Day 17 - Outsourcing & Automation

Ryuzaki

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We're here to build. Not just a website but an entire business. One that changes your entire reality by the massive number of people's lives it impacts in such a deep fashion that they gladly pour money into your bank account.

But with this level of impact, you can't go it alone.​

Don't worry, you can still be a lonely neckbeard sitting in the dark at home. This is the future.

The Reality of Business - Interconnectedness

Reality Check 1)
We're here not just to build, but to do it big. And that is impossible to do by yourself. There are only 24 man-hours available to each individual per day and you've got to sleep some of those. You obviously can't do all of the work yourself.

Reality Check 2) The only source of money on this planet is people. Money flows non-stop. We have to have it, and we have to spend it. All you have to do to get more of it is to meaningfully place yourself in the middle of it's constant flow. You have to impact others to receive their money.

Building value and receiving monetary benefit both require interconnectedness with society. I know many of us are attracted to the internet and internet marketing because we're introverts, we're socially inept, we don't want to deal with people, we don't want to interface with actual beings in person, and we want to make a ton of money. Get over it. When you do it big, you'll be picking up the phone constantly. You might be going to meetings in person, but you'll definitely conduct Skype video meetings and calls. You will deal with people, and you'll want to. That's where the money comes from. That's how you build value that brings in the money.


With that being said, we're going to talk about two very important concepts to success in online marketing:

Outsourcing and Automation

Business in general, but specifically online, requires three elements:
  1. Time
  2. Money
  3. Effort
The first item, Time, is different than the second and third item. The difference is, and burn this into your brain:

Time does not scale.
It takes time to put forth effort. It takes time to plant seeds. It takes time for people to take notice of your effort. It takes time for seeds to ripen. It takes time to even reap the fruit after it's ready. Algorithms all have time as an influencing factor. Time, time, time. It's always ticking and ours is severely limited. You know what else doesn't scale because it's tied to your time? Your energy. And if your money is tied to your time, it doesn't scale either. Because Time does not scale.


You can never get more time. It is your most valuable asset. Don't waste it. How do internet marketers waste time the most?
  • Doing everything themselves.
  • Waiting on Google to give them traffic.
  • Learning more instead of doing.
  • Planning instead of doing.
  • Re-doing instead of doing new things.
  • Working on things a $3 an hour employee could do.
  • Working on things a middle schooler could do.
Some of this is related to fear of failure and fear of losing what you've already got. But it all revolves around money, whether that's strangle holding what you already have in fear of losing it, just being greedy and not wanting to spend it on anything but pleasure, not having the balls to invest and the trust that it'll snowball, wondering what'll happen if you lose it all and have to start over, etc. On and on, excuses.

The Problem: We don't have enough time.
The Stupid Solution: Spend effort.
The Smart Solution: Spend money.

The reason we are building our own business is so that our money isn't tied to our time as day-laborers. So you have to invest money to break free from time. It's scary, sure. It's unpredictable, sure. You're going to fuck up. And then you're going to learn how to better spend your money. Then you'll win.

The Aim of Spending Money
It should be obvious why we are spending a resource that isn't currently scaling (money). Because money has the potential to scale, but time never will. And our own efforts won't scale because they are tied to our own time. So what are we spending our money on?

Two things:
  • Outsourcing (Purchasing human time and effort)
  • Automation (Exploiting computer time and effort)
Here's why we want both.


There are some things that computers can't do that require a human touch, such as being creative, understanding demographic psychology, pivoting and adapting fast, etc. For a human, creativity and flexibility are unlimited if the person applies himself, but time and effort are limited.

There are things humans can't do, such as work 24 hours a day at the same extremely tedious task. A computer can comparatively pump out 9,999,999 man-hours in 24 hours a day and never run out of effort. For a computer, time and effort are unlimited.

Let's talk about each individually.

Outsourcing
...Human time and effort, purchased with your hard earned money. There are some things a computer can't do, and for that you need people. But that person, just like you, has a limited amount of time and effort. So you need more people. You scale people in order to scale time and effort, and you scale that with your money. And if you do this enough and right, your money will soon be scalable.

What might you use people for?

Do you have a shot at getting an article published on a PR9, DA97 magazine site with a do-follow link, but only if the article is good enough? Hire a professional writer. It might take you 40 hours to do a worthy job, because you have to research, write a rough draft, have a friend look it over, write a second draft and then let an editor tweak it. Or a professional in the vertical could pound it out in 3 hours and it'd be 100x as good as yours. You're paying for knowledge, time, and effort at about $30 per 100 words. That $300 spent saved you a week's worth of time and gained you exposure and link juice.

Do you need 300 articles written at so-so quality at 400 words a pop because you want to build a giant web 2.0 network? Sure, you could do it. You could do it in a week if it wasn't so mind-numbingly boring, so it actually would take you a month. Or you could hire 10 individuals from less-fortunate countries, pay them $0.75 per 100 words and get it done in four days for the low cost of $900 dollars. Not only is a month of your time worth $900, but you'll also be saving effort that'll be spent on tasks that could potentially create $900 in additional revenue month after month from this moment forward.

You outsource menial tasks, time consuming tasks, tasks not worth your effort to individuals for a competitive and advantageous wage. Everybody wins. Isn't globalization wonderful?

Then you spend your time and effort doing two things:
  • Managing the expense of your virtual assistants' time and energy
  • Doing tasks that require specialized knowledge, skill, and experience that are very valuable
This is how you unlock the power of your time and effort and multiply it by as many people as you can afford.

Let me repeat that:

The Purpose of Outsourcing: To unlock the power of your time and effort and multiply it by as many people as you can afford.
Now let's talk about automation...

Automation
...computer-driven, infinitely scalable time and effort that never gets bored or makes mistakes if directed correctly. There's somethings people can do but very slowly and increasingly more slow as the novelty wears off and they get bored. For this, employ automation.

Follow the logic of the following picture:


Yes, you will spend money having a task automated. Someone has to write that code (creative task only humans can do!). Or you can spend your time and effort learning to code it and coding it yourself. Either way, you spend something equal to money in order to force a computer to do the work for you.

And very quickly, the computer outpaces any human in output and accuracy.

Scenario: You found 10 galleries on Imgur with 200 pictures each that are perfect for your before and after home remodeling site's Pinterest account. Don't you dare sit there and download each one individually, especially when you might encounter 50 more such galleries in the future.

Instead, have a computer:
1) Scrape the source code of each gallery
2) Use Regex or some method to find each image within the main content div
3) Download and store the images in specific folders, renaming them as it goes
4) Batch process them in Photoshop, cropping them slightly and optimizing the colors to change the balance for uniqueness
5) Watermark each one in the bottom right corner with your logo and web address
6) Schedule a dripped upload of each one to your before and after board on Pinterest while adding your website's homepage as the source and some call to action to visit
7) Profit​

Sure, you could have done it. It would only have taken a month. Sure, your $3 per hour virtual assistant could have done it in a month too, at only the cost of $480. But for $600 you had a python coder bot it for you.

So next time you come across 10 galleries, it won't cost you $480 or a month of your time. You'll drop the Imgur gallery URLs into your bot and go to lunch and get it done for free. And you can do this as many times as you'd like after this.

This example shows you that...

The Purpose of Automation: to exploit non-sentient computer labor to unlock infinite scalability of time and effort on menial tasks and to drive the potential ROI of your money investment to infinity.
Is your computer getting it done but not fast enough? Buy another. Roll out another server. Scale it with money.

Tips to Hiring People
There are a lot of guides on the internet about where to hire a virtual assistants, programmers, developers, and designers. Where you go isn't remotely as important as how you go about it.


Whether you're looking for an on-going relationship or a one-off deal, the tactics remain the same. I'm not going to make a list of these tactics or even explain them in detail.

What it really boils down to is
  • being patient
  • not being lazy
  • creating hurdles to filter out the idiots
I've known a lot of people who felt like they had a lot more money than time, so it was worth not being patient and being lazy. It costed them time, effort, and money on the backend when people didn't deliver, stole their money, or did the job wrong, or even created such a problem that work had to be created to fix the mistakes, salvage revenue, and do damage control.

I've personally screwed myself over by trusting someone's reputation and trusting other people's word concerning someone else's reputation. This is a "scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" crony capitalism world we live in. Definitely do your due diligence in this way but don't stake it all on this either.

I've known people who've trusted the rating systems on hiring sites. They see that some guy has a ton of skills listed, passed the tests, and has 5 stars. What they didn't realize is that one "person" was a conglomerate of 20 scammers sharing the test taking, listing random skills, and getting rated once so they could scam. Or they flat out bought an account from someone.

To get this done properly, you have to do it yourself (or hire someone to hire people!), and you have to pay attention to details. You need to watch for red flags. You need to take into account every type of review you can find on a person. If you can't build enough confidence that they are legit, you skip them.

Hurdles & Red Flags
Once you've short listed enough people, you create a sample task that has a few small hurdles to complete.


Some people will be fielding so many jobs that they don't even mess with yours due to this small inconvenience. Good, they weren't going to give your job the attention it deserved.

Those that try the task and screw up aren't reading the directions or aren't paying attention to details. Good, they would have screwed up your project.

Maybe some passed your test perfectly, but what they can't perfectly do is speak your native language and the language in which your website is published. They get the axe.

Maybe some passed your test perfectly, but they weren't timely at all. Good, you're not paying people to be de-prioritized by them.

Maybe some passed your test perfectly but were rude, short, or unprofessional in their conversation with you. Too bad, nothing makes up for a bad attitude. They'd eventually be a poisonous problem.

And there you are, left with your one shining star, a respectful, well-mannered, deserving Filipino female college student who's eager to provide for her family and friends and earn some extra cash to buy some toys. To you, $5 an hour is nothing. To her, it's an above average salary after converted into Pesos and will become a down payment on her first home where she'll support her aging parents. Everyone wins. Let's just hope she likes doing lots of data entry, content writing, and research!​

Remember the Triangle

When you hire people, you need to keep your feet on the ground and your head out of the clouds. There's no such thing as a free lunch and you definitely get what you pay for. If you want to find the magic four leaf clover in the patch, it can be done but it's not worth the time. Remember the triangle...

  • If you want the job done well and you want it fast, it can't be cheap.
  • If you want the job done well but you want it cheap, it can't be done fast.
  • If you want the job done fast and inexpensively, then you're going to be real disappointed in the results.
You can only have two corners of the triangle at a time unless you're willing to go hunting through the forest for the magic unicorn. She's out there, and she's beautiful, and she's one in a million. For most of us, she's a fairy tale and not worth the time. And when you think you found her, it's just a donkey with toilet paper roll scotch taped to it's head. Don't be naive. Don't get scammed.

Tasks to Consider Offloading


Today was an introduction to the concept of outsourcing and of automating tasks. It wasn't about where or how much to pay. It was about why and how to hire. The rest is up to you, and if you follow the advice above, you'll make sure that you have a good experience..

So what kind of things should you be outsourcing? If you answer no to any of the following questions, outsource it:
  • Do you know how to do it?
  • You don't know how, but is it worth learning?
  • Is this task the most important thing for you to be doing?
  • Does it require a high school diploma or college training?
Basically, if a monkey can do it, outsource it. If you can't do it, outsource it. If someone can do it better and it's important, outsource it. If you can do it well but the market is flooded with people who can do it well and thus it's cheap, outsource it.

Think about things like:
  • Logo Design
  • Web Design
  • Page Speed Optimization
  • Blog Content
  • Authority Content
  • Finding Images for that Content
  • Posting that Content
  • Scheduling and Managing Routine Social Media Work
  • Building out Profiles
  • Scraping and Sorting for Link Opportunities
  • Using a Template to do Email Outreach
  • Identifying the Main Niche Influencers
The list goes on and on. Eventually, if you've created a well-greased work flow, you could pass everything off to a team and hire a manager for the team, then start a second team. You could become the idea guy while your managers ensure a quality execution of your ideas. Heck, our very own @Justin Cooke and Joe from Empire Flippers were two Americans that moved to the Philippines to manage their own giant team to do just this. And now look where they are! Slaying it non-stop.

In the end, remember, you get what you pay for and only when you take the time to make sure the people you hire can provide it. When you find the right people, pay them well. If you find they have particular strengths, give them more tasks of that type and hire another person to fill in the gap. Build an effective team and treat them right, and you'll harness infinite amounts of man-power, time, effort, and bring in more money. As the money grows, the outsourcing and automation grows exponentially.

There's no end to the amount of work that can get done, as long as you remember that it requires people to impact people, and you must impact people to make money, and you must use money to scale the amount of work getting done!

Outsourcing and automation are both an upward spiral where sky is the limit.
 
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You talk about why to outsource and automate and that tells us which jobs we should get someone else to do. But for someone like me, the question is when do I start.

I don't have the money now to start outsourcing. I'm still "early" in the game and I get that I should be learning still and figuring out what I'm capable of doing or not. But I want this to go faster and I feel like outsourcing is the ticket.

But when you can't afford it, what are your suggestions? How do I get these things done without spending money I don't have?
 

Ryuzaki

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It boils down to:
  • Give Money
  • Give Value
If you don't have the money right now, you can either accept that and move to the next course of action, or acquire the money. This could mean grinding on your project in the evenings and working the day shift so you can pay someone. It could mean using the skills you do have as a freelancer to make the money to pay someone.

If you do have skills and can make money freelancing, then it's just as likely that someone who has what you need is willing to trade. Scratch their back so they will scratch yours. You could even work off the monetary value doing menial labor such as writing content or performing an outreach campaign or posting blog comments.

Make sure you're right about the value of what you think you need done. If you can live without it and it's of superficial benefit to your business, don't waste your business' time on it yet. There's nobody on this planet who can't write a killer article and go out there and get links to it. That's going to be a high ROI activity regardless of the type of site you operate.

If you aren't in the black enough to outsource, there's plenty of things you can be doing to get you there without you surrendering those activities for the sake of some other. If this isn't true, then you might have bit off more than you can chew, or should be considering funding or a loan.
 

daseoman

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Great post @Ryuzaki .

I have a bit of a specific question. What would you guys use if you want to outsource social media profiles. I don't want to give the outsourcer the login info so I need to find something else to handle this. I am not just talking about FB and Twitter, but a ton of social media profiles... Does HootSuite have such a feature? Any free options for this?
 
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CCarter

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What would you guys use if you want to outsource social media profiles. I don't want to give the outsourcer the login info so I need to find something else to handle this. I am not just talking about FB and Twitter, but a ton of social media profiles...
I use Buffer, they are great. But in all honestly if you don't trust your "outsourcer" with your profile, why in the world would you trust them to be the voice of your brand? That doesn't sound like someone I would want talking and communicating with the audience of my brand.
 

Nat

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It took me a while to get over the fear of paying people, but after overcoming it and spending time outsourcing content and a few tasks for ~2 weeks now, I figured I'd post what I've learned/noticed so far.
  1. Always have instructions written out ahead of time on Google Docs/Dropbox
  2. Write the instructions as concisely as possible
  3. Don't respond to each freelancer, try to be able to copy & paste something with small modifications.
  4. Never, ever give a freelancer creative leeway/options until you've hired them for at least one+ jobs and know their style, potential, etc.
  5. Everyone starts somewhere -- just because a freelance profile has 0 hours completed doesn't mean they can't do a better job and if you're willing to take the time to message back and forth, there's a good chance they'll be willing to work out a deal or compensate in return for a job & feedback. Some will do the work before requesting pay.
  6. The more specific job title, the more targeted workers. Also seems to pique the interest of more passionate workers.
  7. You can glean brand-new ideas by asking your "passionate" worker what they think.
  8. Fixed-price gigs always seem to cost less assuming you've defined the requirements well enough that they can't cut corners on the finished product.
  9. Freelancers are used to making revisions, and its worth your time to send them feedback instead of doing it yourself. Plus, it will stay in their "voice."
  10. By pointing out that they didn't explain X, Y, or Z, you'll also get additional word-count on an article.
  11. It is probably more affordable to hire 1 VA to do research/compilations and give that to a freelance article writer than to pay the freelancer to research, assuming they aren't an expert.
  12. Just like flippa, by skimming through public jobs you might get some great ideas.....
  13. Don't get excited and continue posting jobs after you've hired 10 people for test runs or individual jobs. You'll start receiving responses back at the same time those 10 people finish their jobs and you'll have hella lotta reading and responding to do.
 
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I don't have the money now to start outsourcing. I'm still "early" in the game and I get that I should be learning still and figuring out what I'm capable of doing or not. But I want this to go faster and I feel like outsourcing is the ticket.
I'm going to take the liberty of repurposing the graphic @Ryuzaki posted as I'm working through similar issues right now.



1. Write a script for an activity that you know is helping you generate revenue: researching /writing pillar content, posting on social forums, setting up a PBN WordPress site etc.
2. Follow the script and make it part of your routine. Follow it mechanically as you've written it, amending it occasionally as problems crop up.
3. Now outsource. Remove yourself from the work loop by handing the script to someone else to perform.
4. Even if estimated revenue from their work is only roughly equal to what you're paying them for it, you've managed to pull some extra time out of the universe.