c) Writers d) Programming/Software development e) Anything else (double check) f) How to be a great buyer Conclusion: “Anything you ever wanted.” Introduction. Imutopia’s philosophy saves you time and money Page | 3 I n the beginning I was anti outsourcing like the majority of marketers who began their journey online. In high school I preferred individual sports such as running and wrestling as opposed to team sports such as basketball and football. However, as I first started my online journey I was literally carrying the back of my business on my own two shoulders and boy what a burden that was! My very first real online business venture I did every single thing myself to the core. I built my low quality website, did the amateur graphic designing, made the product, marketed the product…heck I even did the dishes :). But in all seriousness by doing everything for your business there is one thing that is guaranteed and that is it only will slow you down and keep you moving to your goals slowly. If your competition can move forward by leveraging of other’s assets then they will soon be running circles around you. So, I decided to change my mentality and take on outsourcing. About the first 20 experiences was pure hell. I had no guidance, purchased no prior information, I just dived right in head first and that was a big mistake. I have even been burnt more then one time but that was okay because I learned from it and sometimes the hardest way is the only way to learn. So I improved my outsourcing techniques and kept on at it and know i have turned around to enjoy it. My system is still not 100% and I'm always updating my techniques but it helps me convert more excellent freelancers to long term workers then ever before. Read these techniques and follow this outline that has been laid out before you and start looking for your genius freelancers. Finding the right people can make you money and also save you money in the long run. I will also show you ways that I made money from my outsourcing experiences in 2007, it was the first time I have ever done so by doing this. PART One: Before you start outsourcing a) Have the end vision in mind Outsourcing is not that bad as some may say, but the first misconception for me Page | 4 when I started is, I thought that it would make my life super easy! It makes your life easier but it’s not something you can tell the freelancer to do and then go out on vacation. It does require your attention, management, and maintenance. So, the first thing you should do even before you start posting a job is to have the end result already in mind. You need to be very clear on what exactly you want and it’s very important that you do not to leave out any details in your project description. I like using my whiteboard at home to brainstorm future ideas for projects, it always helps me to see ideas I have written on a bigger surface. Take as long as you need for this step and make sure you do all your prior market assessment before that. Once you have the full project that you want to make online you can then start analyzing what resources you have. For example, analyze what you yourself can get done, and analyze what are your limitations, such as software or certain knowledge. It makes sense to do what your good at, and to give up work that’s either outside your scope or too time consuming on your part to freelancers who are much more skilled then yourself. We all can submit articles to directories, it’s nothing mentally challenging, but it is something that is time challenging…. or at least in my opinion. When something takes you too much time, even if its something that is not technically challenging then I will highly recommend outsourcing it. While the individual is submitting your articles you can be working on writing new articles or new ideas, your time and how you spend it should be one of an internet marketer’s top priority. So, back on topic, you need to have every aspect of your project planned out before you post it. The project planning step is not as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of thought and analysis, and it should if you’re making a big investment in something that you hope to get good returns out of in the near future. b) Communication essentials If I would have the rank the most important skills to have while working with a freelancer, communication will defiantly be in the top of the list. As you already know, when outsourcing you will be dealing with individuals who are not always from your native country, and your native language will not always match theirs. I have worked with a freelancer in just about every continent, except for Antarctica and never experienced an extreme problem with language barriers. If an individual does good work and can speak or write my language averagely then I will hire them. However, once you hired the freelancer, it may be all too late to find out how well they can communicate with you, so that’s why it’s always a good idea to have prior contact with the individual before choosing them. Some freelancer services (like getafreelancer) don’t allow buyers and freelancers to share contact details such as phone numbers or email address prior to winning the job. Page | 5 However, it is always possible to communicate with the freelancer prior to be chosen within the freelance system. Most of them have some type of discussion board or private message system so that you can use to communicate with the prospective freelancer. This is critical to use for more then on reason. A reason why I always use this is to not only determine how good their writing skills are, but I also use this determine their: knowledge in the particular subject manner. How quickly they respond to my queries. Something I always like to do with prospective freelancers is I will occasionally put them through a little “test.” What I will do is when I'm communicating with them I will ask them a range of questions. I will ask them how they will attack developing this software, or how will they attack solving a particular subject manner. I will ask a range of easy to difficult questions and here is when having some prior knowledge about the subject manner that your outsourcing will come in handy. If you don’t have any prior knowledge then you can’t determine if the freelancer is pulling stuff from their imagination or knows what they are talking about. Sometimes freelancers that I contact never, or take too long to respond. These are the type of workers that I filter out. Being able to communicate is one thing, but being able to communicate constantly is another thing. If you are on a tight time constraint to get a project done then having a freelancer that gets back to you quickly is critical. What a lot of freelancers will do (typically the new ones) is they will bid on lots of projects hoping to increase their chances of winning. Then they will find themselves overwhelmed with work and this can slow down your project completion date. So, always contact the freelancer prior to working with them to see how quickly they respond to your inquiries. Also, it’s a good idea to always set a reasonable project completion time. Freelancers, especially teams of them can get things done much quicker then you ever could. However, they are still human and they do need rest so it’s a good idea to set a realistic project completion date. More seasoned freelancers will be able to set better completion quotes because they have done various jobs and since they have more experience they can set better quote times. New freelancers tend to do what they can to get a job so may set an unrealistic time just to make you happy which will increase their chance of you choosing them. So, a nice technique that I use when shopping for freelancers is to map out each and every day for them and expect the details that I specify to be completed each day. c) Project easily mapped out This takes a little thinking but if you’re on a tight time frame then this is very essential. What I like to do is if I want to get a complete website done in seven days then I will write out what I expect of the freelancer each and every day as mentioned earlier. Page | 6 For example, day one will be used to get the header and footer done… day two will be used to get the eBook cover and template done, and etc. What I like to do is use the last day as a catch up day so that if they get behind on anything then the last day will be used to fix it. I would highly recommend implementing this in the project description when posting a job so that the freelancer can determine if they will work to your schedule. It’s not common for freelancers to get a job and then work on their own schedule, which is not good if you’re in a rush to get something done. So, after you have decided what exactly you want done you must work on breaking the project up into specific tasks that you want done each day. If you leave it in the hands of the freelancer then you may not like the end result. Plan the tasks for the freelancer each and every day and always allow one make up day because things can and will go off stray from time to time which is not a problem you just have to learn how to adjust certain situations, and allowing an extra make up day is a good start. I have it for extra security. d) How many workers Some projects that I had were so small that I barely needed one worker, and some projects that I have done have almost required a truck load of people. Depending on how big your project is you may need to hire more then one worker and post more then one job. For example, if you’re putting together a software project then you may need to hire a graphic designer and programmer separately. If you hire a team then some of them will be able to have more skills and will be able to handle pretty much everything you need. However, I prefer to have an individual or a team of individuals that are skilled in one particular area. For example, I would rather hire an expert in graphic designing and an expert in php programming and then an expert in ecommerce all separately so that I will have one individual doing what they do best. This process can also save you not only time but money as well. For example, I have worked with plenty of web designing teams, and I have found out that although some of them specialize in a variety of skills, they have more strength in one particular subject matter then others. In order to get a team that is well qualified in a variety of fields it can be costly. So, I simply just hire different freelancers with different strengths and then combine all of the elements together at the end to put my website into action. e) The survival kit for the buyer As a buyer, you will not need that many tools as a freelancer, but the ones I list I Page | 7 wouldn’t be able to outsource properly without and they are either low-cost or free to get. The major instant messengers: Yahoo Im: http://messenger.yahoo.com/. Aim: http://www.aim.com/get_aim/win/latest_win.adp. MSN: http://get.live.com/messenger/overview. Skype: http://www.skype.com/download/skype/windows/. I have all of them downloaded to my desktop, but the one I use most of the time when outsourcing is yahoo instant messenger it seems to be the international favorite however, when I'm talking to my friends here in the US I mostly use AIM. Its obvious that by using an instant messenger technology that the communication in live time is a whole lot more effective then email. Also, there has also been an increase in the popularity of internet calling devices and Skype is currently the most popular one. I usually use this one most often when chatting with my webmaster friends. What is cool about it is if the freelancer has Skype downloaded on their computer then you can call them and talk to them from computer to computer for absolutely free. I feel like I'm getting such a deal when I'm talking to people overseas for free straight from my computer. However, if you want to call an individual from your computer to their phone then you will have to pay for it and it’s very affordable. Go here to see the pricing at their site. There are other internet calling services but I wouldn’t recommend them. It has nothing to do with the quality of them, but everything to do with how well Skype is marketed and this is the number one internet calling service that freelancers are most familiar with. You will also need some headphones so that you will be able to use Skype. Also, I would highly recommend setting a time each day to talk with your freelancer about updates and concerns about the project. Time Zone checker I use this free tool: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/. The one tricky thing about outsourcing is the time zone differences. Some freelancers seem like they stay up 24/7 while others seem like they are never up. Make sure that you two get in synch with each others time zone differences so that you and your Page | 8 freelancer can communicate at reasonable times. The Scanner I will explain why I can’t do freelancing without the scanner in the next chapter. Having a scanner at your will is “gold.” It will help you reduce your time you spend repeating yourself with your website designer. This is an essential tool to have and is a big time saver. Ruler/Markers/Colored Pencils/Crayons The ruler helps me format my designs a lot easier and helps me keep things nice and neat. Markers, colored pencils, and crayons are used to help make your sketches more detailed. I use these mostly for my graphic designing projects which I will get to later. f) How to raise capital for outsourcing Some I online entrepreneurs use shortage of cash as a lame excuse for them for not having enough capital to start outsourcing. This should not be a problem is an online entrepreneur knows how to raise funds from their business without taking no money out of their personal expenses. When people are marketing the first expense that they usually cut is their marketing and that’s just dangerous. The reason why marketing is their early expense to cut is because most likely they are not receiving no results from their marketing plan and do you know why this is? Most likely they are doing marketing that they are not measuring and are not testing so what happens is they spend and spend money and still get no where. What they should be doing is using direct marketing and testing results until they get their money. If you can make $100 out of $10 budget then you can increase the amount of money you have for marketing or outsourcing. What you can then do is offer and up sell or a backend of some sort so you can try and increase your profits even more. So, capital for a project should not be a problem if you’re testing your campaigns. If you’re not then you’re leaving money on the table because you are not aware of what is or what isn’t bringing you money. A simple concept that can increase your profit but its something that so many marketers overlook. I never take out money from myself personally, i always take it out of the Page | 9 money that my business make because your business should be bringing you in constant cash flow, and the more cash you have the more you can spend on outsourcing and thus grow your business bigger. So, do direct marketing campaigns such as Google adwords and test your results like a mad scientist. A seasoned marketers knows that cutting their marketing budget is deadly, when your doing that your suffocating oxygen out of your business. Once you get customers then that is a great start, if you have existing customers then that is even better because you have an asset no matter how big or large the list of customers is. If you get visitors to your site then that is great as well, you first should try and maximize off the amount of visitors coming to your site as much as possible. Once that is done you can then sell more often to your customers. By selling I mean not pitching garbage offers just for the sake of stuffing your own pockets, but for the sake of trying to help someone out. In addition you need to get your customers to purchase from you more often. Most webmasters make most of their money on the front end. When they talk about how much money they made they will usually mention how many units of products they sell and this is all front end sales. What is interesting is that many marketers use one time offers, but not many of them implement all of the after sales strategies such as back ends, up sells, and cross sells. In matter of fact, very few companies do this and if they implement this then there is no doubt that they can see an increase in their bottom-line just from the current assets that they have. They can also try and set up a recurring business model so that they will have more stable money coming in. These are simple strategies that a marketer can apply to their current assets to see more results out of it. So, once you rise capital to start outsourcing you will need to know how much is a reasonable price for the freelancer to complete your project. g) The science of Negotiating This is a problem that I see come up often on online forums dealing with outsourcing is the pricing issue. A beginner outsourcer is usually not sure on how much is a reasonable amount to charge the freelancer. Well, let me tell you one thing. The price range will vary greatly from country to country and even within country to country. Page | 10 Generally, as a rule of thumb people in North America will usually be more expensive. However, their time zones are not that off by yours (if you live in the US) and English is their first language as well. From my experience I have found some of the best writers from the United States (go figures) because that is their native language. Okay, on the other side of the world such as places in Asia and Eastern Europe, the fees will be lower then those who live in America and some do a very excellent job. The only downfalls I see are the communication and time zones difference. Some freelancers overseas that I worked with had excellent communication skills so make sure to communicate with them prior to selecting them as mentioned earlier. Okay, the price range for services will vary as well. From my experience, software development and programming has been the most expensive, and content generation and web design has been towards the least expensive. When I'm figuring out how much to pay a freelancer i do two things: -Search the market place and seize up the price -Search an individual’s past bidding history -Seizing up the marketplace is probably my number one way of setting the price for a particular project and it’s an easy way to figure out if you’re paying too high or too low for something. From my experience freelancers will usually charge a reasonable price for something, however there can be those that overcharge for something because I once saw a job that was being charged over $50 just to convert a word document into a PDF. It’s truly what you don’t know that can hurt you. So, whatever job you are looking to get done just search for it in the freelance services. Most of them have a search engine that you can use to play around with. Most likely something that you’re searching for will have a similar job in the freelance services. You can then take a look at some of these job listings and try and take an average of the price listings. Generally, jobs that pay too low will not have as many bidders as jobs that have higher pay. On the other hand, you may get people who bid low and are actually very good at what they do. Some people may be new and are trying to build up their feedback on the system, and several freelancers may not have feedback on one system but have feedback on several other freelance systems, that is also possible as well. However, I generally almost go with the individual that has feedback or some type of track record. I will explain how I dissect geniuses from the talkers in the next chapter. Next, what I occasionally like to do is when I'm searching for similar jobs in the freelance services I like to check under the freelancer's profile in the system. Page | 11 I prefer checking out freelancers that have feedback in the system as opposed to those who don’t because the ones that don’t may just bid low to get the job and then demand higher. That’s one flaw about looking at what people are currently bidding for projects. Some people just bid low for the sake of it but have no attentions of performing the job for that amount and they kind of mess up the bidding average because their quote is way too low so the average of bids are no where near 100% accurate... just an FYI. However, I tend on finding that searching through freelancer’s profiles that have feedback are a whole lot more accurate for a variety of reasons. Reason one is because the freelancer has actually done jobs for that price. Also, another reason why I like it is because if I find a freelancer that has positive feedback and also does jobs for a fair price then I want to work with them for my next project. However, I'm a pretty hard guy to impress so I'm always looking for freelancers that has superb feedback. h) What to watch out for When outsourcing a big issue that comes out is with the escrow of money. Some freelancers are a little bit easier to deal with then others and it’s kind of a slippery slope. Most freelance services has a built in escrow system which acts as a middleman. What this means is that the buyer can put money into the escrow system so that the freelancer will feel assured that they will get paid for the project. The freelancer doesn’t get the money until the buyer releases it. You can negotiate with the freelancer on when you will pay them but its extremely critical to have this settled out BEFORE you choose them. When sending payments I always try to look at this with the blind eye. I understand that the freelancer doesn’t want to get burned. It’s very common for service providers to say that they will pay the freelancers and then once the job is finished take off some where in cyber space and never hear from them again. However, it’s also common for freelancers to request payment upfront and then run off without sending any service as well. So, I prefer to never pay upfront or less I have worked with the individual for some time and we have built a relationship with each other. However, if this is the first time that I worked with an individual then I will 90% of the time not pay upfront, it’s just too risky for me… that’s just my opinion. However, what I do is send half of the payment when half of the work is completed and the remaining half when the project is finished. That is why having your days spilt up and having your project clearly laid out is important. Once half of the project is completed I will immediately escrow half of the funds to the individual account. Sometimes, if I like the work that the individual is doing I will go ahead and escrow half of the funds prior to the half mark date. But this is only when I am happy with what I am seeing. I have never been rip off payment wise (but I have time wise) it’s practically a foul proof method for the buyer. Page | 12 Also, I will highly recommend not working with individuals that act as third parties. By this I mean individuals that don’t have a team or any experience, they just gather leads. These individuals are not that common but the reason why I would recommend not working with these types of individuals is because they have no experience or control over the team and to get the project completed will most likely take an extremely long time. Always deal with single freelancers or a team of freelancers, I would avoid others as much as possible because they do not regulate the freelancers. Some other things that you should do is always to check that the finished product is unique, which is a must. For all articles make sure that the content passes copyscape: www.copyscape.com For graphics and web design I now require all graphics to be “unique” absolutely no stock images at all. The reason for this is some freelancers may get their images from Google, and some of those images could be copyrighted which means that if you don’t have the appropriate licenses to use them then you would be in some trouble if the copyright owner decided to pursue this. Word of advice, if a graphic designer has to constantly use stock photos as their graphics, then they are not a real quality graphic designer in my opinion. I can use stock photos, anyone can, but to make unique images is what a professional graphic designer is suppose to be capable of. Talented graphic designers should be able to mock up unique creative graphics… if they cant then I would recommend not to hire them because they are not true graphic professionals. Two: Part Two: Shopping for geniuses a) Freelance services dissected Page | 13 Here is the popular freelance services/job recruiting services online: Elance: http://www.elance.com/ Rentacoder: http://www.rentacoder.com Scriptlance: http://www.scriptlance.com/ Guru: http://www.guru.com/ Getafreelancer: http://www.getafreelancer.com/ Monster: http://hiring.monster.com/ If you have more of a bigger job and spending budget then I would have to recommend checking out either elance or guru. Those two services seem to have more dedicated full time freelancers on there. Also, if you’re looking for a programmer then rentacoder is a nice service that is bombarded with them. Scriptlance and Getafreelancer are very similar in the layout and the process of how the system runs. I use these two a lot for smaller projects and have found some great freelancers from those services. Next, Monster is a big career network but it costs a little to start hiring people on that service, just something to keep in the back of your head. b) Excellent resources to find writers Colleges and universities are some great resources to find writers and other talented individuals with skills that you can use for your business like customer support or a virtual assistant. The one thing that makes universities a great hiring place is because college students are almost always looking for some extra money on the side. However, contrary to belief college students don’t have too much qualifications. I have never hired a programmer or a website designer from a university which doesn’t mean that its possible to find a good one, but when I'm hiring, I'm looking for someone that have some type of job experience. If you do hire someone from a university to do those types of jobs I would recommend a graduate student or at least a student with some job experience or one that has done an interne. I wouldn’t hire one that does it as a hobby as some advice. However, universities are great places to find ghostwriters. A lot of college students are very savvy with the computer and even more commonly do research. Every college student has to take English so they are use to researching in Google and their universities have databases that have reference information. Also, a lot of them are familiar with plagiarism so explaining the issues about duplicate content will not be an issue with them. So, universities (I'm my opinion) are one of the top places I look for grunt work in my online business. If I need articles written or edited I will check out universities. If I need some type of research done or if I'm looking for some type of statistic then I will check out universities. If I need assistance in my daily business errands then I will look at universities. A lot of college students have a wide range of skills but a lot of them don’t Page | 14 get a chance to show it because of lack of job experience. This is an opportunity that you can capitalize until the mean time, or until they graduate and get a degree :). Places to advertise your jobs for college students Something else you should considering doing is spending a little money on recruiting new workers. If I find a talented worker that value is priceless because I know that the work that they will do for me in the future will pay for it immensely. So, you can put some of your advertising budget into recruiting new freelancers to do some work for you. Okay, as mentioned earlier, college students are always looking for jobs and I will now reveal to you some of the places that I use to get college students leads. University’s Press For the most part, college students pay special attention to their university press. They can be seen looking at these at breaks from classes. They can be looking in them to read sports updates, or to see upcoming events at the university or what not. Every university (to my knowledge) will have a press, and most of these will offer advertising through classified ads. Yes, it does cost but its very affordable compared to all of the other job recruiting services out there to advertise in. The prices will vary from university press, the bigger named ones will be more expensive to advertise in, but these are great resources to gather college leads because a lot of them read these sources. Depending on the job you are requesting, it will not matter your geographical distance because you will still be able to work with them An example of this is writing, editing, virtual assistant, or even customer service. Below are some resources that you can use to find some universities press. International university press: http://dir.yahoo.com/News_and_Media/College_and_University/Newspapers/By_Region /Countries. United States University press: http://dir.yahoo.com/News_and_Media/College_and_University/Newspapers/By_Region /U_S__States/. c) Craigslist: Free advertising for recruiting workers/affiliates I use to use this website as a means of getting extra visitors to my site, but now I'm using it to gather potential freelancers for my business. As you may know, Craigslist has lots of traffic flowing through it so this can be a good thing or this can be a bad thing as well. What makes it bad is since there is so much traffic that means that your ad can get buried rather quickly depending on what city you are posting in. Page | 15 What also don’t help is that some people use automatic software to keep reposting their ads. I'm not exactly sure how they are able to bypass Craigslist system because I thought that they detect spam from the same ip. However, this is not my number one source for collecting freelancers and plus its free so I don’t complain about it :). It’s nothing complicated. Just sign up for an account and post the job description in the appropriate category. There are job specialties in just about every area you can imagine on Craigslist so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding the right category. FYI. It’s not free to post a job position in every area of Craigslist. The top major cities in the US is not free to advertise a job in, the san Francisco bay area costs around $75 USD to post a job position. Here are the list of the top cities in the US if you want to target cities that have more individuals there: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0763098.html. When placing a job make sure to use your copywriting. Give the individual some benefits on why they should work for you. I like to look at everything I write online as copywriting. I'm trying to get the reader to take action and to do something whether its to purchase, to opt into a newsletter, or to contact me for a job position. Make sure that you have a strong and professional ad with lots of benefits in them telling the individual why they should take you up on your offer. Can also recruit salesmen at no costs This is a secret of mines and I regretted that I shared it. That’s why you must keep the techniques in this product top secret because I don’t want too many marketers competiting with me because the less competition I have at this stage, the better. What’s something powerful that you can do that will boost your business profits at no cost? That’s simply to offer an affiliate program. However, as I'm learning more and more and trying to make my online business as big as possible, I'm looking to implement some offline marketing into marketing plan. After all, a lot of marketing still takes place offline. Don’t believe me? Just take a quick look at viral marketing. A common misconception that internet marketers have is that viral marketing happens mostly online. The internet can help fuel viral marketing but for the majority most of it heats up offline. After an individual sees something online as a result of viral marketing they will bring it up when they are at a seminar with someone or while having a conversation with a friend. Anyway, Craigslist is a new avenue for me to recruit affiliates and this seems to be a question that a lot of internet marketers have, how can I recruit new affiliates? It’s obvious that internet marketers are going to go with something that is currently selling (regardless of the quality) as opposed to something that has good quality but is not the topic of hot discussion. So, posting a job to commission salesmen is not a bad idea to Page | 16 get some extra exposure to your affiliate program. The reason why this is not a bad idea is because commission salesmen are use to receiving extremely low commissions per sale. I would know because I use to work as one. If you have a high end physical product and also provide 50% commission or less then posting a job looking for commission salesmen is not a bad idea. If you receive no one that is interested then big deal, you have invested no money and the time you invested is very minuscule. The appropriate category to place these ads are in the sales / biz dev category. The resumes Unlike monster.com which charges you expensive fees for you to review resume, you can do that at Craigslist for free by simply looking in the resumes section which is located towards the bottom right of Craigslist. The reason why I love this section is because one, individuals are looking for jobs and two you can dissect their resumes and see if their qualification matches what you are looking for in a prospective freelancer. This is a goldmine that a lot of internet marketers are missing and there are a good amount of qualified workers hear. Many of them may have college education and provide you references as well. This is something that is not as easily accessible in freelance services. Also, what makes this even greater is instead of searching through clutters of posts you can just put the appropriate keywords that you are looking for into Craigslist and find resumes that match what you are looking for like a piece of cake. The resumes will usually also provide an email address and other contact information so that you can get in touch with them if you’re interested in hiring them for a project or other needs. d) Understand each freelance service Just a friendly reminder on whatever freelance service that you choose you should always review their tos and general guidelines before you start using it. Don’t even take anything that I say for granted just double check each one. The rules and guidelines tend to vary from freelance to freelance service slightly so get in the habit of reading their tos before you start your hiring process. PART three: The hiring process a) Who is more bark then bite Okay, this is my specialty :D. Filtering out who is qualified and who is not. This is easy Page | 17 to do if you have an individual’s resume… however this can get a little difficult when your getting bids at freelance services. It’s not common for some individuals to make hyped up claims but then once its time to talk-to-talk, you get very disappointed. So, I have a couple of simple methods that will help you clutter through all of the hype on freelance services. By following these steps you will reduce the bad workers and increase your more serious workers greatly. Step 1: Don’t believe everything freelancers tell you Whether someone is promising you the number one position on Google, a crazy Alexa traffic stat, or even claiming that they have much experience in a particular field, don’t believe any of it until you have pinpoint proof! Even if what they are saying is true they could be using black hat methods to trick the search engines and networks which is something that can get you in trouble for. That’s the best advice I can give you. Do your due diligence and look for the individual that has past history on the freelance service. Look if they have done similar jobs to what you are requesting. Feedback is extremely important to me but it’s not the only thing that matters, but yes I do give this a lot of weight. I prefer to look for individuals who actually don’t have way too much feedback. Why? Because those who have a lot of feedback will tend to have more jobs. When the individual have more jobs then most likely they will be busy more often and they will have lots of clients. I prefer working with individuals who don’t have that much feedback, say 10 positive excellent ones and then I look to form a long term relationship with them if they do a good job. The reason for this is so that I will become one of their top clients in the next couple of months and top clients can get special attention after a while as well. Also, the freelancers who have a scroll of feedback will usually always charge more. Go figures, they have the reputation, and the credibility of getting quality work constantly done so they are in ever way entitled to do so. They have a proven track record which is worth a freelancer's weight in gold. However, not every new buyer can afford such outstanding fees for the work so that’s why I believe that building a long term relationship with a new but inexperienced freelancer is key. You will most likely get a lower quote and plus a quicker turn around time, two eggs killed with one stone. Step 2: Make the job description demanding This is a technique that I use to filter all of the lazy and undedicated freelancers out of my way. When I first started freelancing I got burned badly time wise because I would end up opening a job and the closing it, opening another job and then closing it again and it just continued on and on in a vicious cycle until I said ENOUGH! What technique should I use to get rid of the freelancers who are not dedicated, and then it popped in my head to make the job description sound more challenging then what it already is. I know, you may be thinking that this will scare off freelancers and result in a higher quote Page | 18 for the project. The answer is yes and no. Its yes that it will result in a lower bid amount because it will filter a lot of those people that you don’t want to be bothered with from the start. In essence, you’re not making the project that demanding. You will just state some principles that a freelancer should have no problem following such as: -Daily updates. -Communication during a fixed time each day. -Excellent communication skills required. -Require them to talk with you via the instant messaging vehicle of your choice. -100 percent unique graphics if hiring a graphics designer. -100 percent unique code if you’re hiring a programmer. -100 percent unique content if you’re hiring a ghostwriter. And the list can go on. When I start getting objections to one of my requests then I immediately ignore that freelancer, even if they have good feedback. May sound a little harsh but from personal experience those freelancers will usually end up being trouble and will most likely not do that good of a job as you wanted. When you make the requirements of the job description strict then you filter out most of the talkers and you will have a bigger group of more serious freelancers which are the type of workers I'm looking for. I'm looking for diligent and serious freelancers that will work hard to help me get what I need and then reward them greatly for it. The one lethal sign of a shady freelancer From my personal experience, the freelancers that do the best jobs do not bring up “money” often… usually it has to be me that brings up “hey, are you ready for the escrow now bud,” or “when do you want the first half of the escrow.” Usually, the freelancers that talk about payments more then the job description will be trouble and I would recommend staying away from these types. Now, just to clarify, I am not necessarily talking about budget clarification. Sometimes this is needed because the freelancers may want to clarify the budget concerns or payment methods prior to taking the job which is fine. However, what I’m talking about are the freelancers that are always anxious to receive payment and that you can sense that money is their “main” concern rather then delivering you the service that you wanted then to do. I will ditch these freelancers in a heartbeat. As again, it may sound harsh but time is of essence. I have probably wasted way over 100 precious hours just by dealing with shady freelancers. My time is one of my most valuable assets and I will refuse to work with freelancers that have no Page | 19 consideration for it and would recommend you doing the same as well :). It’s nothing personal but when I'm outsourcing its all about the business, I have to get things done and I have to get it done at a certain time and the way I want/need it. If a freelancer won’t agree to those terms then I cannot do business with them. Live proof Let me tell you a story about the one time I choose a freelancer without no prior feedback, or no satisfied customers or track record for a job, and I already knew that they would do the job for me well and they turned around to do so. No, I'm not a psychic, but they just showed me proof. With now marketing in the internet marketing arena, I’m use to hearing a lot of bark but no bite. The same thing goes for freelancing so when someone claims that they can do something for me, then they will have to show me proof and it has to be greatly documented or I simply won’t believe it. So, I posted an audio project on a freelance service and required the individual to submit me a sample of an audio recording that they did in order to get the job. To my surprise two of them did and one had feedback that was positive and the other had zero feedback. I like both of the samples that I received and was kind of caught in a dilemma in who to choose. I wasn’t concerned about who bided lower or who bided higher… simply wanted the individual who I believed will do the best job. So, I contacted both of the bidders asking a farther question through the escrow system. I wanted to see who wanted the job more, and the individual without any feedback responded back to me quickly so I picked him and he did a nice job on what I needed done, action speaks more then words. So, in the next couple of points I will run through all of the major job categories that webmasters are looking for when it comes to outsourcing and will give some tips on what to look and ask for in each particular specialty. b) Designers Hmm, I have been through a handful of these guys. From graphic designing, Photoshop, flash, and blog designers, I have been through them all and have experienced some major headaches on the way. You see, with outsourcing websites comes the problem of not getting your website the way you want it to be. This is where the communication barrier starts to kick in at times. If you’re talking to an individual who is located on the other side of the world from you and you discuss the project details with them via instant messenger, and even sent them the details on how you want your website to look like in word, it’s very common to still have lots of errors! That’s fine. I have come out with one simple solution that makes the web designing process a lot easier for myself personally. I don’t know about you but explaining a sales letter to a professional graphics designer with no experience in internet marketing is quite challenging. You can give them reference urls but it can still be a disaster. So, this is where that handy device named Page | 20 the scanner comes in. This is the one scenario where pictures don’t lie. Its virtually impossible for a freelancer to get the design you want messed up this way. The only way I can think for them not producing what you want is by you drawing a messy or unclear picture, or if they have bad eyesight. Just to be 100% safe I always go over the design that I sketched for them on instant messenger so that they can discuss where their uncertainties are at, and that’s pretty much it. You do not need to be an artist to sketch how you want your website to look like… you just need to be able to use a ruler and some crayons and markers :). I especially find this technique helpful when hiring a professional designer to do a sales letter. If you hire a designer that has never done a sales letter before, and you do not have a blueprint of what you want the sales letter to look like, then I'm afraid that you may be in for a huge shock. What do I look for when hiring a designer of any sort Portfolio, portfolio, portfolio. That’s what I need from every freelancer, I need to see some reassurance that they know what they are doing. They may be new to the system and may not have a portfolio and that’s fine, but they should at least show some designs that they have online in some type of photo sharing service. If you have someone bidding to design you a website and they do not have a portfolio or have no designs to show you then scratch them, they are too inexperienced. Also, here is another tip that I use to find the really talented and serious designers on freelance services. If I want a logo or a banner ad done, I will scan an existing mockup, upload it to my server, and post the url in on the freelance service. If the designers are really serious about the job then they will do a simple mockup for the image. By performing this, they will increase their conversion of me hiring them and will also increase my likelihood of having a serious and talented designer on my side. Also, another important factor that I'm looking in for graphic designers is their creativity aspect. Creative graphics and ideas can help increase the appeal of your website and help it look catchier if utilized correctly. Of course too much eye candy such as moving animations and flash on your sales page can be detrimental to your conversions because it distracts from what you want the reader to do, and that is to purchase. So, having some marketing skills and some know how is critical when it comes to placing graphics on your website. But, using them correctly can help draw readers into your site and make it catchier and more memorable. c) Writers A lot of this aspect is just common sense for the most part. Personally, I would recommend getting your writers from a university of some sort, and especially look for students that major either in English or journalism. They most likely will have a passion for writing and will also have sound fundamentals in grammar and research which is Page | 21 icing on the cake. Also, their prices tend to be more affordable since most of them don’t have much work experience. However, if you’re hiring an individual on a freelance service then I will pay special attention to when they are posting on the project. Sometimes I am so amazed at how many grammatical and spelling errors I get when individuals bid on a writing job I am shocked…doesn’t leave a very good impression. As with anyone you hire you should ask for a sample, so request a sample article on the particular topics that you are looking for. Sample articles with the slightest grammar or spelling errors shouldn’t be given much thought. If they don’t take the time to double check a sample article, then I'm wondering how the remaining articles will look once I get them? Actually, I wouldn’t want to know. The hiring process for writers is very simple in my opinion, just look closely at how they respond to you and sample articles or content that they have written. d) Programming/Software development This is a field that I'm concentrating more and more on know recently. An expert programmer can make your business operate a lot smoother and easier as well. However, sometimes understanding what exactly needs to be done and how to hire can be complicated in the first place. So, as a webmaster one of the most prominent programming languages that a webmaster should become familiar with is php (especially php4). A good source that you can use to start learning more about this language is here: http://www.php.net. A good coder has a vast amount of knowledge in a variety of fields, so every time I'm looking for a programmer, I'm looking for one that has a lot of different skills. How to get your own scripts/software developed I decided to get my first script developed when I decided that 2007 was that year that I will start making my online business as automatic as possible. So, I set out to have my first script developed. It was something new to me and I didn’t have too much knowledge in the subject manner. When you don’t have too much knowledge in something it is kind of hard to know what you need, and who you need to consult with. So, my first recommendation is to start by joining some coding forums and become an active member of them so that you can ask questions and learn the ins and outs about them. Once you have some understanding of the languages then you can start mapping out what are all of the features that you want your software to have. Once you have that mapped out you can then try and find a programmer that has experience in developing software so that they can help you get what you want. Software development can get expensive and also require some extensive testing to make sure that everything is working right. The software development process will go through stages. The alpha stage is when the software features are not all added and the software is very unstable here. When the software is moved to the beta stage, most of the features are there but it has some that are missing. Also, the software tends to have a good Page | 22 amount of bugs in this version and will need to go through a debugging process. This version of the software is usually suitable for a demo. Last, when the software development process is finished then you will have what is called the box version of the software. Testing is also critical for software development so that you will not have a buggy product on the market. Testing the software on different servers, browsers, and operating systems are a must. If your software becomes successful, then you will be having purchasers of a variety of different operating systems and you name it. Depending on what type of software you are selling, some of them will need to go through constant upgrades. It’s up to you to provide the upgrades for free or to charge for that. The last point I will discuss briefly about software development is protection. Generally, it’s a rule of thumb to provide a free trial for software so that an prospective customer can get the feel of it, and if they like it they may purchase it. However, in order to provide free limited trials for your software to users you will need to send out licenses to them. There is one popular program that allows you to do so. If the individual requests a refund from your software then you will have the ability to disable the user from using it. Here is the resource to the licensing software: http://www.zend.com/products/zend_guard. All in all, having unique software developed with lots of features can get very expensive. However, it can also be a great asset for your business in more ways then one. Why is custom software such a profitable asset? For my most recent project, I'm having custom software developed. I had plenty of small solutions coded for me, but my next project is the biggest project I have done yet in the internet marketing niche so I will need software that is special and big to power it. I analyzed some of the top software in the niche and none of them seem to do everything that I needed them to do. So, instead of purchasing the common software I went off to get my own custom software coded so that it fits every thing that I'm looking for. This is something that I highly recommend to webmasters who are looking for software that will take on all of the features that their next project will need. My new philosophy is if it doesn’t have it then I will just make it. Also, something else to look at when you’re getting your own custom software developed. You can sell it once the software is ready to go… it’s an asset in your business. Instead of looking at the expense as a huge dock in your funds, look at it the same way an owner of a construction company would look at the investment of a dozer. Even though the investment was huge they will be able to see that it was an intelligent investment in their business because they will be able to get more work done with less effort which will increase their profits in the long run. I look at software development as an investment like that. e) Anything else (double check) Of course it would be rather difficult trying to cover every single skill that can be used Page | 23 for outsourcing in one eBook. However, if you follow the guidelines that I have laid for you when considering freelancing any other job, then you should be good to go. Apply the same principles, ask for that portfolio, ask for samples, and look for proven track records. Just like anything else in life, the more you practice the better our will become, the more you outsource the better you will become at it and will be able to determine who is qualified and who is not. f) How to be a great buyer Throughout all of the headaches I generally always am positive and I also always give positive reinforcement to the freelancers who work with me. Take it from a guy who has perfect feedback from every freelance service he is on. Make sure to have your attitude right when working with people. All of my past clients love to hear from me (or at least they pretend they do) because I always encourage them and give them much credit when credit is due. Keep being positive in your everyday errands and also be positive to the people that work with you. In this eBook we have talked about how to find good service providers, now let’s switch this up a bit. Lets list some ways on how you can be a great buyer because when outsourcing you can’t have one without the other. Tips on how to be a great buyer: -Project details clearly laid out. -Prompt payment. -Quick response to project concerns. -Be serious, but be encouraging. The first tip is one that we discussed already but its one that is very important, and that is to have your project laid out and know exactly what you want before you post your project. Just like the way the buyer doesn’t like it when the freelancer claims to know how to do something but when it comes time to do it they get silent... the freelancer doesn’t like it when after they win the project, the service provider doesn’t really know what he or she wants and may even add additional requirements onto the project. This is a big timewaster for the freelancer because they gave you a quote on what they were expecting to get done. So, just to remember to have your priorities straight before you think about posting a project. Prompt payment A buyer that delivers quick payment on scheduled time will win the favor of most freelancers. Make sure to have payment details set before starting a project and to always have your accounting properly handled when hiring freelancers. The last thing you want to do is to keep a freelancer waiting for their payment when you agreed that you would give it to them on a scheduled time. This can help cause a lack of trust in the long term relationship that your trying to build with an individual, so always keep an eye on that and make sure to have control of your accounting and finances. Page | 24 Quick response to project concerns Whenever I'm freelancing I'm always keeping an extra eye on my emails and messages. Things can come up… you just never know. I use to gmail rss notification that makes me aware of when I'm getting messages while I'm online. I prefer using gmail for my outsourcing errands because it has a lot of space on them and its not a common to receive or give large attachments while outsourcing. Be serious, be strict, but be encouraging. From my experience if you act way too lenient then freelancers will take advantage of your generosity. So, my philosophy is to not joke around too much when outsourcing and to be strict but also very encouraging-- it’s good to balance both of these elements out. I like to joke around at times because operating a business can get frustrating, but when outsourcing its important to have a serious tone so that the freelancer will not get too relaxed. You don’t want them to be stressed out, you just want them to be working seriously and diligently because the mood they work in tends to reflect the way your finished product will come out to be. So, if your freelancer is in a joking mood then the finished service may just come out being that. Sample template Here is a generic template that you are welcomed to use when posting your job on a freelance service. Of course it will vary from what you want done, but it is much simpler then writing a job description from scratch. Project Title: Seeking highly skilled (blank) to develop a (blank blank) for me. Project description Hello, I’m looking for a qualified individual to help me design (blank blank blank). Below are the qualifications that you must have in order to be considered being chosen, so please read carefully before bidding: -Must have X years of experience. -Must be able to communicate and speak in English properly. -Most provide daily updates to me. -Must meet on instant messenger for 15-30 minutes each day until the project is completed. -Must show a portfolio, if you can’t show a portfolio or a sample of any sort then please do not bid. Without this I will have no way of judging the quality of your work. Page | 25 -Must have excellent feedback (certain amount of positive stars), or can provide past clients contact information. -Must be willing to receive payments in half increments. I don’t pay new individuals that I’m working with upfront. However, I pay when half of the work is done and the rest when the project is completed. I’m an honest buyer and if you don’t agree to these terms then please don’t bid.- Must be able to get the project nicely done in XX amount of days. Below is an attachment of the project details intricately laid out for each day that I have estimated you to work. If you have any questions or concerns then please address it here. Take care and looking forward to working with and possibly forming a long term relationship with you. Your name or company name. As again that’s just a sample template, but the bullets are descriptions that you should implement on freelance services to help get a better return for more serious freelancers. Conclusion: “Anything you ever wanted.” Outsourcing can be a very complicated process at first and learning how to give up control to workers is a skill that a webmaster should master. Outsourcing allows you to come out with higher quality products more quickly and allows you to get more done Page | 26 while having yourself put less in. While running a business, the goal of the owner whether its online or offline is to keep working at it so that their business will be able to operate while they are gone. This will allow the owner to invest in other businesses to grow his or her wealth. I see that a lot of webmasters are lacking knowledge in a lot of computer related topics. This is only natural… its but so much that an individual can accomplish in little time, but lack of knowledge is not an excuse, especially with the wide accessibility of finding qualified workers to do the right job for you. Also, a shortage of funds is not an excuse on why you should delay outsourcing. If you constantly test and measure your marketing campaigns you will know what is bringing you in and what is losing you money. Even if you know how to do something but if it will take a long time to get it done I will usually try and outsource the task just to save myself time. I can be monetizing on that time that I would be missing out on. We are in the information age and not knowing is simply not an excuse. With outsourcing you can leverage your time greatly and grow your business bigger by working less, take care and start outsourcing ASAP. Have a great day.
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