I recently outsourced a task I’ve been doing myself for the past year. I’m only a couple weeks into the new process and I can already tell that outsourcing the task was one of the best decisions I’ve made to date. I didn’t outsource the task before because I felt as if I were the only one who could perform the task (wrong assumption). Over time noticed that I started dreading the task, not wanting to perform it or get it done. However, I needed to – it was high value and helped move my business along. This is when I broke down the task and realized that over 80% of what I was doing someone else could be doing. I’ll cover how I’ve been personally performing the task and then how I changed the process in order to maximize efficiency to allow for outsourcing.
The task was simple: curate content from the web and reformat it so that it can be easily consumed by other parties who are interested in it. This is not rocket science. Simply visit a site and determine if the content is fresh. If it is, and if the content matches a few given parameters then add a link to the content to a spreadsheet. At the end of the week I’d categorize the content and write a 1-3 sentence review of each link and then post it to a site and mailing list for consumption. I have thousands of highly targeted readers on this list who care about this content. My traffic and subscriber count grows daily so it’s important for me to get this done for them. Problem is, this takes a bit of time – something I don’t have much of. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but enough to be something that pesters my todo list everyday. I wanted to outsource the task but I was the content curator and thats what made the content valuable. Then the lightbulb turned on. I decided to break the task down into many bite sized chunks and analyze and reorganizes my process. Once I did that I realized this task could be outsourced.
Outsourcing the task was simple. Instead of curating the content while I harvested the links manually, I would curate the content at the end of the week from a large list of pre-harvested links. I now have my Virtual Assistant (VA) visit a list of predetermined sites (that I update occasionally) daily and look for new content that matches my parameters. I’ve set the acceptance parameters of adding a link to the spreadsheet much broader to make sure great content does not slip through the cracks. Everyday my VA places a link to the new content into a Google Spreadsheet and then at the end of the week I review and curate the list of links. This takes me maybe 10 minutes. At that point she takes over again and provides a 1-3 sentence synopsis of what is contained at the link. She then logs into the site where I post the content and prepares the post. My VA also logs into MailChimp and prepares the campaign. My VA formats the content accordingly and when my VA is ready to send the campaign and post the content to the site they email me. I then perform a final review of the content and send the MailChimp campaign and post the content to the website. This entire process now takes me no more than 10-15 minutes a week.
Breaking the task into a set of smaller, manageable chunks allowed me to identify where I should only perform the most valuable work – curation and spot checking. Outsourcing the rest of the task has saved upwards of 2-3 hours a week. Thats a lot of extra time to get back. In essence I’ve learned (again) to only perform the most valuable task and outsource the rest.