You’ve done it. You’ve achieved every freelance designer’s dream- the phone is ringing, and clients are lining up at your door, vying for your time and talent. You’ve achieved success as a designer. Or have you?
You’re working late into the night to complete projects. Your spouse and kids have forgotten what you look like. Spiders have built webs using your forehead and the monitor as anchor points because you never move away from your computer. You’re creating exciting designs, producing great product that your clients are raving about, and you’re miserable, because you’re working way too hard.
Last week you forgot a meeting with a major client. You dropped the ball on a big project, and you haven’t updated your blog in weeks. In short, you’re stressed, frazzled and overwhelmed. How did things get to this point?
In a word: Success.
You’ve created a solid foundation for your business by engaging with long-term clients, creating a solid relationship based on trust and quality work. Now, you’re in danger of losing everything you’ve worked so hard to build because you’re only one person- and you can only do so much work.
Outsourcing has become a dirty word in some circles. Images of companies sending their jobs offshore and destroying local economies in their pursuit of the almighty dollar come to mind. However, outsourcing is part of a larger phenomenon- the world is changing, and businesses need to recognize the reality of a global marketplace.
Outsourcing does not mean offloading a portion of your workload onto some child laborer in a sweatshop. It means partnering with other freelancers like yourself to help fulfill your clients’ contracts and to more efficiently run your business. Let’s say you charge your clients $50 an hour for your design work. Does it make sense for you to spend three hours a week updating your blog, when you can hire a professional content provider to write 4-5 blog entries for $30-$50? Of course not. An expert writer can churn out a quality blog entry in as little as an hour or less.
Outsourcing is about efficient distribution of resources. Many freelancers make the mistake of believing that time has no value. Time seems like a cheap investment to them, because it’s intangible. When you first start your design business, this may be true, but as you gain a reputation and a regular client base, your time becomes more valuable. Therefore, hiring out some of the tasks you once did yourself becomes more sensible.
Outsourcing comes in many forms. Maybe you just want help keeping track of your contacts, appointments and deadlines. Or maybe you’ve built up a partnership with other freelancers, creating a small firm, and you need someone to handle payroll. Whatever the job, there’s someone you can hire to do it. oDesk and E-lance are just two sources of potential candidates. Explore your network as well. Chances are, as an artist, you’ve met people in related fields like writing who might be good candidates. When you recognize the value of your own time, outsourcing becomes just good business sense.