What you will learn
- Which mission critical tasks you should be outsourcing
- Where to find reliable and affordable people to outsource to
- How NOT to outsource important tasks (learn from our mistakes!)
- How to work with and train your team
Many of us were sold on the idea that we could outsource our entire business and sit on a beach all day (Thanks Tim…)!
The reality is somewhat different and while you certainly do need to put a lot of time and effort into your online business, you can’t do this effectively unless you learn to outsource parts of it.
In this episode, we look at the 5 major tasks that website owners should be looking to outsource and go through how we did it.
Resources Mentioned In This Episode
Welcome to the Authority Hacker podcast, the place to learn field tested, no BS tactics to grow hack your online business, and finally, live life on your own terms. Now, your hosts, Gael and Mark.
Gael: Hey guys, welcome to the Authority Hacker podcast, today I am with Mark and we are going to be talking about something that took us a very long time to figure out and a lot of money.
Mark: Five years and several hundred thousand dollars by my count.
Gael: Yeah. This is probably the one thing we spent the most money figuring out, more than advertising, more than anything else, and that is getting on to people to do what you are supposed to do- to outsource. And, how many employees have we had as an agency, as freelancers etc you would say?
Mark: Probably over a hundred.
Gael: Yeah. Probably over two hundred with freelancers. Okay, so why would people do that, why would people outsource?
Mark: Essentially you are only one person, so there is a limit in how many hours in the day you can work, and this is the only way you can essentially buy time, by outsourcing some of what you do in your job, when you are building or growing an authority site, so the main concept behind it is to buy back your own time and when you reach a certain point, it’s really the only way to grow. As I said, only a certain number of hours in the day so you literally can’t write any more or do any more outreach or market the site any more beyond a certain point, otherwise, you will go insane. So yeah, there is that and the other sort of main reason to do this is to bring in new skills which you don’t have, that could be tech skills, so if you are not like a programmer, IT guy, you might want to bring in someone to do that, it could be, most businesses will hire accountants and lawyers because they don’t have those skills themselves, so that’s another form of outsourcing. In terms of authority sites, to content, if you are not a topic expert, than hiring someone who is to write your content is probably a good idea. So you bring in new skills that way. I think how they phrased it in my business school- not business school, university textbook was “it allows companies to focus on their core competencies, while outsourcing everything else is just an enabling factor”.
Gael: So when do you outsource? When do you say okay I need to outsource stuff rather than say I am just going to put more on my own plate.
Mark: Well, there is two, again, it depends what you are trying to outsource there, but essentially, generally the rule is figure it out yourself, and do it yourself, then template it, build the process, then outsource it, don’t expect someone else to figure it out. Now the exception to that is if you don’t have those skills, so if there is some kind of tech problem, and you are not a server admin and your site is down, then there is nothing you can do, you can’t learn that overnight to fix it.
Gael: You could, but it would take a while and your site would be down.
Mark: It takes years to learn that stuff, so you need to hire someone who can do that for you.
Gael: So would you say the biggest mistake people make is they outsource before they figure it out?
Mark: Oh definitely, it always reminds me of seven years ago I think it was, that makes me feel old; on Upwork, I saw this job ad and someone had a budget of fifty dollars and they wanted someone to make them a site which would generate fifty dollars per day.
Gael: Yeah, that’s a good investment.
Mark: Yeah, that would be a great investment, but, of course no one was like I’m going to do that.
Gael: That’s the thing, a lot of people, especially when they start websites etc, they are very eager to outsource stuff they essentially want to throw money at it rather than throwing time at it.
Mark: Yeah, they read this For Hour Workweek and they sort of dream of sitting on a beach somewhere and just other people making them money. But, you have to sort of figure out, I don’t know anyone in our network, I don’t know a single person that works four hours a week, or even close to that.
Gael: We are just friends with losers, that’s why.
Mark: Yeah. So I mean, there is,e specially when you are starting a site, or starting a business, there is so much you have to figure it out yourself at the start, and it’s worth doing because it means that when you do then outsource parts of what you are doing, you are in a much better position to give feedback, which is important to making sure the quality of your outsourcing is good.
Gael: Yeah, I mean, there is a huge management aspect that people completely ignore as well when they get into it, right? For me, when we hire people, there is so much management work training work etc, it’s actually a huge bother on you, it’s more work initially.
Mark: Much more work. That’s kind of the outsourcing trap though, because you get yourself into position where you are doing everything, it’s taking up all your time, and if you want to outsource part of it, you need even more time to do that, so it can be difficult to do that in time. I think we’ve suffered from that problem once or twice before.
Gael: Yeah, and then it’s hard to hire a lot of people at the same time, you should definitely just outsource one thing then the other, and then the other, not try to outsource five things at once.
Mark: Yeah. definitely.
Gael: Because, it’s like you will need to train people but there is also the management aspect of it, it’s like these are people that want to interact with you, they want to understand things, you need to answer their questions, you need to make them feel welcome, you need to do all these things that will literally take your time to handle it, it’s how you would expect it if you had a new job yourself.
Mark: And you’ve got to remember as well that anyone, even a very highly skilled person who you are outsourcing to, they are not going to have the same experience of your business as you do, so you can’t expect them to just come in and do everything perfect from day one. even the best people, it doesn’t work like that, there is an onboarding process which takes time, and takes time from you as well.
Gael: Okay, so from the beginning, since we started, how was the experience and how is it today?
Mark: At the start it was horrible, we had completely the wrong approach, and we just didn’t really know what we were doing.
Gael: What was the wrong approach, I think it’s important?
Mark: So, two things, one was we threw money at every problem and expected people to- I guess it’s the same thing, we threw money every problem and we expected the people we brought in to figure everything out for us. Whereas, we needed to figure that ourselves and then bring in those people to execute. So we kind of skipped the step there. And there are other factors, we weren’t the most passionate people about running an agency, so I think that sort of factors into a little bit, but yeah, essentially, what I said before, that was the main problem and it took us many years to figure out how to do it properly, even in our current business, like with authority sites, we’ve hired people in the past that haven’t really been great especially for content writers on Health Ambition I think. But in more recent years, and certainly in the past year, we’ve gotten I’d say pretty good at it, I don’t know was that out of necessity or we’ve just failed so many times that we started succeeding.
Gael: I think we know how to scale as well, right, in five years you might look back at today and say we were horrible.
Mark: Yeah. That’s true. As I said, I think it’s starting to go really well and because we have this sort of process in place for how we do it, that is figure it out ourselves, do it, learn it, template what we are doing and then spend, put in the actual hours to hire the right people and train them well, and constantly give feedback.
Gael: Okay. Do you think it’s going to take as much time and money for everyone, or do you think we were just bad?
Mark: I think we were just bad to be honest. Have you listened to those podcasts very closely, seriously take lots of notes, because there is lots of little things which I mentioned, which might not seem that big of a deal but honestly, you do all this stuff it will, if you don’t do this stuff, it will put you back years, I promise you.
Gael: I mean, we would literally be hundreds of thousands dollars richer if we figured it out properly.
Mark: Yeah, definitely.
Gael: So, yeah, it’s probably worth looking at it a little bit closely. Okay, so let’s imagine someone wants to get started with that stuff, how do you get started?
Mark: So my current philosophy is template everything. And, in order to do that you need to know what the task is, and usually, not always, but usually, you need to be able to do yourself at least for a while, so you need to, just last week actually, we hired someone to respond to emails from one of our sites. And, I actually ended up spending the best part of a day templating that so that is going through hundreds and hundreds of these responses, and saying okay, how would I respond to this email how would I respond to this email, and then sort of making- in the end, you will start to see sort of groups of how this works and then I was able to sort of create these template responses and as I was doing that, I documented the entire process so exactly what the job is, what the site is, even basic stuff that we never talk about or think about just because it is sort of ingrained in our knowledge of our own business. But I basically built a document so that anyone who had no idea what we do could read it and conceivably get started doing it. So this has a few benefits, it reduces the risk, it doesn’t reduce the risk of someone quitting but it reduces the impact if someone quits, because it’s very easy, or a lot easier to onboard someone when you ave these kind of documents and it also forces you to think about what you are doing in a more structured way which can actually help you improve the process yourself and finally, it gives whomever you are hiring something to refer back to. Because, if they just have a call with you or meeting or whatever, they are not going to take everything in first time and having something written down is always good to go back to. So, I would say the first thing to consider when you are outsourcing, before you hire someone, before you bring someone onboard is how are you actually going to structure the work, how are you going to template it, and in this case which part of the task are you actually going to outsource. And that brings me on to the next point which is making things sort of step by step process; so if you go to someone and say, “hey, go write articles for my website”-
Gael: That’s not going to go well.
Mark: That’s a very tall thing, tall order to ask from someone. I mean, most people will be able to write something for you, but I guarantee it’s not going to be what you want. And so to get what you want, to get the quality, the writing style, all that, you need to make it a step by step process and in many cases, you actually need to give different steps to different people. So, let me just clarify that what I mean by this step by step process. Don’t ask people to think several abstract things at once, so create content for this site, if someone asks me to do that, I am going to have so many questions going through my head, what’s the branding of the site, what kind of writing voice am I going to use, who is the target audience, how long is it, which resources I should use, how should I link within the site and all these things and many more start going through my head and a lot of times when you outsource, people are not going to ask you the questions, they are just going to assume or they are not even going to know there is questions to be asked, so you really have to break it down into a this is the research process, this is the writing process, this is how we structure the content, this is the editing process and then within each of those things breaking it down further. And, why this is good is not only because again it helps you clarify exactly what people are doing, but it allows you to get the best people to do different parts of a process. So, a lot of people would think doing content for a site, oh it’s just writing stuff, but it’s not; there is several parts to that, there is the research, keyword research and in many cases actual researching the question or the topic of the content itself which has to be done. There is the writing, there is putting together, there is the editing, and publishing. That’s a crucial one, we have different people who do writing and publishing, and you tend to need more sort of like an analytical person to do the actual publishing, and more the creative researchy type to do or writer type to do the writing for example. So in that case, in our experience, whenever we have hired writers and asked them to actually publish a content, and format it, it hasn’t gone well, because I don’t know, I just don’t think people who are good at writing are necessarily good at-
Gael: I think there is also the thing was like you are done writing something, and you are like oh the last thing I want to do is work more on that piece.
Mark: Yeah, that’s true. I don’t know if all writers are like that, or is it just me and you from a personal point of view. Yeah, I know what you mean, yeah.
Gael: Yeah, I am sure you know after the Thrive leads piece. So yeah, it’s kind of good to actually have a pair of fresh eyes work on something that has been worked on as well, so, yeah, I like breaking it down as well. Even if it means, with systems like Upwork and so on, you don’t have to hire people full time, or anything like that, so it doesn’t cost you more. It also allows you to get people that are more qualified for that one specific task rather than one person doing everything, that’s good at some things but not at others. So breaking it down is actually like a bit of the secret sauce of what we do actually.
Mark: Yeah. I also, a lot of people are tempted to throw money at the problem as we said before, instead of hiring someone cheap, they hire someone expensive and they expect them to figure it out. If you hire a writer that is going to write you articles for 15 dollars, versus someone that is going to write you articles for 150 dollars, there is really not going to be much difference in terms of what you get, if you don’t give them any instructions. If the content might be a little bit better, but I guarantee you it’s not going to what you want, so, you can’t really expect other people to figure out how your business should be structured.
Gael: Okay. I think we should jump into the five things people should outsource. We’ve been talking quite a while right now.
Mark: Okay, great.
Gael: So, first one is obviously we talk about it, content, right. And, it’s the writing of the content you mean, right?
Mark: Yeah, writing of the content and editing of the content, so it can of be too, in some of our sites, we split that into two roles, although, it doesn’t necessarily have to be.
Gael: Okay, I mean, it’s one thing that a lot of people that produce content, they don’t even have an editing pert, they just take the stuff that they get from the writer copy paste in WordPress, publish, done goodbye. We should just do an entire podcast on why editing is important I guess.
Mark: Yeah, that’s a good idea.
Gael: Because otherwise we are going to run for two hours guys. So, you want to outsource content- what do you template, you say you want to template things, what is templated, when you outsource content?
Mark: Well, the structure, to start with.
Gael: What does that mean?
Mark: So it basically means that you have certain types of articles, and anyone who is Authority Hacker pro member will know if you look at the content outsourcing blueprint that we have in there, we have sort of arranged it in certain ways that it’s like a question post, or a best x for y, like best multivitamins for kids or something like that, as an example. And the way in which these posts are structured, forces the writer to write a certain amount about each part and research five different things and compare them and all that sort of stuff.
Gael: Yeah, we tell them what should be inside, we don’t just give them the keywords.
Mark: Yeah, exactly. And, in any cases, that is actually giving them resources to look at as well comparable articles on other sites to look into. But it is also in a template you are specifying certain rules, so how should we link out to other sites, how do we find other authorities, which sites should we avoid, if there is any misinformation out there, even the sort of the persona or the personality of how it’s being written, in what voice, who is the audience, all these little things that a writer might, wouldn’t necessarily know unless you tell them. It’s important to have that down.
Gael: Yeah, actually if you read a lot of Health Ambition posts, you will see that there is lie personal stories from Helen and stuff like that, in there and that’s because inside the briefs, we actually give them a backstory we give them a lot of stuff and it allows writer to actually make these feel more personal not just informational. And that gets more engagement from the audience and so on so it’s a good thing to have actually. So, why would someone outsource content, what are the benefits and what are the risks as well?
Mark: Well, okay, so whatever your business, if you are running an authority site you will have to outsource content at some point. Now, many people hey want to outsource content straight away because they maybe they are not a native English speaker, they are not a topic expert, and that’s fine, though I do think that you should try and learn the topic somewhat yourself. But there will come a point where you will have to outsource content if you want to grow, and we have experienced that fairly, well a while ago actually on Authority Hacker, the content we produce for Authority Hacker takes really long time to write, really long time. Because we have such high standards for the quality and the internet marketing market consumers in there are very, they have very high standards themselves. So, we can’t just pump out an article a day because it’s just not possible.
Gael: Some people do it.
Mark: Yeah. but if someone is writing an article a day and it’s very high quality I guarantee you they are not writing an article a day. So, yeah, there comes a point where you just have to do that in order to grow, in order to have time to do other stuff in your business. And, to use health Ambition as another example you and I were certainly not topic experts there and we were able to get a pretty good sort of initial growth after about six months when we hired someone, one of our friends who is really a good topic expert, on health and nutrition. And, he was able to write some awesome stuff and give us a lot of ideas which we would never have had ourselves or would have taken us a long time to sort of get to it so yeah, there is a lot of benefits for doing outsourcing content.
Gael: And, what are the cons?
Mark: If your writer is bad and you don’t know that he is bad then your business is going to suffer. Unfortunately that is quite an easy trap to fall into, either because you don’t know it’s bad or because you are not checking and you just assumed that they are going to keep writing good stuff. So, for that reason, it’s a really important to have an editor, you can be the editor, initially, that’s fine, if you know the topic and if you do actually keep checking if the content is good enough, or you can hire an editor. We have an editor on Health Ambition, her job is just to check other writers’ work and push back on them and make sure the quality is in place. So there is sort of checks and balances system.
Gael: I mean, you want to counterpower system in place, right, I call it the content gate keeper, it’s like someone who has the responsibility of pressing the publish button. And the instruction is like well, you would be happy to share that on your Facebook wall essentially, so if it’s the writer and he just wants to get over with and get paid, and the editor, their only job is to make sure that if we go and check it out or if an expert goes and check it out, it’s not going to look bad, it’s going to look like it’s something good and our brand is going to be protected essentially. And this counter power is super important and that’s how it works in real publishing, like in newspapers, you have the editor in chief, and you have the editors, and you have the writers, essentially there is these layers because that is what essentially [21:55 inaudible] and if you don’t have these layers, you will publish bad content.
Gael: So, let’s jump on a next one, which is going to be link building. That is something we do, we’ve done more recently, right?
Mark: Yeah, I want to clarify the second one is link building outreach. And the third one is also link building but it’s handling the responses, so we can sort of talk about these two together if you want but the reason I split that into two is because fundamentally, you need two different types of people doing that. Link building outreach is finding link opportunities, reverse engineering, backlink profiles, doing mail megres, sending out templates to lots of people that kind of thing. And that requires a very sort of analytical person whereas handling the responses from real people, although we do and we have templated that to an extent, it still requires a very much like a people person in order to get the best result from that. If you had a people person doing the analytical part, I don’t think it will work very well.
Gael: It would take too much time to do it actually. Emails we send is always the same anyway.
Mark: It’s customized, urls and the name if we have it is customized, but the base templates are always the seam whereas the responses that we send while they are templated, there is many more parts within that template which are customized.
Gael: Yeah, I mean we treat the email like an ad essentially, and when someone clicks on the ad then we do customize stuff. The first email is like an ad, so yeah. That’s why we have two different people as well. What are the pros and cons of outsourcing that stuff?
Mark: First of all, I want to talk about how we did it, and for the outreach part, actually maybe you can talk about that, because you did that.
Gael: Yes, I mean, I first did it for like five or six posts, the promotion, I actually did it for a couple of days, and then I mean, then it was I figured out the template, I figured out what to say here etc, if you do this stuff, you really get into the details that nobody talks about, on any blog or anything like that essentially, it’s like you can’t just give that to a blog post to outsource-
Mark: What’s an example of one of those details?
Gael: I mean the way you craft your templates, I was like, basically it’s like we are doing skyscraper, so we are like hey, you link to this other piece of content that talks about this why don’t you link to us? And I know that the success rate of this is just not very good so after one day I got like two replies out of like over a hundred emails sent and I was like okay, it’s not very good so like let’s figure out, let’s give something in exchange so then I started offering social shares and I tested different things, to offer and ultimately the social shares won and our result was like five hundred percent more replies or something. And then I eventually crafted that template around that, also recrafted so that I understand we’re using [24:58 inaudible] right now for this outreach, and I understand the technical limitations and I was like how do I optimize the time spent collecting emails and information so we spent really little time doing that and we can send a lot of emails, so then I tweaked my template around that so it takes not only technical understanding but also being able to then craft a messaging to people, which you can’t really ask that to a freelancer, so crafting other that anyways was ready, like copy paste everything, put everything google docs and then, I trained the person that was uploading our blog posts at the time, on the site for like 40 minutes, and everything he’s been building like six hundred links in the last three months or something, something crazy, four five months probably.
Mark: And so, to follow on to that, we were sending out all these emails and getting a lot of responses which was great, but very quickly the inbox started to pile up. And so I started handing that and that was fine initially but it really started to be quite successful so it was taking half a day, even sometimes a day a week to actually take care of all of that. And so, it was something which absolutely had to outsource. So, I spent really the best part of the day one time going through 50 or 60 responses and sort of responding to them but creating the responses in such a way that they could be used again, so kind of templating them, obviously it’s not the same thing, you can’t completely template it, you still have to add personalization parts and stuff to it, much more so than would the initial outreach, not just the url, it’s like actual building report with people here.
Gael: Yeah, people ask questions and stuff. You can template the first email you can’t template the entire relationship.
Mark: Exactly. But I was actually surprised, just how much I was able to template I mean, I say something of 80% of responses will get a template, which is personalized, but so once I had done that, I then built all these templates, I then wrote a document explaining how the whole thing worked, and then as I was doing that, this forced me to make several decisions and to actually improve the process, so whenever we successfully built a link I asked them to put that link in a spreadsheet or Google doc and similarly, whenever someone told us to get lost I would ask them to put it in another document which became a black list and then we actually ended up using those in order to filter out certain people from the initial outreach process. So that kind of helped us improve the outreachers job as well, not just a respond handler’s. So, once that was done, I hired someone off Upwork actually and gave her a little bit of training, and then just basically asked her to do this work except for the first, I mean even now, she is not sending anything without me checking it first, and that’s-
Gael: Yeah, I can see, I see 40+ emails queued up already.
Mark: Yeah, and so basically every time she works she sends me a report and then I just go through them all and give feedback on every single one and she has only been onboard for about a week, so I think after maybe two or three more weeks I’ll actually start getting her to send stuff, but I need to make sure sort of 95% are good to go from the first time she does it and even then, I am going to keep coming back, and I am going to check everything for a while and keep giving feedback. So that’s basically the process of how we did it. Obviously, main thing here is that it saves us a whole lot of time, and it’s kind of, it’s not autopilot but it’s close to-
Gael: It’s going to be there eventually.
Mark: It’s close to autopilot. Yeah, it only becomes autopilot when people have been working for you for I don’t know- six months or something, and they really know the job well. It does take a while.
Gael: The next thing we are going to talk about actually is on autopilot for us right now, and I am pretty happy about that, and that is content publishing- formatting, right. Can you explain what happened there?
Mark: Yeah, so it’s basically, in the past, we’d had writers actually publish their content, so put it onto our sites either back in the day in the WordPress editor or more recently in Thrive content builder. And, that was a mistake, because certainly on Health Ambition we actually have several different writers and they obviously have different styles, they like to format things a little differently.
Gael: They just didn’t get it usually.
Mark: Yeah, usually writers they think in a fundamentally different way to someone who would be good to actually publishing and formatting a long post, so yeah.
Gael: Yeah, so that’s how we did, and so we hired someone full time actually, but that person is not-
Mark: It wasn’t just for that though.
Gael: Yeah, that person is now also doing the initial outreach for us, and a few other tasks. But that guy has been doing something like since- when did we hire him?
Mark: February, March.
Gael: February, he’s probably built more links than most SEOs ever have in their career, so that’s pretty good but essentially yeah, we hired someone that we could train on our style and we also templated a lot of thrive content builder so different types of posts, we have different types of elements that he can just drag and drop that are templated and so on. And, once again, a lot of feedback for the first three months, every single post I mean I am still pressing the publish button but that’s the only thing I do and I am just checking him out, giving him some feedback, then like having some changes done etc, he also learned how to do a featured images that kind of stuff. And essentially now he is on autopilot, he works directly with our editor, they assign tasks to each other.
Mark: Can I just say, so on day one, like when he started what was your process for actually teaching him how to do this?
Gael: I showed him Thrive content builder for two hours, and then I gave him four posts and he was doing it at my place actually.
Mark: So it was like “over the shoulder training”.
Gael: Pretty much. And then-
Mark: Do you think he could have done that if he was remote?
Gael: Yeah, probably, I mean we could have just done Google Hangout and literally mute the microphone and he just works and I see his screen. So it’s definitely possible but because he was in Budapest I was like why not. And yeah, and then the next day he did it but remotely and then the next day, and then eventually, I got him to batches and then I only gave feedback once a day and then once a week and now it’s basically once a month.
Mark: Okay, and how long did it take before, so you said you are still checking everything before publishing?
Gael: Yeah, I don’t really ask for much changes anymore. But, yeah, he is pretty good, so it took two weeks and then everything was good.
Mark: Okay, but it was quite a lot of work initially.
Gael: Yeah, I had to check as I said every day, and then after the two weeks I had to check every week, and now it’s once a month, we have a call and I say let’s tweak this and this and this etc.
Mark: It’s interesting, I guess outsourcing is kind of like a lot of people think you are investing money to buy time but there is probably quite a bit of time investment you need to consider as well.
Gael: That’s what I said at the beginning, you need to really like onboard people, and it takes a lot of time and energy and if you don’t do it, people have zero motivation, they will quit for the next job they get, if someone pays them an extra dollar per hour. If you do that, if you treat people like machines, literally you are going to be facing a high turnover which is going to cost you more than actually giving time to people initially.
Gael: So yeah, and look it’s working really well right now, he is also doing our outreach and for our new sites he is going to be doing guest posting as well, and he has been training on Authority Hacker pro, that’s actually the stuff we use to train people. So, yeah, and then I am going to probably meet him an hour or two and we are going to do the same, essentially we are going to be doing this “over the shoulder training” initially and then I’m going to be checking once a day then once a week, and then once a month and then he will be able to handle that process.
Mark: And, with content publishing, there is not really any risks, as long as you are the person who is pressing publish.
Gael: Yeah, we have a lot of automated stuff happening when we press publish, like social media updating, like push notifications and so on, so I just make sure that nothing is broken but yeah, if you press publish it’s okay, but once again, it’s still time, you need to go back to the site, you need to go and check everything.
Mark: Sorry to interrupt, that’s actually a really good point you brought up about, automating a lot of things, automating a lot overall with the social media sharing being done automatically. When we are doing the link building outreach response handling, I actually created this Google doc spreadsheet which basically functions like a checker, so before any outreach is sent, the person who is doing it posts all the urls there and there is various formula in place and it checks certain things whether we’ve outreached them before, whether they are on the blacklist, that kind of stuff, but also, is the word tag in there because we end up outreaching to a lot of tag pages rather than actual blog posts, so in doing this yourself and thinking through it, it will actually force you to actually automate the role and make it easy, not just for you but for the next person, which saves you money in the long run as well.
Gael: Yeah, automation is essentially the next step to outsourcing, it’s like you probably always need people for websites to some extent, I mean until AA gets really good, but you can use a lot of tools and automations to reduce your costs, and reduce errors. That’s essentially how we’d use this things like, there is no tool that can automate your site, you need people to operate these tools. You shouldn’t be afraid to invest like a couple of dollars per month in some subscriptions or something to speed stuff up, it’s much faster to automate your social sharing than paying someone to do it for example. And much cheaper, we pay like 10 bucks a month for buffer or something. It’s not that bad. Cool, let’s talk about the last one which is something we’ve done with more or less success, and I think we’re going to talk about the checkout on Health Ambition, but that would be server admins- tech stuff, if you are not a developer like we are not.
Mark: Yeah, I think most people who are listening to this probably they maybe have a few tech skills here and there but you asked them to migrate the MySql database and they wouldn’t know where to start. I mean, neither would we. This can be quite a problem if you are running an authority site because at some point, your site will break, something will happen, your plugin will get hacked or maybe you just overload your shared hosting server or something will happen that will cause your site to go down, and break and when that happens, you will need to fix it and if anyone thinks oh, you can just contact your hosting and they will fix it for you-
Gael: Sometimes but yeah.
Mark: Yeah, I mean, at least in my experience, they tend to blame it on something else and it’s this sort of circular blame game and no one takes responsibility for it. Not always, but sometimes. And the point is, you don’t want your site breaking in the first place, particularly if you are running a shopping cart, which we do on many of our sites actually, and the one on Health Ambition actually broke a month ago or something like that, and it was down for a week, we didn’t get any error message, nothing, just the sale stopped. And, when that happens, it takes a while to realize because sometimes, we have days when there is no sales, so it’s not a weird thing that would happen for day or two, but when it happens for the whole week, then we realize something is wrong, we have to fix it. And bringing in someone to do that took time itself.
Gael: Yeah, I wanted more to talk about what happened when we designed the checkout originally? Can you tell what happened?
Mark: Okay, so we hired this company to, we are using the default MemberMouse checkout which isn’t great.
Gael: MemberMouse is a membership platform if you don’t know what it is, it’s what we use to deliver the content, and process the payments.
Mark: Yeah, and we then, we want to make a better looking checkout, to convert better basically. So we hired a company to do that, they are an agency based here in Hungary and they seem to know what they are doing.
Gael: We hired them through friends which is not the way you should be hiring by the way.
Mark: Yeah, we made a mistake a few times, I would avoid that. Basically, they created a markup which actually looked pretty good, but when it came to implementing it, it just, it was terrible, let’s be honest, there were many things they did wrong, and eventually, after far too long, we got it sort of working, there were a few things broken, and we just sort of washed our hands of that and stopped working with them basically. But, they left us a little present in that, they had modified the actual theme files, they hadn’t done it through a child theme, which we asked for, which meant that when we updated the theme, the cart broke and that’s what caused the problem. So yeah, that was-
Gael: I think that’s an interesting story because that’s what happens pretty frequently when you hire outside of your skill rank, when we hire people doing link building, we can spot these kind of problems really easily, but when it’s development or something, it’s very complicated and that’s one of the cases where I tend to overpay rather than taking risks, especially when we make money from that kind of stuff, and it’s something that I think that raises a problem where it’s like well, one thing you can do is you can hire someone to hire for you, which is either you know someone that you trust is good at this stuff and has the credentials for that which we are lucky enough to have and that is how we hired the developer for CopyCog when we did that for example, or you can hire someone that has amazing credentials on Upwork and they are going to be very expensive, it could be like a 100 or 200 dollars an hour. But, you can use them to hire you a 20 dollars an hour WordPress developer essentially, and then, you get an expert’s opinion, because otherwise you may be hiring someone- it’s like writers, you pay 50 bucks instead of 20 bucks and you get basically the same thing.
Mark: Yeah, if you don’t know the job, if you don;t know how to select a good person, you are going to pay, either by hiring someone who is very expensive or by paying someone else to hire them for you. Or by going to an agency who is a very well respected agency hopefully, who is very expensive because they have very good people.
Gael: Yeah, I actually use the service called “Codable” lately, to do a plugin for us, and actually it was pretty good, they have a 100% money back guarantee, codable.io, and it’s basically like an outsourcing agency just for WordPress. And so far it’s been working really well, the plugin they have made for us, and the perk with that is it’s a bit more expensive, but they filter developers, it’s not like anyone on Upwork, and they give you a 100% money back guarantee if you are not happy with the result.
Mark: That’s pretty good then for anyone who doesn’t have any sort of tech skills.
Gael: Yeah, that’s where I would probably go instead of Upwork just because I am not technically savvy enough to judge people’s work. We would pay for something but in the end, you get the guarantee that this is going to work and they give you the before actually.
Mark: Okay, that’s pretty good.
Gael: So that is pretty good. How do you template the tech job though?
Mark: You can’t. If you don’t know the job or you can’t do it yourself, you can’t template it, that’s why- I mean, there is always going to be a risk, whomever you are hiring, even if it’s template, if you a e templating it, so the way to mitigate that risk with jobs you don’t know like tech stuff, is- first of all, back everything up before you give people full access to your site.
Gael: That’s a good idea.
Mark: But, before that, get a recommendation off of a trusted source, that could be someone you know, someone you really respect in the industry you are in or anywhere really, Authority Hacker Pro Facebook group if you are a pro member, just someone who knows what they are doing, and if you don’t have someone who can recommend that, then pay someone to help you or to recommend someone. As Gael said, you are going to hire people under 200 bucks an hour on Upwork and many other places, and get them to do all the vetting and hiring and stuff like that, technical recruiters are expensive but they will help you a lot in that kind of case. That’s all you can do, you can’t, there is always going to be a risk but if you don’t have someone in place, then your site will go down at some point, and if it’s already down, then it takes a while, a long time to bring someone onboard, you are losing money every second it’s down, so.
Gael: It’s a good idea to plan that before it goes down. Unlike what we did on Authority Hacker, when it went down when I released the ClickBank post actually the site would be going down every five minutes. That was not a pleasant experience. Anyway, I think we’re done with “the five things you can outsource”
Mark: Five things you MUST outsource.
Gael: Okay, that you MUST outsource guys when you are an authority site owner. Thanks for joining Mark, and guys, thanks for listening, we’ll see you guys in the next episode next week. Bye.
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