OUTSOURCING WORK TO OTHER FREELANCERS IS A NATURAL PART OF A SUCCESSFUL FREELANCE CAREER. JUST TRY NOT TO TURN INTO A CLIENT.
There is a perception that a freelance life is the life a loner, a person who likes to work from home, far from the office and the hive of employees click clacking away. While there are certainly freelancers who prefer solitude when they work, this is by no means a representation of all freelancers. Unfortunately, freelancers need to be reminded of this just as much as employers do. Many freelancers take on the loner persona that’s been assumed of them, whether it’s true to who they are or not. This character that some freelancers try and live up to doesn’t exist, and can be toxic. Freelancers need help sometimes, just like anyone else, and finding help won’t affect their independent lifestyle.
FINDING QUALITY FREELANCERS
As a freelancer, when you feel as though you need help, this is not a lack of ability. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Generally, when a freelancer needs help with their workload, it means they’ve been getting a lot of work. That’s success right there. They’ve done quality work for long enough, and marketed themselves well enough, that work has been falling into their lap. Like any business, when incoming work increases, the operation needs to expand in order to accommodate. There are ways a freelancer can stay productive without hiring permanent employees or having to shed clients.
If the answer isn’t obvious by now, we’ll just tell you: Outsource! If you’ve taken on one too many web design projects, find another freelancer who knows how to web design. Never thought you’d be on the recruiting side of freelancing did you? What’s nice about this is you know what a good freelancer looks like and where to find one. Wherever you find most of your work, look there; whether it’s Upwork, Fiverr, LinkedIn, or Facebook Groups. Before you post a job though, you should be searching within your network. If you have a robust network of freelancers, there’s no doubt you’ll know someone who is ready and willing to take on more work. Plus, sending your fellow freelancers work is a vital component to a strong and healthy network.
GETTING FREELANCERS PAID
Outsourcing to a fellow freelancer isn’t the same as recommending one for a project. In this case, you’re the one responsible for figuring out their workload and how much to pay them. Depending on the client or clients you work for, you may want to have the freelancer be paid directly by the clients. This would certainly take some responsibility off your hands, but you would probably have to be part of the negotiations between you, the client, and the other freelancer. Unless the freelancer you hire is going to be doing a huge amount of work for these clients, you probably want to avoid this route. The reason being is that you don’t want to drop more responsibility and more expenses on a client in the middle of contract. That would be a big imposition and definitely jeopardize work you do with them in the future. Now if you’re just beginning a contract and you tell a client you could use some help, that’s a different story. You should always be honest with a client about your capabilities to finish a job within time and budget. More often than not though, we take on a client with the certainty that we can handle the workload, only to realize that’s not the case halfway through. Perhaps another client asked to renew a contract you thought was ending. There are many reasons you might need to outsource, but when you do, don’t go around to all your clients and ask them to hire some other freelancer. That’s impractical and unprofessional. You’re going to need to pay this freelancer yourself.
You might be thinking, “well hold on, I didn’t know this was going to cost me money.” The old adage ”it takes money to make money” is true, and right now, you have the money to spend. If you have enough work that you need to outsource, that means you’re flush. Fortunately, you know exactly what to do. You’ve done this work yourself so you should know how much it costs. Once a price is settled, have the freelancer send you invoices and set up a pay schedule (it should align with the pay schedule of your clients).
AVOID EMPLOYER IMPULSES
When outsourcing to a freelancer, it can be easy to develop many of the same bad ideas that an employer might. Whenever we’re relying on work from someone that we aren’t directly managing, we can get fidgety and turn into a bit of a control freak. It’s totally natural, but as someone who’s been on the other side of those harmful tendencies, hopefully you can avoid them. Make sure to define your project parameters and details upfront so the freelancer understands where to spend their time and how much of it. Establish what tools you like to use from project management to communication. If you like to communicate with clients primarily via Zoom, have your freelancer do that too. Most importantly, treat them the way a freelancer should be treated, as a peer and not an employee.
Outsourcing is a totally normal part of a freelance career. In fact, it means it you’ve been succeeding. When you feel you need to shed some work but don’t want to shed any clients, don’t hesitate. Give your fellow freelancers some work.