Using Odesk Effectively for Outsourcing

It seems that Tim Ferriss’ book, Four Hour Work Week, has been coming up quite often lately in conversations, resulting in questions about outsourcing overseas, which I do quite often. Anyone can outsource their work – I even used it in one of my old jobs when “business development” handed me mundane data entry jobs. This allowed me to focus on more important things like meeting friends for coffee and working on my side business, Miss Kinsman, which is now my full time career.

I wrote a blog post about this a while ago, but it was painfully lost, so I’ll do my best to recreate it for others on how I manage my outsourcing. Would love to hear how you all acquire and manage your overseas teams as well.

I’ve tried 99 Designs, Elance (which Tim mentions in his book) and Fiverr, but in my experience, nothing has compared to the interface, customer support (24 hour live chat!), and usability of Odesk.

I denote a lot of my ability to starting my own company without investors to keeping my costs low with hiring overseas. Here is how I’ve been able to easily and successfully use Odesk to outsource tasks such as graphics, programming, and administration:

Step One: Post – This can either be for a specific job at a fixed rate (ie a logo for $10), or for an “on-call” position at an hourly rate. I prefer to use fixed priced for tasks like graphics, so that the contractor doesn’t receive payment until after the job is completed. I keep the contracts running for over 6 months so I don’t have to keep reposting them, and keep them open when I hire someone.

Step Two: Skype – Have qualified candidates add you on Skype. If you’re hiring for more than one position, tell them to be sure to indicate which job they’re applying for. You can also find out if they have other skills you can hire them for.

Step Three: Organize – I’ve added all of my prospective candidates to groups based on their skill set ie graphics, admin, video, etc. I also rename them to include their hourly rate, and always add a Skype star if I’ve hired them and they’ve provided good work.

Step Four: Hire – I prefer to hire people who can start immediately, and therefore might post the same job at two or three times at different times ie 9am, 5pm, and 1am, so the odds of people being online to help you is much greater. Be sure to find out how long the project will take. You can hire them for a job that you’ve posted, or if they applied for an hourly job, create a new fixed price contract just for them.

– When your contractor is delivering graphics, PDFs, etc – be sure they are sending both the final product, as well as the raw file so you can edit it later if necessary.
– You can find decent administrative help for as low as $1 per hour.
– If you find someone you can trust who helps you regularly, be sure to send them a bonus every once in a while. Five dollar goes a long way for many of them.

I hope these Odesk tips are helpful to your outsourcing efforts, and please let me know if you have any questions.


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  1. […] for no more than $5/hr. In case you haven’t read my blog post on outsourcing, you can find it HERE. I even use WordPress for my ecommerce site, and of course the site that […]

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