How to Hire Outsourcers on Odesk.com

Dear Friend: I am a workaholic.

So when people ask me about outsourcing and whether or not I have employees my answer is almost always no. I say “almost” because:

  • There was a short period where I had an in-house personal assistant
  • I’ve hired outsourcers in the past, for short periods of time

A Change of Mind

I’ve recently been feeling a bit of overload. I’m running campaigns, writing music, putting together content for a new product, posting twice per week on this site and I’ve signed on to speak at an upcoming meetup. I’m pretty maxed out.

So I decided it was time to look into outsourcing some of my work to other people.

To get started I decided to just outsource one thing. I’m a big fan of doing one thing at a time, so I decided to only outsource on project to start. Simple banner ad design for one of my campaigns. I have the style perfected. All I need now are variations to freshen up the campaign from time to time.

I chose odesk.com as my outsourcing resource because I have used it before and already had an account. There are plenty of other sites out there, but you only really need one.

The process was so smooth and helped so much that I thought I’d share it with you so you can try it yourself if/when you need it.

“I would rather earn 1% off a 100 people’s efforts than 100% of my own efforts.” – John D. Rockefeller

How to Hire Outsourcers on Odesk.com

Here is the exact process I went through. Use it as a guide to setup your first outsourcing project to see if it’s right for you.

  1. Create an account. To use odesk.com you’re going to need an account (it’s free). Enter your contact, company and billing info. *Tip: If you have a business credit card, use it as this is a 100% business expense.
  2. Post A Single Task. Start with one (1) job. Give a detailed description. I always ask for time estimations for the job I’ve posted. If it’s a simple task and they estimate 10 hours, I ignore them.
  3. Test applicants for attention to detail. Add something like “include the words I LOVE PIZZA with your application” to the job posting. If they miss it, they’ll probably miss other things in the future. It’s an easy way to weed out bad apples early on.
  4. Review Applications You will get A LOT of applications. I do my first eliminations based on price. For a simple banner ad job I expect to pay $5/hr or less. So everyone over $5/hr was eliminated, leaving me with about 25 people.
  5. Hire 5–10 people. I hired 5 for this job, but you can go up to 10 if you’d like. The only way to test them is to give them a job and see what happens. The more you hire and test, the better your chances of finding someone who can do the job.
  6. Give a simple task, 1 hour or less. I gave each person a very simple task of creating 3 banner ads and capped their maximum billable hours at 3/week. This puts my max total test budget at $15. If you don’t put a cap on hours, some dishonest outsourcers will take 20 hours to complete a simple task. They know they’ll get fired but it’s an easy way for them to make a quick buck. Be sure to cap the hours.
  7. Fire based on results. Of the five people I hired, two were unresponsive, one did the job but asked me 50 questions and took all 3 hours. The other two did the job in less than one hour and asked me no questions. I fired the two non-responders and the one that gave me a headache and kept the two designers that did the job well.
How to Hire Outsourcers on Odesk.com
My first test job. As you can see, Number 1 took all 3 hours.

The results. Less than 24 hours later I had two graphic designers on call that can do the job without bothering me at all. I’ve been working with them for two weeks now and am very happy with the results.

What Else Can You Outsource?

Banner ads and graphic design are just the beginning. Using odesk, you can hire people to do just about anything imaginable.

  • You can hire a virtual assistant to research blog post topics for you
  • pay a person to call your mom and read her a poem every other Thursday
  • I once had a virtual assistant who’s only job was to send me an inspiring quote every morning by 7am
  • Tim Ferriss actually outsourced his love life.

The hourly rates are surprisingly low, especially if you hire international workers. Graphic designers in the Philippines come in as low as $2/hour and are just as talented as a US designer asking for $40/hour.

Other resources

There are also plenty of other outsourcing websites out there, but I am not going to list them here. When I find something that works for me I block out all other distractions. So I thought I’d focus only on the site that is currently working for me – odesk.com.

Watch my video on the process on YouTube: How to Hire Outsourcers on Odesk.

In Conclusion:

Outsourcing is a great way to offload some of your repetitive tasks. My recommendation is to start slow. Outsoure a single task and see how it feels. If it feels good and the job is running smoothly, outsource one more task.

Like I said – I don’t mind doing the work myself, I actually enjoy it. But the last few weeks of having this simple task off my todo list has been great and I’ll probably offload more work soon.

That way, I can focus more of my time on fun, creative and fulfilling things…

Like writing this post for you.

  • http://wikimediamarketing.com Luis Barrios

    Thanks for the detailed explanation.

    Which worker have the most risk tasks for you?
    I mean: check your campaing, rise bid, research or you only have designers

    Regards

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      hey Luis – as the post says, all I outsourced was banner ad design. I have outsourced the more important tasks in the past, but right now I only have designers.

  • Matthew Geer

    Thanks for the post, Malan.

    I’ve considered doing this even as someone still trying to build their first profitable campaign.

    The way I figure it, it takes me 20-30 minutes to find an image and create a banner. I could pay someone (or a couple of someones) to make a few banners for me, which would free up my time to work on my LP copy, brainstorm more angles, etc. It would more than pay for my time.

    It’s something I’ve considered doing. I’m going to give it a shot for sure if I can find a few guys at $5/hour.

    The only challenge I can see now is giving them direction (what type of banner to create). But I’m often lost there too creating them myself. I suppose that’s where your insider info and affiliate marketing posts will come in handy 🙂

    • fooder

      The way I do it is get good at it yourself first and write down a simple step by step checklist of how you do it. After you can just adapt the checklist to teach someone exactly how to do it.

      • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

        ^^ what he said (thanks fooder)

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      Hey matt – yeah that’s a problem. You can’t hire an outsourcer and tell them “make me some good ads”. They’re not going to be able to do it.

      You have to give them exact instructions, which should be based on either:
      a) ads that you have working for your campaign
      b) ads that you see others using during your research
      c) a very specific idea of what you THINK will work

      I’ve never had an outsourcer that could come up with creative angles and banners from scratch. It seems to work best when they have an exact to do list from me.

      • Matthew Geer

        Agreed. I figured that if I went that route option ‘b’ would be the way I’d start. Then I could give more detailed instructions based on stats and (eventually) experience.

        • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

          good idea. here’s a tip: most banners you find might be worn out (banner blindness). an outsourcer (or your) could add a colored border, or different colored borders, or change it up slightly in other way that might make it beat the original. #splittesting

          • Matthew Geer

            Man, such a great tip. I think I’m running into 2 possible issues with my campaigns at the moment:

            targeting (too broad)
            banners

            You might be able to throw angles in there too, I don’t know. But right now all my banners are getting .02-.05 CTRs. Compared to the average(?) CTR of .15, I’m missing out on 2/3 the data.

            I point that out because I was going to use your suggestion in one of your last posts to take what’s working (banners) and innovate. But had you not posted what you did above, I wouldn’t have thought of tweaking it first (not sure why, just wouldn’t), and would’ve set myself up for mediocre results.

            Thanks man.

  • http://www.freshsupercool.com/ taewoo

    “Love Pizza” / Test applicants for attention to detail.

    That’s brilliant. GOtta use that.