One of the most time consuming aspects of running this business is adding new products to the site. Now, unless you are able to hook up your site to your manufacturer(s) or distributor(s), you’ll need to do most of this input by hand. Which means it takes time.
In addition, there’s always the consideration of SEO. Unique content is a must, and that means rewriting your product descriptions as much as possible. However, to do that you need time and expertise. It’s not enough to just throw up some content and hope it’s good – you need ot make it both good and relevant.
So, what can you do?
Contract it out – you could hire some writers to work for you. A writer with copy-writing (and web writing) experience could rewrite product descriptions. It’s not a bad idea, after you input the product basics. Costs would probably be in the $0.10 – 0.25 range per word; so not too bad unless like us, you have a constantly increasing amount of products / rotating products.
In-house – you could train people to do it in-house. Of course, the question then is how good the training is. Still, it gives you better control of what is happening in your business.
Copy & Paste – take a selective approach. Rewrite the one’s that make the most sense, the one’s which have the best sales once they’ve done well. The rest – just copy and paste. After all, not all pages have to rank – just the one’s that will give you funds.
We do some outsourcing on oDesk, mostly in an attempt to reduce our costs. So far, the results have mostly been disappointing. Here’s the major hurdles we have faced:
- issues with language – comprehension of the English language isn’t that great
- issues with following specific orders – even breaking down work point by point hasn’t worked all the time, so expect to go through one or two revisions to get it done right
- work not as advertised – let’s just say that sometimes the portfolio’s provided aren’t the same as the work you’ll get
In general, take the amount of time you’d expect a job to take if it was done properly the first time round and multiple that by 3. If you’re lucky. Now, most of the time you’re paying 1/10th of the cost of doing it in-house or in the West, but it’s still a lot more hand-holding.
In addition, here’s a few tricks that the oDesk contractors have come up with:
- Applying with 1 contractor profile, then after you are ready to award the project asking you to push to profile 2. If they do not meet your expectations, when you review them normally – their main profile isn’t affected by the lower than expected work
- Harassing you via Skype to give them a better review
- Overstating their qualifications then bumming around on work to run up hours
- Taking on more projects than they can handle, then providing constant excuses
Overall, there’s a few projects I’d outsource and a ton that I wouldn’t. Here’s what I’d do via oDesk:
- basic installations & theme designs. If you’re not interested in particularly high-quality themes and just need a basic website, it’s not a bad place to go
- basic graphic design. Great for simple banners, posters, advertisements, etc.
- writing help.
- basic web-research.
Now, here’s some recommendations to working on oDesk or its equivalents:
- always use the main profile, never work with someone on another profile
- consider doing multiple small jobs to find a few good workers. Then expand it into that job
- always break down your work into parts and give the work in parts out
- check immediately. So if you need an excel sheet fixed, have them do 5% of it, then check. Or 50 lines, or whatever. Then check. Re-check during various stages
- pay more. Don’t work with the lowest cost producers – you want to work with those with a higher price because they’re generally better and have more experience
- consider individuals from Eastern Europe. They charge more, but the quality is often significantly better
As an attempt to keep our costs down, we outsource much of our work. And yes, in the traditional sense such as sending work to countries like India, Pakistan and Indonesia.
Generally, the work and results are quite varied. Sometimes, you hit a gem of a worker, the majority of the time though you end up with people who have issues with the English language. And while I’m used to working with people whose English isn’t perfect, there’s a workable level that you require.
On the other hand, using a system like oDesk / elance; we get a lot more applicants a lot faster. In fact, we generally find that we get better response to our requests for work than if we use individuals here.
Our most recent banner request is a great example. Asked for a quote from a designer we have worked with in Vancouver – never got a reply after 4 days.
So we ended outsourcing it because we needed the job done. Fast. That’s what we got – within 24 hours, we had the banner done. Even if it did come with an extra hour of aggravation