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Redesign Your Website, Create a New Sales Tool, Update Your Company Graphics…all for under $1,000. Really!

The statement in the headline is true. All the work described above was done, the money paid. Welcome to the world of “Pro-Sourcing”. Now you can complete projects of all kinds, including marketing projects, design, IT or writing projects. Professionally. Inexpensively. Reliably. Quickly.

By Bob Lieber
Published: September 2, 2011

About Thinking Creatively

Thinking Creatively is about taking a step back... when you want or need to think strategically and creatively about your business... or about your customer's business... or about a solution to a challenging business problem. The goal is to be one part inspiration and one part motivation. We hope to provide - over time - thought-provoking advice, tools, ideas and company profiles that help get you to your next breakthrough. Your feedback and interaction is invited, welcomed and encouraged.

Thinking Creatively is made possible by the support of GMC Software Technology. Normally such features are for "Premium Members" only. However, because the topic is so timely and essential to all executives in the industry we asked GMC Software Technology to provide support for this series. Their support allows us to to present these articles free for all WhatTheyThink.com members.

If it sounds too good to be true…well you can forget that old expression. The statement in the headline above is true. The work described was done, the money paid.  In just the last 30 days, I've helped clients get all these projects done and more…for less than $1,000. And I'm going to tell you how.

Welcome to the world I call "Pro-Sourcing". Where you have a project to complete and you need a professional with the skills to get it done, you can now make it happen…




Or globally.

And without adding to staff.

Whether your need involves a marketing project…an accounting project…an IT project or an administrative project, or all of the above, Pro-Sourcing is a powerful and expense-saving approach to get work done in today's challenging economic climate.

What is Pro-Sourcing?

It is the act of putting your project out for hire – and tapping the hundreds of thousands of independent, professional contractors who have signed up to offer their services --  through online talent banks like elance.com, guru.com, crossloop.com or odesk.com.

In the past month, I have helped a client get their website redesigned for $400. I have helped another client get a new and highly professional PowerPoint template redesigned for $300 (using two designers who created ten different designs to choose from). And, I helped a client create a powerful new sales tool – in Excel -- that can project results of marketing programs they are trying to sell to Fortune 500 clients, for $150.

"The online marketplaces for talent have built complete ecosystems that guide you every step of the way."

What's more, these online marketplaces are complete ecosystems that guide you every step of the way…with tools for conducting the work, including easy payment mechanisms that ensure you are satisfied – and the work is complete – before you pay.

What has led to such an amazing opportunity?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 68% of hiring in 2010 was contract-based. According to the current issue of Businessweek, independent workers now make up 31% of the nation's workforce (over 40 million are self employed in the U.S).  The BLS predicts that this will rise to 40% by 2019.  

Most think that this outsourcing activity – and the low hourly rates that make it affordable -- is tied to sending work oversees, to places like India.

Think again.

While the online marketplaces brim full with contractors from over 130 countries, according to the statistics coming from elance.com, quite a bit of this work is staying here in U.S. While you can find hourly rates oversees as low as $8/hour to $12, to $25 an hour (for work costing 3-4 times that here), it is not unusual to find U.S. contractors showing rates of $15, $25, or $40/hour, for skilled technical, writing or marketing help. The great thing is, you have your choice.

Here is a chart from odesk.com that reports the average hourly rate, by country, for graphic design work:

Here is a map from elance.com that shows the top ten states where their U.S.-based workers are coming from:

What work should you think about Pro-Sourcing?

So, armed with the statistics and the companies who run these marketplaces, what kind of work should you plan on Pro-Sourcing?

Here are just a few ideas of projects you can put out for hire, all for well under $1,000:

  • Start up a new service…and create the materials to promote it
  • Create a blog or newsletter to send to current and prospective customers
  • Redesign and update your website
  • Refresh your logo, proposal documents, signage, and marketing materials
  • Hire someone to be your "social media ghost writer"…to keep up on your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn posts and accounts
  • Run sales analyses to determine the sweet spots in your business and marketplace.
  • Research new markets, competitors or prospective customers.

What is amazing is that so many projects can be done for $150, $200 or $300. All you need to do is put your specs together, post your project and wait for proposals to arrive.

In my own Pro-Sourcing work, my projects have covered a wide spectrum, all completed for less than $1,000. 

  • I've had software specifications written for a new service to be sold over the internet (contractor was from Argentina).
  • I have had my own company's website redesigned (due to launch within the next week); vendor is from India.
  • I have had a marketing planning tool created for a client, using a resource in North Carolina and Pakistan.
  • I have had an Excel database tool created by a resource in Missouri.
  • I have had viruses removed by a PC expert in California.
  • I've consulted with an intellectual property attorney in Silicon Valley on the pros and cons of patenting a new online service.

The options are vast. The opportunity to get important work completed efficiently is there. The only question that remains is this: Are you taking full advantage of the Pro-Sourcing trend?

In part two of this article, I'll review a handful of techniques I've used to find the best contractors, doing great work, at amazingly affordable prices.

Bob is available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. To get more information contact us here.

Bob Lieber is founder and CEO of OriginalThought LLC, a marketing strategy and services firm, creating “original solutions to chronic industry and consumer problemsTM”. Industry expertise is diverse, including technology, health care, financial services, consumer packaged goods and graphic arts.

What do you think? Please offer your feedback to Bob at blieber@originalthoughtllc.com



By Sherman Rawding on Sep 02, 2011

Good article on a growing trend. I shared this with my unemployed and highly skilled video production daughter. Thanks!


By Margie Dana on Sep 02, 2011

So my potential clients can source writing work on spec, and for a mere fraction of what I'd earn, get (likely) an inexperienced stranger to do the work - and put me out of business.

Let's imagine that printers' customers use the same model - put their jobs out there for dozens of low-ball quotes - and the unsavvy customers who know zilch about print quality and key service pick the cheapest price no matter who or where the printer is.

I couldn't survive by pricing my services at $20/hour. I'm pretty sure I'd be serving french fries to supplement my income.

It's sounds like a "may-the-lowest-price-win free-for-all." I still think you get what you pay for. That's my humble opinion.


By Wade Link on Sep 07, 2011

In my opinion, you get what you pay for.


By Bob Lieber on Sep 07, 2011

Thank you to Sherman, Margie and Wade for your comments. I really welcome and appreciate the feedback.

I'm going to tackle some of the specific issues by posting different comments addressing them.

One issue that a few people have brought up is that "you get what you pay for".

So, I guess that means you always fill up at the most expensive gas station, buy your clothes only at Saks and Neiman Marcus, buy jewelry only at Tiffany’s, use Ogilvy or Deutsch or TBWA/Chiat Day for communications work for your company, buy your cars from the most expensive dealer and hire the most expensive painter, plumber and handyman you can find (and NEVER shop at Walmart).

In all seriousness, I have several issues with this concept of "you get what you pay for" when it comes to contract work.

First, more expensive does not always mean better. I’ve had plenty of painful purchasing experiences where this was not the case.

Second, not every company can afford to hire Ogilvy or Chiat Day for their design work. In fact, many people don’t update their websites…or don’t start a blog because they don’t think they can afford it or they just can’t devote the time to it. Using the types of marketplaces I've presented allow companies to improve their business when they might not do it at all.

Third, there are people out in the world who need work and need new clients…they might be young and incredibly talented, but are looking to gain additional experience. Or they may have been forced into independent contractor work or need to supplement their income. Most contractors are clear what their experience and background is. I find these marketplaces invaluable on both ends of the spectrum and have not had trouble finding qualified people at modest and higher rates.

Have you ever met anyone who's used a college intern to get work done? Or gone to get their hair cut at a beautician or barber school?

Plus, anyone who is a freelancer today can use these marketplaces to prospect for new clients -- and charge whatever they typically charge.

Fourth, I do not -- and would not -- advocate “always picking the lowest price”. In fact, I rarely do. By putting projects out for bidding, this is not about seeing who can do it cheapest. It is about finding a match, finding someone who has the skills and talent and experience, timing AND cost I need for a SPECIFIC PROJECT.

Fifth, people in these marketplaces do not have to bid on every project. They bid when they feel their skills match up and they quote what they feel is an appropriate amount for the job. Isn't that what happens in most competitive project situations?

Also, if people don't do satisfactory work, they will get bad reviews posted about them...which means they'll stop getting projects.

Sixth, in most cases, when I have had a great experience with a contractor, I go back to them for no-bid projects. I am comfortable with what they can deliver and they charge me what they think is fair for the project. This is a great way for me to find a group of resources to use over and over...and for them to find new customers -- at prices they are comfortable charging.

So, at the end of the day, the concept that I’m presenting is one of an open marketplace…where people seeking expertise can find others looking to find clients for their expertise. By the way, there are plenty of contractors who promote their services at rates close to, or over $100 per hour.

And I suspect – if they are excellent at what they do and can show value for the work they do – they will have people flocking to their door.

Isn't that what will all do in our businesses?

What can be wrong with that?


By Bob Lieber on Sep 07, 2011


I appreciate you taking the time to respond to the article. I wanted to address some of the specific comments you made...and I would welcome a dialogue with you about any or all of this.

You wrote:

So my potential clients can source writing work on spec, and for a mere fraction of what I'd earn, get (likely) an inexperienced stranger to do the work - and put me out of business.

Here are my thoughts:

Is this really a concern? Hasn’t this always been the case, as long as you've been in business?

There are literally hundreds of thousands of consultants who offer the same service I do – at a much lower cost than me. I wish them all great luck. I feel good about the way I’ve positioned my services…and the value I deliver. I can't sell everyone who could use my service. I have an approach that I’m happy with for bringing in new clients (but I’m always open to new ideas and new ways of doing things).

Many people are using all kinds of social media and promotional ideas to bring in new clients. In the same way, marketplaces like elance.com and odesk.com offer a great way to expand reach for many professional services people…helping them bring in new clients and paying jobs.

You wrote:

Let's imagine that printers' customers use the same model - put their jobs out there for dozens of low-ball quotes - and the unsavvy customers who know zilch about print quality and key service pick the cheapest price no matter who or where the printer is.

My thoughts:

This technically already exists today with internet printers. Easy-to-produce jobs can be priced in hundreds of different places. This is just market forces at work.

However, your second point, about “unsavvy customers who know zilch about print quality and key service" assumes that people buying printing don’t have the ability to prioritize what is important to them.

I’ve seen terrible execution from expensive, high quality printers, and excellent quality on orders placed with internet printers. Buyers of services have different priorities and helping them find the RIGHT resource (not the cheapest) to get their work done is what companies like elance.com and odesk.com are all about.

You wrote:

I couldn't survive by pricing my services at $20/hour. I'm pretty sure I'd be serving french fries to supplement my income.

Here's what I think:

You should not have to. I assume you provide a high quality service and your clients value your work. Every market has wide variation in the cost and value of products and services delivered. I suspect that there are clients that cannot afford to hire you, or use your services. That is a strategic choice you’ve made in the way you’ve priced your services and packaged your value.

In the end, there are many ways to make a living.


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