How Delegating Routine Tasks Can Raise Your Freelance Income

Could you use a little more income?

If you’re like most of us, you probably answered “yes” to that question. Which of us wouldn’t want a little more coming in each month?

In this post, I’ll share a surprising technique to help you earn more freelance income–delegating your routine tasks.

When to Delegate

We freelancers are an independent breed. We like to “do it ourselves.” That’s probably one of the reasons many of us struck out on our own in the first place.

However, sometimes doing it yourself just doesn’t make sense. It may seem contrary to logic, but delegating routine tasks to others can often result in a higher freelancing income. That’s because delegation frees your time up for paid work.

Here are two clear signs that it’s time to delegate:

  1. You are busy and delegating a task costs less than your hourly rate. Your time is a valuable limited resource. Doing something yourself doesn’t always mean you are saving money. What it could mean is that you are using your time at your average hourly rate when you could be paying someone else less.
  2. You don’t know how to do something or don’t like doing it. Freelancers can’t afford to make mistakes. If you’re not good at something and can’t afford to take the time to learn to do it well, it’s time to delegate that task to someone else.

Delegation frees you up to take on more work at your higher hourly rate. Remember, you don’t earn anything for the time you spend on daily tasks.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Let’s suppose that you want to bill for thirty hours of freelancing business each week. You average $50.00 an hour for your freelancing services.

However, you rarely find yourself billing for thirty hours. The problem isn’t that there isn’t enough work. In fact, you’ve been turning work away because you don’t have enough time to get to it.

After examining your time carefully, you realize you’re spending about ten hours each week on non-billable tasks. You delegate these tasks to someone else for an average hourly rate of $25.00 an hour. Now, you can take those projects you’ve been turning away.

Now that we’ve discussed when delegate, it’s time to take a look at what to delegate.

What to Delegate

From personal tasks to professional tasks, many of your routine tasks can be delegated to others.

Here is a sampling of eight common freelancer personal and professional tasks that can be delegated:

  1. Administrative tasks–Administrative tasks can take a lot of a freelancer’s time. Can you really afford to spend an hour or two each day on this? Routine administrative tasks can often be delegated to a virtual assistant at less than your hourly rate.
  2. Bookkeeping/accounting–Many freelancers don’t really have a good grasp of accounting. They tend to put bookkeeping off and before long; they have a mess on their hands. A good bookkeeper can handle your tasks in a fraction of the time that it would take you.
  3. Web development/maintenance–You keep telling yourself that you’ll figure it out, but you never really do. Your website is hopelessly out of date and it would take you a long time to fix it. Hiring a knowledgeable web developer can be a good freelancing investment.
  4. Writing–You hate to write. You know that your grammar and spelling mistakes make you look bad. You’ve been known to spend an entire day composing an important email. Why not hire a professional writer and free yourself up for tasks you are good at doing?
  5. Lawn care–If you have a lawn to maintain, you know that keeping up with this task can take a lot of your valuable time, especially during the summer months. You may be surprised that hiring a professional lawn service often makes more sense than doing it yourself.
  6. House cleaning–How much time do you spend each week on house cleaning tasks? Whatever you answered, it’s probably too much. Consider hiring a maid service to take over some of your house cleaning tasks. You’ll also have the peace of mind that comes with a neat house.
  7. Laundry–Laundry is another time-consuming chore that can be delegated. Many dry cleaners offer a laundry service at a reasonable rate. You drop off your dirty clothes and pick them up a few days later, clean and folded.
  8. Cooking–Every time you eat out or order in, you’re essentially delegating your cooking task. While I don’t necessarily recommend having someone else prepare your food all the time due to nutritional concerns, if you are really busy sometimes it makes sense to order in.

Your Turn

What routine tasks do you delegate?

Share your answers in the comments.

Image by mysza831

Comments

  1. says

    Dan–The size is not the point.

    Let me give an example. Let’s say it would take you an hour to mow, trim, and edge your lawn. You charge your clients $50 an hour. The lawn services charges $35 for the same work. If you are so busy that you are turning work away, you will lose $50 you could have earned if you take the time to mow the lawn yourself instead of working. If you hire the lawn service you net $15.

    Multiply that $15 over the (roughly) 12 weeks of summer–There’s an additional $180 just from delegating lawn work.

    Of course, if you really enjoy doing the lawn work yourself you may want to hang onto that task and delegate a task you don’t enjoy. :)

  2. says

    Accounting, hands down. I can never work around numbers and I certainly do not want to end up paying penalties because of miscalculations when paying taxes.

  3. says

    Great post. I out-source numbers 1,3,6,7,8. I began hiring a house-cleaner when I recently had major surgery and couldn’t even sweep the floor while recovering; now she comes twice a month for a total cost of $110 (we live in a 1 bdrm apartment with no kids or pets.) That’s much less than my lowest hourly rate, so it’s been great.

    I just hired an assistant at $10 an hour and her $70 worth of work already netted me four new clients. Cha-ching!

    I know what I do best and most quickly. The rest I pay others to do, and write those costs off as business expenses.

  4. says

    When I am very busy and working on getting more jobs or focusing on big projects, I even delegate smaller design jobs to other designers. So that doesn’t mean always I delegate jobs that I “don’t like or can not do”

  5. says

    Laura, delegating tasks is a perfect way to increase productivity, there’s no doubt.

    However, here’s the catch: you still need to stay involved, especially with anything that is related to your business (I will cross out mown lawing from this). You can outsource accounting, yet you still need to keep track of your finances regularly to know what is going on in your business. Writing – sure, yet you still need to make sure that the copy takes the direction you want your business to head towards etc.

    Luckily, providing that the person you asked to help you does a good job, your involvement will not require as much time as doing the task itself would….

  6. says

    Timothy K.–I’m glad you understand the value of delegating. As you grow your business you may find that you want to hire people outside of your family. Thanks for sharing. :)

    Pawel Grabowski, Excellent point! Yes, it’s true. Delegating doesn’t mean that you are totally relieved of the responsibility. That’s why it’s important to pick reliable for your professional tasks and make sure that you supervise what they do.

  7. says

    I’m at the beginning of my delegating journey… starting with #1. I’m getting better out explaining myself and getting a feel for the style of the assistant but I agree with Pawel… you most definitely have to stay involved.

    Staying involved feels kind of counterproductive at first but the notion that “I could have finished this already” because in the long run…you’ll save time once the assistant has been trained properly.

    Great tips, Laura!

  8. Matthew says

    I’ve got another task to add to the list: child care. When you have young needy kids sometimes it pays to have someone watch your kids so you can have some peace and quiet to get things done!

  9. says

    I could not agree more! I work part time for http://www.adducology.com and I have ‘outsourced’ much of the companies back end. Particularly, accounting and wed development it went down really well with my boss who gave me a promotion once the savings came in.

    It has given me free time to focus on the more interesting aspects and I am now more client focused. :)

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