Personal Log – 005

Again I’ve been lagging behind. And for a very good reason. I’ve not been following my very own tenants.

I’ve been having struggle keeping up with the work load on this new site because I have outsourced any of it yet.

But I’m working to remedy this problem. In fact, I’ve set up a trial run for a freelancer to see if the person is qualified to get the job done.

You see, I’m hiring an editor for my newest site, but I’m afraid to pull the trigger. I don’t want to commit too much money into something I’m only 50% certain about. I’m afraid of losing money. But at the end of the day, it’s the fear itself that is holding me back.

Fear of success maybe. Fear of making lots of money.

It’s a thing. People often sabotage themselves for fear of getting what they’ve wanted. Some folks just don’t know how to handle success.

I’m no different. I’m afraid, too. And as I recognize the fear, I embrace it and step forward anyways. That’s what courage is. Stepping up in the face of fear.

I’m reminded of the song, we were made to be courageous. What a great song! I’m thankful that I’m made courageous.

So, I’ve done all that I can for this week personally. Now I’m going to have a trial run for the editor position. And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll go to UpWork and find an editor there.

We’ll see how this goes. I’ve defined everything as well as I know how. Now the true test will begin. Can I lead? Can I build this company through outsourcing?

Based on what I’ve read and learned these past weeks, it shouldn’t be too difficult. Don’t worry I’m documenting my process and will share my findings soon enough.

Cheers for now and God bless you!

I’m on my way.

Personal Log – 004

As it turns out, writing an article every day is a much harder challenge than I expected.

I was distracted most of the weekend (Friday included) and yesterday was a fluke that I was able to find time to do any writing at all.  Even this journal entry is a day behind.

Granted, I’m travelling and on the road and there’s been a handful of extenuating circumstances.  But the truth of the matter is that I’ve just not been that committed to the process.

My other priorities get in the way of me moving forward with this challenge.  And this is what I’d like to spend some time talking about tonight.

You cannot create a new priority without eliminating a former priority.

This maybe intuitive for some and maybe a lesson I should have learned years ago, but this week I realized that every time I commit to something new, I also have to commit to giving up something.

Most people have an assumption that they aren’t successful because they have not spent enough time pursuing their goals.  And I think that’s partially correct.

What many of us don’t realize is that all of our time is occupied every single day.  Whether we are actively occupying it or passively, it is always being used up.  No matter what decision we make on our time usage, it continues to pass us by.

Now the want-to-be-successful person takes the approach of I need to spend more of my hours on work and that’ll help me reach my goals.  So, their allocation of hours spent on work increases.  And work-life balance goes out the window.

30 years later you get to be rich, middle-aged, with two kids and a divorce because you were never home.

Don’t let this be your life story.  Work-a-holics slowly become alcoholics because of this scenario.

Good news, my friends.  There’s a better way.

What we need to realize is that not all our time is created equal.  First off, there are certain times of the day where we are more functional and have higher productivity.  Typically, this is in the morning hours (8-11am range).

My hyper-focus window is 8:30am – 10:30am.  If you give me a balanced breakfast and a cup of OJ right before, I’ll be in the zone for those two hours.

Figure out how to get in the zone and use this time to get things done.

Secondly, understand that everything in life is a trade.  So, if you want to work on a website every night, you might have to give up 1 hour of watching Walking Dead…

So, my practice is printing off an empty schedule for the week and taking inventory of what I do each hour of the day.  This is my current schedule working, sleeping, being lazy, being loving, and everything in between.

I also take inventory of what I want to accomplish and how long each of these tasks will take for me to do.  Is it a daily task or a one-off?  What’s the time frame for these activities and what is the value it’ll create for me?

Yes, I’m a productivity nerd and actually assign a “business value” to each of these activities in terms of how much it’ll contribute to my happiness.  I have a 1 to 100 scale that I use for weighting.  You can use your own values, the scale isn’t important as long as you’re consistent.  My ranking formula for new priorities looks like this:

“Business Value” / (Minutes * (Days/7)) = Happiness ROI 

Then I look for opportunities to trade my time doing one activity for another of higher value to me.  I start with only time that is being spent on active tasks to be more efficient with my time.  Then I being to review some of my passive time, like time spent playing games on my phone or surfing the web or watching TV.

Some of this is OK because we need our rest, and games can help with creativity and reduce stress.  And if we work hard, its important for our body and mind to have a chance to recuperate.

So, I haven’t been trading my time effectively.  I tried to just cram a new priority into my schedule without truly trading it for something in my current calendar.

That’s my excuse take it or leave it.

Truth be told, I’ve been working on other projects which have been much more successful lately and that’s where my time and energy has been spent.  While this site and create more useful content is one of my long-term goals, its not high on the priority list.

Right now, my biggest priority it creating an online business that can be complete self-sustaining and I’ve been able to model one from an existing entrepreneur.  After testing his strategy and quickly gaining traction, I’ve been investing more of my time and energy into this little project.

As it takes off, I’ll share some updates on it and also the process so that others can attempt it, too.  If you are so interested.

Well, that’s all for me this night.  I’m hoping to be back to my regular schedule of posting on Monday nights, but with so many changes to work and life and other business things I have to be flexible.

Thanks for tuning in!

Cheers!
-Alex

P.S. You might have guessed already, but I’m going to pause the 30 days of posting.  More profitable activities lie ahead.  Good luck and God Bless!

Case Study: Oribi Increased Traction 14% Using oDesk

We’ve talked about the strategies around outsourcing, but what about outsourcing in practice?  Well, today I found a perfect case study that I think you’ll enjoy.

This post comes from Iris Shoor on her blog at Oribi.  (Oribi – You know the little African animal with the horns?)

I was confused, too.  It’s OK.

Here’s a picture of one from their site:

Anyways… Iris is a Marketing pro and her site focuses on Facebook Insight & Analytics.

She discovered that through outsourcing some of the more mundane parts of the work her team did, they were able to see a 14% increase in their traction all for $300/mo using oDesk and a handful of other outsourcing sites.

That’s amazing.

OK, so here are some of the strategy she and her team used to make it happen.

Increase Your Site’s Traction By Using these Strategies:

Since her teams strengths lie in writing, managing blogs and planning campaigns, Iris knew she didn’t want to outsource those tasks.  Instead, she focused on the time consuming generic tasks that would help her team be more productive.

Use oDesk for Researching Tasks

During her planning, she realized that researched posts were among the most successful posts.  Therefore, she set out to create and conquer.

They built their first research post in-house to get a the analytics part down pat.  But once when they had the system built, they sent it over to oDesk for $50-150 a job to conduct the research for them.

The primary criteria for successfully outsourcing a task like this is to be very specific and detailed in your instruction.  Know what you’re looking for and how to explain it.

Use Fiverr to Upgrade Your Content

Fiverr is one of my favorite outsourcing sites.  I use it to completely outsource my logo and graphics design business using a simple two-step process.

Here are some of the gig types Iris uses:

  • Voiceovers – For $5 per minute / 100 words, you can get some great quality voiceovers for your video, podcast intro and slideshow decks.
  • Custom Graphics or Illustrations – Need some art to go with your post, get designs for $5 a piece.  (Sometime I go with a higher price designer for the unlimited revisions option, but most are interchangeable these days.  — I know I’ll get butchered for that comments.)
  • WordPress Edits, Customization, and Quick Fixes – whether its setting up your theme to look like the demo or installing some security patches ($30 to clean up malware and install security plugins; in-town guy was going to charge me $250!!!) your can get most for $10-30 on Fiverr.
  • Logos Concepts – Same as above with the custom graphics, there’s tons of logo designers on Fiverr. Depending on your flavor, you can get vintage logos or modern styles.  Only $5.

Creating Lists / Web Scrapping

Another top performing web article type is the mega-list.  These are the “Top 50…” or “106 Ways to…”  articles.  People love them and they’re great for traction.

You can hire-out these types of researching jobs the same way as above on oDesk or Freelancer.  Just remember to be very specific and detailed about what you want.

Iris and her team created the java2014.org site of Java related events by hiring the job out.  Only cost them $100.  Learn from this one trick and you can build amazing directories and resource websites in a flash.  Just be sure to spend some time editing and filtering the results.

Mini-Projects

A task that I’ve never taken on, but seems to work well for Oribi was to build an external project.  Some external tool that is self-contained and may complement your product.  The cost for something like this should be between $100-300.  Easy-pea-cy

Landing Pages

Need a quick validation for your next million dollar idea?  Slap up a landing page and send traffic that way.  Or save your self the hassle and just outsource the whole thing.

Sure you need to have concept and maybe some copy, but you can get the whole thing implemented for you about $50.

Summary

All in all, very solid outsourcing strategies.  I’ve used many of the graphics design strategies and content upgrades with Fiverr and I’ve also used Freelancer to do research instead of oDesk.

I highly suggest that you try out a few of these tips and see what works out best for you.  Just remember these few tips:

  • Don’t outsource your core competency – what you need to stay competitive.
  • Be very specific – have a detailed outline of what you want accomplished and clearly communicate it.
  • Chunk it out – break up your tasks into smaller component pieces that have tangible results on their own.  This way, you can outsource each part to different freelancers to test the waters.

Good luck with outsourcing and I hope you enjoyed learning from what Iris Shoor is doing over at Oribi as much as I did.  You can read her original post here.

As always, if you need help with outsourcing, delegating or automating your business, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation.

Cheers!
-Alex