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Web Business Management: Outsourcing vs. Automation

6th January 2015

If you run a network of sites consisting of dozens, or even hundreds of sites, you are probably struggling on the same issue: Web business management. Which route you prefer? Outsourcing or automation?

A business contact shared that he is managing 4 blogs and they are giving him quite a headache. I personally manage 10+ sites and I don’t think I suffer headache more than him. How so?

The answer to the question: Outsourcing and automation.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing is basically hiring others to handle one aspect (or many aspects) of your web business. Outsourcing can be done by hiring freelancers or offshore companies to help you manage your business (and life.)

The main advantage of outsourcing is due to the fact that it is better than hiring full-time staffs, in term of cost and management ‘hassles,’ that may include hiring/firing employees, wearing many hats in running your web businesses, etc.

As a main disadvantage, quality control is an issue – it can drains resources in such a way that you are probably better off not to do outsourcing. However, once you have found the right outsourcing partners, your business can greatly benefit from it.

Now, in order to better-manage your freelancers and outsourcing partners, especially due to the high turnover in staffing, you need the right tools, such as HR software from CIPHR. Using apps and software is a great way to leverage technology to take care of the nitty-gritty in your business operational, in this case, human resources.

Robot and automation

photo credit: John Greenaway / Flickr

Automation

Automation is basically what every webpreneur should pursue. You and I need to develop a system (can take in the form of software, scripts, web tools, business processes, and/or business operations) that can help you do multiple things in a short period of time; this is a huge advantage of automation.

What to automate? The answer depends on what kind of web properties you own and manage. If you run blogs, you might want to automate the social media distribution of your post. For this purpose, I use Dlvr.it and, on a much smaller scale, IFTTT. I also use SocialOomph.com for scheduling my social media posts.

Also, make use of the semi-automation tool available for WordPress user, natively: Post scheduling. If you have blog posts ready for publishing, just schedule them away and let WordPress publish yours on schedule.

Automation is not without disadvantages. The main disadvantage is that you will become system-dependent. If the system broke down, your business is struggling. Unfortunately, no system is perfect – so you would probably need to spend countless hours fixing things occasionally.

Running an online business from home

Outsourcing or automation?

My answer would be a bit ‘diplomatic,’ but I would go for both. The reason is simple: Both can add value on its own to the web properties I have in different ways, and doing both means less and less work on my side.

Imagine this scenario: Partnering with a freelance blogger, you can get him/her to write and publish blog posts on your behalf. For blog post promotion, you can use the tools I mentioned above (Dlvr.it, IFTTT, etc.). You can also mix blog post promotion with manual work done by another freelancer you hire.

Whether you realise it or not, you have built yourself a system, combining automation and outsourcing.

If you insist me to choose one, in an ideal situation (all tools are available to do what I want to do with a website,) I’d go for automation. Here is my reasoning:

  • Outsourcing can backfire: Outsourcing involves real people, and real people’s work quality has to be managed – poor quality means more work on my site; so, not only I spend money to pay for their service, I also waste more time due to this.
  • Automation involves creating a system that works on its own – I or my team will create a system and I know what kind of stuff I add into the system; so, it’s faster and less resource intensive to handle in the long run.
  • Automation allows me to find out my own ‘trade secrets’ and replicate what works; outsourcing ‘leaks’ my trade secrets and allow a bigger risks of stabbing behind my back, stealing my ‘secret recipes.’

The choice is yours. Find the right balance for your situation, as in online business, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Ivan Widjaya is the owner of AsepOnde.com, as well as the founder of several online businesses: PrevisoMedia.com, Noobpreneur.com and Uptourist.com. He runs his business from anywhere, anytime he wants.

Cute business woman

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