Grow Your Digital Marketing Agency With Offshore Resources
Tips For Incorporating Overseas Creative Talent Into Your Digital Marketing Strategy
On Demand Webinar
Offshoring creative talent can be economical and a quick route to agency growth. But how do you get started?
Join us for a webinar where Ryan Stewart, the Founder of WEBRIS, discusses his approach to offshoring and provides a framework to replicate it for your digital marketing strategy. He covers how to:
- Look for the right talent
- Effectively communicate — over multiple time zones
- Overcome language barriers
Founder – Webris
Ryan Stewart is a marketing professional with over eight years of client-facing experience. He currently owns and operates WEBRIS, a Miami-based digital marketing agency.
Product Manager – SharpSpring
As Product Manager, Bryan is responsible for creating content to help users get the most out of SharpSpring. This includes maintaining the support forum and creating instructional “how to” videos. Working in collaboration with Marketing, Support, and Development, Bryan helps create an exemplary experience for every user.
No time to watch? Read the full transcript here.
Bryan: All right. I see a few more people have joined the call, so let’s go ahead and get started. Everyone, thank you for taking your time today. This is Bryan Tobin. I am one of the product managers over here at SharpSpring. We are joined today, and very excited to have present, Ryan Stewart, who is the founder of WEBRIS. The subject of today’s session is, we’re going to talk about how we can potentially utilize offshore resources to do some cool things. We’re using the word expand your agency, or the term, or phrase, here. We’re going to cover a lot and go over some examples of how to find these resources, and how to best utilize them in your agency service mix, and maybe open your eyes up to some lines of business and some ways to increase revenue that you weren’t aware of before. We’re going to go ahead and kick that off right now.
Bryan: Before we go into the fun stuff, which is talking about the theory and the practical application, let’s knock some housekeeping out real quick. The audience is a diverse crowd of some existing SharpSpring partners. If we’ve talked before, welcome, very excited to have this call today; some folks that are considering partnering with SharpSpring, again, super exciting to have you here; and then some in-house marketing professionals. Likely, you’re thinking of this from the context of how can we implement some of these resources and services to help expand our own marketing services internally for your company? The goal is fairly simple. This is thought leadership, best practice sharing. We like to reach out to our partners that we’ve seen do some really cool stuff and say, “Hey, would you mind sharing this with our broader audience so they can get a better understanding of how to grow their company, their agency, and provide better value to their clients?” We like to sprinkle in real world stories as we go through. That way, it’s not just this fun conversation about theory, but it’s how does it work in the context of a real life situation and a real life client.
Bryan: All phone lines are muted, so if you were saying hello, and I didn’t respond, I’m super sorry. But we will, of course, interact with you via the chat window. Just makes things run very smooth on this call. Speaking of that chat window, please submit questions. We do have a team member who will be answering them, and we do open up for Q&A at the end. Any good questions, we’re going to share with the group. If you’re on Twitter, we love social engagement. You can use the hashtag #SharpTweet or just tweet @SharpSpring. If you want to share this with colleagues or friends, or you want to watch this after, we of course, record the entire call, then we distribute the slides after. There’s a survey that we’re going to ask…some polls is probably a better word for the actual prompt…that will go on during the call, so please respond to those. The first is where you’re at with outsourcing services, so we can get an understanding of how to have this conversation. The last one is more of a follow-up. If you want more information about SharpSpring, or you want to talk with Ryan a bit further, we want to make sure to get you in front of the right people. For our partners, we do have an upcoming SpringBoard Live. SpringBoard Live are those how-to sessions that we conduct weekly. This one is pretty cool. It’s how to best utilize reminders to make sure they’re not these annoying things that we just start putting in the background because they don’t provide value, to make sure that these reminders are persuasive and help us reach a goal. Then we’re going to do another webinar similar to this, next week on the 19th, how we can create quality content marketing and use that in our attraction marketing strategy to draw leads to our company. If you are doing something really cool with SharpSpring or marketing technology, marketing automation in general, and you’d like to share that with the group, we love that. We have Koertni Adams, who is our Partner Enablement Manager. Her email is at the bottom. You can drop her a line, and we can talk about getting you on the calendar.
Bryan: Next, just a quick round of introductions. Myself, Product Manager here. I work with a lot of customers, help to make sure we’re producing a quality product that is giving you the value that you expect, and continually evolving to meet the changing market needs. Then Ryan, I’ll go ahead and let you just do a quick introduction of yourself. Then from here, you can rock and roll.
Ryan: Yeah. Thanks, Bryan. As you said, my name is Ryan Stewart. I own a small digital agency based out of Miami called WEBRIS. We specialize in organic search marketing. What I’m going to talk about today is how we’ve grown, and how I’ve made the transition from being a consultant into being an agency owner, and relying heavily on offshore labor to do so.
Ryan: Awesome. I’m going to get right into it. Today, I’m going to talk about three different things when it comes to offshoring. Number one is why you should consider offshoring. Number two is what you could potentially outsource and offshore, and some examples of how we do it internally, and how we’ve done it in the past. And how you can find, train, and hire the right people to help you out. I’m just going to go ahead and jump right in with why you should consider outsourcing.
Ryan: Before I do get into it, though, it’s really important, because I do believe that there is quite a big of negative connotation, maybe not so much for us as marketers but definitely from the client point of view. I feel the need to address these things, because it’s important to. The first thing I hear a lot is that cheap labor equals poor work quality. While this is true…if you’re paying somebody $2 an hour, you’re going to get $2 an hour worth of work…but what we have to understand is that it’s more on our side than on the offshore side. For example, especially if you look at everything that’s going on, web developers here in America, they’re great, but $150 an hour, especially for a consultant or a start-up agency, is really a lot to pay, whereas my developer, who is in Pakistan, who is $10 an hour, just does amazing work. He’s been laying code for the last 15 years. It’s what he has been educated on. It’s not so much that the cheap labor…if the labor is cheap then the labor is lower quality… The labor is cheaper, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality. It has more to do with how you manage that team, which we’re going to talk about a lot, and really that is a part of this webinar. The other one that I get a lot is, “You should be hiring Americans.” This is true. I don’t purposely offshore because I’m trying to just drastically cut margins; I actually offshore because it allows me to build a local team. When I was getting started and working out of my apartment, hustling to build a client base, it was just me. I had to rely on offshore labor, because, again, I couldn’t pay somebody $50,000 a year that wasn’t necessarily directly driving revenue to my business. Now, we have actually 10 people here in Miami, and they are here because of those people offshore. Again, I don’t necessarily feel the need to justify it to the people that are here, because mostly I’m offshoring, but it is important to understand this when you do deal with clients. I am openly honest with clients, and I tell them now we offshore work. When I do get some feedback, it’s important to have this conversation with them to make them understand that yes, just because they’re offshore doesn’t mean that they’re not as good, and especially the quality that you are going to get is the exact same quality, if not better, than what you’d be getting if you’re using local workers here. Again, this is not a detriment to the American economy; this is actually helping grow. We’re building a business. These 10 people wouldn’t have a salary and benefits and be able to provide for their family if I didn’t use this process. It’s not something that you should feel ashamed about or something that… It’s not as big of a stigma as people let on to be.
Ryan: Why do it? Most importantly to me, and especially if you’re just getting started, and especially if you’re just making that transition from consultant to agency, it comes down to scaling your time. When you’re first getting started, especially in this digital space, where there’s so much to do all the time, non-stop, your time is the most important asset that you have. You either have two options: you can use software or you can use people. Again, using people, especially local ones, they’re expensive. If you want to build a team of five people to deliver SEO, or Facebook ads, or whatever it is that you’re doing, you’re looking at a quarter of a million dollar investment to hire people locally. But if you can do it with offshore people, you can do it for a fraction of that cost. You can take your time, and you can scale it exponentially. Again, that’s what I’m going to talk about mostly during this webinar.
Ryan: First things first. It’s important for us to discuss the options, because a lot of people confuse the different types of outsourcing or offshore. I want to clear that up really quickly with this matrix. What you’re looking at here is just the benefits and drawbacks of the four different types of, basically, employment options that we have as agency owners and consultants. The first would be to hire a full-time employee or a contractor. The benefits are pretty obvious: the productivity, the expertise, the control, the growth, the happiness. I love hiring local people. That’s my main goal here is I want to hire as many people here in Miami as possible for my jobs, help them grow up and build their own career, and really achieve what they want to with their professional lives. The drawbacks of that, obviously, are just the cost to train, to manage, the salary, the benefits, the taxes. I’m going through my first complete year as an agency owner, and these things are all brand new to me. It’s expensive hiring local people. That’s not an option for everyone, especially the younger agencies. The next one is freelancers, and a lot of people use these. We use freelancers for content writing; we use freelancers for web development, for web design, things like that. The benefit here is that you’re getting a specialist, but you’re getting one person in the task that you need: again, content writing, web design. Sometimes these things just don’t really make sense financially to bring in-house, especially if you’re not offering that as a service, or it’s just a subset of a service, like content writing. The drawbacks here: it’s going to be higher cost. You’re basically paying for short-term work. The communication is always tough, too. Especially local freelancers, they’ve got a million things going on, and they tend to not manage their deadlines as well. They’re trying to make a living, and they’re taking on too many clients at once. They’re going through that process that you might be going through, too. The drawback with them is going to be communication and cost, but the quality of the work is generally pretty good, because that’s what you’re paying for. The other one is outsourcing and offshoring. These are the two that I really want to hone in on. This is what people get confused with. This is just my personal opinion, but a lot of people say outsourcing is just going overseas and pushing work overseas. That’s not necessarily the case. Technically, as an SEO agency, we’re an outsource solution. You hire us because you’re outsourcing your entire SEO to us. We’re local, but what you’re doing is you’re hiring a group of experts, generally a company, when you outsource. It’s generally outsourcing the entire process, if it’s accounting, if it’s SEO, payroll, and it’s project based. The huge benefit of this is, us as an agency, after our contract is up or even month-to-month, you can let us go. Granted, you’re paying a higher cost for that, but instead of bringing somebody in-house to do your SEO…you’re giving up…it’s really hard to let people go…you’re paying for the benefit to, basically, fire us whenever you want with no strings attached, and you’re getting a team of experts as opposed to just one. The drawbacks here are the cost. You’re on our terms, for the most part. When you pay an agency, you’re paying an outsource company, you’re paying for accounting, you can’t just hit them up whenever you want and get whatever you need from them. Communication is just the major drawback of using outsourcing. Again, outsourcing, it could be somebody in the US; it could be somebody overseas. Location is agnostic; it doesn’t matter when it comes to outsourcing. Offshoring is different. Offshoring is what we do. That’s when we find people overseas that are not in the US with the purpose of cutting cost, but they do have a specific skill set. When we hire these offshore people, we’re not just hiring anybody; we’re finding somebody who’s “expert” in that space, if it’s analytics, if it’s SEO, if it’s web development, whatever that may be, and we’re hiring them full-time to our agency. We’re not just paying somebody part-time as a freelancer; we’re not hiring a company that does SEO overseas; we’re finding specific people; we’re interviewing them; we’re bringing them into our ecosystem, into our processes; and we’re managing them as they would be somebody here in Miami. That’s the benefit to it is you’re basically getting a full-time employee for a very low cost. The drawbacks are always communication, especially language. Most of these people are not going to speak English first. The work quality can be an issue. Again, SEO is very broad. You can’t really go to school for it. If I’m hiring you for SEO, I want you to do it my way, not your way. That’s part of what we’re going to talk about is how to mitigate the training, and the process, and stuff like that. Then market perception, especially if you’re working with clients. Obviously, like I said, clients are not always overly excited about paying you a lot of money and then knowing that you’re going overseas and just cutting the cost for it. We’re going to talk about that, too, how to mitigate that.
Ryan: Let’s go through what you could potentially offshore. A lot of people, again, they just do it completely wrong. They just want to say, “I don’t want to do SEO” or “I don’t want to do this. Let me just hire somebody to do it overseas, because I don’t have the budget.” But you have to understand what you can potentially offshore before you can do it properly. Pretty much anything online can be outsourced: social media, content creation. I’m going to be running through some examples of how we’ve done it for our businesses. I tell this to people all the time. This is not just for outsourcing; this is just a productivity tip for myself. If you find yourself doing anything more than once, anything that is a repeatable task, you should really start thinking about how you can get it off your plate. That’s my biggest tip for finding what you can outsource. If you’re continuously doing the same thing over and over and over again, and it’s something that is a monotonous process, you can outsource it, and you can do it very easily, too. It’s also important to understand what your industry is and what the important actions are. For me, especially coming from a marketing background, and you guys, too, and always thinking marketing first, it’s really important to me to understand what the important actions are to acquire and manage customers. I want to keep those things locally. Anything else you can start to offshore. The perfect example of this is looking at the fitness industry vs. your digital agency. For me, for Instagram, we have clients that are in the fitness space. Instagram is far more important than anything else. It’s more important that SEO; it’s more important than their website. It’s literally where people discover products, trends, everything for fitness. It’s the most important thing that you can be on. For WEBRIS, Instagram…I use Instagram, but people aren’t finding us on Instagram. They’re not becoming customers through Instagram. Understanding the industry there… We still use Instagram; I still want to post pictures there, but I’m not going to assign somebody here locally that I’m paying a lot of money, to manage that; whereas, if I own a website that sells fitness products…and we have a website that sells shoelaces and sneaker products…it’s really important. I would use somebody full-time locally to do that. I would not offshore that, because it’s too important. Again, we’re looking at things that are repeatable, that are monotonous, that are taking a lot of your time, things that are not going to impact your customer acquisition, your customer management, or whatever is most important to your business, whatever it is that you sell. That’s really important when you’re thinking about what to offshore. Again, I say this all the time. Offshore is for doing; it’s not for thinking. What we want to do is we want to give people tasks, that busy work, to do. We don’t want to be like, “Hey, here’s an SEO campaign. Can you do the SEO for this?” We want to say, “Hey, we’re doing SEO for this client. This is what they do. We need keyword research. You need to go and follow these exact steps to build these keywords, and that’s it. Build the data; build it in a spreadsheet; give it back to us; and we’ll manage it.” Again, we’re paying people to do things that are taking up a lot of time that are repeatable processes. They’re execution; they’re not thinking; they’re not planning; they’re not strategy; they’re doing.
Ryan: One of the things that we actually offshore completely is…I know it’s a little bit ironic, because I just mentioned this…our social media management. Everything that you see here in this screen, from the custom creative, to the copywriting, to the boosts on Facebook, it’s completely offshored. We’ve done that through building a very detailed calendar and process. I’m very picky about what we put online. I’m very picky about copy. I’m very picky about creative. This is all done… Our entire social media is completely automated to the point where we’re spending probably $22 a month to manage it. Facebook page is growing. We’ve got almost 7,000 likes. Twitter, everything is growing just on autopilot. What that does is… Again, things like social media management, they’re important, but posting organically to Facebook is not necessarily driving a lot of customers. What drives customers for me on Facebook is going out and getting active in Facebook groups. It’s getting advertisements out. It’s building new content to promote. But this is still an important part of the process. I’m sitting here spending all of my time building Facebook posts, and building Instagram posts, building the Photoshop documents to post. It’s a complete waste of time. It’s not driving growth. It’s managing, but it’s not driving growth. Again, we want to focus on the tasks that are actually going to drive growth and not just manage it.
Ryan: Here’s another one. We actually have an e-commerce website that sells shoelaces. These product pages are completely built by our overseas team. Basically, what we do here is we give them a sneaker type and a Google spreadsheet and we say, “Hey, this is the information that we need. We need to know how many eyelet holes are on it; how long the laces need to be; some other different colorways,” and they go out, and they actually build these pages. They find the images; they find the information; then they just go into WordPress, and they populate these pages. These pages in themselves, they have a 20% e-commerce conversion rate, which is really high, because it’s very deep in the funnel traffic. Again, this is all completely automated just by a spreadsheet that we’re getting done for… I think we have 40 of these guides now on the website that drive well over 20,000 visits a month organically, and we paid a total of like…I don’t know…28 bucks to get it done. Super cheap; super powerful; and really high quality content, too. It’s not what you would think would be overseas content.
Ryan: Another thing that we actually push overseas is PR. We do a lot of blogger outreach, especially for clients. We built a process to allow them to go out and identify these influencers, and these bloggers, and journalists, based on a set of keywords that we give them. Then we take that list of people, and we manage the outreach internally. But 90% of the work is going out and finding the right people to pitch, finding the websites. Then it’s just a matter of sending some emails. We even use the software to do that, too, to help us out. A lot of that is automated. We’re actually able to land some really high authority PR links along that nature, completely using our offshore team for $2 an hour.
Ryan: Another thing…and this annoys some people…is we do very advanced technical audits and analytics audits. That’s completely done offshore, too. This is a screenshot from one of our SEO templates that we have for auditing a website. Again, what I’m going to talk about even more as we get into this presentation is process, and organization, and structure. What we have here… This is a technical audit. But what is not shown here is that each one of these line items, it has a link to a short video on a private YouTube channel that shows people exactly how to check this. You might not know what a robots.txt file is, but if I give you a 20-second video that shows you how to check that, anybody can figure it out. You might not know what server uptime is, but if I give you a 20-second video that tells you exactly what it is and shows you exactly where to find it, you can fill out the spreadsheet. You’re starting to see where I’m going with this. Basically, taking 95% of your time to build out the process upfront, build out the strategy, allows you to then take this very “complicated” process…which it’s really not; it’s just confusing to a lot of people…who don’t have the context for it, and then just giving it to someone who can just follow a checklist. We’re doing very advanced technical SEO for some of the world’s biggest websites using people that don’t know what SEO is at all and getting better results than a lot of the big agencies do. It’s crazy. But if you really think about what we do, it can be broken down into a process. Everything can be broken down into a process. Nothing that we’re doing is overly complicated. It might not be readily knowledgeable to some people, but if you give them the knowledge and give them the tools, then anybody can manage it, and it’s going to free up a lot of your time. Like filling out this spreadsheet. There’s over 400 lines in it. Would take an American probably…I don’t know…20 to 40 hours, which is going to cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars, depending on how you’re paying to do it, but we’re able to get it done for less than $100, and compete with very big agencies, because we’re able to offer a very awesome service at a very low cost.
Ryan: This is actually a screenshot… This is what actually what got me into offshoring and building these processes. I used to work for a…actually, the world’s largest digital agency. I was a contractor. The first thing they had me doing was building these really advanced Excel reports. I had to build those pulling data from analytics. It was pulling data from all sorts of different data sources. It was just manual work. I looked at this, and I was like, “You guys are paying me like $100 an hour to fill out a spreadsheet, for 60 hours a week. This is not a good use of my time.” So what I did, I just… This was my first time doing it. I made a couple of videos that showed somebody how to fill this out, and then I hired somebody for $3 an hour to build this. That was able to free up my time. This was actually what really allowed me to make the transition from consultant to agency, because I was still collecting this income. Just for the record, I was a very bad employee. I didn’t work well for people. I’m not telling you to do this if you work for someone, but it’s just to help you understand what you can do and drive into your head that there’s nothing too complicated; there’s really not. It’s really not overly difficult. This looks complicated. There’s a lot of formulas in here. But if it’s clearly explained to someone who knows how to use Excel and who knows how to use Google Analytics, then it’s very easy to offshore it, to have somebody help you out to do this. I’ll talk more about this in-depth.
Ryan: Most importantly now, let’s get into how you can offshore properly, to have this go out without a hitch. I am making this seem a little bit overly easy. We’re doing some very advanced things here, and it’s important that you understand exactly how to do it. To save money, you need to spend time. This is something else that I say a lot. The tradeoff here is that now where we’re at with the agency… Again, I’ve hired people locally that are now managing a lot of these more technical processes, but they’re also managing people that are doing it for them. When I first got started, I had time; I didn’t have money. Now, once we’ve reached this level, once you have money, you have time, and you can actually pay people to do it. If you are at a point where you have a lot of stuff on your plate; you can’t get it done; and you just don’t have the money to pay someone, then you have to spend time. This is very important. If you want to offshore technical SEO… I can offshore technical SEO, because I’ve done it for very big… I’ve done technical SEO for eight years now. I know exactly what I’m doing. I’m able to build that exact step-by-step process. You don’t have to be an expert, but you have to be able to clearly communicate what you’re hiring for. An example is… Let’s just stick with SEO, because this is something that a lot of people like to offshore. You don’t have to know exactly how to do SEO, but you have to know how to break it down into a system and a process in order to give it to somebody. If you don’t know, then you’ve absolutely got to figure it out. This is really where the time and money thing comes into play. If you don’t have the money to go out and pay someone to do your SEO the “right way,” the way that it should be done, then you’ve got to spend your time to figure out how you can get somebody lower cost to get that done. You don’t have to be an expert in SEO. You don’t have to be Rand Fishkin, but you do have to understand what keyword research is, what you’re looking for out of keyword research, how to identify technical errors. Again, if you don’t know, there’s plenty of free resources. Everyone that I know, the best SEOs in the world, they learned it from Google for free, and YouTube. There’s no college for this stuff. You can figure it out. You just have to spend the time to do it. To do this right, you have to build out exactly what you need. Like I mentioned before, it takes a lot of work up front, but it saves a lot of time in the long run. The perfect example of that is our social media. I’m going to show you the actual calendar that I used to build out, basically, a contact calendar for social media. It took me probably four hours of my time, but we now have a year’s worth of social media content that’s driving engagement, that’s driving shares, that’s driving likes, that I don’t have to touch, and it’s done. Four hours of my time as opposed to spending… even if it’s four minutes a day posting. If that’s all it takes, that’s still four minutes of your time that you had to stop what you were doing; you had to refocus your mind; you had to say, “Okay, I could get this creative. Let me create this.” Even if it takes 4 minutes, it’s still the surrounding 30 minutes on either side of transitioning your mind and to doing a different task; that’s really a waste. If you’re continuously doing these things because it’s like, “Oh, I have to stop and write this email;” “I have to stop and post to Instagram;” “I have to stop and do this;” you’re burning your entire day on meaningless tasks that are not ultimately driving more revenue for your business or driving more value for your clients. You’re going to have to invest the time up front, like I said, in order to get this done. The most important thing for anything is organization, communication, process. Everything that we do in our agency is literally written down as a step-by-step checklist. We take on a lot of free interns. The reason why I started taking on interns was not necessarily… I love giving back to the community. I love training people, and helping people out…but we started taking on interns to vet our processes. We wanted people to be able to come in and say, “I don’t know what SEO is. I’ve never seen this before, but I’m able to manage an end-to-end SEO campaign for very advanced people, because you’ve given me a checklist and a blueprint to do it. Everything that I need is broken down into a checklist that corresponds with a short video that just walks me through how to do it.” Process and organization are really the only way to get this done. Again, this is really important. A large majority of what you do every day can be boiled down to a step-by-step process. Anyone can follow a well-written process. We tested this; we’ve tried this; we’ve done this with local people who have never heard of SEO; and we’ve done this with overseas people who we’re paying $2 an hour. All of them can execute at a very high level, if you give them a process, and if you give them a structure to do so.
Ryan: Before you hire, it’s really important that you have the process already built out. You should have your tasks clearly defined. We do the following: we start with a written guide in Google Documents aka a standard operating procedure, or SOP. This comes complete with screen shots, step-by-step tutorials, and then logins, if necessary. Basically, you want to put in this document anything that’s going to cut down on the communication between you and your offshore team or person. There’s nothing worse than people going back and forth. If there is a 12-hour delay, and they’re like, “Hey, I need the login for this,” that’s 12 hours lost. You’re losing an entire day of communication and work time by having to go back. You want to give them everything that they need into a Google Doc. We use Google Docs because it’s shareable. You can use a Word doc, whatever you’re comfortable with. You need some sort of SOP that has everything that they need broken down, so they can just work on their own time. We also use Screencast videos. I’m very big on this. We have a private YouTube channel. The screen shot here is actually the exact page that I showed you before for those sneaker pages that we built on our e-commerce website. We have a five-minute video here that just shows them exactly how to use WordPress, exactly how to write the titles, where to get the content from. Everything, it’s broken down into five-minute video. Then we also give them a checklist in Google Sheets itemized by task. For example, if we’re talking about keyword research, it would be step one, put client’s site URL into SEMrush; step two, download data to CSV; step three, add filters; step four, filter out keywords that have less than 100; literally a step-by-step checklist that they can go through and then mark as completed. You can just share along with them in real time. You don’t have to go through and say, “Hey, where are we on keyword research?” You just open up the Google Doc; you check where they’re at; and you can see what they’ve already worked on and what they’ve gotten done. Then you can manage them from there. I like to stay focused on micro processes. For example, again, SEO is just the perfect example here, because a lot of people are trying to offshore SEO. They say, “Let me hire somebody on Upwork who knows how to do SEO. They’ve got good ratings. They’ve got good credentials here. They’ve got a really nice pitch here. It seems like they know what they’re talking about. Do my SEO.” You can’t do that. It’s just never going to work. Same thing even with something as “simple” as Instagram. Again, you can’t pay people to think if they’re not you, if they’re not local, if you can’t talk to them, if they don’t know your brand or your client’s brand. There’s just too many factors that can go into things going haywire. What you have to do is, you have to build something so simple that anybody who has no knowledge…I would say a third grader here, but my mom still doesn’t know what I do. I will say, “Look, if I can build this new process so that my mom can follow this, then we’re good. This is exactly where we need to be.” I like to focus on these micro processes. Again, remove all decision making and thinking. It’s your job to think; it’s their job to do. Think about it as if you were building a machine. I call it the McDonald’s model. There’s actually a lot of good literature on why McDonald’s just blew up to what they were. It’s because of the process that they built in order to deliver high quality food…well, depending on who’s looking at it, I guess…but high quality food to add scale at every single location. Same thing with Starbucks. Starbucks kills it because you can go into a Starbucks in Idaho, or Europe, or Miami, and you know that iced coffee is going to taste the exact same. That’s because they have a process that’s literally built for humans, but a machine would follow it. Put down the bun; put down the patty; put down the lettuce; put down the cheese; put down the pickles. It’s the same thing every single time, no matter who’s doing it in what location. That process needs to be simple, and it needs to be scalable. Give them everything that they need, like I said, the images, the filters, the copy, the hashtag, everything. You can actually outsource this, as well. For example, we don’t outsource SEO, but we would outsource something like our Instagram management. I’m not actually going to spend my time going out and finding the images, so I’m going to build them a process to find the images. I’m going to build them a process to use filters. I’m going to build them a process to write the copy based on what’s in it. Everything can be broken down to process. It’s really important.
Ryan: Let’s talk about how we offshore. This is our e-commerce website, Laces Out. It sells shoelaces. It’s kind of stupid, but it makes good money, and I don’t have to do anything for it any more. It’s 100% automated with using one offshore person, who costs $2 an hour. He’s amazing. Let’s talk about this real quick. The store runs on autopilot. Again, it’s an e-commerce store that sells shoelaces for sneakers. Day-to-day marketing and management is handled by a single person in Pakistan. He’s been working for me for about two years now. He manages social media management, researching and building content, product page creation, and optimization. Again, this website does like 95% organic traffic. It performs really well, and it runs all on autopilot because of the processes that we built for him to continually manage the website.
Ryan: I’m going to actually walk you through how he generates social media content and the process that we built for him. What we did is, we looked at it and said, “Okay, social media is important, but we don’t really have the time to build new posts all the time. So, what we’re going to do is, we’re going to be more of an aggregator account.” We sell shoelaces for sneakers; we want to talk about sneakers. There’s a lot of about morality Jordan sneakers, and Nike sneakers, and all these topics that just people go crazy for on social media. What we’re going to do is, we’re basically going to aggregate and syndicate content. We built some processes to do that. What he does is, every day, he goes to the top sneaker news websites, just, basically, the CNN of sneakers, or Fox News, whoever you are, and he finds headlines about sneaker releases. These sneaker sites are always talking about these sneaker releases, and people just go crazy for them on social media. He finds these posts, and what he does is, he saves the images. He takes the images, and he saves them, and then he uploads them to Facebook. What he’s doing now is, he’s taking static images, and he’s creating media from it. It’s unique content. Then he goes through and he schedules these posts. He writes a little bit of copy about what the sneaker is, and then he also credits the source. If we got it from Sneaker News, he would say images via Sneaker News, or because Sneaker News is actually getting those images from somewhere else, he’s taking the images and saying images from nike.com, images from this blogger, what have you, and then he’s just scheduling those to go live. He’s just taking the headline and copying. Then what he does is, he takes that video and he uploads it to Schedugram. He pushes it to the Instagram account, because, again, Instagram is really important here, and we need content for this page. He’s actually taking a video from Facebook, and he’s pushing it to Instagram. He schedules these to go live once or twice a day. After that, we trained him on how to use WordPress and how to actually create a blog post that’s capturing the search traffic of people looking for Nike Dunk Low release date. There’s actually an insane amount of people that are looking for this, so we wanted to build some blog content about it, not just social content. What he does is, he takes the information, he takes that piece of media, that video which is now unique content, that no other websites are doing, and he embeds it into the blog post. He formats the title how we tell him to format the title, and then he does it. He takes it, and he creates a Photoshop template of the sneaker image to go…it’s like the WordPress template for the image header…and then he passes it to a writer, who then goes in and writes the stuff. Again, he then takes this and then he passes it off to a content writer, who is trained on how to write 200 words of unique content about sneaker releases. He then pushes that to somewhere else. We pay him $2 an hour for about $2 a day; comes to about $80 a month. Again, this is the McDonald’s model. It’s a simple process that he’s able to deliver the same thing, quality, every single day with no surprises at a very high level. Social media is an important aspect of that business, but automating it allowed me to focus on bigger things like outreach, like PR, like getting some more buzz for the website and not having to focus… I see a lot of these start-ups… We get a lot of consults from people that are like, “Yeah, you know, we’re doing a lot of stuff on Instagram, but it’s taking up all my time.” It’s like, “Yeah, I can imagine it is, and your business is struggling because you’re spending time, all of your very valuable time as the business owner or key figurehead in the business, pouring your time into a channel that has no return.” As a start-up or small business, it’s really important that you take your time and you maximize it. Any time that’s not spent on making money or keeping money, keeping clients happy, it’s a waste. It’s impossible to scale a business like that. Eventually, you’ll get to a point where you can afford to pay for these things without an ROI, but small businesses can’t.
Ryan: Now, let’s talk about how we offshore here at WEBRIS and some of the things that we do. The first thing is… This is going back to the social media that I talked about and how we automate our Facebook, and Twitter, and all that fun stuff. Basically, what we did is, we do a lot of work in Google Sheets. We actually write a lot of automation scripts in here, too. What we did was, we just built a content calendar that we’re using multiple people for to manage…we’re managing multiple people out of this one file for. We have a content calendar that has the post date, the post time, and the post type. If we’re posting a guest post, if we’re posting a webinar promotion for SharpSpring, if we’re doing one of our YouTube videos, we’ll actually mark down what that content type is, and then this spreadsheet will just go and it will pull through the URL automatically. But what happens is after this page is filled out, this calendar, anybody that looks at this can say, “Okay, this post with this URL with this write-up needs to go live on this date.” We then take this, and it goes to the same guy who manages Laces Out in Pakistan, and he creates the images. All those custom images that you saw with the little robot and blah, blah, blah, the cute images, that’s all pushed over. He manages that; he creates those. Then a writer in the Philippines actually goes through and writes the copy based on the process how we built for them. After this is all completed, we have the guy in Pakistan then go in and schedule these posts to go live. Our social is very well run, and it’s 100% automated, and it’s just not something that we have to worry about. It’s a waste of anyone here’s time to worry about that, in my opinion. I’m not trying to insult anybody, but just for this business, our organic Facebook does not drive clients.
Ryan: The other thing is blogger outreach and PR. This is something that we actually do for clients and one of the reasons why our agency has grown so fast in such a short period of time, is because we do link building. We do outreach-based link building, and we do a very good job with it. We offshore probably 85% of it. What happens here is, let’s say we take on a new client who, let’s say, they run an e-commerce store that sells sneakers. What our team here locally does is, we come up with a pitch, or a value proposition. We say, “Okay, they sell sneakers. These are the topics that people are talking about. This is what the brand is about. These are some interesting stories. These are, basically, the niches of websites that we want to be on.” Again, if we sell sneakers, we want to be talked about on websites that are about sneaker culture, that are about lifestyle, that are about fashion, that may be about fitness, that may be about sports. Those are the niches that we want to go after. What happens is, we pass those niche keywords…like sneaker websites, fitness websites, fashion websites… We pass those keywords to our team in the Philippines, who then goes to Instagram, and they search for fitness hashtags; they search for fashion hashtags. They’re literally combing profiles manually, one by one, saying okay this profile… And we’ve given them a process to do this. We have a process for Instagram. The process says if they have over 5,000 followers, and at least a 10% engagement rate per picture, and they have a link to a website in their URL…that’s their website, not a third party website…record them in the spreadsheet; record their Instagram handle; record their first name; record their website; and then go and find their email address. There’s tools that you can use to find email addresses. There’s tons on the web. It’s the same thing on Twitter, Pinterest, and then Google, too. They’re just taking these keywords, and they’re manually finding these people. We don’t use any tools; we don’t use any scrapers; we go out and find these people manually. They can find 50 people in an hour. For two bucks an hour, super cheap, and the quality is much better because we’ve given them a process to manually vet these influencers and these PR people that these tools can’t do. A lot of these tools are pulling from databases that are just spammed out. We’re actually going out and finding real people. Our success rate and the quality of what we’re doing is much higher, because we’re taking the time to do it manually. Instead of having somebody locally here do it… If you were to hire a PR firm to do your influencer marketing, they’re going to charge you 50 grand. But we’re able to do it for a couple thousand bucks at a much higher level, and at a much higher scale, and offer and pass all that value onto our clients. One of the things that I really push when I’m selling people is, I tell people that yeah, we offshore stuff, but the results speak for themselves. We’re able to offshore these things; and we take that value; and we’re not making 95% margins. Our margins are okay. They’re at what your standard margin is, but we’re able to pass that value back to our clients and say, “Okay, we’re going to do an influencer campaign for you. It’s going to be custom. It’s going to be found manually. But it’s going to be a quarter of the cost of what these other people are going to charge us.” That value is immense and actually helps us to sell more contracts and keep our margin steady. Then after that, after we have a big list of these influencers, we have an office manager here, and she’s trained on how to use a tool called PitchBox. She sends out the emails, and then we have a team locally here that manages the responses; all done here locally in Miami. That’s how we do PR. It’s a very time-consuming process, but it works, and it scales very well across all of our clients.
Ryan: Advanced SEO. This is something that I also mentioned. Again, we have a checklist. It’s very simple. It has questions. We just hired somebody who knows how to use analytics search console, and knows their way around in the cPanel, and the website side of things. Each one of these things, it’s a line item, and it’s just pass or fail. It tells him exactly where to find it. You can’t see here, but there’s also a notes section, which has a link to a video, which actually shows him how to run this entire audit each time. We have a technical specialist in Belarus who goes through, builds out pass or fail. Again, we’re able to deliver affordable, advanced marketing. Again, I used to work at the biggest agency in the world, so I know what it’s like to do SEO for target in some of these bigger companies. I can tell you straight up that we’re delivering the same quality of work, if not better, in my opinion. Obviously, I’m biased, but we’re doing it for… We’re not even in the same price range. If you want to go to a big agency, you’re going to be paying a quarter of a million to half a million dollars a year for some spreadsheets. In my opinion, it’s kind of B.S. I think the market is changing. If you can position yourself as a company that hey, we do really advanced marketing, work at a very low cost, then you’re in a very good position, especially if you’re younger, because you can compete with some of these bigger companies.
Ryan: There’s countless platforms to find talent. We use Upwork. I get asked this question a lot: where do you find people? I just use Upwork. It’s good enough. Again, something that’s also very important here is it’s less about the people, and it’s more about you. If you come in with the mindset of hey, we have a process; we have a training; we have an SOP; we have a guide; all you need to do is know how to use Google Analytics at a very basic level; it doesn’t matter if you find them on Upwork or if you went over there manually and found them, because you’ve got a process and a training. Freelancer.com; they’re all the same; we all see these Facebook groups. The point is that it’s less about where you find them. It’s not about the platform. They’re all pulling from the same people. People are people. It’s about the process that you give them to actually execute it.
Ryan: When hiring, we like to be very clear, to the point of being obnoxious. When you’re posting a job…this is one that we use for managing email responses for PR…make sure, obviously, it includes specific requirements, and then ask additional questions, ones that they can’t Google to answer. If you need somebody that can communicate, which is important, no matter if you’re talking with clients or not, what you want to do is ask them questions that they can’t just go to Google for. It’s not how tall is the Eiffel Tower? We ask things like how do you tie your shoes? Walk me through the process of how you would tie your tie, something like that where they would actually have to go through and write it. We’re asking them outside the box questions that aren’t about the resume. You could. You could be like, “How do you do an analytics audit?” but again, you’re just opening yourself up to people that are just going to Google and copy and paste. Another really important thing that we do after we hire them is… We hire a couple of people, actually… And what we do is, we give them a dummy environment, or a demo environment, to work in. If you’re doing web development, just give them a PSD and say, “Hey, we need this developed in WordPress or Magento. Then come back to us and we’ll review it.” For SEO, what we do is, we give them the SOP in the training file, and we’ll say, “Okay, we need keyword research for this website. Here’s the process that we use. Go out and execute it.” What we do is, we interview probably…when we’re hiring for…if we need somebody to do keyword researcher, or SEO, or whatever it is, we will actually go out, and we’ll post a job, and we’ll probably interview and train…not train…but give probably 10 people the demo environment to work in. We’ll post the job on Upwork; we’ll ask those questions. The people that pass the initial vetting, that answer the questions the way that we like, that have the experience that we like, we’ll actually just copy and paste the same message to each of them that has a link to a Google Doc with the SOP that says, “Hey, we really like your resume. We want to give you a test. We’re giving this test to 10 or 12 people. We’re going to go with the person who does it the best, and does it the fastest, and can follow the directions, because that’s all you really have to do.” We’ll give them that Doc and let them do it. Then the people that do it the best, we’ll just hire that one. We’re actually going out, and we’re testing a bunch of people, as opposed to just doing one, and working with one person. You got to pay a little bit extra to do this, obviously, but it’s usually between $20 and $30. It’s not a lot of money. What you’re doing is, you’re getting the cream of the crop. In my opinion, the cream always rises; the best always come to the top. When you give people a task to do, you’re also mitigating getting rid of all those garbage freelancers that just are floating here and there and don’t do really good jobs. Definitely give them something to work on to prove themselves, and pay them for it. Then interview a bunch of people at the same time, and then pick the one that works the best. And then, of course, even after they go through… We have a process to actually review work quality quarterly and monthly. What we’ll do is, we’ll have our operations manager… We’ll actually sit down here on Monday with our whole team locally, and we’ll go through all of our clients… We actually have a dashboard to do this…and we’ll look at the quality. We’ll look at, obviously, the results of the campaigns that we’re getting; we’ll look at traffic; we’ll look at links built; we’ll look at content; we’ll look at things like how many customer complaints did we get, or how many emails did we get from the client that month that were negative, positive; all those different things. Then what we’ll do is, we’ll go back through and actually look at the small deliverables that our offshore team is doing, and we’ll vet them. Honestly, when people are working remotely, it can happen where people fall off, and the quality can suffer.
Ryan: It’s really up to you to also continuously go through and manage these people, and evaluate the work that they’re doing, and retraining them. These trainings are dynamic, especially in a thing like SEO. Keyword research is not the same that we do now that we did three years ago. You want to be continuously updating these processes, and empowering these people, and giving them the tools they need to actually get better with it. After that, the beautiful part about this is… It’s a lot of work up front, like I said, but once it’s done, you just build a long-term schedule, and you set it, and you forget it. This is actually a screenshot here of our project management file that we use. All we do here is, we just build this out for all of our clients. We pack them in here together and after that they’re able to manage it themselves. Because it’s in Google Sheets, they just login; they check it. They know what they need to do that day, and they know what they need to do for the next six months. Then they’re able to communicate through there. We’re also cutting down on the back and forth of communication, which is a waste of time, and we’re communicating just through deliverables. They know they can change the status. They’re able to login again, and they’re able to just drop a link into the document. When it’s done, then we review it here in Miami; we’ll correct it. We just continue on this process. Again, this is really what has allowed us to go from me working at home and getting a co-working space to now having 80 people here in Miami, 20 people across the world, and a lot of clients that continue to grow every month. We have a process that scales with our growth, without hindering our growth, and without getting in the way. These are some of my social profiles. I hope you guys enjoyed this crash course on how we do outsourcing. Again, this is not a blueprint; this is just how we’ve done it. There is no right way to do this. You’re free to run and manage your business however you want. This is just something that I wanted to share, because I think that this is something that people don’t talk about. I could have come up here and talked about SEO, but honestly, these are the nuts and bolts things when it comes to building a business, an agency, that people don’t talk about that should be talked about, because it’s really important. It’s really hard to build a business, and it’s really expensive to build an agency, which clients don’t understand. They’re like, “Why do you want $3,000 a month for marketing?” and it’s like, “Well, because people have to do it. People are expensive.” Being able to cut your costs while growing your business and doing it the right way, not cutting corners on the service that you provide, I think that these things are things that we need to talk about more. That’s why I wanted to come on here and talk about this. Hopefully, you enjoyed it. If you guys have any questions, please feel free to ask. Well, I can pass it back now.
Bryan: Yeah. We’re going to throw up the slide with contact information at the end. My biggest takeaway that I think all of us probably took away…terrible grammar there…is make this process-oriented. We do the same stuff internally at SharpSpring. If you can define a process for what you want… Sometimes we call this acceptance criteria, if we’re talking about it in the terms of development…and then you give that to a resource, whether it’s an intern, or offshore, outsource, you’re going to get the expected result, because you’ve clearly defined what you want in that return. The last thing that we want to talk about, not so much from the offshore perspective but for outsourcing, SharpSpring can, of course, help everyone here on this call. For the clients we, of course, do professional service, so if we can help. Again, with Ryan coming over at the beginning of this, the term outsource is really used with services not in the US, but that more so is that offshore terminology. If you guys want to… If you weren’t aware, look it up. There’s a staging-sharpspringwww.kinsta.com… I think it’s professional services…and we can scope out some services that we can help you with for your clients. We’re actually going to handle Q&A offline. We got a few questions that came in, and honestly, I’m just concerned about the time to answer them thoroughly. So, we’ll just respond via email to the folks that did reach out.
Bryan: Anything that’s related to SharpSpring, please reach out. My email is simple: email@example.com. Then as Ryan mentioned a moment ago, there’s his contact information right there. If you want to dig a little deeper into the outsourcing, offshoring, or maybe just pick his brain, he’s got a lot of knowledge that he can share. Please feel free to reach out through these methods. With that, we’re going to go ahead and wrap up for today. Again, Ryan, sincere thanks to you. Any closing words before we go ahead and close this webinar?
Ryan: I appreciate you guys talking to me, and I appreciate everyone’s time coming out in the middle of the day.
Bryan: Yeah. It was fantastic. We hope to see you guys on the next one. Again, sincere thanks to you, Ryan, and everyone for attending. We hope to see everyone soon. Everyone, have a fantastic afternoon.