Monday, October 17, 2011

Outsourcing Article Writing: Lessons Learned

Is outsourcing the solution to maximizing your productivity and success as an online entrepreneur? If  you have more work than you can manage yourself, and the budget to hire others to do it for you, it might make sense to outsource some aspects of you life or home business in order to focus your own efforts on the most important areas. The key is to discover which aspects you should hire out and which are best done by yourself.

As I mentioned in my post about focusing on one website vs. many, I have more website ideas than time to properly write and manage them all. One approach I've tried is to hire freelance writers and employ article writing services to create original content for me to use on my blog ... to mixed results.

Specifically, I've turned to Textbroker andContent Kingdom, as well as individual private freelance writers, to write articles for which I'd already created keyword-specific titles. These articles were for a variety of my websites (but not this blog, of course).

Mixed Results from Article Services
The article writing services I used were hit-or-miss. I got some great articles from Content Kingdom, and then some really disappointing fluff pieces. Textbroker was largely disappointing at first, even while paying for higher-end pieces. I got a few good articles from them after adding more details to my article request descriptions, but it was still clear to me in most cases that very little research, if any, was done by the author.

There were even some cases of complete inaccuracies I was able to spot at first glance because I am very familiar with the topics of all the blogs and sites I've started -- I do live by the adage to "write what you know." Perhaps precisely because I chose my niches based on a combination of passion and potential profitability, it would take a lot to satisfy my expectations for content on these topics.

For some of the articles, I spent more time editing, tweaking and adding more information that I would have just writing the article from scratch myself. Spending the extra time and money became a drain, not a boost.

Ultimately, unless I find a freelance writer who has real life experience in my best niches, I've learned that for my top sites I am much better off writing my own content. This is most especially true for sites that have a strong author voice, as both my top sites do.

Outsourcing Other Tasks
Some web writers swear by their virtual assistants, who do all sorts of tasks for them, from paying their bills to performing basic research to setting up new website and adding content as directed.

While I don't think I'm anywhere near needing or being able to justify my own personal assistant,. there are some non-writing business-related tasks that would be best done by someone else.

I'd really like to hire a web designer or graphic artist to help me with several website re-designs and create logos and headers for my sites. I am not capable as a graphic artist and would love to find the right person at the right price (If you have a recommendation, please leave me a comment!)

Should I Outsource my House Cleaning?

My mom, who raised a large family and home-schooled most of her children all the way through high school, has wisely pointed out (practically insisted) that I should hire a housecleaner once a week to do my deep cleaning and other household tasks.

I actually tried this last spring. I found a cleaning service that was "green," and did not use harmful chemicals in the cleaning process, important to me with kids in the house. (Oddly, though, the woman was a smoker and would take smoke breaks. When she came back inside she smelled smoky and it really bothered me. I was pregnant and extra sensitive to smells at the time).

It felt uncomfortable to me to have strangers in the home, and to have another woman cleaning my house while I was not. I was stressed out ahead of time trying to get the house ready for her to clean (can't mop floors with kids toys all over them). Some items were left undone, but I still paid the regular price that was supposed to include everything. Maybe I have issues and need to "let go" a bit, but the additional stress led me to cancel her services after two visits.

This is one area I am going to revisit for potential outsourcing. I first have to get past any feelings of failure if I'm not cleaning my own house to the standard I like it. 

What Should You Outsource?

Your own needs and talents are unique and what might make sense for you to outsource can vary widely based on your home business and family situation.

Tips on Outsourcing:
  • Don't force yourself to hire out the tasks you actually enjoy doing.
  • Find competent assistants or service providers, even if you have to pay a little more.
  • Make a budget and re-evaluate it every couple weeks. If the payof isn't there, reconsider your options. 
  • Have a clear idea of how much time or money you will save, or how much you'll be able to increase revenue based on your outsourcing. Make sure it is worth it to you either financially or for your sanity (moms of many, I'm looking at you!).
Have you outsourced or hired others to help you with your business? What were the results? 


asithi said...

I would love to get a house cleaner. Problem is that I recently reduced my hours at work in order to spend more time with my new baby. I would feel guilty “wasting” my money on a housecleaner when my mom and MIL are doing the babysitting for free so I can work. Both of the mothers worked and were able to keep her house clean (or so they tell me).

And like you, I would feel obligated to pick up before someone comes and clean my house. It’s like I do not want the cleaners to know how messy my house truly is.

Living in DC said...

I had the same experience with Text Broker. You can actually tell that many of their writers are foreign, which wouldn't be a problem if they wrote well. I guess you just have to get lucky when it comes to finding the right person for the job.


Sara said...

I'm all for outsourcing, but you have to remember that it will probably never get done the way YOU want it to be done if someone else does it. If you can handle that, it's ok. I can handle someone else cleaning my house!!! Clears up time for me to do thins I do enjoy.

Tiffany said...

In the past I have tried outsourcing to a few private writers but have never tried Textbroker or anything else. The outsourcing did not go so well. 2 of the 4 writers never returned the articles and never responded back to my emails. The next time I gave one of the writers work she ended up putting me off and returned it 2 days after she said she would. Wasn't a big problem but she could have had more work from me if she would have been on time since it was only her second project.

Since then I have not outsourced anything. I'm like you and I tend to like the control of everything. Not that I am an awesome writer but the articles I did get back just didn't exactly fit what I was looking for. I know that eventually if I do want my busines to grow larger and larger I am going to trust other people for outsourcing.

I would love a housecleaner but then I would feel weird about someone I didn't know cleaning my house like that. Maybe I should hire my husband as a housecleaner? LOL

Meann said...

I do outsource some writing jobs too. I can gain some extra income from it. But, one thing I've learned, not all writers can write well. So, choose your writers well. Run a test before hiring them so you won't have problem with your clients in the future.

Lis - Z List Blogger said...

You need the right outsourcer. My sister-in-law has an awesome cleaner - she does the tidying up as well - none of this nonsense about just cleaning the floors.

Same with writing - i have a full time guy I've had for over 12 months now - he delivers consistently and I pay him consistently - its win/win situation

Maria said...

Lis-- any tips on finding a good writer? :)

Anne Shaw said...

I loved this post. This is really nice to have this kind of post telling about what should you outsource and the tips related to this. This is informative and useful.

Luis Rodrigo Bernardinelli said...

Maria, you are the kind of blogger that doesnt fool people in order to make money. I like that