Errant Adventures

Lifestyle Design, Passive Income, and Location Independence (and a few other things too)

Posts Tagged ‘Financially Independant’

Outsourcing My Work… or so I thought

Posted by Mitch on 22 October 2009

Who hasn’t dreamed of being able to ring a bell and have ‘Jeeves’ stride into the room, ready to make your wishes come true?  But who has the money to afford a personal butler?  Well…  depending on exactly what you want done you very well might!

The solution, like many solutions in this day and age, is on the internet.  Virtual Assistants (VAs) are waiting for you to assign them all you dreary, mind numbing, repetative tasks that you are just dreading doing.

Want someone to go thru your computer address book and verify all the numbers and addresses?  No problem.  Want someone to hand write Christmas cards to everyone in your family?  No problem.  One person even hires a VA with a nice lilting voice to read their child bedtime stories!  Truely, if it can be done via phone, web, or mail VAs are eager to do it for you.

What I really wanted was financial freedom.  My solution, I hope, is also on the web.  I wanted to build an online store to sell some products (subject of future post) online.  This would boost my income (hopefully) and if everything went great would lead to me no longer needing to maintain a 9-5 job!  There was just one problem.  I couldn’t find the time to put the whole thing together!  I’d found a supplier and I’d even formed an LLC to run my new online empire…  but actually building the site just kept on not happening…  I had a million excuses.  I had to research the type of ‘store’ that would drive the backend.  I had to pick out a name for the store.  I had to find or create graphics.  I had to…  well do everything.  And each thing got in the way of everything else to the point where I finally realized I was never going to make my store a reality.

In comes www.elance.com and my personal VA Mr. Webster of Jingsoftware.com.  Elance is a brokerage for VAs which I invite you to check out.

What I did was create my account and then listed my first Job.  I almost didn’t complete this step as I wanted to write up a great ‘contract’ with every aspect of the project labeled and specified…  I had myself so tied up in knots trying to hire someone to untangle my knots I didn’t know if I was coming or going…  Then I realized that a real person was going to read my Job so I just said what I needed.  It boiled down to saying; I needed someone to completely build on online webstore.  I had a name and a supplier and at the end wanted a site that customers could purchase my merchandize (I specified a few sites that had the right look and feel)…  I admitted that I didn’t know everything I needed to specify, but that I needed someone I could work with.

That was it…  I hit ‘submit’ and it felt wonderful! The feeling of satisfaction over actually DOING something was very heady stuff!  I went to bed that night eager to see all the responces.

Disappointingly, the next morning I only had a question from a Pakistani guy wanting more websites selling similar items…  But later that day I got two ‘proposals’, the first from Mr. Webster (a Brit living in Costa Rica) who provided a detailed response that was clearly tailored to my requests (and even provided some suggestions up front for how he could accomplish the task) and a form letter response from a company in Canada which made a lot of claims and didn’t make me feel as if they’ve even read my listing.  After a few days I still only had the two proposals (I assume that my requirement to keep the whole project under $500) led to many providers to over look my listing.

Once I awarded the job to Mr. Webster we began a dialog listing out a few more items that he would need before he could begin (Hosting, Domains, etc).  Frankly, many of these items were things I had started working before but could never seem to finish because I kept becoming overwhelmed by the scope of the project!  But now, with the added impetus of having ‘hired’ someone, I was able to focus on knocking out each requirement as he needed it.  This alone is worth a large portion of the cost of hiring him…  I had prioritized goals and tasks to accomplish.

Now, I’ve got a website up, the initial store ‘engine’ in place, and I can sit back and relax (or blog) while Mr. Webster tweaks the store and designs a layout that is visually appealing and easy to navigate.

[update 1 FEB 2010]

so… my work is finally done… or rather the work that I had done is done 🙂  So, how did it turn out?  Well, you can first check it out if you’d like (thedisastersurvivalstore.com).  The experience of working with Elance.com was great, it felt safe and secure and I could post the job quickly.  The problem I had was with the vendor / VA himselves…  yes I know “himselves” isn’t a word… but I ended up getting a series of individuals to work with … this is part of the reason why the project went WAY over time (it actually wrapped up back in Jan 2010 but I’m just now getting around to completing this blog).

Would I use that particular VA again?  No… sadly.  They were all very nice people who were able to make my product without much input from me.  But months late is months late and there is no getting around that.

Would I use Elance.com again? YES

What would I do different? A much more robust (detailed) job description.  clearly defined objectives tagged to time of delivery using the elance system to release pay as objectives are met.  I also saw that there is a way to fund VA expenses – it would have been great if I could just have put $50-$100 in the account and said “send me a receipt if you need me to provide _____”.  They could have just got the product they needed to accomplish my store and I wouldn’t have had to be the bottle neck (of course I wouldn’t have learned quite as much).

So, who else has used a VA or other outsource service?

Please leave me a comment, even just saying Hi would be great!

–Mitch

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