Outsourcing Advantages and Disadvantages

Here's my take on the advantages and disadvantages; pros and cons of outsourcing website work.

Undoubtedly, website businesses are well suited to outsourcing. After all, your "business" is on the internet and accessible to virtually anyone in the world. You can hire independent contractors to write content, make graphics, find link partners, submit articles to article directories, find pictures and upload them, and do all sorts of things to improve your websites.

I've had people in three continents working on my websites at one time before. Pretty cool. Talk about globalization!

And, there are many people all over the world well qualified to perform these tasks. Some will do excellent work at a low cost. Others can be a nightmare. As you'll soon see, I have extensive experience with both types.

And, there are many people all over the world well qualified to perform these tasks. Some will do excellent work at a low cost. Others can be a nightmare. As you¡¦ll soon see, I have extensive experience with both types.

First things first: Why would I use a outsourcer?

Answer: TIME -- If you own a website, that you are trying to make money off of, then you know that your #1 challenge is finding time to get everything done.

I mean, truly, if I had unlimited time I really could write and post an unlimited amount of content on my sites and make an unlimited amount of money from advertisements on those pages.

But, none of us has unlimited time. So, if you really want to build a successful website in a reasonably short time ¡V you will need to outsource some things. I mean you just don¡¦t have time to become an expert in everything you need to do to build and run a successful website.

Even if you did have the time, you likely would be better off focusing on the things you do well; that only you can do; and outsourcing the rest. It¡¦s simply a matter of leveraging your time to maximize your output.

Timothy Ferriss talks a lot about this in his excellent book: The 4-Hour Workweek.

I have used Elance, Need an Article.com, BdHire.com and a number of other independent website service providers.

Almost all have been excellent and provided me with great value for the money I spent. My sites wouldn't be anywhere close to where they are today without the help I've received. I won't give a comprehensive review of each provider I've used, but I will say that BdHire has been excellent. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about them or anything else for that matter.

But, what this article is about is the really bad experience I had recently with an outsourcer. You learn the most from your mistakes. I know I do. I hope you will learn from my mistakes too ļ.

So, here's my story about:

The Dangers of Outsourcing

I recently posted a job for a writer to write 100 articles for me on various estate planning topics. I received a lot of bids and narrowed the list down to a few. I asked those few for sample articles. I reviewed the samples I received and "copyscaped" them to be sure they weren't copied from anywhere.

I settled on the winning bidder because his sample articles came back completely clean and were good. Also, his policy was to not ask for payment until the job was done and the client happy with the work. So, how could I go wrong? (Just wait.)

Eventually, we broke the contract into half 50 articles for $500 and (I'm skipping a lot here) eventually I got the 50 articles. I copyscaped them and they came back clean. They weren't as ¡§keyword focused¡¨ as I wanted, but the writing was good and it seemed like valuable content to put on my site. I was assured it was original content.

So, I paid the provider his $500 and began to re-work the articles a bit and upload them to this site.

Before uploading anything someone else writes I always double-check what they've written and usually change it at least somewhat.

In this case, I was checking what he'd written with what was said about the topic in one of my estate planning books.

While skimming through the book, my eye caught a phrase that looked familiar. And, what do you know? The phrase was identical to a phrase I'd just read in one of my outsourcers' articles. Word for word.

But, it didn't end there. Not only was the phrase identical, but so was every word on the page.

And, so was every word on every page of each of the 50 articles I'd bought.

That's right. Every bit of the content sent to me was copied directly from the book.

Copyscape didn't catch it because the book is not "on the web". Still, I can't use it because one day it probably will be on the web. And, even if not, the book is copyrighted.

The book is not old enough to be "in the public domain."

I thought about contacting the publisher for permission to post the content on this site.

But, the more I thought about it, the more I thought I should just chuck the articles and write them myself.

And, that's been a lot of work. But, the truth is that the new articles are better anyway. Since I wrote them they are in my "voice" and more directly relevant to the content on this site. The information is more up to date and more useful for my visitors.

Through this experience I learned a lot about the disadvantages of outsourcing. The disadvantages are that you can't control how the work is done and if you are getting content you really can never be sure the content is unique.

I was very "lucky" to find out this was copied content. I just happened to own the out of print book he copied from and just happened to review one of the pages in the book he'd copied. Very lucky.

For me, this experience has meant the end of outsourcing content. My outsource model now is to:

  1. Outsource everything except content
  2. Focus my time on writing content

In retrospect I now see the wisdom of this approach. There are so many negatives and risks to outsourcing content. First, it takes a lot of time to communicate what you want to the provider. Second, it takes a lot of time to re-work whatever they send you. Third, you pay money to do this. Fourth, you risk a major problem if you put up duplicate or copied content. Finally, although it takes more time, in the long run, your content will be better if you write it yourself anyway.

To me, it's just not worth the time, trouble, risk, worry and expense to outsource content. However, most other things can be outsourced with much less risk and better success.

By the way, I ordered a second batch of articles from this crook before I realized he'd ripped me off. Fortunately I never received anything more from him or paid him any more. In fact, as far as I know he has dropped off the face of the earth.

In summary, there are many pros and cons and advantages and disadvantages to outsourcing. But, if you are going to succeed with a web business, you likely will find outsourcing to be both a necessary evil¡Kand a godsend.

You can read more about my experience building this site (and about one company I definitely can vouch for) at Best Low Cost Investment.

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--by Beth Heikkinen
Marquette, Michigan
I just want to thank you for this site. It answered my questions. I think many people that do research on the net take it for granted and when they find what they are looking for they forget "someone put time, money, etc into providing me with this information."

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