I enjoyed speaking to you at MPI Georgia’s Tech Summit, my industry peeps. What excites me the most is hearing about your adventures as you start dipping your big toe into the online labor pool as a result of the information from my outsourcing presentations! I absolutely love that, because I absolutely believe in having a support team.
As event professionals, we get thrown to the wolves on a regular basis: last-minute client decisions, on-the-fly changes dictated by a ‘feeling’ from one of the C-levels, and the ever popular, “we’ve been doing it all ourselves, but I think we need some help this year” followed by a list of unreasonable expectations. I want to help you succeed. I want to help you scale. I want to help you welcome the thought of a lunch or coffee invite – instead of dreading it because you just don’t have the time.
So here I am, sitting here thinking about you…and what you said to me. Something I keep hearing from you is how daunting it is start online hiring and accomplish big ‘projects’ like building a website and creating a marketing program for your business.
Between us, starting out online by tackling a project like building a website or developing a multi platform marketing program that covers blogging, social, and email is kind of like trying to plan a 100 person multi-day executive retreat by yourself…as your very first planning experience! You can be smart and devoted and young and work ALLLLL the hours of the day, but there is just too much that you don’t have the proper resources and background knowledge to pull it off successfully. You lack experience in this realm, and that’s okay.
The best piece of advice I can give you about hiring online is the same advice you would give to someone starting out as a planner: you need to slow down, start smaller and gain a little bit of experience with the individual pieces of the program before you can bite off the whole thing!
It is that simple. Take a few baby steps by hiring out relatively specific small tasks. If you want a website, think about the ‘building blocks’ (tasks) of your project first; break down your big project into its most basic pieces; and start by creating a series of fixed price small contracts and have your new labor pool work on those basic pieces first. Here are a few examples of how to hire for the building block tasks:
- Hire someone for a few dollars to help you create your site map.
- Spend a few more dollars to get advice on thinning out your inspiration board by eliminating the dated examples in your collection that don’t have the most “modern” platform functionality (like buttons versus drop-downs).
- Someone familiar with building websites should be helping you find website templates online that will satisfy those modern functionality technical requirements as well as your brand’s visual requirements.
If you are working on your marketing program, find contractors to work on specific things like creatively writing a blog post or text for an email, creating an html email template in Mailchimp, or researching (data mining) some good information sources online that will support a topic you want to write about.
I know it still sounds daunting to make all of those small hires, but trust me, what you are doing is actually insanely helpful for you on a multitude of levels! For example:
- It builds your credibility online. When you have a series of contracts (even small fixed price contracts), you become more attractive to potential contractors than if you just have one contract for a large project, or are
in the middle of a large project. Believe me when I say you want the best contractors out there (who wouldn’t!), and there are getting to be enough jobs out there that great contractors – even in the most battered economies – can be somewhat selective. Just like an experienced client probably won’t choose the contractor with zero experience, the experienced contractor probably won’t trust their online reputation to a client with no online hiring experience!
- They say ‘experience’ is what you get when you don’t get what you want, and there is a lot of experience to be had in hiring online contractors! Part of it might be them, and part of it will certainly be all on you! The first time you hire a highly rated contractor in a different country at a great value, spend two or three minutes giving them direction on your task, and. If you get back something totally different than what you had in mind, you are going to intimately understand the value of spending an extra two minutes in the “giving them direction” part of the transaction! You will become more efficient at delegating simple tasks because you will understand better how to explain a task.
- Wait…holy crap, you do realize you just explained a task in #2, right? That means you can copy and paste that text from your chat screen or email message into a Word doc called “Operations” or “Ops Manual” or “HOW WE DO WHAT WE DO WHEN WE DO WHAT WE DO” and you have flat out documented something!! When it comes to getting more efficient and getting your life back, documenting what you do on a daily basis is HUGE! Why? Well, it means you don’t ever have to spend another moment doing it or saying it out loud to train someone on it ever again. Documenting how to do a task in your business means when one person stops doing it, you can send that document to someone else for them to learn, and then have the new person do it.
On the documenting your work topic: multiple tasks that repeat make processes. Processes provide the support for projects. Projects build the business. I know there is a management book out there somewhere that has fancier names and an infographic for those steps, but the bottom line is the same.
- You are building your team. The nice lady who helped you create your site map should easily be able to do it again for your new side project next year. That college student who advised you on technical requirements might actually know how to find a template you can quickly add to your site to satisfy a need from your client when you are on-site. That person who helped you do some creative writing might want to help you do more for your blog on an ongoing basis, and that retired editor who helped you with 40 new tweets to promote your e-book might want to do it again….and again. Some of my online contractors work for me three or four days a week; and some work for me three or four days a year, but they are almost always there when I need them!
- Just as important as the previous step, you are NOT building a team. Some people are not supposed to work together. You know this because you’ve had a job at some point and worked every single day with some whiny smelly jackass that you really truly in your heart of hearts wish you would have never even met; but he needed to stay because he had skills the manager couldn’t find in someone else. Maybe you hired your neighbor’s kid? They didn’t quite work out…gee, that’s awkward now. Unlike Mr. Smelly Skills and your new collection of dirty looks at the mailbox, the online world is gracefully impersonal when it comes to letting the bad eggs go – they will be gone ‘like a fart in the wind’ at the press of a button.
- Hiring small jobs/tasks means you can move a little bit faster because there isn’t a huge amount of money or time involved. When you move faster through multiple contracts, you will gain familiarity with the process – learning about the functionality of hiring portals as platforms, how to quickly review the key points on prospective contractors’ online profiles; and how to successfully engage and disengage from contractors and contracts. Because I have had a lot of practice with this, I am comfortable going from ‘idea in my head’ to hiring an online contractor to try my idea out in less than an hour. If you were in one of my presentations, you know that I had an idea to outsource the creation of a one hour presentation, hired four different contractors, reviewed all their work, requested revisions, and only spent a total of three hours. You get better as you go!
You learn to crawl, then to walk, and then you start to run. Once you are running, you will find that you’ve built a support system. You will find yourself looking around at all of the things that happen in your business – realizing how many of them you can break down into tasks – and it will change your entire perspective on how easy it is to make headway on your projects. I have to admit, it is kind of fun to see an idea come to fruition because you had the resources available to follow through with it – there really is no stopping YOU!!