What is outsourcing?
Outsourcing in freelance design is simply the act of transferring the workload from yourself to another person. If you lack time or skill to complete a particular project for a client, for example, you might hire another freelance designer to do the work for you while you manage the client relationships.
When is it a good idea to start outsourcing?
Outsourcing in design can be a controversial topic. Many designers would argue that, if you are not qualified for the job or don’t have time to complete it, you should refer the client to another designer and get over the fact that you just lost a job or a client.
But what if a long-time client of yours comes to you and asks for something that you may not have time to complete or lack the necessary skills. Are you simply going to reject your client, send them on their way, and burn the relationship bridge you have worked so hard to build with them?
Of course not!
This would be an opportune time to work with other designers or freelancers in order to fulfill the needs of your client. Everyone wins: the other freelancer you work with gets paid, you maintain a client, and the client gets what they need.
How to effectively outsource design work
PHASE ONE: START YOUR FREELANCE COMPANY
If you haven’t started a freelance design company yet, this is obviously the first step. You need to create a branding platform, begin to find clients, register your business with all the appropriate government entities, and do all the behind-the-scenes work to get your freelance business off the ground.
PHASE TWO: FIND SOME GOOD CLIENTS
After you have everything up and running, you should work hard to find some good clients that will be able to support your freelance business. These clients can include large businesses that need a lot of work done, clients that need material (particularly web material) frequently updated, etc. Before you can think about working with other freelancers, you should have a steady flow of work coming in to your business.
PHASE THREE: MAKE SOME GOOD CONNECTIONS
After you have learned the basics of running a successful freelance design business, it’s important to network with other people-especially others who possess skills you lack. This will open doors and present outsourcing opportunities later on.
There are a million places you can make good connections with people. Stay active on twitter (follow me), facebook, stumbleupon, digg, and other sharing and social media sites. Another tactic you can use is to send messages to your followers inviting them to send their information to you through an online form (I use google docs). These forms can help you organize your contacts and information from other freelancers who might be interested in working with you. Make sure they tell you who they are, where you can see their work, how you can get in contact, what they specialize in, etc.
PHASE FOUR: MAKE A BID REQUEST OR DELEGATE
After you have begun making good connections with other freelancers, begin delegating the surplus work you have to the freelancers who most qualify for the job. If you are unsure who might offer the best experience and best price, you can also send out a bid request. Essentially, you would send out a message to the potential freelancers informing them of the opportunity and ask them to bid on the project. Have them include time schedule and price. This will help you choose a candidate better.
PHASE FIVE: WORK AS A LIAISON BETWEEN YOUR CLIENT AND FREELANCER
At this moment, your role changes. Whether you like it or not, you have now become a manager. You work as a account manager-facilitating communication between freelancer and client and assuring everything is completed on time and as expected.
While I love design, I have truly come to love working with other freelance professionals who are more skilled than I am. Managing the relationship between client and freelancer can really make you feel like you are running a legitimate freelance business.
PHASE SIX: FINISH THE PROJECT, COLLECT, AND PAY
Now the good part. The last step is to work out all the payment between client and freelancer. Make sure that all deliverables are given to the client and that the freelancer also gets paid as promised. Some freelance designers feel guilty about collecting money for themselves on a project like this, but if you have done your job properly, you managed the project well-which is what you will be getting paid for. It’s legitimate.
Last, a word of caution
I would offer a word or two of advice for any freelancer who is interested in adding the art of ourtsourcing to their freelance business. First, remember why you are freelancing in the first place. Don’t get so wrapped up in managing and making money that you have no time to design. You love to design-so be sure to keep the best projects for yourself and really enjoy them. Second, remember how you feel when clients hire you and then treat you poorly. When you hire a freelancer, treat them with the utmost respect, trust their opinion, and work well with them to create a professional product.
Will you be outsourcing soon? Add your opinion
Now it’s your turn. What do you think? Is it a good idea to start outsourcing some of the work that you dont have time for or lack the necessary skills to complete? For those of you who have started outsourcing, what tips can you offer the rest of us that might help in our endeavor to take this step in our freelance careers?