When does it make sense to hire a freelancer?
Contrary to popular opinion, being able to delegate tasks in business and in life is a sign of strength.
Delegating can include everything from assigning someone to sort the mail to appointing someone to manage social media to outsourcing your web or marketing content to a freelance writer.
For some, outsourcing writing assignments can be a blessing. Are spelling and grammar not your strong suits? (Hey—there’s an app for that!) Does writing a 1,000-word blog article takes you three hours to complete?
If so, then maybe hiring a professional writer to develop your content marketing collateral is the right choice for your business.
For others, the idea of turning over control of company ideas, words and branding for someone else to create is cringe-worthy.
Outsourcing writing or graphic design assignments can be a smart business decision, allowing you to accomplish more tasks in less time by leveraging someone else’s skills set. But it can also present a challenge.
Let’s take a look at when it makes sense to outsource components of your content marketing strategies.
When To Outsource
1. When You Need An Expert
In today’s world, it can be easy to say “yes” to every request. In fact, some career experts recommend saying yes to a boss’s request and learning how to do it later. The ol’ “fake it ‘til you make it” idea. With an abundance of online tools and smartphone apps, it is possible to learn enough to get by.
But, when it comes to your brand, do you want to sacrifice quality just to be able to do it yourself? If not, consider outsourcing.
Sometimes, it makes more sense to outsource a project to an expert. Maybe you need to write a blog article or press release on a complicated technical topic. Maybe you want a video explaining your latest product enhancements. Or maybe you need a compelling four-color, full-page advertisement in a trade publication to drive traffic to your booth at your next trade show.
In all of these cases, it may make more sense for you to hire a writer or designer who can efficiently and expertly meet your needs while still maintaining your brand standards.
2. When You’re Pressed for Time
Don’t you just love those days when your schedule is perfectly planned out and you feel confident that you will mark everything off of your to-do list?
What alternate universe am I living in? For most of us, those days are few and far between. While we all want to be able to manage our daily tasks and projects, the truth is that no matter how carefully we plan our schedules, sometimes projects arise that throw the whole plan out the window.
When unexpected projects come up that demand your fullest attention, you need to be able to focus. You may not have time in your schedule for the new project plus the email content you need written and the landing page copy and the product enhancement announcement. Maybe it’s time to outsource!
Consider building a reliable team of freelance writers or designers that you can call on to complete these tasks for you when you have multiple deadlines to meet. With someone else focused on the writing, you are free to focus on those bigger projects.
Bonus: Getting it all done before the deadline will make you look like a multi-tasking rock star!
3. When You’re Trying to Scale Your Business
If you are a small business or a startup, you probably don’t have a clear idea of what your business needs will be as you are getting started. It is not economical to hire a dozens of full-time employees at the beginning before you know exactly how much manpower it will take to be successful.
Instead, consider contracting the work. A contracted employee can assist by coming in, completing tasks and helping you get your business plan organized.
Once your business is really off the ground, and you have determined your true needs, you can better determine how many full-time employees to hire.
When Not to Outsource
1. When You Don’t Have the Budget
When you hire a freelancer, you are still hiring someone to do work for you. While outsourcing can sometimes be a cost effective solution for your company, you need to make sure your budget can accommodate this expense.
Look at your budget and determine what you can afford to pay for the services you want to outsource. Decide whether you want to offer a flat rate or if you are prepared to pay the freelancer’s fee.
If your budget cannot handle the extra expense, it may not be worth outsourcing a project.
2. When You Need To Maintain Complete Control
Some managers want a project status update from their employees at the end of every day and some more frequently than that, even. When you outsource a project, you are at the mercy of the contractor’s schedule—especially if you are using a part-time freelancer with a day job.
Unless you set up these individuals on your company’s project management platform, you may not be able to monitor the status of the project in real time. As such, you may not be able to control exactly how fast the project moves toward completion.
If you or your manager demands real-time insight into the status of a project, outsourcing may not make sense. In this case, it may be wiser to use an in-house employee.
3. When Your Project Demands Confidentiality
This should go without saying, but in the event that your project demands confidentiality, it is probably not smart to outsource.
For instance, if you are preparing content for a product launch that needs to be kept under wraps, you will want to make sure you trust those working on the project.
Unless you want to consider non-disclosure agreements and legal counsel, it is better to keep confidential projects in house and outsource other projects instead.
Tips for Outsourcing
If you do decide to hire a freelancer, here are a few tips to keep in mind when looking for the perfect candidate to meet your needs.
1. Establish a budget: Make sure you know ahead of time exactly how much you can afford to pay to outsource your projects.
2. Establish deadlines: Be clear at the start when the project is due. Set his or her deadline sooner than your deadline so that you have time for editing
3. Establish open lines of communication: Be available for your freelancer to ask questions during the process. Provide constructive feedback once the project is completed.
4. Establish your needs up front: Make sure to provide enough detail at the beginning so that your freelancer knows just what you need. If you have research to share, certain keywords to focus on or specific imagery to include, providing that information from the start will make it easier for both parties.
Two other tips: Make sure you have also asked for samples of your freelancer’s work ahead of time, so you can have an idea of what to expect. And pay the invoice promptly once the work is completed—he or she will be much more likely to want to work for you again if you pay quickly.