How to Outsource: Starting Personal Outsourcing

November 6, 2008 - Get free updates of new posts here

Like many of you, all the stories I read about outsourcing were all about companies saving money and using firms in India. Seemed like something mentioned but not really used by startups in Silicon Valley. What is outsourcing? And does it matter for regular people and small business? I didn’t know. Then about a year ago my friend mentioned how he had this guy in the Philippines doing some coding for him. It made outsourcing more real and then I worked with the coder on some stuff and was extremely excited about the pricing, the fact the project was done when I woke up and how darn polite international people are.

 I was hooked and was feigning for more! I started looking around at other remedial tasks and things I wanted built so I got a data-entry outsourcer to help. Heck, even recently I was planning on having an outsourcer to do my online traffic ticket class. Tim Ferriss has a great post about how to email Virtual Assistants to get what you want.

Anywho, I wanted to help you start outsourcing and want to layout what you should do if you are interested. Here is how to outsource:

1- Determine. Figure out what you need. Data-entry, emailing bloggers, programming, what?
2- Resources. Go to odesk, elance, craigslist (of india and other international places), getfriday
3- Details. Write up a semi-specific thing of what you want completed. List the exact amount of hours and rate you are budgeting. $4-5 for data entry and $20 for programming are fair.
4- Walk through. Have the person do the task once and then show you the results so you know they understand. If they are coding, show them a similar project / site so they have a clear idea of expectations. This is CRITICAL as many time there are communication issues, so you need to make sure they understand what you want.
5- Communicate. Get Instant messenger (MSN, AIM, Yahoo) screen names right away so you can chat real-time.
6- Time. Set deadlines so it’s clear when the work should be done.

Outsourcing is god’s gift to the lazy. It is a win-win (I dislike when people use this) situation where Indians/etc… are getting higher paying work than they normally would in their country and you are able to spend your time on more valuable things. Read more at 7 Tips for Outsourcing Technical Work.

Bonus: What things could and would you want outsourced now? I will pay for 2 hours of outsourcing for the best comment.

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19 responses to “How to Outsource: Starting Personal Outsourcing

  1. Patrick Reply

    I just discovered my office was providing me with a virtual assistant through PayChex, I put in my first task for them this week. We’ll see how they do, I don’t know how the quality of work is and I put in a fairly complex task relating to finding ideal locations to live when I move in January (still in Orlando.)

    But now that I have the virtual assistant, I’m thinking of tasks I can offload such as finding content for a few niche blogs or doing research for a blog post I want to write.

    Also I’m pondering putting together an analysis of my site analytics that I’d like them to do for me regularly, such as drilling into the analytics deeper than my normal cursory glances are (oh hey, people are still visiting the site.)

    Overall though, I’m still struggling with the whole ‘letting go’ of some tasks.

  2. Noah Kagan Reply

    patrick i know how that feels in general. a tough thing but it’s all about babysteps in moving forward and gaining trust in the persons judgment. if you remember, let me know how it works out.

  3. Nicole Price Reply

    You are quite right about this being a win-win situation since people who do this outsourcing work from countries outside the US cannot hope to be paid that well by people in their native countries and very often people in the US cannot believe their luck in being able to get quality work done at prices that seem really low to them.

  4. Maneesh Sethi Reply

    I’ll tell you—I used to have virtual assistants in India ( and I found that my best uses for them were

    a) Calling my friends and family to say ‘I’m calling on behalf of Maneesh Sethi, would you like to meet him for coffee at 10:30?’
    b) Apparently answering my fervent requests for the ingredients of the drinks that I was drinking on particularly fun nights.

    But now, I use them for real stuff–hell I even write on a personal finance blog that gives advice on outsourcing. Some of the uses I have for them (i’m currently trying to live the 4-hour workweek in buenos aires argentina)

    1) Monitor my email and give me a call if urgent, because I am in a different time zone
    2)Send me a daily morning report of everything on a todo list, as well as wake up call me with the same list
    3) Send motivators at different times of the day: ‘It’s 12pm: do you know what you’re working on?’
    4) I’m going to be teaching an online course on programming, so I am going to have virtual assistants answer all of the student’s questions about the course.

    There are a lot more uses! Check out my blog above for some ideas 🙂


    -Maneesh from Buenos Aires

  5. Joe Reply

    That friend that introduced you to his coder in the Philippines – you should really buy him a burrito and beer the next time you’re in LA 😉

  6. Mike Henry Reply

    #4 – There are classes offered in India to teach them how to talk to Americans. Its not an English class, its a class that basically explains they need to talk to American’s like they’re children.

  7. Armen Shirvanian Reply

    I would say that this sounds to be a correct step for one that is competent at the level where they are producing enough that having workers assist would make a difference. One that is outsourcing tasks they would rather not do is usually getting things done quite well at the same time.

  8. Josh Fraser Reply

    You’ll be proud of me. I just put a coding project up on elance for the first time. I’m still skeptical, but I’m at least willing to try it. Thanks for the encouragement.

  9. Erica Stowers Reply

    “I would outsource all this research on virtual assistants and web hosting websites, have a personalized domain set up and multiline phone and modem installation scheduled for my upstairs office, as well as designing an app generated for my photography hobby, and have my VA find a source to professionally write my resume ( complied in .doc, .pdf, .odt, and .txt!) while balancing my checkbook, scheduling my personal appointments, placing my online order, and of course managing my social sites and email addresses!” I think I would spend those two hours in a spa or at least take my daughter out on a motorcycle ride!

  10. William Reply

    The language and cultural differences for VA’s coming from the Philippines really poses a rather minimal concern to the work you want to outsource to them. The country is bilingual in itself, one nationally spoken language being English so you would have more chances of finding a VA with little to no hard accent when speaking English. Evidently enough, this is true when writing concerns are raised; most Filipinos earning a college degree are rather well-versed in writing using English as the medium of communication. Give it a try; you just might be amazed at Filipino VA’s.