Case Study: How I outsource crucial tasks at Videofruit

Bryan Harris —  Bryan Harris - October 9th, 2014

Note: We’re halfway through the Vault launch and there are just a handful of passes left. I’ll be shutting everything down at 5 p.m. on Friday October 10th. So, if you want to join…get to it… (Join the Vault)

I have two friends. See if you can spot the difference in them…

(names and details are changed to protect the innocent)

My buddy Steve:

Steve is a copywriter who lives in Nashville, TN. He works a normal 9-5 job and spends his day writing email copy for banks.

You know those automated messages you get from your bank, like, “Notice: You’ve had a large withdrawal from your account“?

Yeah, Steve wrote that.

He’s been doing this type of work since he graduated college. He likes it alright, but it’s a bit repetitive and doesn’t really get him fired up in the mornings.

When I started Videofruit I introduced him to the world of direct response copywriting. Sales pages, launch sequences and the like.

He started a blog shortly after and wrote about his strategies and techniques. His content was really good but he encountered the exact same problem we all face.

Traffic.

How do I get people to read my stuff?

So I came over one night for drinks and I described to him the process I go through every time I publish an article.

It’s called the Skyscraper technique.

Brian Dean at Backlinko taught me this strategy and it works like a champ.

Since implementing the Skyscraper technique on Videofruit, I’ve seen a 32% increase in organic search traffic.

I also told him, “It’s a TON of work to do a Skyscraper on each article, but I have a guy you could hire to do it for you. It’ll cost $150 but save you 8 hours of time.”

He wasn’t a fan of the idea of paying someone else to do that type of work.

“Oh, I can do that myself,” he said.

And he tried…

He spent 2 hours the next day learning about domain authority, finding high traffic and low competition keyword phrases in Google and trying to figure out what a backlink was.

Then he gave up.

His blog slowly sputtered.

Shortly after, he stopped writing.

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Then you have Keith.

He recently moved to Seattle from Nashville.

The weekend before he left we had a big guys’ camping trip. While we were out in the wild blue yonder he started asking me questions about my business.

Fast-forward two months and he now runs a fast-growing blog-based business where he teaches people how to buy and sell items on eBay.

Funny thing about Keith: he had the exact same problem as Steve. Traffic.

But he actually listened to me and hired someone to do the Skyscraper technique on all of his major posts.

He DIDN’T try to figure it all out himself. Instead, he focused on improving his writing and launching his coaching program.

As a result, he routinely gets 500+ visitors to each of his posts, has a growing training program and is steadily building his email list.

He plans to quit his job as a CPA in early 2015.

What is the difference between these two guys?

Keith hired someone to do key tasks that he wasn’t good at while he focused on his core competency.

Steve tried to do everything himself.

I call this the Steve Fallacy.

When Steve’s car breaks down, he doesn’t take it to a mechanic; he tries to fix it himself. By doing that, he falls victim to two lies:

Lie #1: “I can do it quicker than they can.”

No, you can’t. It takes you 3x longer to fix your car than it takes a professional.

Lie #2: “I’m saving money by fixing it myself.”

What Steve doesn’t take into account is that he could be charging $100 an hour for his time as a copywriter and pay a mechanic $50 an hour to work on his car.

Instead of doing that, though, he does it all himself, making him a crappy mechanic and losing over $400 of revenue by not focusing on his core competency.

Moral of the story = Focus on what you are good at + Hire people to fill in the gaps

How to make outsourcing easy

It’s not quite that easy though…

It’s nice to hear about people who outsource their entire life to the Philippines and work from their laptops one hour a day.

But if you have ever attempted hiring a $3-an-hour worker off of Odesk, you know how ludicrous that idea is.

Finding good contractors is incredibly difficult.

Tip: I made the Vault to fix this problem. Inside of the Vault is a list of all of the contractors that I use to run my business. Including Keith, my guy who does the Skyscraper technique on every Videofruit article. (Join the Vault)

Today I’m going to share with you 4 things that I outsource and show you my step-by-step process.

[Case Study] How to get an ebook designed for cheap

I suck at design.

When putting the final touches on this release of the Vault, I wanted to pretty up the framework manuals that come with each launch sequence.

So I jumped into Google Docs and did my thing.

90 minutes later, this is what I had come up with…

I told you…

I suck at designing stuff.

My next idea was to jump into my swipe files and see if I could come up with a little inspiration.

After a few minutes of browsing through, I came across this…

It’s a free eBook that Unbounce had promoted a while back. I initially saw it on Twitter and liked the design. So I saved it in my swipe file in case I ever needed some ideas for an ebook cover.

Next, I opened up my rolodex of contractors and found Cathryn, my designer.

I shot her a quick email telling her what I was looking for.

24 hours later, she sent me the finished product.

She designed the cover as well as the layout of all of the interior pages.

I paid $197.

Even better, she gave me the source files so I can use this general layout and design on any of the free ebooks I give away in the future.

Could I have spent 12 hours and put together something close to what Cathryn did?

What would have been the opportunity costs of that?

[Case Study] How I get each blog post proofread for $15

Confession…

I can’t spell very well AND this whole grammar thing.

If you’ve spent any time on this blog at all, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

A few weeks ago, my friend Noah told me to hire an editor.

I hated the idea. Not only was I a bad speller, I embraced my ineptness and framed it as being “focused on content and not the little stupid stuff like grammar.”

What I didn’t understand was that those little mistakes caused new visitors to lower their opinion of my work.

I get it.

“If he doesn’t take the time to spell-check his blog posts, what else is he not doing?”

So I finally gave in.

And honestly, it was one of the best decision I’ve ever made.

Now, my workflow goes like this…

Start to finish, it takes her around 30 minutes with no notice. Pretty awesome service!

I pay less than $20 per article. (Depends on the length.)

Now people don’t think I’m a moron because I can’t spell “occasionally” correctly.

[Case Study] How to build an entire app for $250

My first love was software. Not writing.

All of my writing and blog work began 18 months after I started work on my first app.

But here is my secret. I don’t know how to code.

How do I make apps without knowing how to code?

I draw them on a piece of paper, make a little Google doc describing what I want it to do, then I send it to Saad (my developer).

Kind of like this…

That app turned into Gmello, which last month made $550 in income. I’ve never used the word “passive” on this blog before, but that app is about as passive income as exists.

I update it 3-4 times a year and it keeps churning along.

Total price of development? $250

Finding good developers was very challenging and they stay pretty busy. However, over the last 2 years I’ve worked with several who are really good and affordable.

It is possible.

[Case Study] How I got an entire launch sequence written for $250

Funny story…

Last year I made an iOS, Five Club. It was a “don’t break the chain” app that incentivized you to wake up early and work on your side hustle.

By early I mean, 5 a.m.

Why 5 a.m.? Because, as my friend Jon Acuff says, fear isn’t up at 5 a.m.

The app comes to life every morning at 5 and allow you to check in. For every day you check in, your streak of consecutive days is measured and you get badges for reaching certain milestones.

That app wound up being the starting point for Videofruit. (I’ll share that story with you sometime.)

Fast-forward to August 2014.

Five Club is still in the iTunes stores but has quite a few poor reviews because I wasn’t actively maintaining it. But one day I logged in and discovered that it has been downloaded by over 5,000 people.

Then it hit me…

Everyone of those people had to register with an email address.

“BRYAN! Email list-building is the crux of your entire business!”

So I started brainstorming ways to introduce the Five Club audience to Videofruit. If I could get all 5,000 people to become Videofruit subscribers that would be a huge increase in my readership

A few ideas I came up with:

  • Just start emailing them (meh, too spammy)
  • Build something into the app to tell them about Vidoefruit (too much work)
  • Write a series of emails to give them stuff and slowly bring them over (WINNER!)

But I was working on the Vault at the time and didn’t have the bandwidth to crank out a launch series. That’s when I though, “Hmmm… I should hire someone to write them for me.”

4 days later I had this email series…

We’re just 2 emails into the sequence and 25% of the Five Club app audience has become Videofruit subscribers. Major win!

Total cost of outsourcing the writing of the sequence? $250

How you can do the same thing

You have two options…

You can be Steve and try to figure everything out yourself.

OR

You can be Keith and hire people to fix your problems.

I challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone and start slowly, bringing a few proven contractors into your business to help you.

It has been one of the foundational things I’ve done to grow Videofruit from $0 in October 2013 to multiple six figures per year in October 2014.

YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING.

I’ve put together all of the contractors that I use on a daily basis into a new product called the Vault.

It took me 2 years to put this list together. I’ve hired HUNDREDS of people and fired nearly all of them. The people on this list are the best that I’ve found.

Want the list? Join the vault

Note: There are just a handful Vault passes left and registration will shut down tomorrow at 5 p.m. Central Time.

 

  • Awesome post Bryan! How is the program called you’re doing the charts and graphs with?
    And is there any specific reason why you didn’t add paypal to your vault billing site? =/

    • I use Keynote to make the graphics and then snap a screenshot of them with Skitch. Not sure if paypal is an option with my shopping cart software. I’ll look into that.

  • Nailed it. What is commonly taught about outsourcing is total cr@p! You cannot scale by task sourcing to Fiverr/ODdesk/ELance or whatever, unless you want to project manage for 12 hours a day. Second that, going cheap will cost heaps in terms of wasted time and opportunity. Pay the most that you can afford, and as soon as you can hire someone (full-time) to project manage your outsource suppliers.

  • Derrick Horvath

    Nice Post Bryan.

    Just to let you know, this might be the copy that tipped me over to sign up to the vault.

    I find myself being Steve too often and then everything just takes forever. Plus, I’m a bit of a perfectionist and meticulous about details (I’m an accountant) so I have the mindset that no one can do it as good as me.

    My guess is the Vault will continually add qualified freelancers who are vetted through you? Like an elance but with your seal of approval of quality? That’s what I’m hoping at least.

    • Absolutely. The big difference in the Vault and elance is it will never be an open Marketplace. It will only be qualified hand selected people that we’ve personally tested and used ourselves.

      At the end of the day not ever contractor is right for every client, but I want to make that process as painless as possible.

  • Lol: “I can’t spell very well AND this whole grammar thing.”

  • Great post, Bryan. If you look at this post in reverse, this is also a great way to come up with a “productized” service. Find one part of the chain that an entrepreneur could learn and do on their own (but takes time) and specialize in just that.

    Amazing what a difference a little upgraded cover design can is… looks so good!

  • So if everyone is getting the same list and we start emailing thm for work, wouldn’t it be possible they would become overwhelmed with work & not be able to be as good with their work?

    • I’ve had this same thought of zach’s – the fear of everyone jumping on the same designer or editor at once.

      I wanna know at least ‘a little’ more about the Skyscraper formula… nuthin’ black hat, right?

      Oh, and have you given your Vault guys the heads up? (that they might be getting a surge of responsibilities and tasks here soon?)

  • bobjohnson12

    This has been one of the most persuasive articles to get me to buy the vault. If I had the money I would definitely do it, but you did a perfect job of persuading us to want to buy it, and those that do have the money I’m sure will buy because of this article.