Outsourcing can change your freelancing business.
Once you realize that TIME is your greatest ASSET, you'll think of your work and life differently.
Few people are able to work 4 hour days, earn a good income and live a life of freedom.
There are many ways to get to this outcome, with outsourcing being near the top.
What is outsourcing?
You are paying someone else to do the work.
Before we get into the "how" of outsourcing, let's have a closer look at some of the tangible benefits you can derive from including it in your business model.
As freelancers, we like to think we can do and handle everything.
If you see yourself as the sole solution to completing a project then you will achieve one of two things:
You will maximize profits in the short term by doing all the work yourself, but you may land in a position where you are pressed for time with creeping deadlines catching you out.
You will only be able to accept a small number of projects at a time due to the physical limitations of how much work you can do in any given day.
Now, you can make this work, but the solution that will see you avoiding both options is getting others involved.
By breaking a web development project into different aspects and delegating it to others capable of completing those tasks, you will naturally be able to take on more projects without, in theory, a drop in quality.
By carefully selecting the right people to trust in working on specific project objectives, you may find an increase in quality compared to if you did the work yourself. You can intentionally only outsource work to others that they are particularly skilled with.
For example, if you're not a great logo designer, then you can find someone who is especially skilled with logos to create one for you.
This approach to delegating specific tasks to those with the specific relevant skill will allow you to scale your business.
Imagin you have a project that includes a wireframe design, logo design, copywriting, SEO and the actual development of the site.
Now, thanks to the outsourcing of a logo design, you've saved yourself hours of work. Sure, it's always good to learn and improve your design skills as a developer and practising with a logo design is a good opportunity for this but it detracts from two things - quality, as we have already spoken about, and efficiency.
By having a logo design off your plate, you can now focus on project tasks that you are more skilled with like the site development. Or maybe you've outsourced that too which leaves you more time to focus on creating the perfect website design.
More time to focus on what you're good at will result in an overall better end-result, a happier client, more referrals, and business growth.
This is a certain benefit if you are considering hiring full-time employees.
Unless you're already quite established in your industry, you're going to find business to be up and down - some months will be good or great while others will be bad or terrible.
This is the nature of freelancing and is a risk you need to be ready to accept.
There are a few ways to avoid this, read here.
As soon as you add others to your full-time staff, you're adding the potential for collateral damage should things go wrong. At the very least, you'll essentially be wasting money if you are paying a full-time employee to fulfil project-related tasks when there are no projects to work on.
Outsourcing alleviates these risks by virtue of their temporary nature. You only need help with projects when there is work so your work relationship can end, or be on hold, until the next project comes up.
This approach is more frugal and can be a wise decision to make, especially in the early stages of your business' growth.
Do you want to use your freelancing as a way of growing in the many subfields within freelance development?
Do you want to treat your freelancing business as a business from the start with the only goal being growth and industry establishment?
I hope that you want both and are open to learning new skills while keeping your eye on the horizon in terms of what's possible for your business to grow into.
Some freelancers only use this opportunity to learn new skills while getting paid until they feel they are ready to take on full-time employment with a company.
Outsourcing may be less beneficial to them in this short-term approach, but it depends on what they outsource.
Think about your goals here before moving on.
Do you want to be a freelancer who only works on project code or do you mainly want to design websites while dabbling with some copywriting?
You don't have to decide and stick to your decision for the rest of your career, but it's worth a moment of introspection to figure what you would like to do yourself and what you like to pay others to do for you.
Like mentioned earlier, you may feel like you can or want to take care of every aspect of the project. That's fine, it'll work in the beginning but will cap your progress and scalability later. There is only so much time and resources available so choosing correctly can save you both.
Once you've done this, choosing the right person to help becomes a lot simpler.
Do you know exactly how much you can afford to spend on a freelance logo designer before it becomes financially unfeasible?
You need to become serious about your business finances if outsourcing is going to be a viable solution for your business to scale.
No, "serious" does not mean "underpaying people", it means understanding exactly what your expenses are capped at and what you have to spend.
To get this right, you need to figure out the quality of work you can get for a certain price.
For this, you need to undertake a bit of research, observe what’s the going price on different freelancing platforms to get ideas and then cap yourself. It will be tempting to go over this limit when you have found someone amazing but this limit is meant to guide you and serve as a reminder of what is possible versus what is financially speculative.
Once you understand the cost-benefit of outsourcing project tasks, it's time to find your person or people.
At this point, you will know exactly what tasks you'd like to outsource and why it makes sense to outsource them.
You will also know exactly how much money is reasonable to spend. This is a really important fact to possess because prices vary wildly out there.
I would recommend starting your search with your inner social circle and expanding out from there. This will come with a higher inherent trust between you and the other party than what you would get with a random person from the internet at the outset of the relationship.
From your inner circle of friends and family, you can move to social media.
Twitter is a popular place for developers to get in touch with freelancers who can help them with specific tasks. You can send out a tweet and you'll have people reaching out to you.
I did that and found some great writers and designers.
Even if you have found someone through social media, it's worth checking out freelancer platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. This has the potential to be more reliable than your inner circle and social media-sourced people.
These platforms are equipped with smart filters allowing you to only view the profiles of those who fit within your predefined parameters such as price per hour, area of expertise, and years of expertise. You're able to see some examples of their work and get a feel for what it would be like to work with them.
Use a combination of the above methods to get a couple of people that seem suitable. Don't overthink it but it's good to have a couple of options which you can weigh up in terms of quality, price, and communication-style.
Some won't allow this and will instead only allow you to immediately hire them for a particular task but, where possible, you should first agree on a trial period.
This is obviously not needed if you require them to perform one specific task that will be completed in a week. It's more useful for repetitive tasks that you'll need someone for such as monthly content writing for the marketing strategy you provide your clients or weekly site maintenance.
In cases like these, it's better to first get a feel for what it's like to work with the other person before committing to a longer-term working relationship.
This presents as a chance for you to see how they communicate, whether they stick to deadlines, what quality of work they produce, and it gives you an overall feel for how pleasant it is to work with this person overall.
Ultimately, hiring someone to help out is supposed to make your life easier, not harder so take your time in choosing the person for the job.
I also use (and continue to use) UpWork and Hubstaff Talent - great resources to find quality people to work with.
Now that you've got someone working on parts of your projects, you'll find that you have more time to focus on areas that deserve your specific attention. This will result in a higher quality end-result making your clients very happy.
With time, you can outsource more of the work as your business grows and you learn to step away.
Outsourcing is a skill that deserves your attention as a freelancer.
It's one that you should pick up, put into practice and expand upon. Your freelancing business will grow without it taking over your entire life and every single minute of your time.
We need to remember why we started freelancing after all.
For many of us, it was to begin a life of more freedom... Outsourcing can help us get there faster without sacrificing any of the attention to detail we bestow on our projects.
Found this helpful?
You'll love my 80/20 Freelancing eBook then.
Catch you on Twitter :)