Episode 14: Thoughts on Outsourcing

In this episode, Angie and April share their tips and experiences with outsourcing.

Episode 14: Thoughts on Outsourcing

 
 
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Have you been thinking about outsourcing some of your TpT related tasks? Or, have you tried and had a great experience? Or a bad experience?  Join us in our Facebook group www.growwithusmastermind.com where we will further discuss this and many topics related to our Teacher Pay Teachers businesses.

I want to start out by defining what we are talking about when we use the word “outsourcing”. We aren’t talking about editing. Both Angie and I have always used editors. I used to use my husband or a friend. Then, I tried exchanging working with other teachers where I would let them have the resource for free in exchange for their editing services. But, now I have an editor that I pay. You really need someone else to take double check your work for mistakes or things you have missed. It really isn’t optional, but having someone edit my work doesn’t really lighten my load.

When we say “outsourcing”, we are talking about taking something that we would normally do ourselves and paying someone else to do it. It could be that they will do it better than we would, or just that they will get it done when we are procrastinating on the task. Either way, we have both found outsourcing to be incredibly beneficial to our TpT businesses.

Advantages of outsourcing

There are a lot of advantages when it comes to outsourcing.

Frees up time

There are a lot of things to do as teacher sellers. It can be easy to get so focused on things like keeping up with social media and building a following that it’s difficult to have time for product creation. However, you need those products in order to keep growing your business. When you outsource some of those “other” tasks you have the time freed up to create more products to sell.

Helps create a workflow

Outsourcing has really helped me to establish a workflow. For example, right now I am creating grammar resources right now and have several people helping me with their creation. I am able to create a template and send it to the next person who comes up with questions for the worksheet. We discuss the questions and put finishing touches on them and send it to the editor. When she’s finished checking it over we pass it along to the photographer. The photographer prints it out and takes pictures of it.

Because of this process, I am able to get the entire process done in half the time it would take me to do it alone. I still get the final say about the work that is being completed along the way. So, the finished product is still exactly what I wanted it to be, but I didn’t have to do all the work for it.

Helps produce products on a more consistent basis

Since beginning to outsource and establish a workflow I am able to produce products on a more consistent basis. I know that the freelancers that I use are waiting to complete their piece of the puzzle on a specific day. If I don’t get them what they need in time I delay the entire process. Since I know that someone is waiting on me to get them the information it helps me not to procrastinate. By doing this I can create new products every week.

Lets you spend time doing the parts that you like

We all have certain tasks that we enjoy more than others. Those tasks that we don’t like can delay our process. If you are like Angie and me, you tend to procrastinate on the tasks that you don’t like to do. But, if you outsource those tasks to someone else, that enjoys doing them or is more skilled at doing them, you can focus your attention on the parts you like doing.

Angie and I can both share plenty of stories of times when we were creating resources and we got stuck. For example, Angie shares about a time she was creating 180 days worth of word problems and how it got to her after a while. Now she thinks about how she could have hired someone to write all the word problems and then she could have just plugged them into her template. Outsourcing can be a great way to overcome the mental block.

Helps with the areas you aren’t as strong

I’ll be honest, I’m not great at the photography part of my TpT business. Angie takes great photos and enjoys doing it. I don’t. I spend a lot of time on it and then I usually would go back a few months later and try to redo them. It consumed a lot of my time. I finally outsourced the work to a photographer. Because this is her strength she is able to do much faster than I can, and I get back a finished product that I’m proud of. Now, even if there is a resource that I do all the work for, I still use my photographer. It’s worth it for me to outsource that piece because it gives me peace of mind and helps me have a product that I am proud of.

Disadvantages of outsourcing

Before you read this section, don’t get us wrong. Angie and I enjoy the benefits of outsourcing, but we would be lying if we said there were never problems. Here are a few disadvantages when trying to outsource your work.

It takes time to find the right person

It takes persistence at times to find the right person. There are times when we have tried to outsource work weren’t happy with what we got back. It’s important to know that it can take time to find the right person to keep working with. And, sometimes when you do find the right person it can take some time to train them on the exact way that you want things done.

We like to give people multiple chances to see if they adjust to what we are expecting. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. We don’t like letting people go so it can be hard to decide when it’s time to admit that it just isn’t working with a certain person. However, when you keep working with them for too long you are wasting your time and money.

You have to be careful about what you outsource

Other people might not be as careful with your money as you are. That’s why we don’t hire someone to run our Facebook ads for us. If they don’t have a very clear understanding on what you are trying to do then they may continue to spend money that you wouldn’t continue spending. If you hire someone that is going to be a factor in how much money you spend you need to make sure they understand what you are looking for and that you monitor the return you are getting.

Referrals aren’t always what you think

When getting referrals from another teacher seller remember they may not look for the same quality of work you do. So, if they recommend someone to you that person may not produce the same quality you were hoping to get. It’s important to find someone that is a good match for you, your style, and will produce what you are looking for.

Tips for outsourcing

  • Provide detailed directions. If you are going to outsource something it’s important that you have completed the work yourself before. This will help you to know exactly what you are looking for and what the process is. The more detailed directions you can provide a freelancer the better the results will be. Sometimes I even take a video of how I want something done so the person can watch it first. Make sure you are clear on the font, size, and format.
  • You get what you pay for.  This doesn’t mean that you have to spend a ton of money, but you usually don’t want to go with the person that has the cheapest price. While this isn’t always the case we have found it to be true many times. It is worth paying for experience and skill so you don’t waste time and money for work that you cannot use.
  • Pay per project. You can pay per hour or by the project. We both prefer to pay for the project so we don’t have to worry that someone is working slow, wasting time, and costing us extra. Do some of the work beforehand to find out how long it takes to complete and use that to estimate the cost of the total project.
  • If they are good, keep them happy. It’s worth paying to keep a good worker. I have an editor that I pay 40 cents per page, however, if the work is really tedious I make sure to pay her extra because I want to keep her happy. I try to make sure that my editor and photographer make between $20 and $30 an hour. You want the pay you are giving them to be worth the time they are putting into it or else you will probably lose them.

Resources

As you start your outsourcing journey here are a few resources to help you along the way:

  • HelloSign –It doesn’t need to be elaborate, but it’s important to have a contract that specifies what is getting done and for what price. You also want to make sure you are getting original work that they aren’t going to sell to someone else as well. You also want to make sure you own the rights to it. HelloSign allows you to make 3 contracts for free a month.
  • Upwork – Upwork is full of talented freelancers that have a variety of skills. But, there are also those that are just starting out or don’t know how to do what you are looking for. The more detailed you can be upfront about the skills that are needed the better chance you have of finding the right person. We make sure to include details like “must be proficient in powerpoint” to our listings.

Join the group at www.growwithusmastermind.com. It’s a great place to continue the conversation, share what’s worked for you, and find out what’s worked for others when it comes to outsourcing.

Written by April Smith

April runs her business Performing in Education, LLC full time. Her main focus is on her Teachers Pay Teacher store, but she also has an online course for teachers and has written a book on project-based learning!