How to Save Money When Outsourcing Your Projects

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Yesterday I shared some ways that you can decide which tasks or projects to outsource.  Today I want to share some tips to help you stay within your budget when you’re working with outsourcers or virtual assistants.

Have you been outsourcing projects but spending more money that you expected or going over budget regularly? This can happen for a variety of reasons. Here are three ways to be sure that you are getting the most for your outsourcing budget.

1) Be Clear

When you send a project to your virtual assistant or list it on one of the outsourcing websites, be very clear about what you want. Never expect to be able to make changes as you go or “let the project evolve” and have the cost remain the same. Your outsourcer will provide a quote based on exactly what you requested, not based on their ability to read your mind and predict what additional features you want added later.

If you aren’t sure what you want, you may not be ready to outsource the project yet. Do your research. Remember that your outsourcer is not a business or marketing strategist, nor are they your coach. They will complete the tasks you ask them to.

You need to take time to be certain of what you want, how you envision it working, and the outcome that you expect from a project. With these three pieces of information it will be easier to get an accurate quote for your project. And if you’ve got a good virtual assistant or outsource they will be able to tell you upfront if what you’ve asked for will not deliver the outcome you want (this is why it’s important to share what your ultimate goal is with the outsourcer).

The more detailed you are with your request, the quicker and more accurate your results will be. If you aren’t clear, expect that many back and forth emails or phone calls will be required and if you’re on hourly billing this can quickly add to your invoice total. Be clear from the beginning and you’ll save money and frustration.

2) Be Direct & Honest

If something doesn’t seem to be headed in the direction you hoped, don’t wait and see if it corrects itself, speak up! Mistakes or misunderstandings can be cleared up more easily this way. Always be polite but honest.

Sometimes it’s necessary to call a temporary halt to a project and get clearer on what’s needed. Do it as soon as you sense you need to. This will save unnecessary time being spent on something that won’t work.

3) Be Realistic

Don’t expect to get an entire website for $5. Don’t expect your virtual assistant to be available 24 hours a day with 2 hour turnaround or your outsourcer to work the same hours you do if they’re in a different country.

When you send a project, request feedback on a reasonable time frame and cost so you know what to expect. Sometimes “overbilling” isn’t overbilling as much as it a misunderstanding on what’s involved in a project.

Yes, virtual assistants and outsourcers can work magic! But they can’t read minds. So be clear and direct when sending your projects. And do take time to look around to find out what a reasonable budget and time frame is for the work you’re requesting.

This is post two in my outsourcing series – don’t miss the rest of the series!  Subscribe and get free updates at

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  1. Being realistic is essential; many clients expect VAs or offshore teams to work for them round the clock or during their schedule. After all, they are dishing out money. But more than just being realistic, it calls for compassion–your VA, or you offshore team, for that matter, work for an outsourcing company, not a sweatshop.
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    1. That’s another good point. Instant turnaround is usually not possible. Gotta plan in advance so our teams have time to complete tasks for us – and complete them well, not in a rush. Thank you for the comment.

  2. It’s funny how many people believe that they could outsource it for very cheap prices and then they expect a GREAT SERVICE. Obviously, you will get the service that you pay for.

    1. That’s also an important note, Uzi. I know a lot of US and Canada based virtual assistants who were worried when overseas personal assistants were made popular in books like “4 Hour Work Week” but it’s such a different level of service (I’ve worked with both) and they’re suited for completely different tasks. For $2/hr we get something different than for $30/hr.

      I’ve heard it said, “You can have fast, cheap or quality – pick two!” and that’s very true. If you want fast, quality work be prepared to pay for it. If you want cheap and fast, be prepared to sacrifice quality.

      Of course, there are always exceptions and I know there are some gems out there who work for less than they’re worth. But in general price and excellent service go together. :)

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Terri Zwierzynski and Michelle Shaeffer, Shauna Harper. Shauna Harper said: RT @SmallBizMuse: Blog: How to Save Money When Outsourcing Your Projects […]

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