As an SEO agency owner it can be difficult to let go of the reins, especially if you’re running a solo or small enterprise.
It’s tough! The agency is your baby and it’s difficult to trust anyone to put in the same level of care and attention you would.
It can be hard enough to avoid micromanaging your own team, let alone an external contractor or company!
The thing is, if you want to scale, and fast, you’ll need to learn how to let go.
This post will cover how outsourcing can help, why you should do it, and how to do it successfully for the best results for you, your business, and your customers.
The Benefits of Outsourcing: It Can Heal Your Pain Points
As rewarding as running an agency can be, we know it can also be full of pain points and difficulties when it comes to growing and scaling your business.
Growth is great but, as we all know, it can come with growing pains.
If you struggle to scale your services consistently, you might miss client opportunities as your team struggles to keep up with increased demand.
You might also miss out because you’re unable to offer the services they’re looking for.
The solution is to scale your team, but hiring reliable SEOs can be a nightmare.
In a dynamic and growing industry like SEO, dependable workers come at a steep premium, and the hiring process can take months.
It’s great that SEO is so free-form and flowing, but without defined qualifications, it can be really tricky to determine an SEO’s potential competence before you get them in, meaning hiring can be a real roll of the dice and very costly to get wrong!
The solution here can be outsourcing.
Outsourcing can be a great way to expand your capacity without the clunkiness of expanding your team. Expanding your team can be great during periods of high demand, but if you’ve got additional team members at a loose end during a lean period, that’s a recipe for compounding disaster.
Turning to outsourced solutions can keep you scalable during the boom times while keeping things manageable during quieter periods.
If you opt for on-demand services, you can simply stop ordering when you can cover the capacity yourselves, ordering again once things get busier.
Even during the quiet times, you can continue to outsource and focus your team on client retention and acquisition.
Outsourcing can also help you expand your repertoire, offering additional services that might be slightly out of your established wheelhouse but which you know will really help your clients or help solve their own pain points within your business’s umbrella.
An obvious example for an SEO agency might be expanding into offering content and link-building alongside the technical and consultancy work you already provide.
Rather than taking on new hires with all the difficulty finding and onboarding them takes, you can outsource to an established company and pass on the benefits of their expertise to your clients.
How to Successfully Outsource SEO Services
While outsourcing your SEO services can be remarkably helpful, you need to set up the right processes to do it properly.
Set Up Clear Deliverables
SEO can be a wooly subject. You just need to look at how many jokes reference an SEO’s favorite phrase, “it depends.”
The thing is, when it comes to outsourcing your deliverable, you can’t afford ambiguity, either for you or your client.
Make sure to outsource to a company that sets clear deliverables. This could be set on the number of articles they’ll write, the number of links they’ll build, the DA of those links – anything.
Just be sure to set a clear and measurable deliverable in mind for the best results for all parties.
There are all sorts of different SEO pricing models you can adopt as an agency, but when it comes to the company you outsource to, it’s always easier to work with set units in a productized manner.
The added bonus is that this can make the offerings you then pass onto your clients super clear, removing any ambiguity from their buying journey too – a clear win-win!
Have a Firm Idea of How to Fold it into Your Current Services
Similarly to how you want to ensure the outsourcing process can provide clear deliverables, you need to understand how to work it into your current processes.
As an example, at FATJOE, we’ve had a lot of client requests over the years for more direct consultation.
It’s perfectly possible to hire outside consultants to provide these services, which we could then repackage and sell on to our clients.
The problem is, it wouldn’t fit our business model at all.
We’re designed as a white-label service. We’ve cut out as much of the chaff as possible to keep our deliverables clear and easy for SEO agencies to understand and sell to their clients.
If we start then outsourcing those processes ourselves, we lose the ability to manage them quickly and effectively, becoming a middle-man for our client, who is then a middle-man for their client.
This starts getting bogged down in client communications, slowing down turnarounds and moving away from what clients really want from us.
Secondly, it simply wouldn’t fit the ethos of what we’re all about – expanding client capacity by doing the legwork so that they can focus on the consultancy side of things.
If you use outsourcing as an overflow measure, ensure there is room in your production processes and SOPs to allow for outsourcing when needed.
If you are instead using it to diversify your services, make sure to have a backup solution in mind, just in case of an issue with the outsourced provider. This can be training your staff just in case or having another company lined up for emergencies. (This point is more applicable for those directly reselling white label services who don’t want their client to know anything is being completed out-of-house).
Set a Clear Budget
An obvious one, maybe, but it’s worth noting.
This one tends to go hand-in-hand with setting a clear deliverable. If you know exactly what you are ordering, you should know exactly what price you’ll be charged.
Don’t leave room for ambiguity and price creep by setting vague or shifting deliverables with the company you’re outsourcing to. You can offer broader services and guarantees to clients, but you should always look for defined products from vendors.
Manage Timelines for Review
Another one that is obvious but vital.
Make sure that when you outsource, you understand the timeline they’ll deliver on.
If you’re using a single freelancer, agree on a timeline with them, or if you’re using an outsourced service, make sure they are clear about when they will deliver the product.
Due dates, not estimations.
The last thing you want is an outsourced provider to turn around and say they’ve gotten a little busy, and it’ll be delayed when your customer has been offered a firm timeline (again, especially if you are using the vendor in a white-label way).
Make sure to have enough wiggle room in your timelines that, if needed, you could hop in and get it done yourself.
Believe in the Company You Outsource to
You’re precious about your agency, and you’re right to be.
Don’t just work with anyone offering SEO services you’ve found on Fiverr or a dodgy one-page website without real authentication.
Take the time to shop around, trial vendors, and read their reviews.
Remember, the people behind these external companies are likely just like you. Make sure to look them up on LinkedIn or Twitter. If they genuinely believe in their products, they’ll be sure to shout about them, just like you do.
Outsourcing is great, but it isn’t a panacea for all poisons.
Instead, it’s a great way to offload some mental and actual capacity that will build up as you grow and scale your company.
It doesn’t mean you can cut corners, but it can smoothen the growth process.
Be sure to build your processes around it early on. The best agencies are scalable, and so are their services. With a dedicated core team and the right vendors, you can 5x or even 10x your company without spiraling overheads and bulk!
Go with a reputable partner with clear deliverables for the easiest possible process and remember – they’ll be as keen for this to succeed as you are.
Use your newly freed-up time to do what you do best, securing new clients and keeping the old ones sweet and happy!
About the Author:
Head of Content at FATJOE
I manage the in-house FATJOE writing team and coordinate our informative blog and video content for SEOs, agency leaders, and marketing managers.