Outsourcing has been a major driver of globalization since the mid-1990s, when “core competency” replaced “synergy” as the number-one consulting buzzword.
Today we are used to “lean” companies like Apple who focus on a few core tasks: product development, feeding worshippers and tax optimization.
And the outsourcing trend does not stop at the corporate level. In 2007 Tim Ferriss devoted a major chapter of his bestseller The 4-Hour Work Week to “Outsourcing Life,” mostly speaking about virtual assistants in India.
Since then the hurdles for private outsourcing have been further lowered. With the rising Internet adoption rates in developing countries, there is a huge pool of experts in low-income countries willing to take on pretty much every job at reasonable prices. India alone now has approximately 300 million Internet users.
Until recently, my only personal experience with outsourcing was occasional interactions with India-based IT helpdesks and having my shirts ironed by my awesome girlfriend (technically still in-house, but ironing is definitely not my core competency and I am extremely grateful).
While I do not see a chance to outsource parts of my management job to a helping hand in India, and don’t plan to do so myself, I was nevertheless intrigued by the idea of delegating tasks I am either completely incapable of doing myself or that would cause me severe pain to attempt.
So when I was starting with the preparations for Life-Sparring, I had my first stabs at outsourcing 2.0, primarily using a web service called Fiverr.
The concept of Fiverr is simple: if you want to sell any kind of service, sign up for Fiverr, create a gig and wait for customers. Gigs start at US$5 and are paid through PayPal. Usually vendors offer several bonus options to bump up the value of their offerings. According to an article by Michael Luchies, the average gig value on Fiverr is above US$10.
Fiverr offers more than three million gigs for its customers to choose from. The breadth of the offerings covers everything from practical tasks such as optimizing your CV to bizarre gigs such as naming a farm cow in your honor.
My first gig was letting Robinoo from Canada proofread my first blog post and text fragments of this very website. Robinoo charges US$5 for 1,000 words; with my tip ($5) and processing fees I paid $11. Happy with her corrections to my texts, I also gave her my second blog post for review. This time I was above the 1,000 words count, so I had to pay $10 up front (total $10.50).
Unfortunately, I am not the only one enjoying Robinoo’s professionalism: she is busy, and with 10 days’ processing time, she is of no help if I am behind with my schedule, unless I add a very costly express option.
For my last blog, therefore, I used another Fiverr vendor called Marie. This time I was not particularly impressed as Marie overlooked a few quirks that I found in my second review after receiving the correction (US$5.50). If I had looked more carefully, I would have seen that Marie is based in Nigeria, despite stating in her profile that she is from the U.S.
Encouraged by my positive experience with Robinoo, I got a bit more adventurous and asked Hanna from Jordan to make a pencil drawing of my girlfriend’s dog. Unfortunately, he demanded an upgrade to one of his more expensive options and was not willing to get to work for $5, despite my promises to tip and upgrade on satisfactory delivery. Disappointing.
Anyway, the beloved canine got drawn in the end by the talented Sanja from Macedonia. For $US15.50, Sanja did a great job. Given that I can barely draw a stick figure, that was outsourcing at its best.
My most satisfying purchase (US$10.50), however, was the awesome avatar I am using here on Life-Sparring. It comes courtesy of Hasrullah from Indonesia. The masterpiece took 20 days to be delivered, but the result was definitely worth the wait.
Overall my experience with outsourcing in the past three months has definitely enriched my life and helped to make Life-Sparring more readable and more colorful. I will definitely continue playing around with Fiverr and other outsourcing sites. Gigs currently in the making include a business card design with QR code for life-sparring.com, and maybe I will even name a farm cow one day. Be prepared for an update at a later point in time.
How about you? Have you tried to outsource private tasks or even jobs you get paid for? Do you have experience with other outsourcing platforms? What were your biggest successes or regrets? I am curious to hear your story.
If you are interested in trying Fiverr yourself, sign up using the referral link below. You will get one free $5 gig upon signing up and I will receive $5 credit to my Fiverr account once you spend more than $10 on Fiverr.