3 years later, here's what I learned about outsourcing (and hopefully it will save you money)
#1 Be PICKY when you hire!
The one thing that I learned is that there are hundreds (if not thousands) of people that can do the job that you want. There is no shortage of people on this earth and worse thing you can do is hire the first person that applies.
If you think: "Oh well, he's good enough", then you're usually going to have a disastrous experience.
Now? I post jobs, review all the applicants... and if no one REALLY stands out, I RE-POST the job again. I have reposted the same job (with slightly different descriptions) 3 times before finding my ideal candidate.
#2 Always pay HOURLY.
This was my biggest mistake... I thought that it would be cheaper to pay by contract! After all... it SEEMS cheaper. Unfortunately, it never worked out that way.
Here's why: When you pay by contract... it is in the interest of the worker to do the job as FAST as possible, cutting all corners until it's 'acceptable'.
When you pay hourly, it's in the interest of the worker to do the best damn job he can if he wants to CONTINUE being paid hourly. Therefore, you get quality work and, if you can monitor it properly, you can get a lot of work done.
#3 Always monitor your employees (trick inside)
My second biggest mistake was to 'delegate and forget'. This must have cost me thousands of dollars because people I outsourced either A) didn't do what I wanted them to do or B) started working extremely slow.
How did I fix that? Well, for starters, everyone I work with must ABSOLUTELY use Hyperhour. It's a small client software that allows me to monitor when they work, how much time they work and I can even see what they are working on. (So when I get billed for 7 hours, I know exactly WHAT it was for)
Plus, with the screenshots, I can tell if someone is doing the work correctly or... if they are doing it the wrong way. (I had a link builder that was writing 1000+ word essays in Word in order to submit the article designed specifically for link building. I was wondering why it was taking 3 hours PER article!)
Moral of the story, TRACK your employees... I use Hyperhour because it's in beta (and free), use whatever you want.
#4 Get to know your employees, personally.
I made a huge blunder of never getting to know my first employees. If I would have... it would have saved me so much time and money! Do you know how long it takes to train someone?! It takes FOREVER!
What happens when you spend 4 months training someone... only to find out that they can't work for you anymore because they are traveling to another country?
Get to know them! Ask if they are a student, a mother, a father.... if they live by themselves or not. It matters. You'll discover so many things and usually, they'll work harder for you if they know who you are. (It's hard to give a **** when you don't know who the other person is).
In my experience, single mothers (or mothers with boyfriends/husbands) tend to be the best workers (if they are qualified). Why? Well... you know that the mother needs to KEEP her job in order to feed her child. She'll work her ass off in order to make you happy. The compromise is that sometimes she won't be available for random reasons relating to motherhood. It's worth it.
#5 Last but not least, treat your employees as team members.
Make everyone part of your team. Eliminate the "boss" vs "employee" mentality. You'll run into cultural differences when dealing with people in the Philippines, but always support your team and get them involved. My link builders LOVE to see stats because they get to see the fruits of their labor. They are no longer 'just building links', they are building traffic to a website. It becomes their website and they love it.
Hope you guys save a lot of money from my experience!