The truth about outsourcing your freelance work

For a year or so now, I’ve been hearing those three little words wherever I go…”Outsource your work”…

I rejected the idea over and over again, telling myself it was something I’d do when I hit an income target or won a particular project. I hit those targets and won those projects, but instead of outsourcing, I moved the goalposts.

What’s really shameful about this is that it took three lockdowns to realise I can’t do everything. In the first two, I did what most freelance parents have found themselves doing and parented through the day, and pulled out the laptop once bedtime rolled around. I often worked til 2am just to catch up, before starting all over again the next day. When the third lockdown was announced, I knew this wasn’t an option. I’d barely caught my breath from the last burnout and couldn’t face another schedule like that.

Before all of this, I’d outsourced work I simply couldn’t do myself. Web tech, photography, printing – this all felt fine. I knew I couldn’t fix my website (because I tried to no success), and I couldn’t take my own branding photos while being in them too – outsourcing made sense.

I've got a while to wait before this one is big enough to assist me, but she makes a great desk!

But copywriting? That’s what I do. How could I pay someone else to do it? Could I justify it? The questions I asked gradually moved away from answers with a resounding ‘no’, and crept towards, ‘maybe’, until one day I found myself reaching out to freelance communities with the words ‘I’m looking for help’.

I’d love to say it was easy, and it probably would have been if I’d done it earlier. Except I left it to a moment of stress and getting things set up felt far more strenuous than they needed to.

Here’s what I learned:

1) Don’t outsource when you’ve exhausted your other options. Do it earlier than this. Because…

2) Finding and setting up a new freelancer to work with you adds to your load initially, it doesn’t decrease it.

3) Use communities you trust to find someone, and research them well. I found tons of copywriters, but only a few that specialised in the specific areas I was looking for.

4) Paying people to complete a sample piece of work saves time and money, and lets you figure out who best fits your needs. (Always pay people for their time, by the way, even if it’s 30 minutes.)

5) Provide as much info about the work you have as possible. If you’re outsourcing to someone less experienced than you, don’t rely on them to think of all the questions they might need to ask you.

6) Set deadlines with enough time to read and revise their work if necessary. (I found two brilliant writers that barely needed their work editing, but out of respect for my clients I will always read through copy I receive really thoroughly.)

7) Tell your clients. Some people chose to let their clients know directly when you might outsource some work, others write in a clause in their contract about this. Either way, honesty is best.

8) Pay them fairly, and fast. OK, this wasn’t strictly a lesson, just something I was always going to do. Pay your freelancers, people!

Outsourcing is something I’m going to do a lot more of this year. It’s shown me that once you’ve found the right people, the weight lifted is enormous. It’s been a really eye opening exercise in discovering what information I find valuable on others’ websites too!

Are you thinking of working with a freelancer and want to make sure it’s them who completes the work? You’re absolutely within your right to do so. So many people choose who to work with based on personality, relationships, experience and reliability, and you want to know you’re getting what you’re paying for. If you’re thinking of working with me, or chatting to me about a project, you’re always free to request I’m the one that works on your stuff independently.

Get in touch here.