Welcome to The MapleMoney Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their personal finances to create lasting financial freedom. I’m your host, Tom Drake, the founder of MapleMoney, where I’ve been writing about all things related to personal finance since 2009.
Saving money is very important, but it sometimes makes sense to spend money wisely. Outsourcing is one way you can do this; to free up your time, build your business, or improve your lifestyle by eliminating certain tasks.
My guest this week knows a thing or two about outsourcing. Miranda Marquit, from Planting Money Seeds, is a professional writer who has learned how to leverage her strengths and make more money by outsourcing.
Miranda and I discuss how outsourcing both personal and work related tasks can vastly improve your quality of life, and Miranda shares some tips on where you can go to find outsourcing help.
Want to take outsourcing to the next level? You may want to consider hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA), to help you run your life. No matter what level of outsourcing you’re looking for, it’s important that you find the right person for the job.
Our sponsor this week is Borrowell. They recently did a study which showed a correlation between the frequency of checking your credit score, and a credit score increase. To begin increasing your credit score, head over to Borrowell today!
- Miranda explains why she outsources social media work.
- Your focus should not be on turning your weaknesses into strengths.
- Leverage your strengths to make more money.
- Outsource your weaknesses.
- How hiring a virtual assistant can help.
- You don’t always have to outsource to a person.
- There’s a reason why CEOs aren’t doing the mundane work.
- Miranda shares how she outsources to gain lifestyle dividends.
We talk a lot about how you should save your money but there are times when it makes sense to spend money wisely. One of those ways is through outsourcing. Miranda Marquit from Planting Money Seeds joins this show to share some of the options available to you to free up time, build your business or just offload some tasks to improve your lifestyle.
Welcome to the Maple Money Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their personal finances to create lasting financial freedom.
If you’re a regular listener you know the importance of checking your credit score to improve it. Our sponsor, Borrowell, released a study that found a correlation between the frequency of checking your credit score and credit score increase. If you want to raise your credit score or get your free report, head on over to maplemoney.com/borrowell. Now, let’s chat with Miranda…
Tom: Hi Miranda, welcome to the Maple Money Show.
Miranda: Hey Tom, thanks for having me on.
Tom: I want to talk to you about outsourcing because there was a time that you wrote for some sites with me and we worked together on other blogs so you’ve always been one of the people I would outsource to. But now you’ve turned that around and you’re outsourcing a lot in your business now…
Miranda: Yeah, but not the writing. I still write. One of the things people outsource to me is the writing. In my business that means that since I’m writing for myself and for other people I need to outsource other things. One of things I’ve found I like to do in my business is to outsource to social media. Let’s say we’re talking about blog management. We partner on a couple of sites and they take care of the backend stuff. That’s sort of like outsourcing. Not really, but kind of. The other things I outsource in my business is the podcast editing. I think you do that as well. I also outsource social media. I outsource my business taxes and all that kind of stuff. There is a lot of stuff that I outsource that are sort of mundane tasks that aren’t particularly profitable but they’re go part-and-parcel with running a business, especially if you’re running one online or in the online media realm. Being able to outsource those things is really important to free up time to do things that make more money.
Tom: Exactly. That’s what I was just thinking. Even running a business, you don’t want to run up your expenses for no reason. How does outsourcing help you free up your time? How does this allow you to improve your business?
Miranda: First of all, social media is just tedious and it takes forever. It takes a long time and if you’re not super great at it there’s a huge learning curve. What I found is that if somebody else is making my posts for me for social media; scheduling those, finding the pictures and cute things to say and finding the right hash tags, if somebody else is doing that— And say I pay someone an hour a day to do that, that frees up five hours a week for me. One article I write is worth anywhere between $500 and $1,000. So, if I can spend an hour making $500 to $1,000 why wouldn’t I pay somebody $30 an hour to do my social media. That’s the calculus there. It’s pretty easy. I’m kind of the same with the podcast editing as you know. Podcast editing takes a long time. You have a 30 minute show, you can edit that podcast for two or three hours. It can take two or three hours editing to do that. If you pay somebody else $80 or $100 to edit your podcast, then during that time you can do some other business that brings you in a little bit more money. Maybe you’ll go out and look for new clients. Like me, I started taking client calls again, talking to clients, consulting with people and also writing. Being able to do that and get those two to three hours back with something that makes me four, five, six, seven, sometimes ten times more than what I’m paying for the podcast editing makes a lot of sense to me.
Tom: So people shouldn’t look at it as a wasted expense or just shrug their shoulders saying that’s just the cost of doing business. It actually does lead to improving your business.
Miranda: Right, and the idea here is that you actually use that time you’ve freed up for something that’s going to be profitable or something that you’re good at. One of the things that I really liked was, a lot of the time we talk about how we’ve got to turn our weaknesses into strength. But no, that takes up a lot of time (laughs). It takes a lot of time and it costs a lot of money to turn your weaknesses into strengths. Look at your strengths and think about how you can leverage those strengths to make more money. Focus on the strengths, leverage them to make more money and outsource the weaknesses. It really does become that situation. The other thing I’ve found was that when I started leveraging my strengths and outsourcing my weaknesses, I discovered I didn’t have to spend the entire two or three hours in a business related activity. I maybe only had to spend half that time and I’d make more than my money back and still have extra time to do something I wanted to do, like enrich my life. If that when you start leveraging your strengths and outsourcing your weaknesses, not only do you have more money, you also have more time which, to me, is a more valuable resource. You can keep trading your time to earn money but you’re never going to get that time back so I prefer to use my money to buy more time.
Tom: That sounds great. I do the same. I especially like the point about not trying to build up your weaknesses. I’ve heard people say, “If you can hires someone who’ll do the job 80 percent as well as you, why not?” But, I actually prefer hiring people that can do it better than me and not just 80 percent. For example, we’ve brought on writers like Sara Li Cain who writes for the site and Sean Cooper who also writes for the site as well. We share the same podcast editor, Steve Stewart.
Miranda: Shout out to Steve!
Tom: Yeah, our graphics are hired out, everything. I just take care of my content side and most stuff, otherwise, is outsourced. But, we’re both in the blogging world and podcast world. How about people with other forms of business? I assume a virtual assistant could almost help any business?
Miranda: Virtual assistants are great. That’s one of the great ways you can outsource things. I’ve used VA’s in the past as well because they’re great. They can help you manage your calendar, make appointments and do things that would otherwise take up your time. Sometimes you’re not even outsourcing to a person but perhaps an app. I use the Calendly app. You can get a basic version of it for free but once things start getting a little bit more complicated it makes sense to pay for it. Paying for a subscription can make sense when you consider how much time you spend emailing back and forth trying to nail down a meeting time for your business. Whether you’re meeting a client or doing a partner meeting, trying to pitch somebody, whatever you’re doing—anything in your business that requires scheduling, you’re going to spend a minimum of three emails back and forth. Probably more than that. And you’re going to spend a minimum of an hour trying to figure this all out. But if you have a scheduling app or a VA you just send them to your scheduler. For a lot of businesses, I’ve noticed that having a person—a VA in charge of scheduling, making travel arrangements, doing basic research for you, all of those things, if you have a VA who can do those, that cuts into the time you’re spending doing them. It’s not a waste of your time but it’s not the most efficient use of your time either. Those are mundane tasks that anybody can do. Anybody can book a plane ticket. Anybody can do basic research. Anybody can use the calendar. Anybody can do that but you are the only person that can do your high-level, big ideas. You’re the only person who can sell somebody on your next idea. You’re the only person in your business who has the authority to close the deal or do the ‘big picture’ things. There is a reason why CEO’s aren’t doing every little thing under them, right? There’s a reason why. It’s because they have their time and energy freed up to do things that actually matter more for the bottom line.
Tom: You mentioned CEOs. That’s the thing I was thinking. It’s kind of like having an executive assistant but for a smaller business. Maybe your business has no employees or you just have a handful of employees so getting a virtual assistant seems like an easy way to add to that.
Miranda: Oh yeah, definitely. Another thing I’ve been looking into is maybe starting to outsource some of the publicity stuff. I do a lot of my own publicity which means I don’t do any publicity, to be honest. Now, if I had somebody else scheduling that, finding that for me, there’s a good chance that if I put that investment in— outsourcing that to them… It may not mean big dollars and a direct correlation between money made, it would mean getting me out there more and starting to see the results from that. Then it would be worth it because eventually the return investment would be there. With some of these things it’s hard to measure an immediate return on investment. With certain things like the editing or the VA, you can immediately see how now that so-and-so is taking care of this and it’s taken off my plate, I have an hour each week to an activity that will bring in X-amount of dollars. There are also some of these outsourcing things you do that don’t bring in a directly correlated X-number of dollars for each hour you outsource but can have a huge impact on your business anyway.
Tom: Yeah, so if you’ve got someone going out trying to find you, press opportunities or something, that could apply for any business as well. That might be something you weren’t doing at all so it’s hard to show a return on your investment.
Tom: That makes sense and totally works for any business I would think. Another thought I had was what about other ways businesses could outsource maybe through things like Upwork?
Miranda: As a writer, one that works online, I resent these marketplaces. But no, they are good places to find people who can do different things. Upwork, Fiver, Elance (oDesk) 99designs, there are all sorts of places like that where you can find work from people who can do tasks for you. Taskrabbit is another one. There are lots of websites like that. They’re very low-cost. They’re really easy to use for somebody who doesn’t have a lot of money to begin with to start outsourcing. They can do that and get a few projects taken care of and they can see how it works. That way they can free up some time. The only thing you have to worry about with some of those sites is you do sometimes run into folks that don’t offer as high a quality as you might want. When you start wanting quality and when you can afford that quality it helps to actually get some referrals, talk to people you know and find people who can actually get in there and do a little bit more with a little less direction.
Tom: The one thing I like about sites like Upwork or Fiver is sometimes—and again, this works for any business—maybe you want a business card designed or a new company logo, all that stuff can be done relatively cheaply.
Miranda: Oh, yeah. Those are great things for one-off kind of projects where you just want a whole bunch of idea or options you can choose from. That’s a great way to do one-off projects. When you’re actually doing something like hiring a VA who is maybe going to go through your email and make complex decisions, get to know you and understand how you work, then you definitely want to invest a little bit more money into that because they will be helping you run your life and your business.
Tom: Speaking of VAs, if people are just hearing this term for the first time, this virtual assistant idea, we are actually going to have Kayla Sloan on a few episodes after Miranda to talk about if you wanted to be a VA and how you can do that. It’s an interesting way to make money as well.
Miranda: Yeah, it’s really great. And somebody like Kayla is an excellent VA because she can provide you with that support, that ongoing support.
Tom: Let’s switch this around. How about in your personal life, is there ways you can outsource to literally trade money for time maybe more than ROI?
Miranda: Definitely. My favorite example was cleaning my house. I got a lot of crap from people when I first announced I was hiring people to come and clean my house once a week. They clean it and that is two hours of my life every single week that I now have back and it’s great. But people give me a lot of crap because they figure I can clean the house myself. And yeah, I can do it myself but what was happening was I’d have to do it on the weekends or some other time. My son would do it with me and we’d have this time together but we weren’t having fun together, we were cleaning the house together. So, I started hiring somebody to clean the house and now we (my son and I) have fun together while somebody else cleans the house and does the “not fun” stuff. The other thing I’ve found with these two hours a weeks, if I wanted to I could go ahead and write an article. One article written is 10 times what I’m paying the cleaning lady. Cleaning my own house gives me no money, it gives me no pleasure and I make no memories with my child. So, why do I keep doing it while paying for it pays dividends in my life. I get lifestyle dividends because I can relax and do something with Gavin. I can do any of these things. What I decided to do was devote half of the time I saved to a business activity and half of the time to a lifestyle activity. That way I was using this “bought time” to enjoy myself as well. I ordered a meal planning service that brings me groceries so I don’t have to go to the grocery store or plan my meals. That saves me a couple of hours a week. Somebody else changes my oil. I know this is a big one in the frugal-living world where people say, “Learn to change your own oil!” And that’s great. If you like changing your oil, by all means, change your own oil. But, for me, I can sit at a Jiffy-Lube for 45 minutes while they change my oil. I will pay them $40 and in that 45 minutes I will make $500 so I think that is a fair exchange for letting somebody else change my oil. With taxes, yeah, I can do my own taxes but my accountant can do them way better and way faster than I can. And, I can take the four hours I would have spent doing my taxes and take two of them to go to a movie or having dinner with my son and take the other two hours and do some business activity. That’s breaking it up. You’re not going to see direct money—well maybe you are if you decide to take some of that house cleaning time or meal planning time or oil-changing time and make money with it instead of doing things you don’t want to do anyway. But even if you just buy some time to go relax, read a book, watch TV… Heaven forbid we watch TV sometimes. Hang out with your children for two hours. Pay somebody to mow the lawn and take you kids to the park. Those are dividends in your life that return richer relationships, better relationships with your family and friends. You can use all of that to make money or penny-pinch and save all the money you can but what’s that doing to your relationships? And, are you going to worse off in your well-being later on?
Tom: I like the idea that it can help your lifestyle. I know it’s not the most frugal alternative when we’re convincing people to save money but if you can make it work, to be able to spend that money makes sense. Again, I love hiring out for stuff I can’t do well. It’s not even as much about stuff I don’t want to do. I too, would also not want to change my oil. I’d probably break my car somehow (laughs). It wouldn’t even cross my mind. We are renovated our basement and even though I know a lot of people in town are doing it on their own, I can get it done in three months professionally or I take over a year (because I only have so much available time) and it would not look as nice. I would not be happy with the end result (laughs).
Miranda: And you wouldn’t be sitting in your nice home-movie theatre right now. You’d still be trying to figure out which chairs go where.
Tom: Yeah. There is only so much time in a day. Like you said, you’re buying yourself some time whether that is building up income or just spending it with your family. You’ve only got so many hours.
Miranda: Yes, exactly. As I always say, when you start outsourcing, you can’t outsource all the things. I just didn’t all of a sudden wake up one day and throw a bunch of money at everything and say, I’m done. It’s really something you kind of have to plan for and pick and choose to begin with, and find that one thing that will buy you an extra hour or two in the week. Then just start with that and see how it goes.
Tom: And with all of this it’s not just about throwing money everywhere. You can do things like negotiate for better prices. Like with the renovations, I went to as site called, Home Stars, which rates everybody so you know you’re getting someone decent. And when you’re talking with them you can settle on a price. So it’s not always about making cost crazy amounts of money. Like Fiver, it’s sometimes just $5. Or with 99designs, if a business needs a logo it’s $99. That’s their flat fee. They might upgrade you. But, yeah, it doesn’t have to be big money. In some cases, this stuff can save you money. Research can even save you some money compared to just going out and spending the money if you want to free up that time.
Miranda: Right, for sure.
Tom: Can you let people know where they can find you online?
Miranda: Yes. You can find me on plantingmoneyseeds.com and mirandamarquit.com. Then moneytreepodcast.com and, of course, I’m on Twitter @mmarquit, Instagram @mmarquit, and on Facebook at Planting Money Seeds. And, you can Google me.
Tom: Awesome, thank you for being on the show.
Miranda: Yeah, thank you for having me.
Thanks for listening and thanks to Miranda for sharing the benefits of outsourcing. You can find show notes for this episode at maplemoney.com/mirandamarquit. Tired of just listening and want to stare at some talking heads? You can find videos of all our interviews at maplemoney.com/youtube. I plan to have other video series on that channel in the future so hit subscribe and the notify bell so you don’t miss anything.
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