Tag Archives: procedures

Adding products to your site

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.


Outsourcing on oDesk

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


Time dilution & letting go

One of the hardest things about running your own business is learning to let go.  Once it becomes your work, your baby – learning to release parts of your work to other people – whether or not they are better, is very difficult.  In fact, for some people, it’s impossible.

We’re facing that problem now – we’ve grown to an extent that we have to actually hire someone soon, yet finding the right person and letting them handle the business process is difficult.

There’s a few things you can do though to make it easier on yourself:

– creates policies & procedures

Think ahead, create the policies and procedures necessary and write them down.  When you hand over the job to someone else, they can then just  follow the policies.  This means it’s easier to teach them, and just as importantly, they know exactly what they need to do to satisfy your standards.

– hire good people

Kind of obvious, but you have to make sure to hire the right people.  If you don’t you’re just leaving yourself open to more heartache.

– be patient

Provide time for your employees to get up to speed, remembering that they need time to learn what you’ve known for months or years now.

– create a list of your ‘new’ tasks

You’ve now given the job to someone else; so what are you doing? Make sure to have a list of new tasks that you now tackle in that free time.  Keeping yourself busy is one way to take your mind off the old work.

– check-in regularly; but not too often

Lastly, for your own peace of mind, set up a regular check-in schedule.  Just make sure that the schedule isn’t ‘every 5 minutes’ and you can provide both the oversight and hands-off approach needed.  Generally, 10-15 minutes quick summary at the beginning / end of a day and a weekly longer meeting should be fine for most jobs.