Outsourcing 101

“I outsource, therefore I am.”
– René Descartes


-  5 min read

What separates humans from other animals? We outsource.

Hang in there, baby turtle. We’re pulling for you.

If you’re a turtle, you’re on your own. Mother sea turtles dig a hole in the sand on a beach, lay their eggs, and swim away. Talk about not having anyone to rely on. A baby sea turtle comes into the world with no allies, no resources, and no help. Needless to say, their survival rates are low (like 1 in 1,000 low).

When it comes to specialized services you need to make your business successful, things like building an e-commerce website, or advertising on social media, or even getting some good press coverage, why be like a baby turtle, struggling to learn new skills and make it on your own when you can outsource to experts?

At TDA we’re making outsourcing easy for everybody. We help business leaders from all over the world in businesses of every type find, hire and manage agencies to tackle their projects. Interested in learning more? What follows is a quick primer on outsourcing for everybody.

Defining Outsourcing

When they hear the word “outsourcing” many people think of big companies setting up factories in places with cheap labor forces. But that’s a very narrow definition of the term. Outsourcing really just means going outside your own organization to others for help, knowledge, and expertise. If you have a project you need to get done, but you don’t have the staff time or expertise to do it, outsourcing is for you.

And, if outsourcing is for you, you’re not alone. Thousands of businesses are avoiding the baby turtle’s low survival rate by outsourcing. In fact, the numbers are pretty astounding. Since the year 2000 businesses have doubled their investment in outsourcing, peaking at $104.6 billion in revenue from outsourced services in 2014.

Who Can You Outsource Work To?

So let’s say you’ve established that outsourcing makes sense for you. Now what? It’s not like you can just snap your fingers and—presto—work magically disappears from your desk. You’ve got to find someone to give that work to. Outsourcing work can be its own work.

Freelancer or agency? Each has its advantages.

First, you’ll need to figure out if you need to hire a freelancer or if you’d like to enlist the help of an agency to tackle your needs. Think of outsourcing as the concessions at a ballpark. If you’re at a game and want a hot dog and a beer, you’ve got several options: A freelancer is like the hot dog guy or the beer man walking through the aisles. You can wait for them to come through your section and buy directly from them. Or you can work with an agency. That’s like getting out of your seat and going to the concessions stand where you can order your hot dog with whatever toppings you want, choose from a wider selection of beers and, if you’re feeling hungry, toss in a box of popcorn too.

Freelancers often seem like the simplest solution and a good one can come along at just the right time. If, just as you start to get thirsty, you hear the siren call of “Beer man!” coming your way. It makes all the sense in the world to raise your hand, and fork over nine bucks for a cold Budweiser. But there are also limits. Just as you can’t get a hot dog from the beer man, freelancers tend to specialize in one thing. A freelance writer might be able to write copy for your website, but when it comes to designing your site, you’re likely to need to find another freelancer. Need SEO to drive organic traffic to the website? That’s another freelancer. How about running paid campaigns to drive traffic? Call another freelancer. Things can quickly get out of hand.

Does that mean there’s no good time to hire a freelancer? Of course not. If you only need the specific skills that one person possesses, hiring a freelancer is a wise choice. But just as you wouldn’t let the beer man convince you that you’re not hungry, don’t fall into the trap of limiting your outsourcing to what an individual freelancer has to offer.

How to Outsource Without Breaking the Bank

Anyone who’s done any international travel knows that good exchange rates can turn a vacation from an average trip in the US to a luxury experience in, say, Mexico. But the dollar doesn’t just go a long way when it comes to swim-up bars and lavish spas. Outsourcing work to foreign countries can bring significant cost savings. This is especially true when the work is digital in nature so you don’t have to worry about shipping and customs to get things done.

But outsourcing work to people in a foreign country can be tricky. How do you know who’s good, who you can trust to handle your project, and who to avoid? Luckily, there are services like TDA out there to help you sort out your options.

Using TDA to Outsource

You use our forms to answer questions about your project and create a brief. Agency teams see your needs and apply for the project. You choose an agency to work with, hire them, and track their progress all the way.

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