5 Tasks You Should Outsource to Non-Professionals (to Save Money)

Ryan Ong



I dun rite gud cuz I in Primary Two, but Ryan pay me $50 and he say: Sam, you rite my artykel and dun tell my boss. So I…”Ryan, get back here and fix this!” Sorry, I thought I was saving us time and money. Hey, we’d still get an article right? “But it’s full of random numbers and guesses!” I know, just as good as any investment banker. Meh, we’ll outsource these other things then:

Outsourcing to Professionals vs. Non-Professionals

Okay, so we can’t have brain surgeons and airline pilots outsourcing their jobs. But there are some tasks that, even in the hands of non-professionals, can be done well. And for a lot cheaper too.

These are:

  • Basic Administration
  • Basic Visual Design
  • Fact Checking
  • Certain Types of Tech Stuff
  • Small Deliveries


1. Basic Administration

Basic administration (aka pencil pushing) is like a bad girlfriend. It just nags at you, and you’re never sure if you want to fix it or find some way to get rid of it. It includes:

  • Answering e-mail queries
  • Sorting files into the right drives and folders
  • Inventorying office supplies
  • Downloading updates on all the terminals

For the most part, you don’t need a professional to do these. And if you only do it every few weeks, it’s hardly worth hiring a secretary. The best method?

Try online portals, like TaskAmigo. For the low price of $30 – $120 (depends on the amount of work involved), you can get everything straightened out at one go. Perfect for a side-business.


2. Basic Visual Design


People drawing
Relax, I’ve got this. I read a book about art once.


Need to spruce up your power point slides? Re-design the report covers? Or maybe you just need a logo for your new side-business.

Well, you don’t exactly need Picasso here. I spoke to Hendrick Vaughn, who makes a good income selling his drawings (he’s actually a sales manager):

Just last month, I did a brochure for a company selling river tours. I had this retro-style steamship I drew two years ago, and I offered it to them for $150.

They accepted it on the spot. They got the brochure to the printers two hours after e-mailing me. If they’d gone to a professional, it would have have cost way more, and probably taken a few days.”

Hendrick mentions that he’s never charged more than $400 for drawing anything. But it’s typical for local design firms to charge anywhere from $600 to a few thousand dollars per image. He suggests you:

Don’t look for a design firm first; browse the net and save images you like. Then contact those artists and outsource the work to them. They may be totally surprised, because no one’s approached them before. They usually won’t charge much.”


3. Fact Checking


Stack of library books
And for an extra $50, I’ll get facts that are actually real.


So you need to find the price of housing in 1937. Or you need to verify when the great fire of London was (history student, eh?)

Well, outsource. Anyone can walk into a library and look it up for you. Marcel Tay, who used to lecture at a private University, says this is an underused resource:

I know some students pay $70 for a cheat essay, or pay ridiculous sums like $200 for a complete bibliography and quotes. First of all it’s cheating, and secondly it’s a waste of money.

You can pay $50 to get someone to read your paper, and research your facts online or in the library. They don’t have to be professors or professionals. They just need to be literate, and know how to use a search engine.

Get their feedback, and make revisions. Your grades will be just as good.”


4. Certain Types of Tech Stuff


Hard Drive
Got it. I’ll just pry this sucker loose and “transfer” this data.


Backing up and reformatting a hard drive takes forever. And if you don’t do it yourself, you get charged anywhere from $50 to $150 by shops or private repairmen.

But many non-professionals are savvy enough to handle it, and won’t charge you that much. Yes, there’s the argument that they could mess up. But the odds are about equal to that of a spade malfunctioning. Some simple processes include:

  • Re-installing Windows
  • Reformatting
  • Transferring between Hard Drives
  • File conversions

My IT repair guy, Jason, says:

I’m surprised that people still pay me to do these.

I suggest that, instead of paying me, they ask some students or whoever. No need to be a professional IT guy. Then pay that guy $20 to sit there while he does it. It’s not even work; it’s just sitting there and clicking something every 15 minutes.

If you must pay for it, pay the cheapest. You don’t need an expert for this.”


5. Small Deliveries


I know you’re not a professional, but just remember to pack the item in the box next time.


When you’re making small deliveries (e.g. a single letter, or low value parcel), it’s best to avoid major couriers. It’s about cost as well as speed.

I spoke to a courier company manager, who declined to be named:

Actually, professional couriers are not good for small deliveries. We have a long list of clients, and we charge more because of liability.

For example, if we damage something, we are liable up to a certain amount. Then there’s security screening for packages. All this is factored into the cost.

If you are sending a single low value-item, what’s the use of all this? Just pay a runner. We would charge you at least $30 per kilo. An errand runner might charge you half that. And we would probably be slower.”


Image Credits:
Nomadic Lass, , VFS Digital Design, walknboston, Nils Geylen

What do you outsource? Comment and let us know!

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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.