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Outsourcing: How to Work Smarter and Get Things Done

Building and maintaining a church website is time-consuming work. Accomplishing even small, simple tasks can be a huge challenge for the lone church Web worker or non-technical team.

If you think a lack of resources—time, expertise, money, or human—is keeping you from having a great website, I’ve got news for you.

The truth is, for a lot less expense than you may think, a treasure-trove of expert technical and creative help and support is literally at your fingertips.

You really have no reason to settle for having a poor website. Why not consider outsourcing your Web work?

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Learn how to outsource your church Web work on a small budget[/framed_box]

Outsourcing Definition

Generally, outsourcing is defined as the practice of hiring outside companies or individuals to perform job functions, rather than handling them in-house.

For the church, creating service opportunities and recruiting from within your congregation is always preferable.

But, if the abilities and expertise to meet your technical or creative needs isn’t there (or is unavailable), hiring temporary help through outsourcing is a sensible solution.

What church Web work can be outsourced?

So, what kinds of website tasks fit neatly under the general outsourcing definition? Well, just about anything.

You can hire technical experts to take care of “heavy lifting” projects like adding new features and services to your website.

You also can outsource something as small as changing the copyright date in the footer of your website, removing a page that’s no longer relevant, or applying available updates to site applications.

Tips for outsourcing success

I recently wrapped up my very first experience with outsourcing. I hired two freelancers—one on oDesk, one on Fiverr—to complete two projects for me. The oDesk project was a one-month contract, and the Fiverr project took less than 7 days to complete.

With both services, I found amazing talent right out the gate. Prayer, good planning, and common sense guided my hiring process. It was a breeze! And, now I have the confidence (and the know-how) to get the help I need when I need it, and all within my budget.

To find the best people for my projects, here are a few basic tips I adhered to:
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  • First, I got clear about my basic requirements. I started by deciding what I needed done, why I needed to outsource it, and what my budget was for getting the work done. I documented it all to help me stay focused. I also needed a written reference to help with course-correction if I found myself veering off by chasing after “wants” instead of sticking with my “needs”.
  • Reviewed options, then learned all about the services I selected. Some services offer experts who only perform “personal assistant” kinds of jobs, like booking reservations or setting appointments. Others provide everything from tech, creative, and general office support to voice-overs, jewelry-making, and song-writing. Since this was my first attempt at outsourcing, I wanted to learn how to find the best freelancers for my job types, as well as tips for how to handle the application/interview process. Each service provides a Help or Support section. I used it to get grounded.
  • Researched similar jobs. Completing this step helped me to determine what skills successful candidates needed to have. I was glad I did this step, because there were some (necessary) abilities and software expertise I had not even considered for what I needed done. It also helped me to write a very detailed and thorough job description for the oDesk project. If you’re a non-technical or non-creative person looking for technical or creative help, this step will empower you to communicate your needs clearly, and make informed choices among applicants.
  • Decided early to only hire individuals, NOT agencies. I knew I wouldn’t have any control over who completed my project if I hired an agency. That meant the probability was high that the process for getting it done could take longer, as I very likely would have needed to communicate through a “middleman”. Start to finish, I wanted to work directly, one-on-one, with the candidate of my own choosing.
  • Used the service tools to filter and select only top freelancers who met my criteria, and saved their profiles. I hate spam. So, on oDesk, I decided I would be saved much time and frustration by choosing candidates myself first, then inviting them to apply for my job. Posting the job publicly would have meant having to wade through and filter out all the spam from unqualified applicants—a most unsavory option. Following this path enabled me to arrive at my shortlist about 2 days after my job posted.
  • Inserted a “reply code” at the very end of my job description. Ahh, I discovered this little gem while researching similar jobs on oDesk. It was gold Jerry, GOLD! The “reply code” accomplished two things: first, by placing it at the very end of my job description, I would know whether or not the candidate had read my entire job description. You’d be surprised how many applicants don’t take the time to read the full job description before applying for the job. Second, it revealed whether or not the candidate had an attention to detail and could follow simple instructions. The “reply code” was just a request to add a certain phrase in their Subject line when applying for the job. Honestly, that single bit of instruction made super easy work of filtering out a lot of applicants. No “reply code”, see-you-bye-bye.
  • Tested all candidates on my shortlist. I wanted to confirm that they could do what they said they could do. So, in the oDesk job description, I let them know that, if selected, they would be required to complete a very small job as part of the application process. This wasn’t “spec” work, meaning a request to complete a project that would be used as the final product. I gave them a very small assignment designed to test the same skills needed for the actual job I was hiring them to do.
  • Insisted on conducting my interview through Skype. It was really important to me that the final candidate and I got to see and hear each other, face to face, during the application process. A Skype video interview was added as a requirement in my job description. If an applicant only wanted to communicate by email, that raised a red flag and they were immediately disqualified.
  • Chose to hire at a fixed rate. I chose to do this, as opposed to paying hourly, because I didn’t have a lot of time to manage the freelancer or the project once things got under way. I needed the freelancer to do that.  I also didn’t want to risk having the project drag on and on, if the freelancer exercised poor time management or failed to prioritize my project. Hiring at a fixed rate for a fixed period, with fixed milestones and deadlines, ensured my project was completed and delivered when I needed it to be and at the price I budgeted for.
  • Clear and ongoing communication was key. I cannot emphasize this point enough. Poor communication on the part of either party is a  recipe for disaster. Success depends on how clearly you communicate what you need and when you need it, as well as your requirements and expectations. And, you need to be sure to find a freelancer who takes communication just as seriously. Provide as much detail as possible, then include some more. Don’t assume your candidate “understands” what you mean.

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Once you’ve gotten clear about your project requirements and budget, it’s time to start researching service providers.

Below, I’ve listed five of the top online service providers for outsourcing freelance talent. Each service offers a “how it works” or Help section on their website to enable users to get a handle on what to do and how to do it.

For your convenience, I’ve linked to those sections.

Top Outsourcing Service Providers

Elance

Finding a freelancer on Elance is free and fast. Simply post your job, or browse categories. Get quotes from freelancers from around the world. Elance verifies each freelancer (and each client). Review portfolios, interview applicants, and choose the best one to complete your project. In 2013, Elance merged with another outsourcing powerhouse—oDesk.

oDesk

oDesk is a popular choice for finding expert freelance talent. Big or small, short- or long-term, individual or project team—whatever you need, oDesk has a solution. Tools and processes like Word Diary and Dispute Resolution provide peace of mind. They even offer a Money-Back Guarantee when you hire one of their freelancers with a Money-Back Guarantee stamp on their profile. The website is easy to use and intuitive. They made my first foray into outsourcing a stress-free experience.

Fiverr

Fiverr is an intriguing concept. You can get jobs done through registered freelancers of this website for as low as $5. The website currently has more than three million listed services, ranging from $5 to $500. Each job in Fiverr is known as a “gig”. Search gigs to find someone offering the task you need done, or post your own gig. Expect the unexpected when you visit Fiverr. You’ll find simple, straight-forward gigs like WordPress setup, Web banner design, and website maintenance. I had fun using this service. I’ll definitely use them again.

Freelancer.com

With access to more than 11 million skilled freelancers worldwide, Freelancer.com is the heaviest of the heavy-hitters. Projects start at $10, and the average job is under $200. Freelancer.com works like other outsourcing websites. As a client, the hiring process is simple. Tell freelancers what you need, freelancers contact you, you choose the best one and get the job done. You only pay freelancers once you are happy with their work.

Guru

Guru’s network of more than 1.5 million freelancers offers employers support for all kinds of technical, creative, and administrative projects. Get started by searching for services offered by freelancers that match the skills your need, then contact them. You can also post your job. Choose to display your job publicly on Google, limit viewing to all freelancers on Guru.com only, or make it private by inviting only select freelancers you choose on Guru.com.

Thinking of outsourcing some Web work?

Your church website requires a lot of work to keep it looking great, alive with fresh content, and running in tip-top shape.

When needs arise and hiring additional staff is not an option, outsourcing can be a quick and cost-effective way to get the help you need when you need it.

From website design and maintenance, to creative and administrative tasks, outsourcing enables you to work smart and get things done.

Would you consider outsourcing Web work? Has your church used outsourcing to get things done? What impact did that make on your ministry? Share your experience by leaving a comment below.

Image Credit: Willi Heidelbach | Flickr cc

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Learn how to outsource your church Web work on a small budget[/framed_box]

4 replies on “Outsourcing: How to Work Smarter and Get Things Done”

Great Article! I totally agree that more churches should consider what you are talking about. I think it would be cool if more of the church WordPress theme companies create a list of recommended freelancers for churches. They could save them a ton of time and money. There are a lot of great talented people who are willing to do this at reasonable cost for the sake of helping the church. Might save churches from having to do some of your steps!

Thanks Brad! I agree with you about the tremendous amount of talent available. Church leaders who prioritize Web ministry, and consider the money spent as an “investment” develop effective, quality websites that impact lives. There are solutions and available talent for every budget.

Those who see the money spent as merely an “expense” are always on the lookout for “cheap and free”, and their ministry online often suffers for it.

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