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The Freelancer's 6-Question Guide to Knowing When to Outsource

8. February 2016 08:00

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When businesses need work done that's outside their wheelhouse, they turn to freelancers. But what about freelancers? When should they reach out for a little help?

We asked experienced freelancers to share their tips on outsourcing tasks. Here are six questions to ask if you're on the fence about outsourcing.

1. Is it worth it for me to do this myself?

Speaker and freelance writer Leslie Truex (@ltruex), founder of Work-At-Home Success, says she was a “die-hard do-it-yourselfer,” but realized that “you can’t do it all – or do it all well.”

“For me, outsourcing was needed partly to deal with things I didn't know how to do (such as tech issues) and taking care of busy work that needed to get done,” Truex says, “but I didn't necessarily need to be the one to do it.”

Takeaway: Don’t spend time on tasks you don’t have the time – or know-how – to do.

2. Is there someone who could do this better – and faster – than me?

Freelance writer, editor, and book coach Halona Black (@HalonaBlack), owner of Digital Well Publisher, says in the beginning, she spent too much time “trying to make graphics look pretty” on her website.

“I wish I had hired someone on Fiverr to go online and create what I needed," Black says. "It would have happened a lot faster, looked more professional, and allowed me more time to focus on getting writing clients.”

Takeaway: Call an expert to get professional and fast work the first time.

3. Do I have the budget to outsource this task?

Freelance copywriter Caryn Starr-Gates (@StellarCopy), owner of StarrGates Business Communications, shares her budgetary outsourcing considerations.

“If the rate on the project is high enough, I have room to pay someone else to write,” Starr-Gates says, “with enough left for me to supervise the project, review the work, and edit as I see fit before it goes to the client.”

However, if the rate is lower, there isn’t enough to pay someone else and make money on the work.

Takeaway: Outsourcing costs money, so you need to weigh the expense against the ROI.

4. What is the benefit of outsourcing?

Freelance writer Rebekah Voss (@rebekahvoss), author at The Happy Passport (@Happy_Passport), says work that can be automated should also be outsourced.

“Outsourcing allows freelancers to get more done in less time, increase their per-hour income, and enjoy more freedom,” Voss says. “There is no need to spend hours upon hours scanning my business receipts when I can outsource to a company like Shoeboxed and have them do the scanning for me.”

Takeaway: Free up your time for other endeavors by outsourcing mundane but tricky tasks like bookkeeping.

5. How can outsourcing increase my revenue?

Marketing consultant Carolyn Higgins (@FortuneChiggins), president and founder of Fortune Marketing Company (@FortuneMktgCo), makes it simple: “To make more money, I outsource tasks I can pay others to do less expensively.”

“For example, I might get paid $100 to write a blog,” Higgins explains. “I can outsource it for $20 and instead of spending 4 hours on it, I now only have to spend maybe an hour or two on it. I just increased my hourly earnings from $25 to $40-$80.”

Takeaway: Sharing the workload allows you to take on more projects for a greater return.

6. Is outsourcing risky?

Nothing is without risk, and when you outsource, you trust someone else with your work, clients, and reputation.

“The risk of outsourcing is the same risk you take in any business endeavor: if you don't choose wisely, you risk losing time and money,” Rebekah Voss says. “The easiest way to mitigate that risk is by choosing proven contractors, freelancers, and companies with established reputations.”

Voss recommends when you first start outsourcing, it’s better to invest in a more established individual or company so you know the work will be done correctly.

“Once you have your outsourcing sea legs, you can look into more cost-effective solutions,” Voss says.

Takeaway: Choose your help carefully. To manage your risk, make sure your subcontractors have liability insurance so they can take responsibility for their work if there’s a mistake or dispute. Consider purchasing your own self-employed insurance, such as Errors & Omissions Insurance, to protect yourself against claims over your professional work.


Contractors | Errors and Omissions Insurance | Freelancers | General | How to Grow Your Business | Small Business | Tips for All Small Businesses

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