Should Freelancers Outsource?

Should Freelancers OutsourceFreelancers are used to being the outsourcees, but should freelancers themselves also outsource?

My answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Nobody can possibly do everything well. No matter how talented or hard-working you are, some skills are simply out of your reach. A person who knows what they’re doing would do a  much better job and in a shorter time. You already outsource plenty of things–hair cuts, dental care, car maintenance… Why not the  tasks necessary to manage your freelance business?

Self-employed individuals who try to cut down costs by doing everything themselves may actually be spending more. You have to spend time learning to do something well.

And then it takes you longer to get it done than if you hired someone else. Plus, you may make mistakes that could cost you big dollars.

That’s precious time and effort you’re better off spending by marketing your services and making the clients you have happy.

In this post, I’m going to talk about the top three excuses freelancers have for not outsourcing–and explain how to overcome them.

Excuse #1. “I Can’t Afford It”

This is the number one excuse freelancers make when we try to go it on our own. Especially when you’re just starting out, you may wonder why you would hire a bookkeeper, for example, or a web developer to create your website.

Keep in mind, there are many ways to get services other than paying for them, if you’re really cash strapped. Some ideas:

  • Barter your services–Find someone who needs a service you provide and offer to exchange services with them. It’s a win-win! Online forums are a great way to find people to barter with.
  • Allocate specific income–When you are making some money, it’s easier to outsource when you allocate a certain percentage or amount of that income to hiring others. For example, I set aside some of my regular writing income to pay for my bookkeeper and virtual assistants.
  • Get an intern–For simple, low-risk tasks, look for an intern who wants to provide services in exchange for gaining experience.

Excuse #2. “It’s Hard to Find Someone Reliable”

This is another good excuse, especially because it is true. When you outsource you want someone who’s highly skilled and reliable at the same time–all for a reasonable price. This may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. These tips may help:

  • Ask for referrals –Begin your hunt by asking trusted family, friends, and colleagues for their recommendations. Be clear about the skill set you’re looking for, and make sure the referrer has actually worked with the person they’re recommending.
  • Interview candidates–Don’t hire someone unless you’ve spoken to them. Get them on Skype, if you can’t speak to them in person, and get a feel for how the person conducts himself and if there’s chemistry between you. I know, it’s not a romantic relationship, but you should still get along well. While you’re at it, ask for references… and call them!
  • Begin with a trial period–There’s less pressure when you have some sort of a probationary period. Use the time to gauge how well you communicate with each other, how committed the person is, and if they have what it takes to do the job well.

Excuse #3. “I Don’t Have Time to Train Someone”

Here’s another good excuse, and I’m guilty of thinking it myself. Again, there are ways to get around this obstacle. Of course, the most obvious one is to hire someone who doesn’t need a lot of training. Other than that, here are some ideas:

  • Use video to record training–Make a screen capture video to show how you want things done. By recording it, your new support staff can watch and go over the training as often as they need to. You’ll also be able to use the same training videos with other people.
  • Use existing training–Search YouTube and other websites for existing training videos. You’ll be surprised at the amount of resources already out there.

Still Hesitant About Outsourcing?

I hope this post has shown you that it is possible for you to outsource–no matter how short on time, energy or cash you are.

Outsourcing pays off in greater productivity, peace of mind, and ultimately, increased profits. There may be an initial investment in the beginning, but the benefits are worth it.

Finally, think about it: If nobody outsourced, we’d all be out of business.

Do you have other concerns or fears about outsourcing that weren’t covered in this post? What are they?

Image by RagingTornado