Outsourcing tasks as a freelancer
December 17, 2018
The good news? Your freelance business is booming, and you’re swimming in clients and projects. The bad news? You’re struggling to get it all done on your own, and you may be edging toward freelance burnout. In order to continue building your business sustainably, you may need to start outsourcing tasks.
But that doesn’t mean you have to hire and manage an employee. Just as other clients hire you on a freelance basis, you can hire other remote freelancers to take on specific tasks, freeing you up to do the work only you can do. Here’s a few reasons why you should outsource‚ and some tips on how to find the perfect person for the job.
Why Should You Consider Outsourcing Tasks?
Once you find the right person to take on some of your daily business to-dos, your operations will change for the better. By delegating some of your administrative tasks, you can save yourself time and energy. Then you can leverage that extra time to scale your business at a quicker rate, allowing you to increase your earning potential.
For instance, say you work 40 hours a week as a freelance writer with an average rate of $90 an hour. But out of those 40 hours, you spend 20 hours researching, answering emails, securing interviews, pitching and networking. You also don’t realize that you spend a good 10 hours each week tweaking your website, managing your social media presence and keeping your freelance finances up to date. Those 30 hours are non-billable‚ which leaves you with just 10 hours per week to focus on writing. This makes your potential weekly pre-tax income $900.
Hiring a virtual assistant for $20-$25 an hour might seem like a hefty expense, but this investment can save you valuable time in the long run. Say you find a virtual assistant to take over your finance and tax management, website maintenance and social media management, freeing up 10 hours in your week. You can use that extra time to write more‚ which will increase your average earnings per week.
In this scenario, spending just $200 per week on a virtual assistant frees up 10 hours that could be spent on writing‚ which increases your potential weekly pre-tax income from $900 to $1,600.
What Should You Outsource?
Running a successful freelance business means wearing a lot of hats, from accountant to marketer to graphic designer. While you can probably play a lot of these roles fairly well, you can’t be an expert in everything. Just as traditional employees don’t take on every role in a company, neither should you as a freelancer. In order to keep your business running as smoothly as possible, you’ll need to learn how to delegate appropriately.
For instance, your daily administrative and financial management tasks can take up more time than you think. It might be worthwhile to outsource tasks like receipt tracking and bookkeeping for your quarterly taxes. Or you may want to hire a virtual assistant to manage your schedule, respond to emails, perform research and keep your social media channels up to date.
But your tasks don’t end at day-to-day operations, and you may need a more specialized job performed. As a freelance marketer, for example, you may not be able to take the necessary time to design your website or track down new clients. Instead, you can hire a web designer to create an amazing new website, or a virtual assistant to conduct research and inquire with companies about their need for a marketer.
How Can You Find the Perfect Person for the Job?
Once you determine which business duties should be outsourced, it’s time to find the right person for the job. Try seeking out referrals, posting on job boards, searching on LinkedIn or posting in entrepreneur groups on Facebook. Expect to get a lot of responses, especially if you post on a popular job board or in a Facebook group filled with fellow indys.
In your job post, make sure to include the following:
- Specific details about the tasks you expect to be completed
- How often you need these tasks completed
- The minimum qualifications for the job
Additionally, you may want to request some specific information from potential candidates to weed out individuals who would not be the best fit for the job. This may include:
- Information about their past work experience, discovered through questions such as: “Can you describe your experience in X?” and “How have you helped other clients with X?”
- Their typical hourly rate and the number of hours they’re available per week
- Three direct links to their work (Pro Tip: You don’t have time to sift through websites and portfolios, so the ability to see their top work will help you move through the hiring process quickly)
When it comes to finding the perfect candidate, seek out individuals who are are pros at time management, and can get back to you in 12 hours or less. Overall, you want someone who possesses a professional skill set and can meet the specific deadlines you set.
Keep in mind: You get what you pay for when it comes to outsourcing tasks. For example, if you hire out your bookkeeping to someone for minimum wage, you may not get the results you’re expecting. When people work for a fair rate and feel appreciated, they’re much more likely to go the extra mile to uphold your brand.
What Should You Do When You’ve Built Your Candidate Shortlist?
Once the job applications start pouring in, narrow down the prospects to two or three qualified individuals. You can then conduct an interview or implement a paid test to ensure they’re a good match for you.
For example, if you’re looking to hire a graphic designer, you can ask him or her to create a sample graphic that will demonstrate their skill set. Of course, it’s difficult to test a candidate’s aptitude in certain types of tasks, such as bookkeeping or PR. In these cases, you may want to hire the best candidate for a month or two before signing a longer contract. This will give you the necessary time to ensure you both work well together, and that you’re happy with the quality of their work.
Remember: You’ll need to create clear expectations when outsourcing tasks. To provide your candidates with an idea of what the job will require, consider creating educational materials. For example, if you want a blog post to be written a certain way, create a short screen capture video to show your prospects how it’s done. This video could include how to research the article, the best method to find the right SEO keywords that drive traffic to your business, how to format the post with HTML and heading tags and how to fact check work.
Don’t assume that someone else will do everything the way you do it: Laying out the obvious will save you time, money and frustration.
The truth is that there’s not enough time in the day to do it all. Outsourcing tasks lets you focus on your revenue-producing work, while eliminating the frustration of your business pain points. Overall, outsourcing will give you the freedom to do more of what you love, which is the perfect recipe for finding the ideal work-life balance.
Ashley Eneriz is an independent financial writer who has been published on Credible, GOBankingRates, MoneyCrashers, Huffington Post, Business Insider Australia, Life Hacker, Fidelity, CBS News, and MSN Money.
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