Case Study 3 – Outsourcing Affiliate Marketing Effectively

Case Study 3 – Outsourcing Affiliate Marketing Effectively

how to find an outsourced workerIt’s hard to believe it’s been over two months since the last case study ended – I think you’ll agree that we’re well overdue for another one!

Over the next four weeks, I’m going to be presenting an in-depth look at how I implemented outsourcing into my affiliate marketing business model, the benefits of doing so, and how you can successfully add this element to your own internet business. I’m by no means an expert on the subject of outsourcing (if you want expert stuff, go read Chris Ducker’s material on the Virtual Business Lifestyle website), but I’ve learned a lot about outsourcing over the past few months and can’t wait to share these lessons with you.

So, in today’s installment of Case Study 3, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of outsourcing work and the different avenues that are available for hiring outsourced workers. Then, over the next three weeks, I’ll show you exactly how I found my current outsourced workers, the specific tasks and projects I’m giving them and how it’s making a difference in my business.

Let’s get started!

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First of all, a little background info… Outsourcing, in general, is simply the process of paying others to do tasks for you. Outsourcing could be hiring a housekeeping service to manage your domestic responsibilities or working with a CPA to do your taxes, but for the purposes of this case study, I’m going to focus on something more narrow – hiring out elements of your affiliate marketing business, typically to someone overseas that allows you to take advantage of exchange rates and lower costs of living.

This type of outsourcing has been around for a while, but until the publication of Tim Ferriss’ “Four Hour Work Week”, exporting business tasks around the world was more the province of large companies hiring out the work of entire departments. You all know I disagree with some aspects of the book, but I do appreciate that he made some things – like lifestyle design and outsourcing for normal people – much more mainstream and accessible to small business owners like you and me.

Today, the world of outsourcing affiliate marketing tasks looks very different than it did just a few years ago. Tools like Skype and Basecamp, in combination with well-developed hiring platforms like Guru.com, eLance.com and Odesk.com, make outsourcing simple and easy to implement, whether you’re looking to hire out for a one-off project or retain a full-time employee to work on your business.

And it’s this increased accessibility that makes now the perfect time to consider outsourcing some of your business tasks, no matter how small of a business you run.

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Now, I probably don’t have to work too hard to convince you why outsourcing elements of your business is a good idea – especially if you, like me, work a day job in addition to running your internet business. But just to summarize, here are some of the reasons you should consider outsourcing:

* Saves Time – Even if you’re self-employed and don’t have to deal with the stress of fitting your internet business into the spaces leftover from your day job, family obligations and other commitments, there’s no arguing that outsourcing business tasks will save you time. Every business requires certain administrative tasks or activities that don’t need your specific creative input. Hiring out these tasks frees you up to focus on the most important elements of your business, while finishing projects much more quickly.

* Improves Momentum – Having two sets of hands working on your business means that results happen much more quickly. Imagine putting up a website and then passing it off to someone else who will drive traffic to it, while you move on and start building your next website. The result is business growth that occurs much more quickly because you have two (or more) people each working on the tasks that suit them best.

* Increased Professionalism – When you take on a scheduled outsourced worker (compared with a “one off” project freelancer), you have an obligation to keep that person busy. Now, it’s not just you that loses out if you decide to watch TV instead of working – you could actually be depriving your outsourced worker of much needed funds. Knowing that someone else is relying on you being productive is hugely motivating, and can help you take your business more seriously than you will working on your own.

Of course, taking on an outsourced worker isn’t all fun, games and incredible productivity – there are some challenges with the process as well. For example, much like online dating, a prospective outsourced worker can put just about anything up in his or her profile and quote, so you may need to conduct test projects with a few potential candidates to be sure their profiles match up with your expectations.

But probably the biggest challenge involves training. Even if you hire a worker who has experience with the tasks you plan to outsource, you’ll still need to spend a little time educating the worker on your particular way of doing things. Backlinking, for example, can mean a surprising number of different things to different people. For you, backlinking might imply article submissions and Web 2.0 site building, but if your worker only knows how to create profile links, you’re going to have to put in some training hours.

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So that, in a nutshell, is what outsourcing is and why it makes sense for internet business owners. Hopefully, you’re on board at this point, as I really, truly do feel that taking on an outsourced worker can help transform the way you do business and the way you view yourself as a business owner.

The next step in the process (which we’ll be getting into in next week’s installment) is to determine which specific tasks in your business are best suited to being outsourced, as well as how to use the methods described above to find the right outsourcer for you. I’ll be sharing the exact job posting I used, as well as the criteria I used to select my current workers – you won’t want to miss it!

But until then, I have a few questions for you. Are you currently outsourcing elements of your internet business? If not, what are the biggest challenges holding you back? Share your responses in the comments!

Image: tilitran

5 Responses to Case Study 3 – Outsourcing Affiliate Marketing Effectively

  1. Jon says:

    This is an excellent start to your case study, Sarah. I’m definitely on board with outsourcing; there’s only so much “me” to go around every day.

    You make a great point about accountability. The outsourced worker is dependent on you so when you’re feeling like watching TV, knowing that someone else depends on you may get you back on track.

    Communication is everything from job posting to performance and even through to daily/weekly reporting. I’ve hired the wrong fit before and it was mainly my fault. The job posting was worded vaguely or poorly and we didn’t clearly define terms from the start. You’re absolutely right that industry terms can hold different meanings for everyone.

    I’m looking forward to your next outsourcing installment. This is a great topic.

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Jon!

      You’re right that communication is a major issue, and it takes practice to figure out how to delegate effectively with workers who don’t speak your native language.

      I can’t say I’m an expert by any means, but I can share the places I’ve screwed up to help the rest of you avoid those mistakes 🙂

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