34 replies
Hi all

Before I say anything else - DO NOT pm me looking for business! I'm asking for advice here NOT pitches.

I have sucessfully sold and developed 6 sites now, for local businesses. We are middle of the road on pricing - not too cheap, not too expensive. I am looking to sell more and increase my pricing but I am quite worried about supply. I mean, I find it easy, relatively speaking, to get customers BUT I have found the whole fulfillment of orders to be very difficult.

I was outsourcing directly to a couple of individuals in the Phillipines. Lovely people but definitely a very frustrating experience.

How do those of you who are not designers/coders manage the supply side of things and what/who do you recommend for design/coding/content/seo etc.

TIA

Colm
#outsourcing
  • Profile picture of the author Mwind076
    I might be missing the question...but wouldn't it make sense to know how to do (yourself) what you're selling? Wouldn't that eliminate the outsourcing need?

    I don't sell a service and outsource it because I don't know how to do it.

    Again, maybe I'm missing your question.
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    • Profile picture of the author Colm Whelan
      Originally Posted by Mwind076 View Post

      I might be missing the question...but wouldn't it make sense to know how to do (yourself) what you're selling? Wouldn't that eliminate the outsourcing need?
      Is this not kinda like asking the car salesman why he doesn't make his own cars? Or as Marcus Buckingham famously said "Do what you do best, outsource the rest".

      What I do best is build relationships, network, promote, sell and provide customer service.

      I actually can produce a site from scratch so long as I have the time to do so BUT I find the process labourious in the extreme and very unrewarding. Basically I don' t like doing it AND there are lots and lots of people better and more effecient at it than I. I already have a moderately successful bricks and mortar businesss which takes most of my time and the local web marketing side of my businessess is just an afterthought right now. It can be a lucrative afterthought though and one I wish to grow at a modest pace - maybe one new client per week until I can spin it out on its own.

      So then, any answer to my original question?
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      • Originally Posted by Colm Whelan View Post

        Is this not kinda like asking the car salesman why he doesn't make his own cars? Or as Marcus Buckingham famously said "Do what you do best, outsource the rest".

        What I do best is build relationships, network, promote, sell and provide customer service.

        I actually can produce a site from scratch so long as I have the time to do so BUT I find the process labourious in the extreme and very unrewarding. Basically I don' t like doing it AND there are lots and lots of people better and more effecient at it than I. I already have a moderately successful bricks and mortar businesss which takes most of my time and the local web marketing side of my businessess is just an afterthought right now. It can be a lucrative afterthought though and one I wish to grow at a modest pace - maybe one new client per week until I can spin it out on its own.

        So then, any answer to my original question?
        Before you outsource, I suggest you systematize or itemize what you want done? Like how many websites per week do you want? What kind of web marketing and how much web marketing are you looking at? That way, once you hire somebody, it'll be easier to train that person into following your business model, you can itemize your business costs, and you can easily maximize your outsourced worker by having him/her do more income generating tasks.

        And it does take time to find the right person. But if have a good, easy to follow work system in place before you hire them, it'll be easier to see of that employee is a good fit or not. Less time wasted on training and "sensing" if the new guy is a good fit for your business and you'll have more time getting some work done.
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        • Profile picture of the author RenegadeSC
          Originally Posted by John Jonas Phil VA View Post

          Before you outsource, I suggest you systematize or itemize what you want done? Like how many websites per week do you want? What kind of web marketing and how much web marketing are you looking at? That way, once you hire somebody, it'll be easier to train that person into following your business model, you can itemize your business costs, and you can easily maximize your outsourced worker by having him/her do more income generating tasks.

          And it does take time to find the right person. But if have a good, easy to follow work system in place before you hire them, it'll be easier to see of that employee is a good fit or not. Less time wasted on training and "sensing" if the new guy is a good fit for your business and you'll have more time getting some work done.
          John's right. You have to systematize what you do. I do interviews with business owners to get clients. It can be time consuming when you spend time on the phone and fulfilling the services.

          When I felt I reached critical mass, I started looking at ways to have others do what I was doing. I was either on the phone getting clients and not fulfilling the services I already sold or I was fulfilling the services I sold and not getting new clients.

          So I created a step by step on how I got clients, posted an ad on Craigslist for someone who could make the calls. As someone mentioned, I had to kiss a few frogs before I found the right person.

          Then I set out to find the right outsourcers to fulfill the services. I created a system using mindmaps, videos that I placed on a private page and used it to train people. If they didn't work out, I didn't loose a ton of time training someone who didn't work out.

          It took some time to find a team. Now I sell SEO, web design/redesign, marketing...we're full service. I outsource everything except closing clients and I'm desperately work hard to find the right sales person for that part of the business.

          I learned this system from my high school years working at Burger King. They have a written system for everything. How to prep and cook french fries, how to mop the floors...there was a checklist for everything. So when they fired the fry cook, they could throw the newly hired high schooler in his/her place the same day!

          By the way, you don't have to know how to build a website to sell them. That's counter productive to what you are trying to do. When YOU know how to do those things, it's easy for you to say, "Oh, I'll just do it myself."

          Work on your business, not in it.

          Just my 2 pennies.
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    • Profile picture of the author skillsforsuccess
      Originally Posted by Mwind076 View Post

      I might be missing the question...but wouldn't it make sense to know how to do (yourself) what you're selling? Wouldn't that eliminate the outsourcing need?

      I don't sell a service and outsource it because I don't know how to do it.

      Again, maybe I'm missing your question.
      To person I quoted above: You might be limiting your professional growth with this opinion.

      The entire point of building a business is to scale it.

      Not to help 1 person and stop but to help 1 person, figure out exactly the steps it took to achieve the result and then find every living person with the same problem you know how to solve - & solve it for them.

      You - as an individual - do not scale.

      Anyone with ambition to build a real business needs to figure out how to recruit and train others to perform tasks.

      Read the E-Myth. If you are 'self-employed' you don't own a business you own a job.

      A business is an income producing asset with the ability to scale and isn't dependent on any 1 single person.

      Also, once you DO being to grow, you won't be the best at everything that needs doing. Specialists ALWAYS make more then generalists. Specialize on the things that make you money - nothing else.

      So technically you will need and want to delegate things that help you perform your service and run your business.

      __________


      To help answer your question.. I feel you bro.

      Even hiring local people, good help is seriously lacking, even for basic tasks.


      Tips I've found useful are:

      1) The worst number in business is 1. I web guy, 1 admin, 1 ANYTHING.
      Double up... At minimum.

      2) Hire slow (have a test task for new hires)
      3) Fire quick
      4) If hiring online, get 3x as many applicants as you think you'll need..


      Build a pool of qualified people you can keep going back to (for example, for web design I had 72 applicants and hired/fired 5 people before I found 1 person who could operate optimize press - even tho I gave them example pages and full log-in access to the OP member training videos. Is it THAT hard to make a squeeze page when you've handed the graphics and copy?!)

      (O.o)?

      Now I'm hunting for #2 (refer to tip #1)

      5) Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines

      6) Actually opposite of what was suggested earlier.. ONLY hire people with feedback. Let other people pay to test them out.

      On Odesk and sites that give you excellent segmenting tools I do things like:

      Minimum of 4.5/5 rating. 5/5 English skills. 1,000+ hours logged in (odesk), etc, etc...

      Get reallllly specific and find people who have recent feedback, relevant work experience (and can provide samples)

      7) WORK WITH THEM - I really fight hard to have people work when I can be available to check in on them via skype and answer questions.

      I had one too many painful experiences of assigning a project before bed... feeling like a pimp bcs "None of my competitors have a team helping them crush it 24/7".. Only to wake up and discover I'd paid for 8 hours of work in an understandable but way off direction.

      I love Odesk's screen capture monitoring for this same reason (no affiliation to Odesk, I swear).

      8) Daily Email Report

      I love this. Forget where I got it but ALL outsourced staff (hourly staff) must complete this at the end of their day, everyday:

      1) What did you accomplish today? (be specific)

      2) What problems/obstacles are you facing?

      3) What do you need from me?

      4) What will you accomplish next?





      I'm no guru and certainly don't have it all figured out.. But hopefully this helps.

      (^_^)b
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    • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
      You are missing the question because he's not asking how to create a job for himself.

      Yes of course he should know how to build a site but if he does the selling and the deliverable's he'll never grow and is essentially working a job.

      Many people start out doing everything but it's clear that the OP if having started this way has past that point.

      Originally Posted by Mwind076 View Post

      I might be missing the question...but wouldn't it make sense to know how to do (yourself) what you're selling? Wouldn't that eliminate the outsourcing need?

      I don't sell a service and outsource it because I don't know how to do it.

      Again, maybe I'm missing your question.
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  • Profile picture of the author myeanne
    It's great to know that you preferred Philippines staff to outsource your project. As I always suggest, you need to look for a reputable outsourcing company rather than freelancers who are working from home.

    You will gain lots of advantages when you choose to outsource to a company who offers staff leasing services. First, there is no question with the legality of the company and the services. There are supervisors and team leader who always check and manage your staff's productivity to make sure that all your requirements have been followed. You are secure that all your files are secure and the internet connection is very stable.
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    We Lease Offshore Employees

    Hire inexpensive labor from the Philippines!
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  • Profile picture of the author KoolFM
    Originally Posted by Colm Whelan View Post

    Hi all

    Before I say anything else - DO NOT pm me looking for business! I'm asking for advice here NOT pitches.

    I have sucessfully sold and developed 6 sites now, for local businesses. We are middle of the road on pricing - not too cheap, not too expensive. I am looking to sell more and increase my pricing but I am quite worried about supply. I mean, I find it easy, relatively speaking, to get customers BUT I have found the whole fulfillment of orders to be very difficult.

    I was outsourcing directly to a couple of individuals in the Phillipines. Lovely people but definitely a very frustrating experience.

    How do those of you who are not designers/coders manage the supply side of things and what/who do you recommend for design/coding/content/seo etc.

    TIA

    Colm
    You know that saying about kissing a few frogs? With outsourcing you have to kiss many, it's the exception rather than the rule to find great coders designers, with your first few attempts.
    The big problem is the advanced skills. You can try odesk. Of course the price is higher. Supply and demand
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    • Profile picture of the author workers24hdotcom
      Hi there,

      I really understand your situation. Yep very frustrating. Outsourcing is less expensive but sometimes = more expensive ( lack of communication, coding errors.... etc)
      I hired coders from severals freelancing websites including freelancer, lance, odesk...

      My suggestions:

      - Don't care about the feedback of the freelancer why? Because a lot of employers ( specially local businesses) they give a good feedback because the job is done that's it.
      - A lot of freelancers provide fake portfolios ( I checked it once by contacting the owner of the website, well the owner never heard about the freelancer lol )
      - Maybe the companies are more serious but still they can't control everything!

      To find a really good coder or programmer cost $$$$ because the good one don't charge $10 or $15 per hour.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mwind076
    You're getting enough answers from some people here. I'll keep mine to myself - have fun.
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  • Profile picture of the author Usmile
    Are you the only one working in this matter? I am thinking that there could be actually others who would help you to this some kind of stuff?. We'll you couldn't really do it on your own, we do manage stuffs like this by working it in a team. We are given some tasks (goal) and were given three weeks or two to do it.

    It's up to us already what would be our techniques to meet the goal given. And so far, its good and we've gain great results on the jobs we've been doing.
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  • Profile picture of the author aaron786
    I think out sourcing is a grat way to get services in cheap price . well thanks you all for sharing such good information . best regards ,
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    • Profile picture of the author EricGuimond
      Its a numbers game, you'll usually go through dozens or more before you find a good one, then even more to find a perfect one.

      What I do now if I need more staff is outsource first for a small item, get 5 people to do the same thing and see which one does the best work, follows timeline etc. Then test out the best one for bigger projects.

      Last one I found doing this proccess is awesome and I hired him full time. I give a fair full time pay, then I set timelines for every project and give a bonus for projects completed on time and as requested.

      Now I don't need to give bonuses as Im sure they would complete on time but keeps them motivated and happy working for you, great way to retain great staff so they dont go looking elsewhere.

      Some tips:

      1) Talk to them on skype about random stuff on top of work to see how well they understand english as well manners(youd be shocked how rude some are)

      2) Give them small tasks with medium amount of details to test if they can grasp concepts, on big projects you dont want to have to explain every single little detail.

      3) If there always asking for more money or change payment agreements, run!

      4) Best workers I've found are from Canada, USA and Phillipines(Theres some golden ones but it will take alot of digging)

      Good luck, don't want to sound depressing but it took me a while to find all my staff, wasted money and lots of headaches, but in the end it was definatly worth it.

      -Eric
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  • Profile picture of the author ownergolan
    Have you checked bringing in-house workers? could be profitable and viable for long term. even though its much more expensive, the employee can do WAY more then a guy abroad. from documents, arrangements etc..
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Nguyen
    I'm also at the stage where I'm not able to cope with the work and just to top it off, another client wants to see me in Dec (early meeting in June). Meetings coming out of my ears.

    Monthly reports is what kills me as analysis / stats is not something I'm comfortable with outsourcing yet. They would need to do that actual SEO to be able to analyse stats in detail. I don't have experience but does anyone know of an outsource provider that can actually crunch numbers?
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  • Profile picture of the author NickSway
    I was in your position. Just learned all about wordpress and am able to run a successful business by offering wordpress sites and pre-designed themes. That way you don't need to code or design anything. I can post a guide of some sort if any wants more info. Let me know.
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    • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
      Originally Posted by NickSway View Post

      I was in your position. Just learned all about wordpress and am able to run a successful business by offering wordpress sites and pre-designed themes. That way you don't need to code or design anything. I can post a guide of some sort if any wants more info. Let me know.

      I'd be interested as I would like a quick start guide to WP.
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  • Profile picture of the author rbecklund
    We have started to hire local people to build sites for us. We have done the odesk outsourcing stuff and it hasn't work well for us. We like the idea that we can sit down with the person we are hiring. You pay more, but the work seems to get done faster and there is less misunderstanding.
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  • Originally Posted by Colm Whelan View Post

    Hi all

    Before I say anything else - DO NOT pm me looking for business! I'm asking for advice here NOT pitches.

    I have sucessfully sold and developed 6 sites now, for local businesses. We are middle of the road on pricing - not too cheap, not too expensive. I am looking to sell more and increase my pricing but I am quite worried about supply. I mean, I find it easy, relatively speaking, to get customers BUT I have found the whole fulfillment of orders to be very difficult.

    I was outsourcing directly to a couple of individuals in the Phillipines. Lovely people but definitely a very frustrating experience.

    How do those of you who are not designers/coders manage the supply side of things and what/who do you recommend for design/coding/content/seo etc.

    TIA

    Colm
    Hi Tia,

    I've been in your boat before. I've tried outsourcing to multiple free lancers, and it never worked out. I have a successful e-commerce business here in America (I'm currently in California). We use to do everything in-house since the quality of work was way better compared to outsourcing. But one day, I contacted my cousin in the Philippines and everything fell into place. I'm actually Filipino, but was raised in America.

    Anyway, long story short I started an outsourcing company (registered business) in the Philippines with my family members and everything is going great! So outsourcing isn't always a bad thing if you have the right people you are working with.

    A tip I also have and gained from experience is that not all companies are fit for each other. The company you are working with has to align with your core values and you as a person. You can have a company who is the best at what they do, but if they can't get a long with you...it will never work out.

    I would definitely try to find a company that has the same values as you and works well with your business model and I'm sure you will be successful.

    Good luck and I hope you can fill those orders!

    -Carlo
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    Helping your business grow 1 day at a time! We are a Internet/E-commerce outsourcing firm based in the Philippines. Visit our site for more information on how we can save you up to 70% on labor costs. 2ndoffice.co

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    • Profile picture of the author max4web
      Outsourcing saves time but requires faithful service providers.
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    • Profile picture of the author kellyyarnsbro
      Originally Posted by outsourcingphilippines View Post

      Hi Tia,

      I've been in your boat before. I've tried outsourcing to multiple free lancers, and it never worked out. I have a successful e-commerce business here in America (I'm currently in California). We use to do everything in-house since the quality of work was way better compared to outsourcing. But one day, I contacted my cousin in the Philippines and everything fell into place. I'm actually Filipino, but was raised in America.

      Anyway, long story short I started an outsourcing company (registered business) in the Philippines with my family members and everything is going great! So outsourcing isn't always a bad thing if you have the right people you are working with.

      A tip I also have and gained from experience is that not all companies are fit for each other. The company you are working with has to align with your core values and you as a person. You can have a company who is the best at what they do, but if they can't get a long with you...it will never work out.

      I would definitely try to find a company that has the same values as you and works well with your business model and I'm sure you will be successful.

      Good luck and I hope you can fill those orders!

      -Carlo
      I totally agree, it's no problem if you have the right people with the competent skills that are working with you. Good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author bizgrower
    Pick from sites like Warrior Forum or odesk, where you can see their track records
    and ratings and check references. Test one or two at a time until you have several
    people you can rely upon. One person might be too busy for the project and even the good ones can flake out sometimes.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mohsin Rasool
    Originally Posted by Colm Whelan View Post

    Hi all


    I was outsourcing directly to a couple of individuals in the Phillipines. Lovely people but definitely a very frustrating experience.

    Colm
    Hi Colm,

    Can you describe how that experience was frustrating, as you mentioned lovely people i.e. they did not do anything wrong on purpose... maybe their skill set did not match to the work you assigned them? Were you outsourcing everything to them? As sometime for custom high end works say Wordpress custom theme, you may need somebody experienced rather than simply a team of VAs who can do basis wordpress site, can do seo and other things too.

    As i know my colleagues in our industry, you will see a good coder, will not claim to be designer and will ask you to get designs from talented designer or they will ask you to choose from existing designs they may bought as themes or so.... when you assign work to the person which matches perfectly to their skill level, then you have good outsourcing experience.

    You need to test more than one providers to see who really fit into your category of work, whose skills really match to your work needs.

    Good luck with your outsourcing, soon you will find some good fit! Keep moving
    Mohsin
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  • Profile picture of the author WeavingThoughts
    Outsource to people on freelance websites and form long term contacts for regular work.
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  • Profile picture of the author WeavingThoughts
    There are tonnes of freelancers who make simple Wordpress websites under $300. You can outsource to them
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  • Profile picture of the author malia
    I knew someone who outsourced website design and managed the process by hiring independent freelancers, and experienced many of the same management issues that you do.

    What he did was negotiate a deal with a company based in the country he was outsourcing to, to basically bring in the client, have them do the website and handle all the tech support (the post-sale support was killing him). They negotiated a split that works for both of them.

    There were just issues with the independents, lack of consistency, family issues, etc., by removing that worry, things worked smoothly.

    Having seen some of the finished websites, I do think it's a good way to go, but if I were to do it, I would make sure to publish standards and guidelines for what makes a good website, how to structure the content, because with overseas outsourcing, the phrasing of the content can be very off, for a native English speaking audience.
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  • Profile picture of the author kellyyarnsbro
    When you say definitely a frustrating experience, is it with the people who are working or is it on the outcome of your business?
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    • Profile picture of the author Handdy
      If you are going with freelancers you will need to set the goals etc. before hand
      But even if you do it, freelancers have to feed themselves so they will have to constantly work on getting projects. So if you find a good freelancer keep that person occupied for full time so that it would be better for you on the longer run
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  • Profile picture of the author merkado
    As one of virtual assistant in the web, I would suggest the following:

    1)give detailed information and what do you expect from your contractor.
    2) Use always project management tool
    3)Constant communication is a must. Skype chat is FREE :-)

    Hope it helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author RedShifted
    This was part of the reason I stopped doing web design.

    I don't see an issue with simple $300 sites, but the first dozen sites I did on my own had fairly well developed content. I started off charging $800 and worked my way up to $1200. And once I got to see how the process works (of building a website) I realized it would be very difficult to outsource. Very difficult to find someone who would have my same level of OCD for a fraction of the price.

    I'd get 1 logo done on fiver, upload it, delete it, another logo, upload, delete it, another logo, then I might decide the 3rd one was good.

    Then I'd get a header done, would edit it, delete it. Get another header made, upload it... etc etc. This is basically how I started off making sites.
    Over and over and over one piece at a time like a puzzle. I had to make each piece fit perfectly before I could use it.

    Maybe I shouldn't have used fiver, but at the time I thought it was smart to spend $50-$75 on gigs just to get a head start on the content.

    The problem was, I hated most of the content they did, and would always wind up trashing 90% of it. So I was losing money and time on nearly every attempt to outsource.

    Some people might say, "well you should have paid more", and I tried that. I actually ordered 4 gigs 1 time to have a person make me 1 quality header. I explained exactly how I needed it. They did it. And I wound up scrapping it. Not because the design was "bad". But when you discuss something with a person over and over, dicuss it in your own head, then try to translate that vision to someone else half way across the world, it ALWAYS gets distorted.

    I think the real isue was this.

    I got a lot of referals at first because of my web design OCD. I probably did more work than I should on each site. When the time came to outsource, I would have to lower my standards A LOT. And I knew I wouldn't get as many referals anymore. At one point I had stopped marketing and all my new leads were coming in as referals. To the point where I was putting people on a waiting list.

    I was begining to hate the situation I was in. Even though I was making decent money (about $4,000/month) I was working way too hard and stressing over stupid bs.

    Eventually I decided that lead generation would be a more valuable/potentially easier idea to scale. So I stopped doing web design and focused only on how to market local businesses. And even though this was MUCH HARDER to learn, and actually succeed at, I am glad I stuck with it. For me personally it was the best decision I could have made. Its much easier to outsource stuff like citation building, backlinks, voice overs for youtube, etc etc.

    Good luck either way.

    -Red
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  • Profile picture of the author webrankingservices
    Banned
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    our services. You can avail 3 days FREE Trial . Just PM me or email to
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  • Profile picture of the author Colm Whelan
    Wow, I thought this thread had died.
    I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who took the time to answer. I have abandoned outsourcing and hired and designer and a coder locally. I'm outsourcing some content creation still but that's it. I upped my prices to compensate. Seems to have worked so far.
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