Outsourcing Lesson & Examples

Outsourcing has been a thing big companies have been using for years, the main reason to slash costs of manual and intellectual labor. However, there is probably even more benefit to outsourcing for smaller companies, yet a lot of people have no clue how to utilize it.

I’ve outsourced projects before, but thanks to a mentor of mine, I’ve been exposed to several projects and shown the CORRECT way to do it.

There are three major tips I’d give:

1.) Be
specific as possible.

2.) Include non-lengthy descriptions.
Make sure you write where everything should go, how it should work and what it should look like.

3.) Use visual aids.
Photoshop will be your best friend in making a design project go smoothly. If you already know what you want, the best thing to do is make a Photoshop representation of it, then the programmer will do their thing and make it work. These are especially important if you’re using an offshore programming team, as subtle language differences sometimes spoil directions.

4.) Always bargain.
Outside the United States, especially in less developed countries, bargaining is a typical part of buying stuff. Programmers will often quote you way too high, so you just have to bargain down the price. If you stink at bargaining, go to RentACoder.com and set your own project price.

I’ve learned if you don’t a put a lot of effort into planning the project, it will come out terrible, take a long time and cost a lot of money.

If you spend a lot of time initially spec’ing out the project, it will go extremely quick, come out great and cost less since the programmers know exactly what to do.



1.) This is a spec sheet I made recently for my online business House Of Rave. It outlines for a Shopsite programmer what I want done using visual aids and short descriptions in an outlined form. This way if there’s a problem, I can say “Section 1.c has not been done yet.”

You can view a snapshot of the Word document below:

2.) This spec sheet is from my recent FacebookProfile project I did a few weeks ago. I knew EXACTLY how I wanted it to look, so I created a visual representation of the site using Photoshop and then marked up specific sections and functionalities.

I didn’t already know any WordPress designers, so I posted this project on RentACoder for $220. A few hours later I selected the highest rated programmer to respond and the project was done in no time.

What was great about this project was the very little communication involved, as I had already so specifically stated what I wanted. Generally there is a lot of discussion back and forth between customer and programmer if it’s not clear what is wanted.

You can view a snapshot of the Word document used for the FacebookProfile.com specs:

Medium to large projects get much harder, and the important part is staying on top of the project and documenting progress.

If you’ve got a project, first spec it out so you know exactly what you want. Then go to any of the following sources to find someone to do it:
1.) RentACoder.com – You can set your own price here, view other projects by the bidders and read their feedback. Basically an Ebay for any sort of project. Also try eLance.com.
2.) Craigslist.org – Simply post your project in your local city (or better yet, a big city like San Francisco or NYC) in the Gigs –> Computer section. You’ll be surprised at how many responses you can get locally and from abroad.
3.) Forums – If you’ve got a very specific project you’re working on, go to some popular forums about that subject/software/hobby and post the job.

Blog posted on: June 14, 2006

18 comments on “Outsourcing Lesson & Examples

  1. Anonymous

    This is interesting material. I was looking for a way to get a project done, and this came as a blessing :-)

  2. Marco || Stock Trading

    Don’t forget to try http://www.elance.com if you want to outsource Websites, Logos, Brochures, Writing, and Software projects. eLance gives a little variety in the type of project you want to have completed – but make sure you check up on their credentials and ask for examples of their previous work.

    Thanks for the post Neville.

  3. Anonymous

    >>>>>However, there is probably even more benefit to outsourcing for smaller companies, yet a lot of people have no clue how to utilize it.< <<<<<

    Allow me to comment. Ok great, Nev, you have finally listened. Many folks here commented for “many moons” that you should not be trying to do it all. So you finally wised up. Good.
    No need to insult others though. “Outsourcing” as a concept is nothing new. Small businesses outsourced functions from the beginning of time (printing, accounting…..). As I said not a new concept. Outsourcing has moved online and abroad because business activity has moved online and abroad. Along with that some new outsourcing activities were created, that is all. So businesses have been doing it for a long time and NOW you joined in.

  4. Anonymous

    To add to my previous comment. Small businesses had to outsource by definition “being small”. No small business can afford to pay some functions on a full-time basis. Only big business can afford to have in-house accountant, in-house lawyer..etc. So it is really big business that is outsourcing more nowadays.

  5. Quant Trader

    Hey Nev as a programmer I’d just like to say that I think you are doing an excellent job of managing programmers. Those photoshop mock-ups and detailed instructions are EXACTLY what a programmer needs.

  6. CollegeGuy

    Guru.com is another project posting site that’s worked well for me.

    Elance seems to me to be a little more expensive than the others, but that could just be my experience.

    Lastly, I’m *amazed* at the nay-sayers that seem to always comment. Come on, remember what your mother said: if you don’t have anything nice (or useful) to say…

  7. P

    Hey Nev, love the blog.
    I had a small project I outsourced over RentACoder.com, and I wish I had read your post first.

    The project was “Finished” within three days, but was horrible. Nothing came out the way I expected, but I realized I hadn’t really given much direction to the person doing it. I still had to pay up, but got a rather shoddy project. I then had to hire the same guy to tweak the project into what I want.

    Your specification are extremely clear and I’m sure the programmers must love you for it.

    Great post!

  8. me2press

    This is great advice, I had a few projects that I had to get some other people to finish the work. I read a book that had this idea 10-80-10 do the first 10% of the project get the ideas, lay down the plan. Then hire someone to do the 80% of the work. Then come back to help out with the last 10% to make sure everything is right. I used this method for my web site.


    I have a few porjects that I want to add to this site and I will outsource anything that I can not do a good job at. One other place to find cheap help is high schools. There are some very smart kids out there and they will work for very little.

  9. NevDull

    You don’t define deliverables clearly in your spec. What are you expecting as a result of the project? You mention installing apps… are you giving these people access to your hosting accounts, or do they just need them installed to get the template done correctly, then hand over templates?

  10. Andrew

    I encourage anyone looking for help with a project to definitely try Craigslist.org. A great resource for not only finding assistance for a project but also finding great buys (car, futon) and selling things as well.

    I enjoyed the succinct layout of your project and list of resources.

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    1. Isaac Hill

      Once again Noah and Neville nailed it! Great content and easy to follow. Outsourcing is a must for those tedious task. RentAcoder is the best.

      To outsource Logo Design you can try Logobids.com – affordable prices for startups and small biz.

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