Free Outsourcing 101 Course

Free Outsourcing 101 Course
By James Mackay | Outsourcing Expert
About this podcast
The free Outsourcing 101 Course Podcast is designed to help you start, grow and profit from outsourcing. Every Tuesday and Thursday a new episode will be released to help you on your outsourcing journey - 20 episodes in total. Check out http://outsourcing101course.com to sign up for the free Outsourcing 101 Course that includes 8 video tutorials and much more!
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Latest episodes
Oct. 29, 2015
In this episode James Mackay gives insights into becoming an Outsourcing All Star.  Check out http://outsourcing101course.com to sign up for The Free Outsourcing 101 Course that includes 15 video tutorials and much more!  Welcome and congratulations!  I am James Mackay and I have been your host through the past 20 episodes of this, the Outsourcing 101 Course Podcast.  I am glad you have been able to join me for the journey.  We’ve discussed a lot of different topics and I hope by now you have the confidence to move forward. Today we’re going to have some fun. I am going to open the curtains to Outsourcing All Stars and we’ll go for a tour.  I’m going to give you a personal, inside look at the world’s number outsourcing community in the world.  This is the place for outsourcers who want to start, grow and live the life of their dreams by buying time in an incredibly powerful way. And we have an incredible video walkthrough of Outsourcing All Stars on the outsourcing101course.  So if you haven’t already, sign up for that free course and take your video walkthrough of All Stars to see everything we have to offer – all the ways it can help and improve your outsourcing journey in so many ways. But you know, we are going to make the most of this audio tour because audio is powerful and audio is revealing.  I’m excited to share with you the components of Outsourcing All Stars. Component number one is the in-depth, everything-you-need-to-know “college for outsourcing”.  I have gone through and created six special modules that you can follow step-by-step to really master the art of outsourcing.  This is more than a course. There are dozens of video tutorials in the 6 different modules.  You can follow them through one by one and then go back and refer to them whenever you need to or whenever you want to. We have tutorials for beginners who are looking to start and launch their outsourcing journey. We have tutorials for intermediates who are looking to develop their outsourcing experience – these are the people who are serious about being more effective and efficient with getting things done. And we have video tutorials for experts who are looking to really take outsourcing to the next level by creating income streams through outsourced projects. The good news is you can enter as a beginner and progress your way through.  And experts can refine their skills and learn intricate details. I have made all the mistakes in the book.  You don’t have to.  Watch the video tutorials and skip my mistakes – you could take months if not years off getting your projects completed. If you think you need some kind of tutorial, then we have it.  There are dozens of videos and we add more and more. Component number 2 will blow you away.  In our resources section you will get access to my templates.  My samples.  My working docs.  Literally thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours have gone into developing these resource docs.  These are my own documents that I have developed over the years, including: Non disclosure agreements Assignment of rights agreement Job advertisements for all different types of freelancers Interview questions Letters – oh man, all sorts of letters! Cash flow forecast Roles and responsibilities matrix The list, my friends, goes on and on and on. There’s even a list of all the different software and services I use and have used so you don’t have to go hunting around blindly on the internet.  Everything you could or will need is listed in this section This resources section is packed full of every kind of document you could want – all available for use, whenever you need them. Also included is a Frequently Asked Questions section where you can read through different questions raised by outsourcers just like you.  And, of course, you can post your own questions there and I will try to respond ASAP.  The goal, of course, is to sort out your difficulties so you can make the most of outsourcing and get out of it what you need – easily, and profitably.  This is an incredibly powerful section with some answers to some phenomenal questions And so, in summation, Outsourcing All Stars is the number one community for outsourcers in-the-world for a very specific reason: It’s the best.  It has so much content, everything you need, a step by step layout so you can join at whatever stage you’re at in your outsourcing journey. I take so much pride in Outsourcing All Stars and you will see the absolutely awesome onboarding process where we will hold your hand as you get started all the way through to the end. Now if you think that this sounds like a community that you want to be a part of, now is the time my friends because we are always increasing the price to reflect the value within and we are always increasing the value within.  So the price of Outsourcing All Stars will never be lower than it is today – that is a pledge. When you join Outsourcing All Stars you will be joining for the lowest price possible and you will be gaining long-term access because plans are afoot to transition in the future to a monthly recurring model.  But right now you can join All Stars with one simple click of the button. So go to outsourcingallstars.com/secret – this is our secret page only for people who have subscribed to the podcast or signed up for the Outsourcing 101 Course. outsourcingallstars.com/secret you can see all the information I just chat about and then join Outsourcing All Stars.  And I’m here with open arms, excited to welcome you to the All Star family.  And now, I can tell you are absolutely ready to take your outsourcing to the highest possible level so you can buy time by paying other people to do work you can’t do, don’t want to do or shouldn’t be doing.  Once you fine tune your outsourcing processes you’ll be able to shape the lifestyle you want:  You’ll have extra time on your hands so you can use those extra hours to further develop your project.  Or, you could shape your life so you have freelancers running your business, generating passive income for you while you sit on a beach drinking coconut water. Whatever your choice, you just have to get started.
Oct. 27, 2015
In this episode James Mackay shares the secret of not only saving money but also making money with outsourcing.  Check out http://outsourcing101course.com to sign up for The Free Outsourcing 101 Course that includes 15 video tutorials and much more!  Respectful relationship Recommend good freelancers (feel good) Not like hiring traditionally – hire multiple people and test them all for a day Outsourcing is a little bit like golf: It’s easy to get started but hard to master.  There are some things you can do in less than one hour to be up and running but it doesn’t necessarily you’re going to get the result you’re chasing.  It doesn’t mean your experience will be rewarding, effective or profitable. While we can sit here all day and talk about the three things that most people do wrong, and the five things everyone should do to be better at outsourcing, there are basically just a few things to keep in mind.  Some basic tenets to the whole process.  Overarching philosophical principles, if you like: First, you’ve always got to maintain a respectful relationship.  I have seen some people in western countries treat freelancers in the Philippines with utter contempt.  Don’t do that.  Do not treat these people with contempt.  They are human beings and deserve the utmost respect.  Sometimes you won’t get the results you want from your outsourcers.  That happens.  But it’s not always their fault.  If you don’t set the brief clearly and with precision, there might be grey areas.  These freelancers might be very, very talented but they are not mind readers.  Magicians, yes, but they can’t know what’s in your head.  Lay it out clearly and make sure you go through the process of having them confirm they understand the task. Respect the freelancer.  It’s a pretty easy concept and something everyone should aim to do.  I know from my experiences outsourcers give the utmost respect to their contractors.  And it’s not just because they are getting paid; sometimes it’s cultural and sometimes it’s just respect for mankind.  We can certainly aim to have better business relationships through the way we treat people.  Second, we can perpetuate the world of outsourcing and we can help it grow.  It’s easy, really: When you have had a good experience with an outsourcer, you can recommend the concept of outsourcing and recommend that freelancer.  The more we can spread the word, the more creative startups we’ll see and the more people will be able to bring their ideas to light.  An American with a great idea with an app might approach a local app developer and get a quote for $10,000 to get the app made.  If that’s way out of that person’s budget, the app might never get made.  If they can outsource if offshore, then they can possibly get it done for one third the price and then it might actually fit in the budget and get made.  As Charlie Sheen would say: Winning. The final thing to bear in mind is that this is not like business as you know it.  Outsourcing is flipping staffing on its head.  It is, as the startup community likes to say, disruptive. Small and micro businesses no longer need to persevere with difficult, onerous, repetitive and time consuming tasks.  They can outsource them to people desperate to work!  From the contractor’s point of view, this is perfect: no more wasting valuable time on things that aren’t directly making any money.  Is there a better way to increase efficiency?  Is there a better way to get short term projects completed quickly?  Outsourcing is changing the world.  It’s not like the iPhone that hit the market and the whole world knew about it and wanted to be a part of it.  Outsourcing is more like a slow burn, like – and sorry for the weird reference - the fax machine.  When it was first launched, the fax machine only had a few thousands users.  A few years later and literally every business in the world had a fax because they realized how much value it provided to their efficiency and output. I see outsourcing a bit like that.  I don’t know where it is on the product life cycle but I am pretty certain there’s a long way to go before outsourcing reaches its peak.  Once my mother starts outsourcing jobs – such as sending invitation or whatever – then I’ll know that outsourcing has reached serious market penetration.  And I’m sure my mother will adopt outsourcing because it’s getting easier and easier every day.  Oh, and mum, if you’re listening – thank you and I hope you’re finding the podcast interesting. But on a serious note, outsourcing really is changing the world.  It’s allowing people to farm out work they either can’t do, don’t want to do or are not good at.  On the other end of the equation it’s giving work to people who would otherwise not have an income.  It is cheaper for western countries to hire freelancers in developing countries, it’s true.  But I am glad I am able to pay one of my best developers more per hour than she gets working with her degree, as an engineer.  Now that is changing the world. The three tenets of outsourcing are not complicated.  They’re not hard.  Treat people with respect.  Spread the word about outsourcing.  It’s not like anything else we’re used to. That’s all there is.  Outsourcing is here to stay so you should make it work for you and your business.  Take the tips and tricks in this podcast and implement.  You’ll be surprised how much more productive and efficient your business will be.  You never know, you might use all that newly found spare time to put back into your business, or you might do as we all dream of doing: sitting on a hammock under a palm tree sipping a cool drink. Whatever your goal, you can use outsourcing to get there.  Just follow the simple steps and the path will be less rocky. Good luck and thanks, once again, for listening.  I wish you well on your outsourcing journey. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast so you can get all the tips and tricks on how to outsource work so you’ve got more time to do what you love.
Oct. 22, 2015
In this episode James Mackay shares the top 5 ways to set yourself up with an efficient and effective workforce.  Check out http://outsourcing101course.com to sign up for The Free Outsourcing 101 Course that includes 15 video tutorials and much more!  Hello, hello, hello.  I am the host of the show, James Mackay.  As always thanks for joining me.  Today I am going to drop some knowledge bombs on you.  Today I’m going to give you some information that you can put away in your long term memory and try to remember as you progress through your outsourcing journey. I want to talk to you in this episode about the 5 ways to set yourself up with an efficient and effective workforce.  This is how to get the most out of having freelancers work for you. Outsourcing doesn’t have to be difficult.  Sure, it can be hard to jump in if you don’t know what you’re doing but as the philosopher Goethe said: “Everything is hard until it is easy.”  And as a million people have said: “The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” So here today I want to give you 5 little gems that you can use in your path to outsourcing success. The first is: Manage your expectations.  You can’t expect to walk straight into this and walk out ten minutes later with a perfect solution.  You can’t expect to be able to find a freelancer who can do absolutely everything you want, all wrapped up into a special little package that you can pay 8 bucks an hour for.  Manage your expectation and be realistic.  This might take you a little while to get sorted but once it is, you can reap the benefits. The second thing to keep in mind is to leave a reasonable amount of time for the projects you want done.  If you think you could achieve a certain project in 5 hours, then that’s great.  But depending on the project, the freelancer you hire starts with one distinct disadvantage: all the corporate knowledge and intellectual property is in your head.  It is not reasonable to expect a total stranger to be able to walk up to a new project and pick up the job and perform it as well as you would have done.  As I say over and over, freelancers can work magic but they are not mind readers.  If you choose the right freelancer with great skills and references you reduce your chance of problems.  If you set clear and concise instructions, that helps too.  But  - be realistic with timeframes. Number three in the list of 5 things to keep in mind is to start small and grow.  If you have never used a freelancer to complete a job, it’s in your best interests to do a test project so you can understand the lay of the land and see how things work. Of course, because you can outsource nearly anything these days, I can not being to tell you if the project you want done is small or large for your particular situation.  What I can tell you is that you should look at your project and evaluate if you think you could clearly communicate the entire project to someone to such an extent that they could tell a third person. If they can tell the third person without the instructions getting totally jumbled and distorted, then give it a shot. However, I do suggest you exercise caution.  You can waste a lot of time and money by jumping into large projects without really knowing what you are doing.  You might be tempted to hire the cheapest freelancer you can find.  You might be tempted to post a job ad with not much substance because it’s faster to do that.  But what you are actually doing is starting off on the wrong foot right from the beginning.  The take away from this is to “test and measure”. The fourth point leads on from the third: always give concise instructions.  It’s always tempting to cut corners by giving an overview of what you are expecting.  Don’t do that.  Don’t assume your freelancers will understand what you want, just because you think it is simple.  Even if a talented freelancer replies “yes” when you ask them if they understand, don’t think that’s enough.  These people are eager to please you so they make you happy, they keep their job and they get a good review.  A better way to handle it is to ask them to reply to questions you ask them, so you can fish out of them exactly what they understand the instructions to be. The fifth and final point I would like to mention to you is to always outsource jobs you can’t do or shouldn’t be doing.  It might take a while to get to that point but once you do it you will have more time on your hands to put towards whatever takes your fancy. So what do I mean by jobs that you “shouldn’t be doing”?  At the end of the day, that’s your call.  But my suggestion would be to get a freelancer or virtual assistant to do the jobs that are repetitive, methodical and similar.  An example might be your electronic filing.  There are plenty of examples – in fact in podcast episode 14 I gave an example of a man who could save more than $2,000 by getting a virtual assistant to help with doing his invoicing.  Look around – you’ll find many example. That brings us to the end of yet another outsourcing 101 course podcast episode.  As always, thanks for joining me.  If you’re enjoying this podcast season I would love for you to spread the word to your network.  The more people who get on board, the more efficient we can all become. Don’t forget to stop by outsourcing101course.com/18 to get the transcript of this podcast and check out what else is on the page.  And if you haven’t by now already, join the free outsourcing 101 course at outsourcing101course.com Next time we’re talking all about the top 3 ways to get success with outsourcing.
Oct. 20, 2015
In this episode James Mackay shares the 4 biggest mistakes new outsourcers make post launch and how they can be easily avoided.  Check out http://outsourcing101course.com to sign up for The Free Outsourcing 101 Course that includes video tutorials and much more!  Hello my fellow and future outsourcing friends.  I am James Mackay – your host – and I would like to welcome you to another episode of the Outsourcing 101 Course Podcast.  Last time we talked about managing freelance workers.  In this episode I am going to discuss the 4 biggest mistakes outsourcers make. Generally I like to stay positive when I’m talking about the concept of outsourcing.  I like to mention things that you can do to enhance your experience when looking for freelance workers.  Or I might offer suggestions on how to make things easier, or faster. But today I want to give your 4 things that you should avoid, or at least be aware of.  If you can follow these red flag items then you should be able to avoid some of the pitfalls that trip us up when we are looking to outsource. The first thing I want to draw your attention to is knowing the difference between ongoing roles and one off tasks.  It may seem inconsequential but in the long term, it makes a very big difference.  Here’s an example: If you want something done quickly and of a high standard, you might be prepared to pay a higher price for the privilege.  But that’s like anything, right?  If you want an express service, there’s often a surcharge.  However, if your job is longer term and you’re looking to establish a long term relationship with a freelancer, then you should be able to negotiate a rate different to the one that the freelancer might advertise on their profile. This might not sound fair on the freelancer, but in the long run it suits both parties better.  Freelance workers often have to do a lot of background work for jobs and often they don’t get paid for that research.  Further, sometimes workers can go long periods between jobs – just as any contractor can – and that’s why their rate per hour might be higher than what you would expect. If you can show the freelancer that you are in a position to hire them on a longer term basis, they might be able to adjust their rate accordingly.  They don’t have to keep doing unpaid research to become acquainted with the new project, and they have some guaranteed work coming in. Another mistake that outsourcers make is not defining the ownership of the work that has been produced.  Generally speaking, if you pay someone to perform work for you, then you maintain ownership rights to the work that was produced.  But I have seen grey areas in this pop up all the time. Sometimes there are disputes and misunderstandings about who owns what, despite general knowledge would dictate.  As an example, you might hire an ebook author to write an ebook for you.  Generally you would own the ebook but unless it’s specifically stated, you would not own the notes, drafts, research and other supporting materials that the author might have compiled in producing the ebook.  In fact, there would no doubt be a dispute over this; some people would say you do, others would say you don’t, because you only had a contract for an ebook. But the good news is that this can all be easily avoided by drafting a “Transfer of Ownership” agreement so both parties know exactly what is what.  It’s not mandatory but it might just solve a problem down the track. Another legal issue is the matter of non-disclosure agreements.  Honestly, the number of times I have heard people mention NDAs when doing outsourcing blows my mind.  It’s this easy: if it is absolutely essential that you have a non-disclosure agreement to protect you intellectual property, then only hire someone in your own legal jurisdiction.  That way you can follow up appropriately.  I roll my eyes when I hear people tell me they got their VA in Bangladesh to sign an NDA.  I mean, seriously – you’re going to chase them through the Bangladeshy court system if they do something wrong?  Get real. In all the years that I have been doing outsourcing I have only ever had one incidence of breach of trust.  And it was serious.  But I went through the adjudication process on the old Odesk and that freelance worker was made to recompense me for the impact they caused me and he was banned from Odesk.  So they system worked for me.  Unfortunately, the final mistake I see people make when outsourcing is not firing fast enough.  I know that sounds horrible, but sometimes it just has to be done. There’s a saying “hire fast, fire fast” and it’s 100% true.  However, to save you from heading into a confrontation which includes firing, you can do things to try to hire the best possible freelancer up front.  A very simple solution would be to give the freelancer a test, to see if they are up to standard.  If they achieve the task admirably, then they might just be the “perfect for you” freelancer.  If not, simply wrap up their contract and don’t give them any more work. Most outsourcers tell me that every dollar counts.  If that’s the case for you, then you really need to get into the habit of employing good people, training them and shaping them into the type of employee you want them to be.  If they aren’t the right fit, they have to go. So there you have it.  The top 4 mistakes I see outsourcers make when dealing with freelance workers.  I hope this episode was helpful for you. Don’t forget to drop by the special webpage we have put together for this episode.  Go to outsource101course.com/17 to get the show notes, including a transcript of the episode. Thanks so much for joining me and be sure to come back next time when I discuss the top 5 ways to make outsourcing work for you.
Oct. 15, 2015
In this episode James Mackay goes over the can-be-stressful subject of managing freelance workers.  Learn the tips for an efficient workforce.  Check out http://outsourcing101course.com to sign up for The Free Outsourcing 101 Course that includes video tutorials and much more!  Hello my fellow outsourcers and welcome back to another episode of the free Outsourcing 101 Course podcast. In this episode we are going to talk about managing your freelancers.  If you’re not careful, managing your freelancers can become a full time job.  It can become very frustrating and very unproductive. So right up front you have got to set yourself goals and lay down your expected outcomes. Critically you need to avoid being a micro manager or being one of those people who peers over the virtual shoulder of your employees, because let me tell you now, you are going to find your productivity slides and your freelancers are going to find very quickly that it gets frustrating. Upwork has a cool little feature for outsourcers called the “work diary” and the work diary actually allows you to see screenshots.  These are randomly captured during the period your freelancers are working. Now, it is tempting to log on there repeatedly and to have a look and see what they are doing. Most important you want to make sure that they are actually working for you and not Skypeing or Googleing or whatever they might be doing. But, in all of the time that I have been doing outsourcing I have only ever once seen one of my freelancers not doing their assigned task.  So generally speaking you don’t need to worry about that. What you can do is use the work diary to make sure that what they are doing is heading in the direction that you want them to. For instance: It’s easy to see what a graphic designer’s working on but it’s a lot harder from a screenshot to see what a sound engineer or a web developer is doing. I’m not a technical person and I certainly can’t read programming code, so when I see that in a work diary I just have to assume that the code on the screen has to do with the job that I have hired them for. So let’s talk about how we go and manage our freelance staff. There are three general ways that I try to keep things efficient and they are all online solutions, and they all involve me and my freelancers.  So the first step is: Content Management 2nd step is: Setting Goals and Tasks And the 3rd step is: Communication Now, when we are talking about Content Management we are talking about managing files and so on.  It’s critical that you have a well-organized and well-managed method of handling files. So what I mean by that is, you could use something like “mail big file” or simply use email but very quickly different versions of files and will end up getting confused and mixed up and you will be in a world of hurt. You won’t know the status of your files, you won’t be able to keep track of what’s going on and your freelancer will probably end up getting confused as well. One thing you can do here is to simply go ahead and use Dropbox. And Dropbox is free up to a certain level and gives you storage for whatever amount of gigabytes they are offering at the moment. If you don’t want to use Dropbox you can use something like Google Drive or any of those other online cloud storage providers, however, it is critical that you provide access to your freelancer so they can upload, download and share files from there with you. Now, there is a bit of trust involved because if your team is working on confidential files, you need to trust that they are not going to share them with anyone else. The 2nd part of what we do when we are managing our freelancers is to make sure we set goals, tasks and to-do’s. I have been using the online project management software Basecamp for something like 10 years.  I still use Basecamp Classic because it’s the one that I’m in-love with and I really can’t see the point in upgrading to the new Basecamp. However, if you want to jump on to Basecamp.com you can get a very cheap project management system up in a way and I THINK they still have a free system… I use the plan that costs me about $20 a month and that seems to be more than I need. It’s got lots of storage space and project limits and so on… Now what we do with Basecamp is use it as a project management tool.  Other suggestions might include Trello or Asana but to be perfectly honest I did sign up for those and found that they didn’t do anything that I couldn’t do on basecamp so I just stuck with what I know. Basecamp is a project management tool that allows me to set what the Army would call the ”commander’s intent” so I can say to my freelancers: “Okay team, what we are trying to do is to build an ecommerce website” or “We are trying to build mobile app” and then I can go through and explain what we are trying to do, bit by bit: “The mobile app will do A, B, C it should run on X, Y, Z platforms, we will put it in The AppStore, etc… etc…”.    I just go through and explain what’s going on. At this point you do need to share your business idea and goals with your freelancers so they understand what’s going on. There’s no point trying just to say “well I don’t want to share my idea with them” because if you don’t share your idea with your team, they are really not going be able to provide the solution that you need. The next thing you want to do with basecamp once you’ve done your commander’s intent is to set up the to-do’s. Now you can group the to-do’s under different things so you might say “Ok, we are making a mobile app so we have to-do’s in a number of different areas… No. 1 is for the the AppStore, and then you list all of the to-do’s  to do with the Apple Appstore. Sign up for an account,  Get the Apple authorization code, etc etc. When you assign a task, you can actually put who you are assigning it to and when it’s due by. And now, you go through and assign all of the tasks that you can think of for each component of your project.   We have a list of to-dos for the AppStore, and then We have a list of to-dos for designing the app, and then We have a list of to-dos for developing the app. So, all of these are different phases so you go through and list them all out and then create a to-do list for each one. Don’t be unrealistic with your to-do dates. Tasks do take time and what the lay person thinks take 5 minutes will probably end up taking a developer half an hour. So, just bare that in mind, don’t be unrealistic and don’t be upset when a freelancer does take half an hour for something that you expected might take 5 minutes. One thing that always seems to happen when an outsourcer hires a new freelancer is that there’s a thing called “feature creep”.  This phenomenon occurs when the outsourcer decides that they want a extra features after development has begun. Here’s an example: the developer starts working on the agreed features and as they work on the project the outsourcer gets feedback and has a look and then realizes “Ohh hang on if that’s going to be like that then we need to put in this feature and that feature. “ So, the project that started off with 100% of features soon blows up to 110, 130, 150 percent of the original task. If you have very well-expressed what you are trying to achieve with that project, then the developer would have gone ahead and planned 100% of the project. But, once you start bringing in extra features their initial plan might have to be turfed out.  All of a sudden a small feature may actually throw out your whole plan. So, you have to be cognizant of the fact that your freelancer isn’t going to be able to necessarily achieve the things that you think are small features but actually have larger, overriding consequences. This is just something I found over the years, if you can get away with it then great but I’m just saying be warned… manage your expectations and understand that this could take a while. Now what you do with the to-do’s is actually assign them to the freelancers.  When they complete the task, they log onto basecamp and they tick them off. It works really well. But we don’t use basecamp for day-to-day communication, as it’s more for objectives and goals. For day-to-day communication, we use a thing called “Slack” S-L-A-C-K.com. It’s a free messaging service, very similar to Skype except a lot more powerful. You can use Skype if you have already got that.  It’s a good, basic way to get started but I have found that Skype does have limited capacity to handle files if you want to attach a file to Skype it does seem to take quite a long time to upload and download, with Slack it integrates with the number of different file management and sharing apps so it seems to work a lot more easily. So, files aside I do think Skype has missed the big opportunity here, they thought the world would go for audio communication so they built that platform around Skype “calling” but unfortunately for them it seems that text chat is still going strong. Now, avoid the temptation to be texting your freelancer every 5 mins… “how’s it going?”, “give me an update”, “can you show a screenshot blah blah blah blah blah…” Bear in mind there’s a concept called “the managers and makers”. Now, you as an outsourcer are adopting the role of manager, your freelancer who’s trying to complete the task for you is in the role of maker. Now makers and managers have different mind sets and a maker will like to sit down and work uninterrupted for 3 or 4 hours to try and complete the task. They get in the flow, they get the momentum, and they just want to keep going. And manager on the other hand, is really good at delegating and really good at multitasking and says “right I’m doing boom this list here and I’m doing that design over there, I’m doing that to-do list” and you think you’re doing a great thing but managing all of these different tasks once and trying to get your… you know multiple freelancers working and answering your questions and trying to get your responses back in on time and so on and so forth… But what you’re doing is actually having a negative effect. All you’re doing then is really just making it more difficult for your freelancer to get on with the task that you have set them. What you can do is say… let’s just say you’re doing a design task and you set a to-do list for your designer and you want them to design a logo or 5 draft logos. You might say to them “Ok I want you to spend 1 hour and do as much as work in 1 hour as you can and then supply me with screenshots of what you have done at that point. So, if you set the parameters upfront they know inaudible 55 minutes designing a logo and then 5 mins preparing the screenshots. Make sure you tell them a time and say “I will check back in with you at X” and they will be more likely to be able to show you something. Now, if you try and interrupt them and send them occasional or informal messages on Slack or Skype then they’re going to get disrupted, the work that you are paying for will be inefficient and the solution won’t be as good as if you adopt manager and maker roles and let them just do their thing. So, those are the 3 online tools that I use to manage my freelancers. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world they are all web-based, doesn’t matter where they are either because so long as they have Internet connection they can jump on and work with Dropbox, work with Slack, and work with Basecamp. And if you set the parameters to manage your freelancers and you allow them to understand what you expect from them and then you follow up in an appropriate manner with appropriate communication then I think you’ll find things will work a whole lot easier. Thanks for tuning in once again to the Free Outsource 101 Course podcast. I look forward to speaking with you again on the next episode, which is “4 biggest mistake outsourcers make”.
Oct. 13, 2015
In this episode hear about the three questions I am most commonly asked by people who are considering getting into outsourcing.  So the questions are these: Will it save me time and money? How do I get someone to do everything? Is it worth my time and effort? Alrighty so this is the question that gets me fired up.  I’ll step you through the conversation: Person: James, will outsourcing save me time and money: Me: Is saving money the most important thing when you’re considering outsourcing? Person: Yes Me: Well then, yes, you can use outsourcing to save you money. Person: Oh, so what, you export jobs off to a third world country and steal jobs from worthy Australians (or wherever). And that’s where I stop the conversation, because the person doesn’t understand outsourcing and they can’t be bothered learning about it. I’ll make it very clear: You can save buckets of time by hiring a freelancer to do work for you. They could be in Siberia, Serbia or SmallTown USA.  They could be on the other side of the world  or the other side of the street from you.  It does not matter where your freelancer or virtual assistant is.  If you pay them money to do work, you are effectively buying time so you can do whatever you want. You can save money by hiring a freelancer in a country where your currency stretches further than it does in your country. Not all countries have the same costs of living.  It is far more expensive to live in Switzerland than the Philippines.  That means one US dollar will buy you a lot more in Manila than in Geneva.  Google the Big Mac index if you want more information. One of my best freelancers is an engineer.  She earns more per hour working as an assistant for me than she does as an engineer in the Philippines.  If I was to employ an engineer in Australia above their standard hourly rate could I afford it? No way! This is exactly the reason why outsourcing is allowing people to get their projects up and running.  Previously people would have tried to do things themselves or they would have shelved the project totally.  Why?  Because they couldn’t justify paying local prices to have their project completed. It’s horses for courses.  Different people want different things and that’s how outsourcing work can help. Right, now that that is out of my system I’ll move onto the second question: How do I find one freelancer to do everything for me? Well, to be honest, you don’t.  That is an unreasonable expectation.  However, if I break it down a bit, I get to the root cause of the question: often people don’t want to have to go to the trouble of managing multiple people and THAT is a perfectly reasonable objection.  My solution would be to find your version of my Joan.  I can make Joan my one point of contact and delegate everything to her.  We stay in touch by skype every day so she knows exactly what is going on.  These days Joan is able to manage my other freelance team members and ensure that everything comes together.  You CAN find freelancers with these skills and let me tell you – it’s amazing.  It allows you to spend more time on other productive pursuits or sip coconut water on the beach. There are two downsides to this though: It’s more expensive because you are employing extra people It’s difficult to find and train someone to the point where they operate exactly as you want them to. Saying that though, the final benefits outweigh the downsides, so you CAN have one freelancer do it all for you. The final most commonly asked question is: “is it worth my time and effort”? In my opinion and my experiences, yes.  Of course, if you’re trying to get a freelancer to cure cancer or design a nuclear bomb, then outsourcing might not be for you.  And if you’re designing a nuclear bomb I’m really disappointed. I have had so many positive experiences with outsourced workers that I just wish I started earlier.  I have made some great friends who started off as my freelancers.  I visited my team in the Philippines and got to know them.  I have helped unemployed and under-employed people all over the world – including plenty in my own city.  Yes, outsourcing is worth the time and effort.  If you do it properly and take advice when it’s offered, you can have a very effective and efficient workforce of people committed to helping you realize your dreams, as long as it’s not a nuclear bomb. Outsourcing can allow you to save time and money.  It can allow you to buy time so you can spend extra hours developing a project, with the grand kids or travelling the world.  Having freelance workers can assist you in shaping the lifestyle of your dreams. Thanks again for listing to the Outsourcing 101 Podcast.  I hope this information has been interesting and revealing.  Next episode we’re talking about how to manage freelance workers so be sure to subscribe for that one.
Oct. 8, 2015
In this episode James Mackay shares the top 3 things outsourcers need to do to make the process flow. Check out http://outsourcing101course.com to sign up for The Free Outsourcing 101 Course that includes video tutorials and much more! Last time we talked about how to handle problem freelancers. In this episode I am going to talk about the three most important things an outsourcer needs to do to ensure the process is effective and efficient. Today we’re going to discuss: Security and trust Training Mindset I talk with may people who tell me they just don’t feel confident handing their life’s work over to a total stranger to work on. It’s understandable on one level, isn’t it? Sometimes people work on things for so long that they treat the project almost as a child; they become very defensive and protective of whatever it happens to be. Well, I have some bad news. These people are really going to struggle getting the most out of outsourcing. If you have been with me since episode one, you might remember how we discussed one of the singularly most important benefits of outsourcing some of your work: It allows you to effectively “buy time”. I’ll recap it very quickly: if you have a task that might take you 5 hours to complete, you could outsource the job to someone else. If it costs you $100 then you have effectively bought 5 hours that you can put towards lying under a coconut tree, or possibly put the time towards working on another aspect of your business or project. See how it works? But if you are the kind of person who can’t bring your self to let go, then what’s going to happen is this: You decide you want to run a webinar and you want 100 powerpoint slides done to show in the webinar. The slides would take you 5 hours so, after much deliberation, you decide to get a virtual assistant (also known as a VA) to do it for you. You hire the VA on the strict condition he sign a non-disclosure agreement You’ve put hundreds of hours of work into this business already so it pains you to send the necessary files over to the VA. You do it anyway. At this point you could either take a deep breath and wait for the results, or you could take the path that leads to massive inefficiency and you decide to keep an eye on the VA to make sure he’s doing the right thing. You watch the Upwork work diary like a vulture and you send the VA multiple messages with instructions and observations. The job takes 10 hours and you’re not happy about that. The Powerpoint looks good but you can’t get over the fact it took you twice as long as you were expecting. You demand the VA deletes all the files you sent him That’s an example of how not to use a VA to be more efficient. Sure, it’s important to make sure the VA does the work you’re hoping for and it’s important to be keep your information secure. But just remember – you should be setting clear outlines and expectations before the job so you shouldn’t need to be hovering all day. As for security – you can ask an international freelancer to sign a non disclosure agreement or any other type of contract but unless you’re running a multi national corporation, you won’t have the resources to chase it up through an international court. I won’t say the contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, but you get the idea. And now, a little word about training. I’d like to use another example here. This is a true story. A friend of mine, who will remain nameless because he promised to listen to this course and I don’t want to embarrass him, was in charge of sending out invoices for his company. It was a company offering a high-end subscription service, so there were about 20 customers paying exactly the same amount each week. Doing the invoicing should have been automatic but it wasn’t. So he had to go into Excel – yes, that’s what they used for their invoicing – punch in the details of each customer, update the details and create a PDF invoice. It took about 3 minutes for each one, so an hour in total. Let’s say his time is worth $50 an hour. That means: He’s wasting $50 a week Wasting $200 a month Which adds up to nearly two and a half thousand dollars a year! What could you do with $2,500 a year? Now, imagine this alternative scenario: He asks around if anyone knows a good VA who could help him As his friend, he knows I am familiar with outsourcing, so I recommend him an awesome outsourcer He does his invoicing as normal the next week but this time he uses camtasia and records his screen and records his voice as he does everything He spends an extra hour doing up an FAQs and some further instructions He hires my VA for $10 an hour per week, gives her the video and instructions and holds his breath The freelancer sends him all the completed PDF invoices each week and he simply forwards them to the appropriate people. Now Josh, ooops, I mean this guy, had an advantage because he didn’t need to find a good VA because I gave him one. But you can see how much time and effort he says over the year – at least $2,000! This brings up the matter of mindset. You need to get over the feeling that you have to do everything yourself. It’s just not true. Once you break through the mindset life will become easier. I understand the mindset situation can set you back for 2 reasons: You don’t want to get share all your confidential information. I can’t really tell you what to do, but I can suggest that as the intellectual property owner, you need to make that decision for yourself. If you are 100% adamant that you need legal protection, then maybe you should consider hiring someone in your own legal jurisdiction. That way you can chase them through the courts – if that’s really what you want to do. You can’t see the point in training someone when you could just do the job itself. It’s not worth the time and effort. OK – it’s true that sometimes there’s a requirement to do some training up front. But my experience is that if you do that training well enough and set clear guidelines, you will be rewarded with well trained and efficient freelance workers.  These are decisions that you, as the future outsourcer, need to make. And that’s all I have for today’s episode. We spoke about the three important things outsourcers need to address when using freelance workers – security, training and mindset. It’s now up to you to implement them as you see fit. Don’t forget, as always, to drop by outsourcing101course.com to pick up your freebie. You can get to all our podcast episodes by simply typing in outsourcing101course.com forward slash the episode number where we have transcriptions and a different freebie each week. The freebie for this week is a worksheet where you can calculate how much training you can give a Virtual Assistant before it no longer becomes worth the money. Very interesting way to see if you are using your time appropriately. As always, I thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast. A lot of effort goes into producing the episodes and the follow up website so I really do appreciate you taking the time to drop by and listen. If you are enjoying the podcast please subscribe and maybe leave a review. We are trying to spread the word of outsourcing far an wide and leaving a review or rating helps us spread the word. Drop by for the upcoming episodes because I cover the most common questions I am asked about outsourcing, and the big one: how to manage your freelance workers.
Oct. 6, 2015
In this episode James Mackay shares the concept of “hire fast, fire fast” and how weeding out problem employees early can save you time and money. Check out http://outsourcing101course.com to sign up for The Free Outsourcing 101 Course that includes video tutorials and much more! In this episode we are going to uncover one of the most important aspects of outsourcing: how to handle problem freelancers. We can break this up into a few parts: Managing and improving output Knowing when to call it quits Let’s go through each section now and I’ll explain how and why I do each of these things.  Most outsourcers are running their own show. Every dollar is important and we don’t have the time or money to waste on outcomes that don’t achieve what they are supposed to. We can put in place methods to hire the right freelancer. We can institute systems to make sure we give over a great project brief to our employees. We can even draw sketches and designs to make things as clear as possible.  But sometimes things just don’t work out. So what can we do? How do we fix this before we slide into a massive pool of oblivion, also known as “I give up”. The good news is, you don’t have to waste money. We can fix this pretty easily. It’s never fun when someone rips you off and that’s often the feeling you get when your freelancers get paid but don’t deliver what you expect.  Upfront, you need to have ticked off a few things: Have you given them a clear project brief? Do they understand the brief? Were there any doubtful points they needed clarification on? It’s not unusual for freelancers to say what you want to hear: they know exactly what you want, that they have the skills to do it and they will have it delivered on time. Have you ever heard of the concept of “hire fast, fire fast”? So we have already spent a significant amount of time figuring out how to hire the best freelancers we can, so we won’t go through that again. What we will do, however, is adapt our saying a little and change it to “Hire fast, fire faster”. Now don’t get me wrong, it won’t always mean you need to hire your freelancers, but you have to nip the problems in the bud early, so they don’t end up costing you lots of time and money. I’ll give you an example… Once I wanted to get an animated explainer video done. I wrote the script and even sourced the sound effects. I thought I had laid everything out for the animator, as much as I could. I hired the freelancer and then let him get stuck into the job. Unfortunately, I had a few things on my plate and I wasn’t able to track his work to make sure he was doing the right thing.  Remember, Upwork has a feature where I can see screenshots of what my freelancers are working on. It’s very cool and very good for this kind of thing.  If I had bothered to look or I had bothered to ask for a daily report, I could have saved myself a lot of time and money. The freelancer had gone off and started designing a video in totally the wrong format! I wanted a black felt on whiteboard style thing and he was doing a full colour computer animation style movie. So here’s the first tip: stay right on top of what the freelancer is doing. I don’t mean micro-manage everything they do, but at least take the time to get a report, or check for yourself. And there I was: I had an animation for my product that didn’t fit with the other movies so it was totally out of place. But it was my fault because I never actually specified I wanted white on black. I assumed he would do the same. That was my problem: I assumed!! When a freelancer isn’t delivering what they should be, or they are working slowly or the result isn’t what you expect, you need to communicate that clearly and in a timely manner. Send them a message. Be firm but respectful and indicate that you are unhappy with the current situation. You should make it clear that the problem requires resolution. In some countries you need to give employees 3 written warnings before you can fire them. This is not the case with freelancers. If you have just hired someone for a job and you are testing them out, you can tell pretty quickly if they are the right fit. As an example, I had 4 podcast episodes that I need transcribing. I knew I had more episodes to transcribe so I wanted to find a good transcriptionist. So, I hired 4 transcriptionists and gave them all the same instructions. Double line spaced, Calibri font, 10 point size. Identify each speaker, etc etc. The only thing that was different was the audio file. They got to work and I could quickly see how different they were. One guy kept asking questions. One girl wanted to know the font. Both of these raised suspicions because it’s a pretty easy job, so the red flag was up early. Now, I figured it would take 2 hours to transcribe 30 minutes of audio. Sure enough, one girl delivered her word doc file just after two hours. She had formatted it nicely. She had proof read it and followed all my instructions. Perfect. She was the only one to deliver the file to me on the same day. Unfortunately, I don’t have time or the inclination to keep people on staff when they can’t follow simple instructions or take to long to deliver. So I thanked the other three transcriptionists for their work and ended their contracts. Because this was early in the relationship, there was no problem. I lost nothing by ending their contracts and I had not committed to further work, so there was no problem. Don’t be afraid to shop around for the freelancer that best suits your requirements. You’ll find them. Then, of course, there’s the kind of trouble that arises after you have been employing a freelancer for a long time and they work they are delivering isn’t right. You have sent sternly worded emails to correct the behavior. You have threatened to end the contract. But there’s a problem: you might have already spent thousands and thousands of dollars and you haven’t got a product yet. So what do you do now? This is a super tricky situation, mainly because of a phenomenon called “feature creep”. With a large, long term project the specifications and requirements will change over time. For example, if you are getting a website built, it’s likely that by the end of the project, the website looks and operates differently to what you originally anticipated. And that’s ok, because sometimes before you start a project you won’t know exactly what you’re looking for, so you adapt and change. But here’s the problem: if you gave the developer the original spec sheet and only made changes by email, you’re in a hard spot. With the contract arrangements on a fixed price contract, the developer only has to deliver what was in the original spec sheet. That’s what you both signed off on, right, and agreed the price to. And if you’ve gone and added the features along the way, you might think what you’re adding would make no material difference but in actual fact it might be fundamentally changing the way the website operates. Therefore, the developer might not make the changes for you and they only have to deliver what was in the original brief. I suggest you make the changes to the brief and get the developer to sign off as you go. If they are happy to make the extra changes without adding extra zeroes to the balance sheet, then that’s great. Where it gets even trickier is where you start issuing new feature instructions to the developer and they go ahead and start implementing them. They might not say anything about extra charges or that it affects your program. But don’t take their work as tacit approval that they agree with where it’s going. Unless you get them to agree to a contract change, you have to wear it. They might only be helping because they want a successful contract, nit because they think it’s good. To be fair, there should be a degree of onus on the freelancer to bring to your attention that your spec changes are outside their remit. But they don’t have to, so don’t go looking to blame them. If you have changed the brief and not had them officially sign it off, then you’ll have some trouble. On the other hand, if they simply have not delivered the product even though it was perfectly laid out and spec’d and signed off, then you are in a really good spot. Now you have the right to go back to the freelancer and demand they finish the job immediately or give your money back. You might need to get Upwork’s adjudication involved but it’s certainly worth the effort if you’re talking about a lot of money. The take away would be this: if you are struggling with freelancers who are not working to your standard, don’t tolerate it. Address it as early as possible and try to figure something out. Hire fast, fire faster. Thanks again for joining me, my fellow and future outsourcers! I hope this information has been somewhat helpful on your journey into outsourcing. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast so you can get all the tips and tricks on how to outsource work so you’ve got more time to do what you love.  
Oct. 1, 2015
Today we are diving in deep about the one issue that seems to vex many outsourcers: hiring the right freelancer. I break the hiring process into three phases: Phase 1: Posting our job ad Phase 2: Sorting the candidates Phase 3: Testing and measuring  Let’s go through each phase now and I’ll explain how and why I do each of these things. Phase 1: Posting our job ad This isn’t as easy as simply copying and pasting the text from our job ad.  There are a few little refinements I make to get the best result.  It only takes a minute so it’s worth it. In this instance I’m talking specifically about Upwork but it’s the same process for the others too. So go ahead and click on the “post a job” link. This brings up a form that needs to be completed.  Critically, you need to select which category your job falls into.  Take a bit of time and select the right option because if you choose the wrong sub-category you’ll be missing out on many of your best possible candidates because they’ll only be looking for new jobs in their particular niche  Let’s just say you needed someone to edit your podcast to get rid of the background noise.  There’s no specific podcast category so you need to be a little more lateral – the best I could do would be to select Design and Creative and then a sub category of audio production.  Go ahead and choose the most relevant you can. Now you cut and paste the headline from your job ad into the job title space.  Don’t make it all caps or use astrices otherwise you’ll look spammy. In the job description go ahead and paste in the job ad you wrote.  You’ll have to fix the spacing and formatting because the bullet points might have come out funny. There’s a cool space on this form that allows you to select what skills you need the applicants to possess.  Be realistic and accurate here because Upwork actually scores the applicants on these skills for you.  As you type suggestions will come up and you can choose all that apply. At this point you have to choose whether you want to go with a fixed price or pay by the hour.  For an ongoing job I pay by the hour but there are certain tasks that fixed prices work for.  You might want five logo drafts done so you could say $15 fixed for 5 drafts.  Be realistic though – you’re not going to get a great result if you want 5 completed logos for $15. For the rest of the form you have to be both honest and realistic.  You’re filling in how much work you expect to be able to offer the freelancer.  If you’ve only got a small job, say so.  There’s no point saying it’s full time when you’ll only be employing them for a short time.  Remember – freelancers are people and you should treat them with respect.  That goes for the next section, too, when you fill in the section about desired experience level and corresponding pay rate. If you’re looking for someone who can work independently and can produce great results in a short amount of time, then obviously you will need to pay for that benefit.  If you’re prepared to handle communication issues, lower skill set and a slower turn around, then feel free to set a low price threshold. But hey, if you’re trying to be the cowboy who’s going to walk into town and post a job ad expecting to hire gun talent for pennies in the dollar, then take a hike.  You’re disrespecting the freelancers and giving the rest of us a bad name.  On the post a job screen you can also upload files.  This is a good opportunity to show the applicants what you are looking for.  You might post a screenshot of a website you like.  You might have a video describing a task.  Or, and this has saved my bacon on a NUMBER of occasions, try uploading a sketch of what you are looking to get made, built or designed.  If you want a list created, post the template spreadsheet for the applicants to have a look at.  If it’s too complicated they won’t apply, and that is saving you valuable time weeding out the no-hopers. At the bottom of this page is a cool section where you can put in screening questions.  This serves two purposes:
Sept. 29, 2015
For more information about this episode visit outsourcing101course.com/11 and sign up for the free course at outsourcing101course.com. In this episode James Mackay shares how to write a job ad: what attracts the right candidates and what information needs to go into the initial advertisement. Hello, hello, hello and welcome back to the Outsourcing 101 Course Podcast.  Thanks for joining me yet again.  I appreciate that you have a choice of podcasts and I am glad you’re back here. Today’s topic is pretty important.  It’s less subjective and more Objective. Just like with anything else, setting down your expectations are critical when you are trying to get someone to do something. Generally speaking you would see a corporate or even a well-organised small business put together both job ads and position descriptions?  Why?  Because it allows everyone to understand exactly what’s expected of them.  There’s no confusion and disappointment. Most importantly, in the long run it saves the most important asset that you can never get back: time. Time and time again I see people post stupid job ads that end up in the whole process being a debacle.  Simply posting a job ad that says “Wordpress developer required to build website” is simply wasting everyone’s time. Now that outsourcer is going to get flooded with unsuitable applications from totally unsuitable candidates.  And the well-qualified people won’t apply because they have better things to do than waste their time with incomplete job ads. The outsourcer will get the 50 applications, and start wading through them.  They’ll probably be stoked that people from all over the world are applying, from as little as $1 an hour!  Bargain, right?  Well, my experience shows that if you hire one of those freelancers you are opening yourself up to a world of pain.  Here’s a few reasons why: