Monthly Archives: April 2005

Outsourcing your work…

A few weeks ago I touched on the subject of getting other people to do your work for you.  I want to cover this topic in a bit more detail as outsourcing is a superb way of saving yourself both time and money.

By way of example, let me start with a short story…

At 8.30pm one night last week, I started to wonder whether it would be possible to automate a particular part of one of my website design processes. At present I do this task semi-manually and it takes me about 4 hours to generate a multi-page website.

Anyway, by 8.45pm I had scratched out an outline of what I would need a new custom piece of software to do to automate this task and by 8.59pm the ‘project’ was advertised on one of the main freelance websites…

Within 2 minutes I had the first bid from a programmer…

Within 15 minutes I had four more bids…

Within 45 minutes I had accepted a bid and the programmer was working on the project.

Two days and $75 later (and with less than an hours work required by me) and I had a brand new piece of custom software which can complete the task in question in seconds rather than hours!

With several excellent freelance sites around nowadays, it is very easy to find a programmer/web designer/writer/whatever that will be happy to work with you and the cost (as illustrated above) will often be far less than you might expect.

If you spend some time thinking about the type of tasks you could outsource, I am sure you will soon come up with a fairly substantial list.  The following are just a few ideas:

Website design
Website maintenance
Copywriting
General writing – for example of an entire eBook!
Software design/creation (for your own use or resale)
Graphic design
Script installation (and creation)
Dealing with your support emails
Finding new affiliates
Finding new link exchange partners

And so the list goes on…

Of course, as with anything, there are a few things to be aware of when outsourcing so here are my top tips for a successful project:

1.  Only post your project on the main freelance sites (list below).  This will give you the best exposure and the highest level of competition from bidders.  This means keen pricing and a good range of expertise from which to choose from.

2.  When you post your project, ensure that you detail EXACTLY what is required.  The more information the better.  If you start adding to the brief after a freelancer has placed his/her bid, expect the price to rise…

3.  Try and keep the brief as simple as possible.  Remember that English may not be the first language of some of the freelancers and whilst I have never had any communication problems (in fact, most of the programmers I have used have a better standard of written English than the majority of my fellow countrymen!), it makes sense not to over-complicate matters with slang etc that may not be understood.

4.  Don’t always opt for the lowest bid.  All of the freelance sites listed below allow you to view feedback ratings for freelancers and I usually base my decision on this rating.  I would rather pay a bit extra and use someone with a superb rating than save a bit of money and use a new freelancer.  They may be great at what they do but unfortunately when you are dealing with people at a distance, you have no way of knowing and in my view, it isn’t worth the risk and potential extra hassle.  Go with someone that has already proven themselves.

5.  If your project is to create something that you want to resell (for example a software product or an eBook) make sure that you stress in the brief that at the end of the project, you will own the copyright and will have access to the source code/files.  Obviously you want to ensure that the freelancer doesn’t come back to you in the future complaining that you are selling his/her work and that you can edit the product if you need to without having to find the original creator.  It would also be wise to include a condition stating that the freelancer is not allowed to use your product in the future for someone else or indeed sell it themselves.

As for which freelance site to use, there are three that I recommend but my absolute fave is Scriptlance and this is definitely my ‘site of choice’.

Have fun!

How do I drive traffic to a brand new website?

Every single day, more and more people upload brand new websites to the Internet.  I don’t have any figures but there must be hundreds of thousands of new pages being added daily (if not considerably more!)

The one thing that all of these new websites need in order to make their existence worthwhile is traffic, which leads me to one of the most common questions I am asked and the subject of this newsletter:

‘How can you generate traffic to a brand new website?’

Of course, there are a number of different answers to this question and what I would do myself is probably very different to what a completely new Internet entrepreneur would do.  The reason I say this is that the first thing I do when launching a new site is make use of my existing website traffic by advertising the new site on my other established sites.  In addition, I have the luxury of a large mailing list which I can use to drive traffic to the new site.

I appreciate that anyone starting out in online business won’t have these options open to them (and in fairness, neither did I when I first started), so let’s look at things from the beginning.  Day one of your first website…

It is a fact that the quickest and probably most effective way of bringing targeted traffic to your website is by paying for it.  Now before you rush off and sink $50 into one of those ‘50,000 hits for $50’ schemes, DON’T, this isn’t what I mean.  Those schemes are largely a complete waste of money.  Even if you get the traffic that you are promised (as opposed to some software script visiting your site and pretending to be a visitor), it will not be targeted and therefore there is a very low chance that the traffic will generate sales.  When I talk about buying traffic, I mean by using the pay- per-click services offered by most of the big search engines.

You probably already know the sort of thing I mean – for example, Google Adwords.  Pretty much any search on Google will display a list of adverts down the right-hand side of the page and these are all paid adverts.  Every time you click on one of them, the advertiser pays Google a fixed amount which could be anything from 5 cents upwards (depending upon how competitive the keyword is). Pay-per-click allows you to be very selective about which keywords your advert is shown for and this allows you to target your advertising perfectly. 

Now, before you all start emailing me and saying that you already knew about PPC let me just say that I am well aware that people know about it.  The problem (as I see it), is that people aren’t using this type of service because of the fact that they don’t want to spend any money on advertising.  That’s all well and good but the fact is that the Internet is getting more and more competitive each day and the chances of you building a successful website business from scratch without investing any money are tiny to say the least. 

If you want to attract a decent level of traffic to a brand new website in a short period of time, it is almost a necessity that you use pay-per-click on one of the main search engines.  If you don’t, then the growth of your traffic levels will be painfully slow and inconsistent at best.

When I launched my very first websites I invested heavily in pay-per-click advertising.  At one point, I was spending over $6000 a month on Google Adwords alone!!!  Seriously I really was spending that much money.  It was a constant battle to tweak the website sales copy and continue to test the advertisement text just to make sure that my sales were covering the advertising payments each month.  At the time I was probably just about breaking even but buying traffic in this quantity meant that I was able to fine-tune my sales pages and start to build up a list of mailing list subscribers.

Once you have got to the stage where you know your sales pages are converting visitors into buyers, then you can start to gear up with other methods of getting traffic to your site – writing articles, linking strategies, viral methods (ebooks etc), using your eBay ‘About Me’ page, using your link as a signature when you post on forums etc.  All of these methods will win you traffic (and in most cases it will be completely free) but it will take time for the traffic to build to a worthwhile level.  If you rely solely on free traffic, you really will be building your business one hit at a time.

Of course, once the free methods of gaining traffic start to pay off, you can begin to wind down your paid methods, though you may not want to – after all, if you are earning more in sales than you are paying for your pay-per-click traffic, why stop it? 

As your portfolio of websites grows, you will also be able to share the traffic around a bit by linking to your own sites and of course, if you are capturing your visitors email addresses, you will be building a mailing list of people interested in the products you are offering.

Like I say, I appreciate that the above may not be the ground-breaking secret that you were hoping for but as with so many things online, there really is no secret.  Achieving success is simply about taking action and whilst you can succeed online by spending very little money, the chances are that you will succeed a lot quicker by making a bit of an investment.  You don’t have to be spending thousands of dollars a month as I was but any new business owner should be prepared to invest a few hundred dollars a month in order to get things off the ground…