There is something extremely satisfying about the idea of being a lone wolf, entrepreneur. Unfortunately, dreams and reality often contrast starkly. Well, I have learned from experience that running a business completely on your own is not super fun. It is also not very efficient and hard to scale. We can all benefit from a virtual team.
So what do you do? Hire on a team?
No. At least not right away. I have a few better options for you to test out first. Options that have fixed prices and are much more dependable.
This article is going to showcase four services that will allow you to outsource:
- Basic website issues (in WordPress)
- Design work
- Book keeping
- Odds and ends, personal assistant type tasks
This article is for small businesses like those I operate. If you have an enterprise level business, some of these tools may not make sense for you.
Oh, the cool thing? You won't have to…
- Interview, hire or fire anyone. These services are filled with pre-vetted, quality employees and you won't need to micro-manage them.
- Pay high, inconsistent prices. These services are all very affordable and have fixed pricing structures.
- Worry about keeping a full-time employee busy. You will still need to feed these services work, but the cost is far less and you won't have someone standing idly by at all times.
Ok, let's cover just a couple of things before we even hint at the idea of hiring anyone.
Are You Ready to Get Help?
Outsourcing for outsourcing's sake is inefficient. Don't just do it because you're told that it is the right thing to do, analyze your situation first.
First, become aware of your actual needs and how much time you are spending.
Try to be totally aware of the time you spend messing around with WordPress. If you do this long enough, you will know whether or not you need any of these tools and services I am about to mention.
Second, understand that you will need to be very clear in describing your needs.
I will show how I do this later in the article, but the low-cost services I use are only as quality as I make them.
There will be certain positions within your company that may merit a full or part-time employee. Use discretion when replacing them entirely with these other services as the work you require may not be a good fit. For tasks like software development, high-quality audio and video editing and anything that requires someone with a high level of expertise, I recommend checking out a place like Upwork to find employees.
Ok, here are the services I pay each month to avoid the need to hire an employee or spend hours doing monotonous tasks on my own that can be done better by someone else.
Service #1: WP Curve to Handle Your WordPress Hassles
Most internet businesses can be run through WordPress exclusively. If you aren't using WordPress for some reason, you should look into it because it is (in my opinion) much more user-friendly than other website platforms.
- Easy to install.
- Easy to modify due to its high number of built-in features and easy to install plugins.
- Cost effective (typically).
- SEO friendly out of the box (typically).
- Easier to update (usually automatically).
If you are on the fence as to whether or not WordPress is a good fit for your business, remember that you will be in good company! Sony Music, Xerox and The New York Times all use WordPress. Never feel like you are less of a professional because you aren't wasting time and money using something more complicated.
It's not all sunshine and roses.
WordPress can also be:
- Targeted by hackers and SPAM-bots.
- Difficult when working with custom themes and layouts.
- Difficult for those who haven't worked with it before (as all website tools are).
- Slow if not monitored appropriately.
Fortunately, there is an affordable service that makes these issues nearly non-existent.
What is WP Curve?
WP Curve is a service I have used for over a year and have found to be a tremendous asset. It has made a majority of my WordPress problems as easy to solve as sending an email.
When I have a task I need them to complete, I send them an email (email@example.com) from the email they have on file for me so they know which site to work on and I don't need to repeat myself each time I contact them.
I just describe what I want and they handle it, typically between 12-24 hrs, but sometimes within minutes!
Here is what a request email looks like…
It is generally a very straightforward, painless process.
You will notice that I included an image in the email and I annotated it. I highly recommend you download some type of screen capturing and simple annotation software. The tool I use and used in the image above is called Snag It. There are free tools as well that do the trick. My favorite free tool would have to be Skitch by Evernote.
Depending on the membership level you choose, you have access to a certain number of requests each day and at one time (only the higher end plan allows multiple requests to be submitted at once).
Why I like WP Curve so much
I am not a novice WordPress user, but that doesn't mean I can fix every issue quickly.
With enough time, I can usually figure things out, but this may end up taking hours.
If you are new to WordPress and you think you have a handle on all the things that go wrong, you will be shocked to find out how many more minor issues appear each day. I have used WP Curve for dozens of different tasks already.
Here are just a few of the tasks I have handed over to WP Curve
- Plugin installation and recommendations.
- Font and color corrections.
- 404 page creation.
- Under construction page creation.
- Overlapping images.
- Resizing columns and margins.
- Improving website speed.
- Improving security.
- Adjusting pull quote assets.
- Correcting plug-in conflicts.
- Fixing menu layout and design.
- Improve site speed with various improvements.
- Improve traffic with various improvements
The service has helped me launch Entreresource.com and at a fraction of the time that it would have taken me to do it alone.
I know how I want my site to look and function, I share that with them and I go about my business, focusing on the content I fill the blog with, not the frustrating WordPress hold ups.
Who is this for?
Anyone who uses WordPress and spends more than a couple of hours each week fiddling with it. If you are an entrepreneur whose time is hard to come by and better spent building your business, WP Curve is a no brainer.
If you are brand new to entrepreneurship and WordPress, I recommend that you wait to use a service like WP Curve. You should spend some time learning WordPress yourself so you can make changes on your own OR explain the tasks more easily when you do decide to outsource the tasks. You will appreciate a service like WP Curve so much more once you know how difficult and time-consuming it can be.
Service #2 Fancy Hands to Replace a Personal Assistant
I have a challenge for you…
Write down everything you do tomorrow and I mean everything. I guarantee you that there will be a list of random, one-off tasks that you weren't expecting to do.
These tiny little tasks can throw us off our or groove big time and take us away from doing the higher level things that matter most. Fancy Hands is where I dump a lot of these tasks and avoid these productivity potholes.
Click here to see a host of example questions you can outsource with Fancy Hands
Why I like Fancy Hands
I hate doing monotonous tasks! There are so many things in my day that could be done by a 14-year-old, but they need to get done or I will be screwed.
Fancy Hands makes sure I don't get screwed and that I don't have to do them.
Who is this for?
- Anyone who has considered hiring a personal virtual assistant.
- Anyone who has repetitive tasks that they can schedule in advance.
- Anyone who travels a lot and wants help booking hotels and flights (my favorite part honestly, as I always mess this up if I do it myself).
Service #3 Design Pickle to Handle Your Simple Design Tasks
Design Pickle is a bloggers dream come true.
I actually enjoy making designs and graphics for my blog, but I do find that…
- I am not amazing at it (Design Pickle's staff are almost always better).
- I spend a lot of time on it.
Why I Like Design Pickle
Quality design work is critical for content marketers like me. Design Pickle allows me to write content (what I do best) and they do the graphics (what they do best).
Who is this for?
Anyone who needs designs frequently. Marketers like myself benefit from a service like Design Pickle the most.
If I were to hire someone for each individual design task I needed, I would not only waste tons of time, I would also spend 1,000s of dollars!
4. Bench to Handle Your Book Keeping
In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. Benjamin Franklin
Who is this for?
Anyone who doesn't like keeping their own books. While you still need to be very vigilant in your record keeping, Bench is a great convenience and powerful asset to any small business.
Why I Like Bench
I am terrible at keeping my own books. Seriously, terrible. Any help I can get is so appreciated, it is nuts.
Hot to Get the Most Value from These Services
- Use an annotation software to make markups on the image. I use Techsmith's Snagit but there are free options like Skitch by Evernote.
- Be clear in your description. They are humans, not robots. This is part of why the service is so awesome, but they can't read your mind. Be clear and you can get your tasks done without any additional correspondence.
- Note the date, time and task request in the email subject. This will make it easier for you and the support team. You may want to reference the changes they have made later if you have future questions, and good email titles help for quick recall.
Ok, I wish you the best of luck and hope that you find these services as helpful as I have!