My business relies heavily on interns, freelance writers and editors, and contract designers. So I know something about working with outside staff. I also know a lot of people who treat outside folks like the geese who laid the golden egg only to find that the egg was rotten.
Here's the thing, it generally isn't the service providers' fault.
It's not them, it's you
Barring engaging an incompetent or unethical person, most outsourcing failures are on the hiring organization. That's because most discussions about outsourcing completely ignore your internal capacity to manage an outside contractor. Unlike a crock pot, you can't just set it and forget it.
Make outsourcing work
Getting the most out of an outside vendor requires good management on your part, including setting quality standards and expectations. Click here to download an example of quality criteria developed for Developer magazine. It's also critical to establish goals and outline workflows.
It's also important to outsource the right stuff. It generally makes more sense to keep the mission-critical, high-value activities -- especially those requiring good relationships -- internal. Outsource development of new things, one-off special projects, or activities that require expertise you don't have or can't afford to hire in-house.
Put on your thinking cap
Glossing over these considerations creates bad outcomes. At best, you end up investing lots of internal cycles on revisions and do-overs, which kills the efficiencies you aimed to get from the outsourcing in the first place. At worst, you actually lose time and money, and squander valuable internal and external resources and don't get the work done in the process. Bleh!