Overwhelmed Designers, Lighten Your Workload by Outsourcing

Outsourcing has negative connotations (at least here in the states). Whenever you mention outsourcing you immediately get comments like “Why would you send jobs overseas just to save a few dollars?” or “That’s the real problem with the global economy today!”.

To those of you who are about to read this post on outsourcing and leave a similar comment, I have just one word:

Relax.

Whether or not I think first-world countries should send jobs to third-world countries is irrelevant, because as we discuss outsourcing here at GDB, what we really mean is hiring other people to help you accomplish a job you need to get done.

Let me explain:

Taking from another article published a while back here at GDB,

Outsourcing in 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 designer to do the work for you while you manage client relationships [and other important tasks].

Getting started with outsourcing

Recently, on the GDB facebook page, Emily asked “What’s the best way to start outsourcing?” Today, we’ll explore the WHEN, and WHO of outsourcing. If you’re looking for the HOW, you can find it here.

WHEN?

So when is the best time to start looking for someone to outsource surplus work to? As soon as you feel like you can’t handle all the work you have coming in. That moment might be as soon as you start your own design business. Perhaps you’ll want to outsource your accounting or marketing to someone who you feel is more capable.

The right moment could be after years of hard work as a one-man show. Once the workload of finding clients, working for clients, learning new techniques, marketing your design business, and balancing your finances just becomes too overwhelming, perhaps you’ll want to outsource some of that work.

The timing is going to be different for everyone, but it’s usually the right time when your feelings of being overwhelmed with work meet your ability to pay someone else to do certain tasks.

WHO?

There are lots of options as far as who you can hire to outsource some of your surplus design work. Here a few to get you started:

Virtual Assistants
Growing more and more popular, virtual assistants are a great way to get some work done in your design business without sucking all your time away. Believe it or not, there are people who just love to do paperwork, balance finances, and simply manage a business. If you find a good V.A., you could transfer a lot of important responsibilities to them.

Other Designers
If you ever have a client approach you with a project that you fear you just don’t have time to handle or demands more talents or skills than you currently possess, you have two options: you can either overwhelm yourself with the extra work, or you can hire another designer to do the job faster and better.

Work to establish solid relationships with other designers, ilustrators, web gurus, bloggers, videographers, (and the list goes on and on) so that when tough assignments come up, you can work with them to fulfill your clients’ needs.

Family & Friends
I have a close friend who owns a successful small business. His brother is unemployed. At least until a few months ago. Now, my friends brother helps with marketing efforts for my friend’s small business and both my friend’s business and his brother are doing well. The moral of the story?

Help others who you trust and they will help you grow your business.

Who else?
Who else do you recommend for outsourcing your various business tasks and design projects? For that matter, what other tips do you have to share with the rest of us on when and how to outsource your design work? Let us know in the comments.

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Comments

  1. Terry says

    I have always personally chosen the people my firm has worked with and two years ago a marketing strategist that was retained by me outsourced some of his work. I made it a point to have lunch with him and several business associates just to fire him to make a point. If you are too busy to handle the work load that you have contracted to perform be wary when you are invited to lunch!

    • says

      @Terry,

      While I don’t have the entire back story of what you’ve posted – I do think “outsourcing” is a good option for things that I believe you can get your client a better product than doing the work yourself.

      An example I would outsource for a client would be a copywriter. I can write, but honestly a copywriter will do it better and I’d rather spend my time designing the work rather than stressing over content.

      I do understand what you’re saying though and I’ve had quite a few “advert guys” throwing design work to me – and I know they’ve marked it up at lease three fold. I’m not really sure how I feel about this, but I unfortunately think it goes with the territory.

      I think I approach my business in a different way, and treat my clients the way I would want to be treated. I want them to be confident in my work, and if my portfolio is what got the contract in the first place then I’m going to complete the work myself.

      -Bianca

  2. says

    Nice article. I’ve been through busy times in the past and wanted to come up with a way to help other people out.

    My partner and I offer a service for just this reason. It wasn’t meant for designers but it would work the same. Here it is: http://reselldesign.com – that’s who we use :)

  3. says

    Great post Preston! couple of things from me,

    1) We hired my sister in law to help manage the studio on a temporary basis when we went overseas for 6 week holiday. High trust factor, and she was capable although inexperienced. Great result. Clients loved her.

    2) We also hired a very experienced freelancer for that time while we were overseas to take on my work load. She was brilliant! Handled the clients really well.

    We came back to find out business in one piece, no clients had left (phew) and to discover when we did the billing from that month that we had the biggest billing month ever. All without us even being there.

    So if anyone is thinking about outsourcing, do it! find people you can trust with people who are really good at what they do and you are off to a good start.

  4. says

    Hi. I’m fairly new to actively freelance designing so I can’t say much based on experience about what to do when overwhelmed with work. I do think however that I wouldn’t want to outsource design work. If the client hired me based on my portfolio and my expertise and has been in contact with me from the beginning, it is only fair to the client that I do the job myself. If I cannot do the job yet, then I would let the client know my availability and if he/she cannot wait, then I would recommend another designer whom the client can contact personally.

    As for the other tasks I’d rather not do or simply can’t, I’d happily “outsource”. Thanks for the post, Preston.

    Grace

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