gobal social programme for accountants

The biggest mistake I made in outsourcing

Recently I was asked what was the biggest mistake I’ve made when outsourcing, and naturally I mulled it over and turned it into a marketing tip.accountant outsourcing

We’re big fans of outsourcing at Profitable Firm.  Partly because we are essentially the outsourced marketing department for many of the accountancy firms we work with.  And also because we’re passionate about you the accountant using your time for the things that you’re best at.  We wouldn’t pretend to be experts in tax – but we can certainly turn what you know into blog posts, landing pages, infographics, and other cool marketing content.  See how it can work?

But even with the best of outsourcing, things can at times go wrong. Especially if you’re just beginning, you may discover that it isn’t quite what you thought it would be.

One of the reasons for this is that we expect outsourcing to magically fix everything.  We think that instead of doing social media ourselves, we’ll just outsource it all, and that will happen in the background while we go back to our work.  But then those to whom we’ve given the task start asking about the logo. The content. Linking to other social media engines. And it dawns on us that outsourcing can become an exercise in delegation.

So here’s the biggest mistake I made with outsourcing.

I simply threw a bunch of information at the outsourcer I had hired, and left it with him.

We did have an initial conversation – we covered the basics and I explained what I wanted and didn’t want. I shared recorded calls, written notes, and an outline. But I still just threw all that info at him and left him to get on with it. (This was for copywriting and design work.)  After all the point was to save me time, right??

When we got the final product I was horrified – the wording was all wrong, the setup wasn’t what I had asked for, the whole style did not match what we wanted in any way.  It was a complete disaster and we ended up having to do the work ourselves and take a huge hit on profits for that project.

Fortunately, we learned a valuable lesson which is:  Good brief, check in, and recap.

Good brief:

Write a very clear brief for the outsourcer. If it’s a complicated project, you may need multiple briefs.

Check in:

Have them start the project and then check in at agreed times to see how it is going. Catch any issues right off.


After it is done, discuss with the outsourcer how it went, what worked, what didn’t work, and how to address it next time.

We’ve taken this to heart with our own outsourced marketing packages for accountants, as well.  We start with a content marketing strategy, which comprises the brief. We put the whole project on Basecamp, our online project management tool.  And we check in via phone call to recap how things are going every month or quarter.

There’s another I would add in as well, and that is:


Try a variety of outsourcers.  It can take some time, but it’s well worth it to even have two outsourcers on the go at the same time. It’s still far less expensive than hiring a full time employee, and if it goes well, you will have twice as much of what you’re outsourcing (or it will be done at double the speed). If one of them doesn’t work out, you’ve learned a good lesson.

If you do all this and still nobody seems to work out, then the problem may lie with:

  • Where you’re sourcing the outsourcers.  If you’ve done it based on referral, perhaps try LinkedIn instead.  Consider PPH or 99designs or Odesk.
  • Your brief or explanation.  Just because you have a brief doesn’t mean it’s clear and understandable.  Get someone on the team or a business colleague to glance it over and make suggestions for improvement.
  • The type of work you’re having done.  If what you’re asking for is complicated or difficult or doesn’t match a current need, then the best outsourcers in the world might suggest improvements that you don’t like.  Consider whether you are pushing hard at a door that just isn’t going to open for you.

I wish you many hours of saved time!