When and How to Outsource WordPress Development Effectively

Are you a WordPress professional?

My guess is you are pretty good at what you do and that’s why your customers like to work with you.

Do you ever feel like you are overloaded with work, but not enough time to get it all finished? Welcome to the club!

After reading this you will have a much better understanding about ‘when’ it’s appropriate for you, as a WordPress guru, to outsource some or all of the development layer of your project.

I’m also going to give you some tips for effectively communicating your needs to developers so you get it right the first time.

If I can do it, why should I outsource development? I’ll lose money.

As a freelance WordPress professional, I’m confident that you’ve found yourself wearing many more hats that whatever your specialty is.

In a typical website project, we have the following layers:

NOTE: I’ve included ‘titles’ for professionals at each level.

  • Discovery (Strategist)
  • Design (Graphic Designer)
  • Development (Web Developer)
  • Deployment (Web Developer)
  • Marketing (Sales, Social Media, PPC, etc)

When was the last time you met someone that absolutely crushed it at each of these elements?

Even though we specialize in one of those areas, as a freelancer, we often find ourselves doing, or managing each of the additional layers so that we can ‘run our own business’.

If you are satisfied already managing each of these layers, this post is not for you.

For everyone else, it’s time to learn to delegate!

Delegation is KEY to Growth

Even though you might think so, your customers most likely could care less who does the actual work you are promising them. All they care about is the final product, and that it meets their expectations.

Step one is for you to figure out where your skill set fits best in the process, and then find other trusted professionals to handle the rest for you.

Let’s say for example you are an amazing Project Manager, and you are completely capable of setting up a WordPress site from start to finish using existing Themes and Plugins.

Do you really need to hire someone to help?

That depends on the budget, but more often than not, your time is worth a lot more per ‘hour’ than what you could pay someone to do some of these tasks for you.

When it might take you an entire evening to fight through some CSS changes, or rubbing your eyes while trying to add a ‘simple’ function to your theme, it could take a developer 30 minutes or less to knock that out for you.

If you are worth $50/hour, and you spend 4 hours trying to make a change, wouldn’t it be wiser to pay someone $20/hour to take care of it in 1 hour or less?

Your time is valuable! The less of your time spent on doing the work opens more time up for finding new projects and building your business.

How to find a “good” developer

Finding a developer that is in your price range that you can communicate with easily and doesn’t flake out on you can be tough.

I’ve heard horror stories from many customers that worked with developers in the past that communicated poorly, couldn’t do what they say, or even left in the middle of finishing projects.

So how do you avoid that?

I recommend staying away from these places(I’m sure you’ve heard of them)

  • oDesk(Upwork)
  • eLance
  • Craigslist
  • etc

While you can certainly find cheap labor there, qualifying this labor is much harder than working directly with a company that specializes in development.

If you do choose to use those sites, make sure to require specific answers in their reply(this will help you qualify them, if they do not add these to their reply, immediately pass on them), as well as read reviews from others that have worked with them.

If most reviews say their communication was excellent and the team completed the project as required, this is good, otherwise, stay away.

As an alternative to these single project type sites, I recommend a Development Company.

Do a Google search right now for “WordPress Developers”, then a search for “WordPress Development Companies”.

You’ll see a huge difference in results. The first will show the sites mentioned above and other resources for developers.

The other will show results for actual companies that specialize in WordPress work. PHP, MYSQL, and all the other goodies that go along with it. WordPress development companies are often going to have a larger staff that specializes in coding WordPress sites.

The benefits here are enormous. You’ll usually get a Project Manager to work with directly, who has several developers under them. Let’s say you have a hard deadline, and your developer gets sick. If you are working with an individual, you are screwed. If you are working with a company, they’ll most likely have several developers that can step in and take over.

How do I know a company is good?

When scouting for a good company, ask for some reference sites, and take a look at their work. Ask to see project requirements, and final websites that they have completed.

You’ll be able to tell right away what their attention to detail looks like.

WordPress offers some great guidelines to follow when building sites, and some tools to check that out.

Do they use well-structured, error-free PHP and valid HTML? See WordPress Coding Standards.

Do they use clean, valid CSS? See CSS Coding Standards.

Do they follow design guidelines in Site Design and Layout?

If you’ve found a company that is up to snuff, give them a small trial project just to see how you work together. Keep it very cheap, and if you can, try not to let them work on something important. You might even give them a project that has already been completed, just to see how they do on their own.

Delivering work requests the right way

If you’ve ever worked with ‘developers’ in the past, I’m sure you’ve noticed that they often speak another language than most people, and I don’t just mean from country to country, but just the way they think and speak.

Developers are often very logical and analytic with their thoughts and spoken word. This is why it’s rare to find someone that is good at Development AND good at Design work. It’s two different parts of the brain.

To communicate effectively, I use the following best practices.

Taking a little more time up front to be clear and concise with will save a lot of time down the road.

  1. Unless something is WELL DEFINED & IMPORTANT, no one should do it.

This means, if we(developers) do not have all necessary details including account login, a clear description of the issue or request, including screenshots, written description, etc, we shouldn’t not begin work.

If there is any discrepancies or missing information, most often we will return to you asking for these details directly, causing more back and forth and more time to be consumed.

  1. Sentences should have one possible interpretation and be suitable for a 2nd grade reading level.

This one is HUGE. Especially if you are working with developers who’s first language is not your own language, keeping it simple and clear will help to ensure they do what you are asking, and not what they think you are asking.

Before sending any request to your developer, be sure to re read it. Do not just rattle off at the fingers, make every word count, and use basic, simple language.

  1. Will someone who has never been to this website know Where to Go, and What to Do after reading the task?

This is my favorite one.

In your head, what you are asking might make sense, but for someone who doesn’t have any idea about your business, your website, or your goals, it probably doesn’t.

With my own team, we do not always have the same person working on the same projects over time. The project manager might change, the developer might change, and we have systems in place to make sure we are covered on our end.

Proper commenting in code, documented functionality, archives of previous work requests, etc.

When sending your work requests over, include screenshots, number the areas of the page, use numbered lists to describe, etc

Work Request Outline

Here is the exact outline that I give to our customers who send over work requests regularly. Having them follow this method has eliminated over 50% of the ‘back and forth’, which is extremely time consuming… so we both save time.

Include the following:

URL: URL to page with issue
Device: Desktop, Tablet, Mobile, or All?
Long Description: As many specific details as possible, include deadline
Attachments: (images, documents, etc)

A good work request looks something like this.

developement-example

So what’s your next step?

Take into account the value of your own time. You may be the best of the best, but if you want to keep your business flowing, it’s important to delegate tasks that can save YOU time, which will save you money.

Qualify development Companies or other freelancers by checking their work. Give them a small, cheap, project to work out to test out their communication skills and how they fit into your work flow.

Deliver your requests in clear, simple language that is easy for people with basic understanding of the language to understand.

Don’t be afraid of delegating your work load. If done correctly, you’ll find that it opens up your time to focus on what you are passionate about and good at.

Remember, your customers don’t care who does the work, they just want it done the right way the first time.

Communication is your friend. Always ask questions and confirm solutions, and you’ll be good to go!

DIY Musicians Meetup – WordPress for Musicians & Top 5 Must Haves for a Musician’s Website

Next month on Feb 19th the DIY Musicians Group will be joining forces with the Atlanta WordPress User’s Group for a massive meetup!

It’s an afternoon deal, 3:30 – 5:30pm

The first hour I will talk about using WordPress for a Musician’s(or other business) site and the Top 5 Must Haves on your Website

Music (or product for any other business)
About Page
Email Signup Form
Images
Contact Information

I’m going to show you exactly how to set up your website for success.

The second hour will be open for general questions . If you are stuck we will unstick you. If you need help we will try to get you to someone who can help.

RSVP on Meetup.com or on Facebook

Ira Glass talks about the Creative Process

This video made me think about several things in my life.

It all seems to come back to the 10,000 hour concept.

it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field

In my music life, I’ve always had a clear idea of the kind of sound I want to produce, and the kind of music I want to make.

Early on, before I was competent on my instruments, the music I made never seemed to bring out the same excitement in other people as I felt when listening to my favorite music.

iraglass

For the first couple years that you are making stuff, it really isn’t that good. But your taste, your taste is still killer!

Was the music I was making really bad or not creative enough? No, but it wasn’t that good, I was still learning and I will forever be learning and growing as an artist.

Now though, when we perform for a crowd of others, I am beginning to see that excitement in other people. The responses after songs and shows is an undeniable joy that we are bringing to other people.

I also feel it myself when we really lock in during a song, or when I listen back to something we’ve recorded(which is a whole other 10,000 hour process to master).

It’s been close to 20 years since I first picked up the guitar and started writing songs, and I’m just starting to get the hang of it.

Hopefully I can last another 20 years!

Ear Worms – Darkwave Duchess – BLQ VELVET

abraAbra aka Darkwave Dutchess aka Gabrielle has a great sound.

I first saw her perform with a live band under the name Darkwave.

We enjoyed it so much that we invited them to play our Phantomfest last year and they killed it.

Shortly after they stopped working together and she kept moving solo.

Fast forward to a year later, and she’s released her first ‘body of work’ called BLQ VELVET.

She does her own production, writing, and recording.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with her a little bit on some things, one of which was a song for the Christmas album I released last year, and I am really excited to see where this path takes her.

Enjoy!

Never miss a party if you can help it!

sambernsLast year I watched a documentary on Sampson Gordon “Sam” Berns.

Sam suffered from Progeria and helped raise awareness about the disease before he passed away.

Though I do have my own struggles every day, I will never know what it is like to live a life like Sam did.

I did however take away a few things that he said.

Don’t waste energy feeling sorry for yourself.

Sam was diagnosed with progeria when he was 2 years old.

This disease is an extremely rare genetic disorder wherein symptoms resembling aspects of aging are manifested at a very early age. There is no cure. Most people that have this do not live past 13 years of age.

sam-berns-progeria_75423_990x742

Sam lived to be 18 years old.

His entire life he was ‘different’. His mind worked just as good as anyone, but his appearance was not normal.

I’m sure some of you grew up feeling ‘outcast’ based on your looks. I can tell you it wasn’t as bad as Sam.

The best part? Sam had an amazing outlook on life. He didn’t let his physical features, and disease, keep him from being happy and participating in life as fully as he possible could.

Whatever you are going through right now that makes you feel sorry for yourself isn’t that big of a deal.

All you have to is change your outlook and get back to whatever it is that you want out of life.

Spend some time focusing on yourself, what you want, and go make that happen.

Use that negative energy and self doubt at motivation to take your life to the next level.

Surround yourself with people you want to be with.

This is something that comes up often in the ‘self help’ world.

Any successful people that speak, write books, or tell their story always mention that one of the keys to success is to surround yourself with positive people. People who not only want the best for themselves, but also want the best for you.

If you surround yourself with people that are constantly saying or doing negative things, you are more likely to do the same.

You do not HAVE to be friends with, or associate with anyone that you do not want to.

Sure you may have to tolerate some people in your work environment, but in your ‘real’ life, you need a solid support system if you plan on living a happy healthy life.

Sam could have ‘tried to fit in’ with the cool crowd, instead he did his own thing and became the cool crowd. He didn’t let what anyone thought or said about him get to him. He let it go and allowed the positive people to come in and make his life better.

On one of the morning shows here in Atlanta, the host constantly talks about Energy Vampires. These are the people in your life that suck that positive energy right out.

You know what? When they suck that energy out, it doesn’t have a positive affect on them, it just disappears. Don’t let people suck up your positive energy, let them be stinky all on their own.

Keep moving forward

Everyone looks back on their life and wishes they had done something different. You are not alone in this.

Many of the most successful people wish they had done MANY things different, I know I do often.

You know what though? Without having made the choices I made, and gone through what I’ve gone through, I would not have the wisdom today to make better decisions.

Being able to take what you’ve learned from the past, and apply it to your future, is a HUGE step towards success.

Never forget your mistakes, instead use them as stepping stones towards your future.

If you don’t, you’ll be stuck in the past forever and never fully satisfied with your life. You want to be satisfied don’t you?

When you get knocked down you are always allowed to take some time and digest what happened. It’s OK to feel bad about something, it’s not OK to dwell on it so long that it keeps you from moving forward.

Get back up, get out there, and live your real life.

Bonus: Never miss a part if you can help it!

Sam was certainly not someone that could stay out late getting wild and crazy…but that didn’t keep him from having a good time.

Through all the unnecessary life drama, physical ailments, and awful situations he had to deal with, he kept an extremely positive outlook on life. That is so powerful to see and moved me.

Life is serious and you should take it seriously, but not so seriously that you miss out on the good times.

I hope this helps you all as much as it helped me.

Have a kick ass week!

We Are Surrogates – I Made You Something

a0941298515_10 Last year We Are Surrogates approached me to help them record and produce their debut EP to put out on Blood Drunk Records. I really enjoy their music and was definitely in.

I helped them with their first single and a holiday song before, so we had a good head start on how to work through it.

For these songs, we recorded everyone individually to make sure we got the best performance from every musician and I think it really paid off.

Over the course of several months, we tracked what we could when we could. They spent a lot of time crafting this and I’m proud of the outcome.

Their live show is just as intense as this record, so if you get a chance definitely catch them.

Enjoy!