There eventually comes a time when you are possibly losing money by not blog outsourcing. Perhaps there is a task you don’t know how to do that could greatly increase conversions – like creating a sales page – or maybe you just don’t have time to complete a project that pays well – like writing a sponsored campaign.
As bloggers, we always have a million and one things on our to-do lists. Here are several blogging tasks you can outsource and how to get them done well, on a budget and avoid the fly-by-night freelancers.
Awesome Tasks to Outsource as a Small Blogger
There are some really expensive things you can hire people to do for you such as a custom website design or analyzing and implementing a sales funnel. We are going to be focusing on some smaller things that can not only be done affordably, they can also get you accustomed to the hiring and management process that comes with working with virtual assistants and other freelancers.
First of all, have you started using content upgrades? A content upgrade is a small bonus given to visitors when they sign up to receive your email newsletter. This could be a checklist related to the post they just read, a printable worksheet, a short report that goes into further detail. The possibilities are endless.
I love content upgrades because they’re a quick way to help my readers solve their problems while giving me a way to keep in touch with them via email. Figure out which are your top 5 posts and come up with some content upgrades you can add to encourage more people to sign up.
While you’re at it, take a look at your opt-in boxes. Is it time to add (or improve) your branding on them? It’s never a bad idea to make your blog look even more polished and put-together.
If you haven’t done much for search engine optimization (SEO), have someone knowledgeable in this field put together a list of keywords for your industry. You surely know quite a few off the top of your head, but you can also outsource the task of coming up with a full list of great keywords in your niche. These can be for SEO or they can even be for Pinterest keywords if you’re focusing on a Pinterest strategy.
Images are very easy to outsource and you have so many options. You may have noticed my Pinterest images are watermarked. This is just a simple transparent overlay that has my blog’s name to make it more recognizable and trustworthy when people see it elsewhere. This also saves a little time when creating your images as you just need to upload the overlay to Picmonkey or your chosen photo editor and drop it on top of your image.
If you aren’t comfortable making Pinnable images, this is also something easily outsourced. Designers usually offer images in packs of 5 or 10 so you’ll know upfront what you’re paying for. If you have your editorial calendar planned out in advance, you can have your images ready for you when it’s time to publish.
Whether you currently have things for sale or you’re just thinking about offering them, you might want to invest in putting together a great sales page. And here’s the thing: you can use sales copy strategies to “sell” things that don’t cost anything, whether it’s a free opt-in or your own services on your Hire Me page.
As mentioned in the introduction, sponsored campaigns are a perfect place to start outsourcing if your rates are in line with profitability. For example, if you charge $300 for a sponsored post you could likely afford to outsource that project to a trustworthy writer and still pocket the majority of your earnings. This would allow you to work on tasks you more enjoy or focus your time on other aspects of the campaign.
You can easily, and affordably, outsource transcription of your videos and podcasts. And I highly recommend you do! There is nothing better than taking one piece of content you have created and repurposing it into various media to help you reach additional people. I usually use Rev.com for transcribing my videos. They are super-fast and super-affordable.
Maybe you could hire someone to come up with some new blog post ideas. Perhaps they could even create an outline for you to start with. Especially if you have been blogging for awhile, this can be a great way to break through writer’s block and maybe start seeing your industry through a different set of eyes.
If your blog posts often include lists of things, consider outsourcing that research. While you are writing the meat and potatoes of your post, someone else can be coming up with the list of resources you can add at the end. This can be a huge time-saver.
If you are really bad or just uncomfortable with little WordPress tweaks, get rid of it. For that, I recommend my friend Grayson over at iMark Interactive.
There are some things I don’t outsource, like my email. There have been a few times I have poured my heart out to someone via email only to receive a form letter signed by a virtual assistant I didn’t know in return. That’s such a punch in the gut and it can do irrefutable damage to your reader relationship if they have come to feel they have a personal relationship with you. If you don’t answer your emails, let that be known up front on your contact form or don’t use something like email@example.com for people to contact you. Answering emails may take me quite a bit of time, but it’s worth it to me.
Where to Get Help
One of the reasons many small bloggers put off outsourcing is because they don’t know where to look for affordable, reputable help. Here are a few places I have found help and my experiences.
Fiverr is great for small, one-off tasks. I have had so many image-related items created here from watermarks and logos to eBook covers and social media headers. I’ve also had really good luck having eBooks converted to ePub and mobi as mentioned above.
One great thing about outsourcing images on Fiverr is you can see samples upfront before you even start a purchase. You can also see feedback from other buyers. And not just buyers leaving good feedback. All buyers.
I would highly recommend looking through seller samples and reading that feedback. Don’t just go by the star rating, pull up recent reviews to make sure things haven’t gone downhill.
One nice feature of Fiverr is you know when to expect delivery of your order. You will also know 100% what you will be paying even if you upgrade your order. No surprises.
I can’t say I’ve had the best of luck with Upwork. Especially in the case of outsourcing content writing, perform your due diligence and then do some more. And always make sure you run any content you outsource through Copyscape to make sure it isn’t plagiarized.
I have contracted a few good assistants for short-term jobs like creating content for Facebook Group theme days and research.
I have gotten some great help from Time Etc. They have a pool of assistants ranging from writers to social media managers to those familiar with WordPress. And as a client, you have access to all of them without having to hire each individually. That saves a lot of time and headache. And, you’re only paying one entity as opposed to many individuals.
Another thing I like about Time Etc is that you pay upfront for blocks of time. There are no surprise overages. When your time is up, your job is placed on hold until the next month unless you add additional funds. And I haven’t ever suspected any time clock padding which is always a possibility when contracting hourly.
Those people I have hired directly – and successfully – have come to me via Facebook Groups. These may be Groups set up by niche-specific Vas like those creating printables or Pinterest-friendly content or they may be Groups for business owners and bloggers in which outsourcing comes up in conversation.
One great thing about finding someone via a Facebook Group is the ability to get a personal recommendation from those who have already worked with that person. You will quickly find that personal referrals are priceless.
I haven't had any luck outsourcing blog-related tasks to Fancy Hands. Their system is set up to cater to near five-minute tasks. Even little stuff I have sent over like researching a list wasn't really completed to well and, in that case, it's just easier to do it yourself if it's only going to take five minutes.
I would LOVE to hear from someone who does blog outsourcing on Fancy Hands however. If that's you, what are you outsourcing? Please let me know in the comments.
Once you decide what tasks need done then comes the hard part. Hiring the right person can be stressful. There is a famous quote, “slow to hire, quick to fire” which I wholeheartedly embrace. Take your time bringing someone on board, but if it isn’t working out let them go ASAP. Your business shouldn’t suffer to accommodate someone who has no vested interest in your success.
A few things that can hopefully make your selection process easier:
Ask for samples – this isn’t always possible depending on what you need done, but if it’s something like blog posts or images there’s no reason not to ask for samples. One thing to remember is that there is no guarantee the samples provided are actually that person’s. I totally hired someone once based on their samples only to find out when they handed in their first project there was no way they were completed by the same person. The lesson here is you can’t rely on just one indicator.
Ask for referrals – If you are asking for help within a Facebook Group, hopefully, someone will pipe up and say “Sara is awesome!” If you are on Upwork or Fiverr, look at the most recent reviews. I don’t really trust testimonials displayed on a personal website or an associate they want you to contact. You simply have no guarantee these are real clients.
Ask to pay half upfront and half upon delivery of goods – Especially when hiring directly, there’s always the chance you will run into someone who takes your cash and never delivers the project. Lessen your risk by creating milestones for payment.
Insist on a trial period – It’s a lot easier to let someone go that isn’t working out when they know it may be coming. Let them know you would like to try them out for one project or one month to see how you work together before making your final decision. Let them go if it isn’t working out.
Don't Pass Up an Interview – Always set up a call or Zoom/Skype session before hiring someone you intend to keep around long-term or for a big project. This can tell you so much. First, I would venture to say at least 25% of the people I have attempted to interview didn’t show up at the designated time. They didn’t let me know they wouldn’t make it. They just emailed at a later date with a laundry list of excuses. If someone doesn’t respect your time enough to let you know they can’t make a quick phone call, they probably aren’t going to meet their deadlines or communicate well anyway. Move along.
Also, ask questions such as:
- Have you worked for other remote clients in the past?
- Tell me about your least favorite client. Why was it so bad?
- Tell me about your favorite client. What makes them great?
- What is your favorite/least favorite type of project, way to communicate, etc.
- What does your daily schedule look like?
- What are your normal business hours?
- What's your typical turnaround time?
- How many hours are you available each month?
- Have you taken any online courses related to the type of tasks I'm looking for? (This is a great question to ask if you, for example, have a particular Facebook Page strategy you love and you know a really popular ecourse.)
You can also ask some specific technical questions related to the type of tasks you are looking to outsource.
If everything is always everyone else’s fault that it didn’t work out in the past that should be a red flag. If it sounds like their answers aren’t really answers and they are willing to turn their lives upside down to accommodate your needs that probably won’t be the case at the end of the day. If it sounds like your personalities just don’t mesh, let them know you have other people to interview and you’ll be back in touch.
Always go with your gut!
Getting Stuff Done
Once you have found someone you want to try out, you need to establish a workflow. I don't use a lot of fancy tools, but you can go as elaborate or as simple as you like. The key is sticking with a system.
- LastPass so you don't have to share your passwords should an assistant need to access one of your accounts.
- Asana is my favorite tool for assigning tasks and staying on top of projects. I took this really great course on Asana for Bloggers if you need a little hand learning the ropes.
- Google Docs – you can't go wrong with this one.
Hiring isn’t always easy, but it can be totally worth it when you find the perfect fit.