Get the low down on outsourcing with our resident marketing whizz Lainie Anderson.
The global phenomenon known as freelancing, with vast pools of talent worldwide, is now at your fingertips. Elance.com, Freelancer.com, Upwork.com, Fiverr.com are all great for getting specific tasks ranging from graphic design and online marketing to research and administrative support completed quickly and cheaply. It allows you to set your budget with ease and avoid cost blow outs while focusing on the creative side of your business. If you’re finding core parts of your business overwhelming then hire a freelancer!
With my clients I find many of their roadblocks are solved by using a freelancer to help them with the areas that aren’t part of their core skills and would take them too long to learn. This frees up time and energy to focus on what they do best, creating. Outsourcing things like graphic work, pulling together customer lists and editing websites are all great ways to save your precious time. Plus having these small and tedious tasks done in a flash builds momentum in creating your product quickly, ultimately leading to a more profitable business.
To get the best out of using freelancers and improve your success there are some things to keep in mind to boost your outsourcing success and satisfaction.
Always Start Small.
Freelancing with foreigners can be hit or miss and you’ll want to “hit” the right person quickly. Starting a new relationship with a freelancer is best done by giving them a small project first, or the beginning of a project, to see how they perform and how well they communicate with you. Once they prove they are good then you can continue what could be a lasting relationship that saves you tons of time and money = happiness.
Case Study: In my experience graphic designers come in many flavours so I like to give them teeny tiny jobs first, like editing images or a small poster to see how fast and good they are. I always ask for samples of their previous work too and only go with ones that are rated 5 stars (that means other customers gave them rave reviews). If they’re good then you can give them bigger chunks of your work, freeing up your time. After you’ve built a relationship you can hand them off whole projects.
Write Clear Briefs and Outcomes.
Accessing the freelancing marketplace is a great money saver but many contractors may not have English as their first language so your brief needs to be written in simple English with very clear instructions, goals and desired outcomes. Elance.com has many sample briefs for you to use as templates and automatically recommends to use them once you start typing in a job. It really is quite easy.
Case Study: Outsourcing building your business to business marketing/promotions data base (it’s not spam if it’s a genuine business to business offer). Tell the contractor exactly where they can search for the businesses you’d like to target and provide a sample spreadsheet with all the key details you want (or ask them to supply you one to approve before you get started). This can save yourself hours of slaving over the computer when you could be doing what you do best, creating.
Pay For What You Get.
For larger projects it’s smart to reserve some of the payment as an end of project performance bonus to be paid if it’s done on time and budget. I’ve kissed quite a few freelancing techno frogs than I’d care to admit but have also found some real gems that have been keepers and are now core to my business so it’s definitely worth the investment here.
Case Study: I helped a gallery owner client of mine reduce his costs by having him (or his admin assistant) make all small changes to the gallery website in house. I used elance.com to find a contractor who was an expert in his specific website platform and asked them to create a “how to” document that included some print screen shots off his website of exactly how to change the prices with step by step visual instructions. It was super quick, cost less than $40 and he uses those instructions all the time saving him $120 hr that he previously spent on his website developer.
Invite the Best Candidates.
When posting a job you can either keep it open for anyone to apply or search for candidates that best match your brief and invite them. If your task is small such building a mailing list or tweaking a social media image then you don’t necessarily have to go through this process but if it’s graphic design you want to put the effort in up front. By building a long term relationship they get to know the look and feel of your art and business which is priceless.
Case Study: For my gallery owner client I searched for candidates on elance.com because my client had a specific website platform (content management system) so I needed specific IT expertise at the right price. I chose 5 star rated candidates, didn’t go the cheapest but middle of the road ($12 hr) and bingo we found someone who was a great fit and delivered. My client is still using that contractor today to make small changes to his website saving him hundreds of dollars.
Consider where you can outsource effectively
Websites building them and making changes. If you’re not tech savvy you can get freelancers to build you “how to” documents so you can make small website edits yourself which, significantly cheaper than returning to the original website developer for every little change.
Virtual Assistants who can literally be your personal assistants! You can hire them for as many or little hours as you like for around $5-$10hr. They can co-ordinate all your print marketing such as brochures and print ads. You can get them to book venues, write blog content, manage and post on your social platforms and almost any array of administrative help.
Content writing. For blogs, PR releases or sales copy that you may use to target your ideal customers. Freelancers can give you a start to writing this kind of content if writing is not your thing. I recommend making the final edits and adding in your own personality to ensure it has the essence of you and your art business in the copy, selling from the heart is key.
Graphic Design. This is a big one to free up your time. Get your freelancer doing things like enhancing photos, social media images, promotional images, creating posters sorting your print ads etc.
Email marketing. Get help with your Mailchimp newsletters or any other digitally enchanced newsletters. Many artists will attest to an increased turnout or sales leading to overall business improvement after sending out a newsletter. If you’re not doing it outsource it now! (really it’s a must)
Research & List Building. Use freelancers to research and compile business lists relevant to your product. If you make sure you keep within spamming guidelines this is a great way to reach new markets.
Book Keeping. This is a great time saver and worth investing in a relationship to have someone handle all your book work and accounting. Go on, name any artsy folk who loves book keeping…
So get in there on and have a go, start small so you learn how to navigate through the freelancing world and free up your time whilst boosting your business. Once you’ve got a few positive outcomes under your belt you’ll get a taste of the space it creates in your business allowing you to focus on your creative flow.
Check out below for my preferred freelancing websites. – Lainie
(Fiverr and Elance are my favourites – Christina)