Outsourcing isn't as easy as most people here say it is...A GOOD LESSON LEARNED.

28 replies
After reading countless threads over hiring a virtual agent ranging from $300-800 per month I decided to give it a shot myself.

I have hired freelancers before but never went in for a virtual agent therefore here was my experience-

1- $300/Month = Extremely Low Quality of Work PERIOD.

2- Massive amount of training would be needed...You just can't hire a person and expect him/her to perform the way you expect them to.

3- Constant supervision is required...You just can't delegate and task and think it will be done on time.

4- It's not easy to fire them...And they can cause extreme damage. One of my agents deleted all the blog posts I asked her to make after I said she wasn't doing the task the way I asked her to do it.

5- There is always a big difference between what they say they can do and what they can actually do. Therefore test them before you hire them.

6- There is absolutely no way that an agent will make you automatic money within weeks of hiring. This is just not practically possible for someone working for $300-800 a month unless they have special skills and the one's who do don't come that cheap.

Lessons I learned-

1- Always hire an agent on a 2 week trial basis where you will pay them only so much to test their skills. Let them know that you will only hire once you are satisfied with their work.

2- Testimonials don't really count that much specially on freelancing sites. I saw some agencies with thousands of great testimonials but crappy work.

3- Always tell them exactly what you want them to do...If you them to submit your link to directories then give them a list to submit to. The more specific you are the better.

4- Never give an agent your credit card details, passwords etc too early. They can cause some serious damage if you decide to fire them at some point.

5- Have a certain set of tasks for a month and pay them according to the completion of tasks. That way they will be highly motivated to do the job right.

6- You won't find real good quality at $500/month therefore don't go with the flow and do your own personal research. Good agents charge more just like good writers charge more for a good quality article.

7- Always outsource to big outsourcing firms as they have a proper team with a team leader who will make sure your tasks are performed in the right manner. This won't come cheap but will ensure best work possible.
#easy #good #isa #learned #lesson #outsourcing #people
  • Profile picture of the author shane_k
    I get a kick out of all the ads that talk about making thousands of dollars a month with no work, promising that if you learn their "system" then you can just set it up and the money will roll in and you don't have to do anything.

    The thing is yeah sure you might not have to write articles, or post on blogs, or build your backlinks, but when you outsource/hire someone to do it for you, you then have to manage them!

    You go from creating and running the system yourself to managing the person you hired to run the system.

    It is a different set of skills, challenges and it is still work.

    I am new to the IM world but come from a business background, and I am amazed at the amount of IMer's who think that they can outsource their work to someone and "set it and forget it" and the money will just come rolling in, and that is just not true.


    And I think this post is great because it will show people who have that mindset that yes even though you outsource there is still work involved.

    Take this as a victory because your skill level as a business person just went up a level.

    You went from doing the technical work, creating your systems, and now learning how to teach someone to run those systems for you, and learning how to manage those people who are running your systems.

    Congrats. that's awsome.

    And for anyone who is thinking of outsourcing they should copy and save this post for later reference.

    I know I am certainly going to.


    Thanks

    Shane_K
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    • Profile picture of the author Tina Golden
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      • Profile picture of the author ryanman
        Originally Posted by TMG Enterprises View Post

        I gotta ask you - how many VAs did you actually hire and how long did you work with them to come up with this long list of dos and don'ts?

        Considering you were posting about interviewing VAs just over a week ago, I'm kind of wondering if you gave them much of a chance to learn what you want.

        Tina G
        I hired a team of 9 VA'S from different countries. And I feel 6 days is enough to know how much a person can do. And most of them didn't really do a good job.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Duncan
    ryanman,
    One thing that you pointed out that is really critical is "BE SPECIFIC" about what you want.

    I think most people assume they can just pass off a basic idea of what they are looking for and then expect it to be done just perfectly.

    I heard someone once talk about CostCo stores. They supposedly have 4 large binders that have every single task in painstaking detail...down to phone numbers, people, items, ect.

    It's been said that someone not even familiar with retail/construction can take those 4 binders and work from page to page...and as soon as the last page is completed, a new CostCo store has been erected and is having their Grand Opening.

    Now, I cannot vouch that the story is 100% accurate...but regardless, it does shed some light into the process of successful systems.

    Be very detailed.

    I prefer to split my tasks up into smaller chunks and have more than 1 person/firm do them...that way you don't reveal all the steps to one individual.

    Hope this helps,
    Jack
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  • Profile picture of the author Andyhenry
    Who said it was scary or easy?

    I outsource work almost constantly - currently have $17k worth of working going on using Elance.

    There are poor providers and high quality ones - you just use common sense to test the quality on a small project before giving them any big work, and make your bigger projects modular and have them deliver a bit at a time with clear documentation.

    I'm getting some really complicated programming done with flash apps, backend database and website, with no problems.


    It doesn't need to be a pain if you just approach it sensibly.
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    • Profile picture of the author Wah Bhatti
      Originally Posted by Andyhenry View Post

      Who said it was scary or easy?

      I outsource work almost constantly - currently have $17k worth of working going on using Elance.

      There are poor providers and high quality ones - you just use common sense to test the quality on a small project before giving them any big work, and make your bigger projects modular and have them deliver a bit at a time with clear documentation.

      I'm getting some really complicated programming done with flash apps, backend database and website, with no problems.


      It doesn't need to be a pain if you just approach it sensibly.
      good advice i make my living out sourcing and being the intermeditory betwen my team and the needs of my client ( i undersand what internet marketers need even if they dont them selfs lol )

      i have 19 full time staff and up to 70 i know and get results from

      as Andy said its in the approach get a good out source manager think out the box
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      http://www.youroutsourceteam.com/
      "You can get anything in life you want if you help enough people get what they want." -Zig Ziglar
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  • Profile picture of the author Chris Reeves
    Seems like you've had some bad luck. I outsource on a regular basis and can attest to the fact that not all of the people you hire will do work to your standards. That is why it is soo important to test them out before hiring them. Give them a difficult first task that is reflective of the work they will be doing on a regular basis.

    And yes, you can find people that will work hard and produce high quality work easily within the budget you mentioned.

    Good luck!

    - Chris
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  • Profile picture of the author matthewd
    I have found outsourcing to be as easy most people
    here say it is.

    I have 2 really great employees that I pay each of
    them $400/month. This is AFTER I have given them
    each raises too.

    One is on full time content writing... and believe it
    or not, she can not only out write me, but does much
    better work than people that charge 10X as much as her.

    I don't have to give them constant supervision at all
    and almost no training was required.
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    • Profile picture of the author Maria Gudelis
      Originally Posted by matthewd View Post

      I have found outsourcing to be as easy most people
      here say it is.

      I have 2 really great employees that I pay each of
      them $400/month. This is AFTER I have given them
      each raises too.

      One is on full time content writing... and believe it
      or not, she can not only out write me, but does much
      better work than people that charge 10X as much as her.

      I don't have to give them constant supervision at all
      and almost no training was required.
      Wow Matthew you indeed have found some gold in them there 'outsourcing' fields!

      I tried Agents of Value ,tried hiring individual full time workers in the Phillipines and India...and gotta say that most of the permanent outsourcers I use are here in the U.S. -

      ..and I've hired someone locally now for $10/hour to so some VA stuff for me - tis easier for some stuff to be physically in my office where I can supervise/show exactly what I need...

      I also use a variety of individual freelancers and stick with them...haven't found a full time person at your rates - congrats!!!
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  • Profile picture of the author Dana_W
    My experience so far, with every site that I've tried, is that I have to try out several people for every one good person that I find. You always want to start out someone with a small task to see how well they can do it (and pay them for that task, of course.)

    But the good people that I've found have been MORE than worth the effort that it took to find them!
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  • Profile picture of the author oneempowered
    Originally Posted by ryanman View Post

    4- Never give an agent your credit card details, passwords etc too early. They can cause some serious damage if you decide to fire them at some point.
    I would change this one to "Never give your credit card details, period." Instead, give them a one-time card number, if needed. (Many credit card companies and paypal have this feature available now and even Walmart sells prepaid credit cards now.)

    You made some good observations. It should be obvious that you have to be a good manager or learn solid management skills to use VAs effectively.

    Some basic principles:
    Choose the right person
    clearly explain what you expect
    inspect what you expect
    course corrections should be made early/quickly
    what gets praise will get repeated
    never make them wonder or guess how they are doing
    if you have the "right" person, training them is a good investment
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    • Profile picture of the author Wah Bhatti
      Quote:
      Originally Posted by ryanman
      4- Never give an agent your credit card details, passwords etc too early. They can cause some serious damage if you decide to fire them at some point.



      most of my clients give me the keys to there house and bank have never abused the trust we have built
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      http://www.youroutsourceteam.com/
      "You can get anything in life you want if you help enough people get what they want." -Zig Ziglar
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      • Profile picture of the author Bryan Zimmerman
        I've never really had a problem with people I have outsourced stuff to. I've actually found it to be quite easy.

        Then again I don't outsource anything I couldn't do myself so it's easy to keep tabs on how they are doing. You should definitely give them a trial period where you'll get a good idea of how they'll do. If they pass the trial period tell them you'll give them bonuses if their work does good things for you. Then if you actually follow through on those bonuses, you'll have loyal people that will want to do the best they can because they know there is more money in it for them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Teresa Coppes
    I'm sorry you've obviously had a bad experience but not all VA's are like that and some of your lessons learned are common practice with other VA's that I know. For example - hiring on a probationary period, not being paid until the work was completed, etc.

    Live, learn and move forward.
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  • Profile picture of the author Samuel Lee
    Great advice there ryanman, a good warning on the perils of outsourcing, you've given me some great ideas as to what to look for when selecting a new team member. I notice there are many great services offered by warriors on the forum, so if you have any reccomendations on previous experiences it would be great! Great post!
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  • Profile picture of the author dndoseller
    I have had the same experience...you get what you pay for. That's why large profitable companies fork out the big dollars for full-time on-premise professional staff.

    I have dealt with offshore contractors in a corporate setting and in IM. Every one of my experiences resulted in low quality work from people you have to constantly supervise.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Hill
    When outsourcing anything its a good idea to be prepared ahead of time. Describing in written format what you want done is not enough.

    Create a system for each task you want completed and include videos as well to show them how you want things done. Also, provide a PDF with screen shots to outline the exact same thing.

    Also, any mock-ups and examples of what you'd like done is also helpful.

    When I outsource work I assume they don't have a high school education and outline my systems accordingly with as much supporting information, videos etc that is required.

    After all, they are only doing what you asked them to do.... no more no less!

    Mike Hill

    PS. As for the cost you are paying far to much compared to the work you have described that was performed. Assistants will be able to do more work if thy have the supporting documents to outline your systems.
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    • Profile picture of the author ryanman
      Originally Posted by Mike Hill View Post

      When outsourcing anything its a good idea to be prepared ahead of time. Describing in written format what you want done is not enough.

      Create a system for each task you want completed and include videos as well to show them how you want things done. Also, provide a PDF with screen shots to outline the exact same thing.

      Also, any mock-ups and examples of what you'd like done is also helpful.

      When I outsource work I assume they don't have a high school education and outline my systems accordingly with as much supporting information, videos etc that is required.

      After all, they are only doing what you asked them to do.... no more no less!

      Mike Hill

      PS. As for the cost you are paying far to much compared to the work you have described that was performed. Assistants will be able to do more work if thy have the supporting documents to outline your systems.
      You are absolutely right! I've decided that I would make camtasia recordings and give it to all my VA's as that would easily tell them what I am looking for.
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  • Profile picture of the author Davion Wong
    Thanks for sharing that. I have hired people for all kinds of tasks. Article writers, programmers, graphics designers, general virtual agents. Met some that deliver poor quality work but thank God, I manage to find some really good ones.

    Now, I have 1 team of writers writing for me, 2 programmers as well as 2 great graphics designers. I also outsource daily tasks to a virtual agent.

    On the note of virtual agent, I guess you have to train him/her initially and yes, it can be tedious, but after a while, he can do quality work for me everyday. Also, one tip is to assign him with some routine tasks so that you do not have to keep training him.

    I am using this company which provides virtual assistance which is great. If you are keen, pm me.
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    • Profile picture of the author ryanman
      Originally Posted by Davion Wong View Post

      Thanks for sharing that. I have hired people for all kinds of tasks. Article writers, programmers, graphics designers, general virtual agents. Met some that deliver poor quality work but thank God, I manage to find some really good ones.

      Now, I have 1 team of writers writing for me, 2 programmers as well as 2 great graphics designers. I also outsource daily tasks to a virtual agent.

      On the note of virtual agent, I guess you have to train him/her initially and yes, it can be tedious, but after a while, he can do quality work for me everyday. Also, one tip is to assign him with some routine tasks so that you do not have to keep training him.

      I am using this company which provides virtual assistance which is great. If you are keen, pm me.
      I would be real grateful if you would share the name of the company.
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  • Profile picture of the author J. Barry Mandel
    Some good things you figured out Ryan! But I disagree on point #6...

    If you are looking to hire a VA for full-time work than your right, otherwise it all depends who you get.

    Feel free to find my "7 Tips On Hiring A Virtual Assistant" post and you will find much of what you already listed


    Originally Posted by ryanman View Post

    6- You won't find real good quality at $500/month therefore don't go with the flow and do your own personal research. Good agents charge more just like good writers charge more for a good quality article.
    .
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  • Profile picture of the author lorrainelim
    I'm really just starting out in this field.. but I've been lucky enough to find several good providers to outsource to. Found a gem by posting at Craigslist, he's already working for a top SEO/SEM company then he got too busy. He referred someone though and she's great as well.
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    • Profile picture of the author stanwa
      As someone who is getting to the point where outsourcing is becoming a necessity this is a very useful thread.
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  • Profile picture of the author thegadgetblogger
    Some good advice here, all noted for me to make use of!

    Thanks!
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  • Profile picture of the author jayden.fellze
    Outsourcing may not be really that easy, you have to scrutinize the people you would like to hire and most especially give them enough trainings. With that, you will be given the good work that is expected because of proper training. There might also be a good luck behind, since, even though proper training is given but it is pointed to the wrong person, then the work will be also be all wrong.
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  • Profile picture of the author TuesdayB
    Hi everyone! Has anybody ever read Tim Ferris's points on outsourcing? You can't really can't expect too much but you can be surprised at some who do deliver great results There's this funny story about outsourcing in Esquire, called "My Outsourced Life". Check it out...

    In fairness to contractors, they have to get over a lot of barriers to deliver the best work they can. Don't write them all off just yet.
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  • Profile picture of the author misterlmno
    thanks for sharing your experience, i have been thinking of outsourcing and would never have thought you could experience so much trouble!
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