There are two ways you can approach technical skills barriers:
1. Knuckle down and learn how to do it yourself.
Teach yourself everything as you go. If you already use computers and the Internet and trust, love and respect them, then this is the best way to go.
2. Pay others to do it for you.
There are hundreds of people willing to take your money in exchange for helping you with your online marketing. The trick is finding good people and clearly communicating your needs and objectives.
I recommend a combination of both options. Do as much as you can yourself and hire help to do the rest. Study and learn how to use software, maintain websites and how the web works but every time you face something that requires skills that you will never be great at or don’t have time to learn, outsource.
Running a business is about leveraging your strengths at all times so it’s smarter to pay someone else to do something you are not good at. Then you can devote your time to the activities that you are good at and produce income for you.
Whenever something comes up that I can’t efficiently do myself or quickly learn, I don’t hesitate to hire someone to do it. I’m not afraid to pay thousands of dollars for good work either, I’ve learnt too many hard lessons trying to “get a bargain” and I know quality is worth the price.
Finding talented people is not easy and often when you do find the best they are not cheap. When you find the holy grail – affordable talent – nurture that relationship, it will be a powerful asset for your business.
Never go for the cheapest because in the web industry the old adage “You get what you pay for” holds true. Better to pay a little more to get good results rather than throw money away because you try and cut corners.
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Checklist for selecting contractors and freelancers
When it comes time to hire talent go through the following checklist.
- Ask your friends and contacts if they have a reliable person with the skills you are after. You can’t always be certain a personal referral will lead to the right person but it’s by far the most reliable way to find talented and honest people.
- Check with contacts that work in a similar industry. Draw from their experiences by emailing them for a referral recommendation.
- If you know no-one online the blogosphere is a fantastic place to recruit talent. For example if I’m looking for a blog design then I surf around blogs and find a design I like and ask the owner who created it. Look around and send a few emails, you will get results quickly because there are always people looking for work in IT.
- Try online forums and communities where web designers hang out. Good examples include Webhostingtalk, Sitepoint and DigitalPoint. Many IT professionals frequent these forums so usually all it takes is a post that you have a contract job available to get a list of applicants. Always ask for credentials and examples of past work before agreeing to a contract.
- The most common error in outsourcing projects is poor communication so be certain to carefully explain your needs and then check your contractor knows what you want. If it is a big project, break it down into milestones so you aren’t committed to spending all the money at once.
- The web is full of opportunities to “try before you buy” so try out all the free courses, ebooks and articles given away as samples before deciding to buy.
- You can try freelance sites like Rentacoder.com , www.elance.com or do a search for a freelancer in Google. It’s not hard to find people but gauging how good they are is difficult. Elance does provide a feedback reputation meter that allows you to review testimonials from other people that have hired the freelancer.
One word of warning with outsourcing from freelance websites – beware the lure of bargain prices from cheap overseas labour from places like India, Pakistan, Russia and other eastern European locations. While you certainly can find great talent from these areas at a fraction of the costs of local talent, it can be difficult to communicate your needs due to language barriers and time differences. If you have a complex requirement, or you prefer to work face-to-face look for suppliers near you.
This article is part 8 of a series on Internet Marketing. Below are links to all 8 articles in the series:
Internet Marketing Part 1 – Its use as a business growth strategy
Internet Marketing Part 2 – Creating an effective business website
Internet Marketing Part 3 – Using email autoresponders
Internet Marketing Part 4 – How to use pay-per-click advertising
Internet Marketing Part 5 – Introduction to search engine optimisation (SEO)
Internet Marketing Part 6 – Search engine optimisation part 2
Internet Marketing Part 7 – The basics of blogging for business
Internet Marketing Part 8 – Breaking down technical skills barriers