As your business begins to grow, so do the amount of responsibilities you have. This is why automation and outsourcing becomes so important. It allows you to continue expanding while keeping up productivity.
Ahead are 11 different processes within your business you could be automating or outsourcing for better results.
Creating content from blog posts to page copy and infographics is very time consuming. You need to perform research first, develop the content and edit it. This can take several hours or more depending on the individual project. Wouldn't it be nice to save that time and delegate it towards other operations? Well, that's why outsourcing content creation to paid writers is a great idea.
Use freelance websites and job boards such as Upwork or ProBlogger to find writers. Creating a single listing can result in dozens or more of applications. To see if they are a good fit, ask for a resume, portfolio and samples. You could even ask them to write a test article.
Once you do have writers, create a template and checklist for them to follow. For example, it may include:
Do you find yourself making social media graphics and reports as well? I know I do. Websites like Canva and Visme have have been priceless for these things. You can create professional and beautiful graphics from scratch or with the help of templates. Nothing is out of reach either. Headers, book covers, infographics and more can be pieced together within a few minutes.
Search engine optimization is a needed practice for any online business. It helps bring in a steady stream of users which can convert to sales or leads. Both on-page and off-site SEO can take a lot of work. Typically it involves building high quality links while optimizing web pages and continually researching, all consuming lots of energy.
To make life easier for you, consider hiring an SEO agency or even an SEO consultant to streamline the process. The first will offer services including content creation, outreach, backlink building and optimization. With enough time, it can be a very worthwhile investment.
SEO consultants on the other hand will guide you personally through the steps you need to take. They will recommend based on their experience what would be best for your business type.
For keyword research, studying competition, and alike, SEMrush will be your best friend. Enter any domain name and you will be given in-depth data on their SEO performance. Traffic levels, top keywords and backlinks are all on the table. This is a great tool for understanding your own website or learning from competitors.
Social media marketing
Do you have social media accounts for your business? Of course you do. They are needed to engage with your customers, share content and drive traffic. Social media requires constant attention to make it worthwhile though.
A free tool that will greatly help your social media marketing needs is Hootsuite. While there is a premium version, the free one is more than enough to begin. You can attach up to 3 accounts to schedule posts, collect analytics and create reports. It will save time by automating content while giving you valuable insight into your progress.
IFTTT is another you'd be missing out on if you didn't use. You can connect practically an apps imaginable to do whatever you like. Want to automatically post your Tweets to your Facebook page? Done. How about instantly sharing your latest posts to LinkedIn?
Collecting emails to send out newsletters and promotions is fantastic for staying in touch with your users. It also creates opportunities to earn extra revenue. Email marketing just so happens to be an easy area of your business to automate.
Mailchimp is a great tool to help you do so. You can sign up for free to create email lists, signup forms, campaigns and more. It integrates with major platforms you might already be using too, like Shopify, WordPress and Magento.
Once you're setup with the email marketing solution of your choice, try launching a drip campaign. These are emails that slowly get released to your subscribers over a set period of time. It will save you from manually sending them and opens up the opportunity for easier split testing. Alternatively, Convertkit, Drip, and ConstantContact are other great choices.
If you sell physical products, you know firsthand how much work goes into managing inventory. Barcodes, variations, and stock are just a few things you probably worry about. I've been there too. When I sold physical products in the past, inventory was always a pain point. Having customers place orders for products that were out of stock would cause a headache.
Choosing the right platform before you begin can prevent these problems. Shopify, BigCommerce and major ecommerce solutions have built-in inventory management. They organize your products in categories, collections and with common traits. If you sell items with colour or size variants, those are organized as well. It takes a lot of weight off your shoulders.
Holding inventory is only half the battle though. Shipping is the rest. Luckily, services like ShipStation exist to automate this for us. They will handle all of your fulfillment, labels and tracking so you don't have to worry about a thing. Use this as an opportunity to expand into other marketplaces or create more products.
Nurturing relationships with leads, customers and clients can be done in many ways. From phone calls to follow ups and emails, it plays a role in every business. Customers can have questions, concerns or may need help at any given time. You can't leave them hanging.
To handle your overall customer relations, solutions like Zendesk and LiveAgent are wise investments. They allow you to offer ticket systems, create lead scores, organize contact information, use live chat and more. They are proven improve your productivity and customer satisfaction. The State of Tennessee even saw a 20% increase through using Zendesk specifically.
No one likes accounting. Well, maybe except for accountants. For the rest of us, automation and outsourcing will do wonders. One of the easiest ways to begin is by hiring a bookkeeper to track all of your business expenses, revenue and finances. Come tax season, you'll be happy you have all of this organized.
Zoho and Freshbooks are two solutions that will streamline your accounting if you'd prefer to use a tool. They will help you:
Google stated that from 2015 to 2016, there was a 32% increase in hacked websites. When it comes to web security, it's better to be safe than sorry. The last thing we want as business owners is our website compromised when it could've been prevented.
I recommend that every website owner look into using Cloudflare. Their free plan offers attack protection and a secure socket layer certificate. Both of these are priceless to webmasters in the case of emergencies.
There are also many platform specific plugins and apps to take advantage of. For example, WordPress has WordFence which blocks malicious login attempts and attacks. Automated backups should also be high on your priorities. They are featured for free on numerous web hosting services. If you need to pay for backups, it's still well worth the safety and peace of mind.
Cover letters, resumes, interviews, scheduling, the list goes on. The hiring process can be tedious. Why not make it easier for everyone? Automating the hiring process is a lot simpler than you may think.
Zip Recruiter is a popular service for finding new employees. You can create a job opening and they will send it to over 100 other job boards. Think about how many potential prospects you could be reaching in a small amount of time. Instead of manually creating accounts and posting, it will all be done for you.
Some of us look forward to them. Some of us don't. Either way, emails are a part of our life. If you're like the average business owner, you probably check them quite frequently. Carleton University concluded that we spend up to 17 hours per week doing emails. This can quickly absorb time that is better off put into other tasks. The solution? Virtual assistants.
Having someone handle and organize all of your emails will make you a heck of a lot more productive. If that sounds appealing, look into freelancer platforms for virtual assistants. Upwork like we mentioned in the content section is a great place to check. Freelancer and Guru are other websites that can be just as effective.
Collecting payments, sending invoices, and creating quotes is the norm for many business owners. While not necessarily difficult, it can be repetitive.
Having a PayPal business account is an effective way to handle all of these tasks. You will be able to send invoices to your clients, track revenue, and use it as a payment gateway. This will be especially useful for business owners that sell products or services through a website.
Putting it all Together
The more you can automate or outsource within your business, the better. While this will usually have an upfront cost, it can greatly pay off later with the increased productivity. Consider what processes within your business consume the most energy and look into one of the above solutions.