I have just reread the four hour work week by Tim Ferris and one of the components of the book is to outsource parts of your business. So I decided to outsource this blog. At this point, a very confused writer from South Africa is writing ‘I didn’t write this’ as me, and I’m having a good chuckle.
Of course, when she’s done, I’ll give this a good look-over to see if she really did capture the ideas I want to convey and if she really is writing ‘as me’. So ultimately, it really will be my blog post even though I didn’t write it. Confused?
It all comes down to outsourcing
The basis of the four hour work week is that you can create businesses that literally run themselves. While you’re chilling out, money is still being made – and thanks to outsourcing, the actual work side of things gets done for less than your time is worth.
I have taken a different view from this. Using a freelancer or freelancers allows me to scale my business at a cost effective rate. If I can outsource jobs that can be completed by a professional at a lower cost and to a higher standard, all with the flexibility of managing on a project by project basis, I am ultimately able to free myself up to focus on other revenue generating activities.
The freelancer who is writing this (Muffled voice from stage left: “That’s me!”) is pretty happy too. She’s making twice as much money per hour writing this compared to working in her own country with a degree in a full-time management job. Everybody wins (Voice from region of Cape Town: “I’ll second that!”).
A great platform for outsourcing
So where do you find educated, competent people to take over those tasks that eat up your day? There are several popular online platforms where you can find freelancers, but my favourite is Freelancer.com.
Here’s how it works. You sign up to create an account, load up some credit and start posting jobs. Dozens of freelancers post their bids within minutes. Of course, they’re not all great at what they do. This is the internet. Chancers try their luck. So what do you do? Ask for samples, of course! You can even ask for a customized sample just to make sure that there’s no cheating. You should also check past reviews and choose a freelancer with a high completion rate.
Your payment is safe
Now here’s the good bit. Once you’ve chosen a freelancer, you create a ‘milestone payment’. It disappears from your account, but your freelancer doesn’t get it until you release the payment.
If the writer, website developer, virtual assistant or whoever it is you hire doesn’t deliver, you can get your money back. If they do the job, you can release the payment as soon as you’re satisfied with their work. Once again, everyone’s happy.
What can you get done and who will do it?
Just about anything that doesn’t require physical presence can be done through Freelancer.com. You can find a virtual assistant in India, China, the Philippines, Kenya (“or South Africa!”).
There are writers, website developers, SEO specialists, AdWords experts, app developers, draftsmen, graphic designers, engineers, scientists, legal experts, marketers, sales people, data capturers – there’s even a job category called ‘anything goes’.
Freelancers may be full-timers, part-timers, housewives, people with doctorates, or students looking to make a few extra bucks.
Even for this small assignment, I received 39 responses from 8 countries.
Tips to make your outsourcing experience a success
Risk is an issue. You don’t want to trust a freelancer you don’t know with a vital job. You might end up with egg on your face. The best strategy is to start small with low-risk jobs. You’ll soon find out which freelancers are serious professionals and who’s just taking a chance. You’ll also be able to gauge reliability.
As you get to know your freelancers, you’ll discover who you can trust with important, time-sensitive tasks and who doesn’t cut the mustard. Most freelancers will try hard. Why? (“Because you get to review me!”) Because I get to… are you interrupting again? (“Yes, but you’re not writing this”) Ghost-written note to self – sassy freelancer.
In time, you’ll build relationships with people you can trust. That gives you the opportunity to outsource work that’s really important as well as the ‘small stuff’ that needs doing but isn’t vital.
That four hour work week sounds great!
I’m only just beginning to understand how much sense Tim Ferris actually makes. Think about it: if a four-hour work week can earn you as much as you make in 40 or even 60 hours a week. Outsourcing is the answer. Your time is valuable. If you are interested Tim Ferris does weekly podcasts well worth a listen.
- Platforms like freelancer.com give you access to the global services economy no matter how big or small you are as a business
- Even though you are using a freelancer, they are representing your brand. In this case this blog represents my thoughts, just not in my words
- As with everything in business, caveat Emptor “Let the buyer beware” – you get what you pay for – you need to do your research
- Of course this is a double-edged sword. If you can outsource something to someone else in the world for less cost and get a better result, what are you doing to continue to add value so that you are not outsourced? If you read this post even professions like accounting aren’t safe!