Authority Hacker – Scaling business with remote teams
Last updated September 23, 2019
Authority Hacker interview
Today I’m joined by Mark Webster, the co-founder of Authority Hacker. This is a leading SEO website, which supports a strong community and is slowly becoming a movement. Mark is also the co-host of a podcast which is similarly named The Authority Hacker podcast, along with his co-founder, Gael Breton. The duo are well on their way to becoming new-media media-moguls as they are quickly building a number of highly successful high-traffic content-based authority sites.
Authority Hacker teaches people how to create ‘authority sites’ though online marketing techniques. They cater for everyone, ranging from the outright novice, to those keen to learn how to rank their website in Google through to advanced topics such as conversion rate optimization, link building techniques, advanced on-page SEO, among many other things.
Mark Webster of Authority Hacker
The reason why I got Mark on the podcast is to discuss his experience with outsourcing, his wisdom in terms of implementation of outsourcing and getting his teams to runs smoothly through Process Management. I also delve into why outsourcing is so big in the online community and how they are really early adopters of this remote work, globalized employment and outsourcing generally.
Remote team management
Derek Gallimore: Hi, and welcome back. Today, I’m super excited to be joined by Mark Webster, who is one of the co-founders of Authority Hacker. How are you, Mark?
Mark Webster: I’m doing fantastic. Thanks for having me on today.
Derek Gallimore: Absolute pleasure. And so we’re in sort of the worlds of clashing, I think in this podcast, potentially a lot of our audiences either in outsourcing or in the small and medium-sized business sectors, and maybe a little bit more traditional than the businesses that Mark is used to dealing with.
I got Mark on the podcast because I want to share his experiences with the online world that he’s deeply immersed in. And to explore how the online world generally is very much an early adopter of the future of work, which is remote-based work, which is a lot of outsourcing, and also the gig economy. So Mark, welcome, and thanks so much for joining us.
Mark Webster: Excellent. Looking forward to this one. I’ve got a lot to lot to say about this.
Derek Gallimore: Fantastic. Let’s see where it takes us. Can you introduce yourself in terms of what you do, and maybe how you will introduce yourself if you are in a bar. And considering that maybe people aren’t so up to speed with some of the kind of online magic that you do on a day to day basis? How would you explain yourself to the average Joe?
Mark Webster: My name is Mark Webster, I’m the co-founder of Authority Hacker. Authority Hacker is a website where we teach people how to do whole aspects of online marketing. So that’s anything from the beginner who’s never done it before, who wants to learn how to rank their website in Google through to very advanced topics, conversion rate optimization, advanced on-page SEO, link building, these kinds of things.
We sell training courses to teach this, that’s our business model. And we also make money from doing reviews and through affiliate marketing as well. In addition to that, we run a portfolio of authority websites.
Those are kind of like larger websites focusing on specific topic areas, we employ teams of writers, content creators, editors, graphic designers, and everything else you can imagine in between who would potentially work on a website across different fields.
Our business is entirely remote, so we have no fixed office. The majority of our employees or members of staff are sort of freelancers from the gig economy. It’s just so interesting what you said about the future of work. I just want to sort of say that for me, that is very much the present of work that we are living, breathing that kind of reality right now, and we have been for several years now.
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Derek Gallimore: It is incredible how the world evolves. I don’t think that it kind of officially does, but then you look back and as things evolve over the last kind of 10-20-30 years, you suddenly realize that sort of critical mass of people are working incredibly different to how they would have been working if this whole technology thing didn’t happen.
For those that need a little bit more background, what are authority sites, and you’re effectively an old school publisher within the new world, and you don’t need printing presses, but you’ve built out the entire infrastructure.
Mark Webster: Absolutely. The way I explain it to my aunt who she has an iPad now, but she doesn’t have an email address, she’s never been tech-savvy, never used a computer. The way I explained it to her is exactly like that we are like a modern version of a magazine, where we get together a lot of content creators, designers, publishers, just any kind of content, which will be of value.
Then we sell that or we give that away for free to people and then we sell advertising or we make money by selling other things within that content. That’s kind of the business model if you had to compare it to a kind of old school business structure.
Derek Gallimore: This is the new media. And of course, it’s been facilitated by everything going online. And largely a lot of the rule sets and publishing protocols that you work to are then guided by Google because Google’s the kind of overseeing Lord of this whole kind of online game. Where do you see yourself in terms of a publisher for the sake of publishing versus kind of building a structure to appease the Google beast?
Mark Webster: There is kind of two approaches you can take mentally to this. The first is, you can build a structure to appease the Google beast. And I think in the early days with what we were doing, we were very much trying to do that. Any kind of trick or hack we could identify, that would sort of game the system, we were kind of there trying out. And this was from our previous business, which was a digital marketing agency, where we worked for clients who did more or less the same kind of activities, but just for other people.
Then that didn’t go so well, there were several successive Google updates. And we got hit pretty hard. In the first one, it was called Google Penguin and targeted certain kinds of link building, which is a tactic for search engine optimization. And so we kind of decided that that was a wake-up call, we need to change our approach. And we wanted to work very much within the terms of service of Google and kind of work with it rather than against it.
But as a consequence of that. The way to do that is actually to think of yourself more as a publisher and like think of the user first think of the audience, how can we make what we’re doing better? How can we improve our quality and those kinds of things? And as you do that, just naturally, you will then be doing a lot of things which are right for Google and to rank in the search engines, other search engines as well.
It’s not like a binary thing. It’s not always one way or the other it is definitely like an overlap between the two schools of thought. But that’s kind of how ours has evolved over the years.
Derek Gallimore: Incredible. And how old would you say this industry is? And what do you call it? Is it just generally online work?
Mark Webster: I will call it online marketing. That’s kind of the commonly held term for it. It’s old. I mean, when I was getting into it in 2009, so that’s 10 years ago, people were saying, ‘Oh, it’s dead, it’s time to move on, time to find something else.’ And people still say that at the moment, it’s not true. It’s never been growing more. And it’s crazy right now, actually, the potential and that the direction it’s going in about.
People have been doing this for 20 odd years, I will say it’s gotten a lot more mature. In the last five years, there have been a lot bigger players entering the space, you had big acquisitions, like the New York Times bought the wirecutter.com, for $30 million. That was quite a big one. And there have been many others as well, big kind of traditional publishers are kind of realizing that their business model is not going to hack it over the next 20 years.
They’re starting to transition into kind of the online marketing space. They’re either by acquisitions or just by changing the direction of their site in certain ways, to kind of stay relevant and adapt to the kind of current market conditions.
Derek Gallimore: It’s incredible because media has always been a powerful and highly developed industry, because of the power that it can potentially wield. And it seems that over the last kind of 10 to 20 years, it’s really been eaten away by the masses of the small guys just creating their content, which is incredible isn’t it, it’s sort of seeing the full evolutionary cycle of things that have either been, I suppose, facilitated, or certainly enabled by technology.
Some of that also happened 10 years ago, it was Tim Ferriss, four-hour workweek. And with the online community, you’ve got the remote workers, the digital nomads, and I think to some degree, this Tim Ferriss book kind of really opened up that whole world of the combination of both freeing yourself from the daily grind, but then also utilizing kind of a global workforce – a) where it’s cheaper, but also, b) on a remote basis.
So people aren’t kind of so fixed in terms of hours and place of work. Did they have a big influence on you? And also the industry that you’re in? Do you think?
Mark Webster: Absolutely. So I remember, when I finished university, I got a job in an insurance company for a couple of years, I hated it. So I quit. I moved to Thailand to become a scuba diving instructor, because why not? I spent way too much money there on diving equipment and partying so it ran out of money.
Then I went to Australia to become a wheat farmer for six months to get my working holiday visa to basically make a lot of money in a short space of time as a poor backpacker, in that tractor, I remember I was working 16 hour days, just driving around fields. And then I listened to the four-hour workweek in a day. And it was life-changing. Like I can’t emphasize enough how much of an impact that book had on me.
I know there are many other successful people in our space, who also kind of echo that, I think it does get a lot of sticks sometimes nowadays, looking back. So 10 years in, how realistic is working four hours a week, if you really want to be successful, that’s pretty may be debatable, but as you said, the eye-opening effect that it has, in terms of simple ideas, like calculating how much your one hour of your time is worth, and then anything, which you can outsource for cheaper than that you should.
That’s one of the principles he talks about in the book. That’s not always practical to do that. But just thinking about it in those terms, I think certainly for me and my businesses have sort of pushed me to outsource a lot more and to look at kind of where I can provide the most value in the business and where I can kind of have other people to help in certain tasks. So it has been a phenomenal book kind of fundamentally changed, I think our industry completely and also brought a lot more people into the space who perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise discovered it, which I think is a great thing.
Tim Ferriss and outsourcing
Derek Gallimore: It’s incredible time because I was doing my backpacking thing around the turn of the whatever Millennium in 2000. And back then it was not that you couldn’t access online work. I remember us going into internet cafes, maybe twice a week to check emails. 20 years ago, there weren’t as many people on email. And in 2008, you had the global financial crisis, I think a lot of people were put out of work and then looking for new careers.
This whole online work then became available. And Tim Ferriss came out with this book. And I think it was this kind of heavy mix of just people kind of changing what they’re doing. And you see a lot of these startups, these big successful unicorns, now a lot of them started around 2008-2009 was quite an interesting period.
Mark Webster: Whenever there’s a big shake-up of the economy, there are those who kind of put their heads in the sand and think, ‘oh, the world is ending. This is terrible.’ And then, as we’ve seen, some think, ‘okay, something’s fundamentally changed here. How can we take advantage of this? What can we do here?’ And big platforms, like Upwork, or formerly oDesk, I think, started around that time.
I used to work there myself in the early days. So yeah, it’s also a lot of kind of structural things. So that was the sort of time that 3g data started to become a thing that people had. And then laptops became kind of good enough that you could realistically work on it. You didn’t need a desktop computer to do these kinds of work. The latest MacBook at the time was pretty decent. So other things are going on there as well. But certainly, it was an interesting time.
Derek Gallimore: I think that was sort of the beginning of this big movement of the digital nomads and online workers. And you’ve now got this sort of populist, remote working movement, even in the big cities. And I think there are pros and cons that now my angle is that outsourcing is fantastic, which is generally the leveraging of cheaper salaries within cheaper economies.
My angle is that it may be better to have everyone centralized within an office. Yet, of course, there’s now different approaches and a lot of different ways to skin a cat. Can you explain to people your structure of how you work and how you build an enterprise or a business, based on remote working and kind of how everything clicks together?
Mark Webster: It was a kind of fundamental value of our business that we would have a remote company, a fully remote company. So no fixed office, anywhere in the world, the entire team works from home or works from an internet cafe, not cafes, co-working spaces rather. And then we all collaborate online, we use technology such as Slack, Asana, Google Drive, Google Sheets, these kinds of tools to do our work together.
That was kind of how we fundamentally set up that was born largely out of my frustration really at the office environments I had been in the past, both in the corporate world and in my very first company, where we sort of followed the corporate way, to an extent. To be honest with you, having an office is expensive. It is often not nearly as productive as people make it out to me.
In my experience, it breeds an element of kind of laziness and a lack of true ownership. What I mean by that is that the typical example if you want to kind of coach someone or show someone how to do something, it’s very easy in an office just to wheel your chair over and sort of point the screen out.
Then if you haven’t kind of explained it, probably the first time, they can just turn around and ask you a question. And the communication flow is very easy there. Now, you might think that that’s a good thing. And in some cases, you’d be right. However, as a consequence of this, you will also find that you are increasingly giving, not thinking through how you’re explaining things very clearly.
For example, when I need to teach someone how to do something in my company, there’s a couple ways I can either have a call with them, where we do some kind of screencast, screen sharing, webcam setup, I can do an audio call, I can write them an email, I can write them a message on Slack, or I can record a video like a screencast video.
There are all these different options depending on the circumstance. But for all of them, I’m going to have to think about how I want to communicate what I’m trying to get across to this person. And just having that kind of extra requirement and the extra onus to have me think about it because it’s not easy for them to turn around and just ask me later in the day.
That I feel has made us better communicators, and made us a lot more clear about what we want and what we expect from our team. So that’s been a really interesting kind of soft benefit from outsourcing. Of course, as you mentioned, the price is a huge thing. I mean, you can hire people all over the world and kind of arbitrage the costs.
Many people think that this often comes as a result of kind of lower quality work for sort of inferior, inferior output, my experience is the opposite. Because you’re recruiting from a bigger potential talent pool. If your recruitment systems and processes are solid, and what you’re doing, then you can find even better people than you otherwise would have had in your kind of local area, just because your potential talent pool is so much bigger.
Derek Gallimore: With outsourcing and remote work, I think there’s a balance isn’t there between the friction caused by not being in the same environment versus the benefits you get from it, which are intangible or productivity based.
Then also the cost benefits. And it’s kind of a mixture of those, which will depend from organization to organization as well. Would you see yourself ever centralizing? If you reach 100 staff? Or if you get to a point? Or do you see that these efficiencies can scale ad infinitum?
Mark Webster: They can scale forever, I think more and more organizations will start giving up their offices and we’ll start kind of going in this direction. Right now, the main kind of way they can justify it to their kind of board is cost, because that’s easy to quantify.
As more companies start to do it, they will see that productivity increases, workers’ satisfaction increases, of course, cost decreases. And just everybody is happier in these kinds of environments, at least in my experience, I look to some of the larger organizations who have the kind of full virtual team. I think TopTal is probably one of the biggest certainly. And they are many, many, many times the size of us and they still manage to do it very effectively.
Derek Gallimore: And automatic. Of course, like WordPress, they’re sort of renowned for it. How do you find the whole…
Mark Webster: I was just going to add that we also actually got an office, I think it was like three years ago. To be honest, it was because we forgot all of the bad things. And we thought, ‘oh, we’re growing a lot. Now we’re going to hire a lot of people, let’s get an office’.
We had that office for six weeks, before we realized, okay, this is a terrible idea. And then we found a replacement tenant, and we got out of that as soon as we could. And we recorded a podcast myself and Gael, my business partner, immediately after that with our thoughts. And we said to ourselves, if you ever think about renting an office, again, we have to re-listen to us in that podcast, so we’d remember.
Derek Gallimore: I’ve got a couple of devil’s advocate comebacks, recently I was in New York, selling the dream of outsourcing, which is an incredible opportunity. Even in New York, there are 20 million people, which is a big employment pool. But as you say, there are 7 billion people out there.
When you compare the 20 million to 7 billion, the world market is just so much bigger. And then there are these cost savings and several benefits. One of the most common comebacks, people said is ‘how do you know they’re working?’ and it’s incredible because it’s a sophisticated city, bright business people, but when they’re just not used to this new structure of work, the elementary questions come back into play.
To take that a little bit further. I’m a fit guy, I’m highly disciplined, but I can very rarely or never work out at home, I need to go to the gym to have the motivation. Do you find that? You’re a motivated guy, you’re driven by your business, you’re not excited by it. But what about the millennial, the kids hanging out in Chiang Mai? Do you sort of see that their peak productivity when they’re kind of hanging out by themselves during the day?
Mark Webster: This is a really interesting question, if that’s your first question, ‘how do you know you they’re working?’ I tend to think that either the organization culture they’re in or the people they have working for them might not necessarily be the best they can realistically achieve. It’s very easy in an office environment to think that people are working, but I’ve worked in an office for several years.
When people don’t want to work, they don’t work, they just have to pretend that they’re working or there’s always these people who stay in and leave five minutes after the boss leaves, put in the hours just to show that they’re there apparently working. It always baffled me why people do that. Don’t get me wrong, this is kind of like keeping up appearances and all that. But I’m a very pragmatic kind of guy. And it always just felt stupid that that kind of setup was going on.
I guess for me, the way that the outsource kind of environment, whether people are working the eight hour day or the nine hours, or whatever your shift is, is not just important, it’s all about the output. And if someone wants to put their tools down and go and play their Xbox for an hour in the middle of the day, just because they ran out of steam then that’s fine.
Look, I don’t think there are too many people in this world who can work an eight hour day and have eight solid deep work productive hours in it, you’re going to have peaks and troughs, it’s going to have them flow. When you’re in the office environment, and you’re just not in the zone, you’ve nowhere to chill out, you’ve nowhere to kind of relax and recoup and just take a bit of downtime, when you’re at home, you can do all that.
So when you show up, you’re bringing your A-game, and you’re over-delivering. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t going to be a small percentage of people who are just going to kind of like milk the system and do as little as possible. But I find that those people tend to prefer working in office environments because it’s easier for them to kind of get away with stuff, but not because they’re kind of hidden in plain sight.
Because you’re in a remote setup with a virtual team, then you’re going to be checking up on people more often, what we use several software tools, Asana is one of them, to kind of record what the task people are working on. The way we structure our organization, we have weekly goal setting and review calls with every manager with their line reports.
We track whether goals are being hit over time, we work together to set objectives for the week, if you’re doing all those kinds of stuff, which you should be doing in any organization, then it’s really difficult to kind of pretend that you’re working or to kind of like, not be there. And if it’s some of the more typical outsourced roles such as customer support, for example, most of the software these days keeps very, very detailed metrics about the average time to respond and how long it takes to type a response and all these kind of things so that the technology is there to solve this problem.
Derek Gallimore: It seems like the recognition of work needs to change isn’t it? from the old school time to productivity and output. And I suppose the complication there is that everyone can put in eight hours. And that’s, that’s the standard across whatever profession you’re working in. Whereas when you’re dealing with output, it differs, for every job, every role, every person.
A big part of what you said before is when people aren’t sitting beside you, you then had to rethink your processes. And whether you’re doing screen sharing, whether you’re creating videos, whether you have SOPs. As we all build businesses, we’re learning a huge amount as we build but how much of your journey has been about learning how to manage your team better, building better processes, mapping better, and building stronger SOPs so that everyone’s on the same page? What sort of journey have you been through with that?
Freelancers vs outsourcing
Mark Webster: That is my journey, that is the essence of building a business, a lot of people who have not started a business think that the business is all about the idea. But actually, it’s all about the execution of an idea. And there are many ideas out there, there are very few people who truly innovate with their ideas, most things are built on other ideas.
In terms of the organizational stuff, which you mentioned, when we first started it was I mean, if I look back on it, now, it was absolute chaos. I mean, we had no structure we didn’t know, we didn’t know what we’re doing. We had no idea kind of how to organize our work even individually, let alone for the people we started hiring in the early days.
A lot of that was just making colossal mistakes and kind of learning these things. And then as time went on, and certainly nowadays, there’s a lot of good information out there about kind of how to manage your team, how to hire the right people, to structure your work environment, these kinds of things.
For example, on my podcast I interviewed a guy, Nigel, he runs, he used to run a technology company in Australia. And he was telling me about his SOP setup and how his business had over a 1,000 of them and all that and the way he was describing it, and like it was kind of like a bit of a revelation for me. Like ‘wow, like, why haven’t we been doing this before that, of course, that makes perfect sense. Everyone should be doing this’.
Then since that point on, we’ve worked hard and we’ve built SOPs ourselves, we have adopted the approach at any one point you should either be working from, editing or creating an SOP. And if you’re not doing one of those three things, without a good reason, there’s potentially a problem. It’s a tool rather than a rule, but it kind of gives you a kind of methodology about these things to think of, as we’ve grown as an organization.
Having this structure in place has just, it’s enabled us to do, really the work of maybe an organization five times the size of ours with far fewer people, just because everyone knows what they have to do. It’s very clear mistakes are minimized. If there is a mistake, we identify it, we look at the process, we decided we want to edit, change the process, and we fix it. And generally it doesn’t repeat again.
If you want to grow your business you can get to six figures, mid-six figures a year with just yourself or a couple of people. And you don’t have to do any of this stuff. And it’s going to be messy. And that’s what a small business is. But if you want to get to seven figures a year, eight figures per year, look at what those companies are doing, look at what the organizations at that level are doing, they all have this stuff sorted out.
That is one of the key differentiators between, I’d say a successful, small and medium business and one that’s going nowhere.
Derek Gallimore: It’s fundamentally scalable at a point, isn’t it? If you have things mapped down and things that are out of your head and on paper in front of you, then there’s no limit to the size of that business.
Whereas if it’s contained within someone’s head, the founder or the key person, it’s not going anywhere. And it’s probably not that well organized, the Philippines as well is renowned to and the whole thing industry here, which is the single biggest industry in the Philippines is called the business process outsourcing or BPO. And, ironically, the whole thing is based around business processes.
You get a lot of businesses coming over here, whether they’re entrepreneurs or more corporate enterprise, thinking that they’re going to come to the developing nation, which is the Philippines and show them how work is properly done. And then they’re just blown away by the level of sophistication of process mapping, and process development, because this country has been doing it for 25 years.
It’s now got incredible executive depth in terms of managing these and optimizing these, and it can really, blow companies away just in terms of the level of sophistication. And also what we find is that people can come over here with a big but relatively immature company. And it takes the process of outsourcing to map out their company, which takes them to the next level of maturity, it internationalizes them and it creates proper structures, proper departments, and then they can take their company to the next level.
They’re not only saving money, they’re getting sort of a higher quality of delivery, and then also able to take the company to the next level. So it’s super important, isn’t it to get these processes mapped.
Mark Webster: also, if you ever want to sell your business, if you’re kind of still working in the business, it’s going to be difficult, or they’re going to, if you can’t even sell it at that point, they’re going to stick you’re gonna have to stick around for potentially years transitioning it.
But if you build it to run, to operate without you, because your SOPs and your systems processes are on point, then that period can be very, very small. So that’s also worth considering if you’re a business owner as well.
Outsourcing and the globalized economy
Derek Gallimore: One of the other concerns about outsourcing and the globalized economy is the culture and the friction in terms of language, cultural alignment, both internally how co-workers are all going to work together.
But also possibly in your industry is it’s really critical because you’re a publisher, you’re creating content, and it’s got to be on target in terms of the sound and tone and obviously the grammar and the basics. How have you found the differences in working across different cultures, different languages? And how do you manage those aspects?
Mark Webster: I think people maybe give or put more emphasis on spelling and grammar and these kinds of things than necessary, when you’re producing an old school newspaper or a magazine, or writing your college thesis, I get it, it has to be perfect. But the fact is my business partner, my co-founder, he’s French, that is his first language.
His English is very, very, very good. However, in the early days, and even today, it’s not 100% perfect, like I read it. And I know, it’s quite obvious to me, it’s not written by a native English speaker, not to knock him or anything. But we’ve published a lot of his work and people read it, people like it, people accept it, that’s kind of fine.
The first thing I would say around this is there’s the threshold of what you can get away with these days is probably a lot higher, especially on the web, people don’t expect kind of like perfect grammar, you can get away with a little bit in terms of the question, though, about different countries and the cross-cultural stuff.
I guess I’ve been fortunate to work around the world and in many countries sort of in my earlier days. So I guess I was a little bit more used to just kind of being in that adaption mode. And it hasn’t been too big of a deal for me and kind of understanding something which might frustrate me typically was kind of like just how things are in this country or a certain part of the world.
You do have to keep an open mind about it. But there are usually things that you can kind of learn from, from other countries, because there’ll be certain things which you do in your own country, wherever that’s from, which might not necessarily be the most optimal way to do something or to, to think about stuff.
I think the real important thing is just to keep an open mind. And my experience has just been that good people exist in every single country, in every single culture around the world, that the percentage of high quality A player employees is about the same everywhere.
It’s more about like finding those people rather than necessarily finding people who align or whose way of thoughts align exactly with your own. It’s good to have a bit of diversity kind of in there as well from a thinking perspective.
Remote workers vs outsourcing
Derek Gallimore: And if you’re increasing the potential pool that you’re choosing from, you’ve got a greater chance of finding those A players and this instead of just geographically constraining yourself to one town.
Mark Webster: Absolutely, I mean, the range of people you can hire on anywhere, within an hour or something of putting a job add up, it’s incredible that you can do that, and the opportunity that affords you, to affordably bring in talent to work in so many different areas, because it’s crazy. I mean, we couldn’t do what we’re doing without that capability.
Derek Gallimore: And to maybe round this off, where is all of this going, Mark, where is the future of all this? and coming back to the beginning of the conversation, I see the online economy being one of the most advanced and early adopters in terms of remote and digital nomads and things like that.
Yet you go back to New York, you go back to London, and most people are still stuck to their desks and can’t even really grasp what outsourcing is or what the global employment pool is. There are two incredible sorts of very disparate methodologies to running a business at the moment. Where do you see this in the next 10 to 20 years? Is everyone going to be working online remotely? all around the world?
Mark Webster: No, I mean, I think we’re quite far away from everyone in the world is remote. I think there’s probably some more technological change that needs to occur before. We’re truly at that, at that level, I’m thinking some kind of virtual reality office here, I don’t know. But it’s, it’s going in the outsourced direction.
I mean, you say that a lot of people still sort of tied to the desks and in kind of London and New York, these kinds of places. That’s certainly true. Based on the people I know who work there, there are still layoffs, and kind of more outsourcing projects on the go, I think where we’re at right now in the economy is that there’s actually like a little bit of a shortage of labor, it seems in certainly in the UK, I’m not sure how things are over in the US, there’s a bit of a shortage of labor.
No one’s kind of getting outsourced or getting pushed out of a job there, just because salaries are kind of going up in this huge, huge demand for, for people at the moment, I think, where this like real risk can kind of come in, is not necessarily in outsourcing. But more like automation. So things like driverless cars and these kinds of things.
I think when they do come in, they will have a much more profound impact on the kind of work economy, then, in terms of it will be like a bit of a cliff edge. Versus I think with outsourcing, yes, it’s taken some jobs, the typical call center, you imagine being outsourced to India or something like that. I know, my previous company had a lot of projects like that.
You might think in terms of that being outsourcing. But another way of looking at it is like an enabler. So it’s enabled me to start a business and hire 20 odd people around the world and create all this economic activity. And so many other people can do that as well. So maybe it’s actually like more creator of an enterprise, certainly in the kind of online marketing webspace.
Whereas before, for me to open an office in London and hire a developer, a designer, a writer, we’re talking six-figure startup fees, there’s no way I could have done that. I think it’s much easier to take the bootstrapped approach to grow your business with cheaper outsourcing models like this.
Derek Gallimore: Yeah, absolutely. And that is the irony, isn’t it? Outsourcing has been around for a long time. Now, automation has been around for a long time. Software, which is also taking a lot of jobs. Yet unemployment is the lowest and unemployment in a lot of places now is getting so critical that businesses are having to close down.
In Japan, some companies are just declaring bankruptcy because they can’t find staff. So it’s incredible. And outsourcing is this release valve. Because again, it just enables you to tap into the pool of 7 billion people that are on the planet. So it’s an interesting thing that’s on the horizon.
Mark Webster: It’s also showing that people, the companies, organizations are going to have to do more to meet the needs of their employees. I’m not talking about just paying them more, though, clearly going to have to do that. But things like work-life balance, like having more time off vacation days, these kinds of things.
I mean, the fact that in the US the average employee gets what is it, like 11 days vacation a year, I just, It baffles me why anyone would put up with that. Because there are thousands of companies online around the world, who will give you two-three times that much, as much as that no problem. So I think those kinds of that side of things will also be changed or influenced a lot by the outsourcing movement as well.
We might actually end up in the state where there’s a kind of more, it’s not like, fixed office, onshore company, and then the fully remote outsource company, but both of them is operating in a kind of hybrid model and more people doing month-long, maybe travel while I’m working thing or work from home three days a week, these kinds of models evolving over time. I think it could go in that direction.
Derek Gallimore: And there’s going to be a level of somewhere, isn’t it because as you become one globalized workforce, I assume there’s going to be standardised whether it’s official law, or just evolves, but there’s going to then be standardized sort of payment structures, holiday, sick leave all those structures, I assume, will eventually become standardized in some sort of globalized norm.
Mark Webster: I lived in Budapest, in Hungary for eight and a half years, I left there in April. But we when I first moved there, versus when I left the salaries for someone working in tech had liked quadrupled.
That was entirely due to kind of upward pressure from other companies in Western Europe, Germany, the UK, these kinds of places who are hiring Hungarian developers or designers, and paying them what is a low rate for the UK, but a very high rate for Hungary.
They’re being that kind of I don’t know what the word is, but essentially evolving into this, like bigger pool of workers where the the country’s border sort of stopped mattering so much from that perspective, certainly for something like graphics design or web development, where you really can do that from anywhere, it’s kind of a face to face sales role, some of these positions might be a little bit more tricky to outsource.
Derek Gallimore: But as technology evolves, it’s now fewer roles that can’t be done remotely. Whereas before it just used to be a kernel of a few jobs. But now, almost everything can be done remotely as the software and interfaces improved.
Mark Webster: And it’s only going to get more so like that. I think the jobs that cannot be done remotely, are also at risk of things like automation as well, robots and as I said, driverless cars, these kinds of things. So the technology could kind of be assaulting it from the other end of the spectrum as well.
Derek Gallimore: Absolutely. Mark Webster, thank you so much. If people want to reach out and see the work you do or know any more about you, how can they do that?
Authority Hacker Podcast
Mark Webster: Sure. So our website is authorityhacker.com. And we have a blog on there where we talk about all things online marketing, you can go check that out. And we also have a podcast which we do weekly episodes every Monday. The URL for that is authorityhacker.com/podcast, we’re on Facebook, Twitter, all social media as well. So just search for Authority Hacker and you’ll find us.