A Quick Guide to Outsourcing Digital Projects
By Michelle M. Wicmandy,
Today, many small businesses outsource services to streamline operations. Sometimes, these firms hire full-service agencies as turnkey marketing departments. In other cases, they sub-contract with specialized experts on a per-project basis for copywriting, social media, search engine optimization, advanced programming, website development, graphic design work and more. This dynamic business practice serves as a strategic tool to help companies meet several goals such as:
• Reduce costs by choosing a freelancer who performs the task more efficiently.
• Minimize staffing fluctuations due to changing demand.
• Secure more control over the marketing budget.
• Gain access to higher-quality skill sets and technologies.
• Accelerate growth without sacrificing quality.
Know the Benefits
When in-house talent wanes, outsourcing offers an excellent alternative to hiring costly, permanent staff.
Managers should assess the company goals and the scope of the project against available internal resources. Outsourcing projects allows managers to reap the benefits of both worlds by combining the right mix of talent and perspectives with the client's needs and industry. Given the right project information and set of expectations, contractors can hit the ground running and deliver impressive results quickly, even if it is for a short-term job.
"These professionals serve as reliable partners who bring expertise, proven ideas and value to the project," said Jose Monterrosa, CEO of Imagina Communications. "We save money by avoiding large overhead expenses such as salaries, benefits, employee taxes and reduce training, software and workspace costs."
Know the Risks
Companies rely on websites and online marketing activities to interact with and serve customers. If the outsourced provider fails, your company and image may suffer due to late deliveries, loss of control, trust and customer confidence. Yet, switching to another contractor to correct the problem could incur excessive costs from correcting mistakes and starting over. So, be sure to screen candidates well and hire a responsible, well-qualified contractor, even if (s)he charges a slightly higher rate over other prospects. Know that mishaps happen. A good freelancer will provide advanced notice when delays occur and financial budgets are exceeded.
Know Where to Find Talent
Reputable freelancers can be found through multiple sources such as asking peers for referrals, networking with professional and trade organizations, and perusing online sites such as Upwork, Freelancer.com, Outsource.com, fiverr.com, LinkedIn and more.
Scott Brogan, founder of Brilliant Lecture Series, explains that accessing qualified people can be a time-consuming process. His networks have been the most valuable and efficient resources for finding the right talent. Monterrosa also taps his networks first before exploring alternative sources.
To vet prospective contractors, schedule an appointment to meet the person. Look for an enthusiastic professional who shows interest, asks relevant questions, shares ideas and grasps the project.
"We seek friendly, higher-level contractors who embrace a 'can-do' attitude," Monterrosa said. "These professionals understand that solutions must be linked with the client's business goals and deliver measureable results."
Next, always ask the freelancer or agency about contingency plans in case of emergency, backing-up files, available bandwidth and review portfolios. Be sure to request sample reports that demonstrate creativity, skill set and competency. Look for measurements such as traffic counts, impressions, business leads, sales conversions and ROI that meet business goals. When a freelancer demonstrates proven results, a business can justify paying the consultant rate.
Finally, request references to ensure the freelancer can meet deadlines, work within a budget, interact well with internal team members and handle positive criticism, Brogan said. Overtime, the trust and business relationship evolve creating a win-win situation for each party.
New and established companies can benefit from outsourcing some online marketing tasks. These talented freelancers might offer the perfect solution to discovering unique ideas, revealing cost-savings and improving productivity.
Michelle Wicmandy is a regular contributor to Website Magazine, a lecturer at the University of Houston Downtown and the Chief Marketing Officer at Collective Changes.