A Tidbit on Outsourcing

outsourcing redhead writingIt’s a week where I’m on a team that’s launching two companies at the upcoming DEMO Conference. Multiple other projects and clients have “Ummm…like NOW?!” needs. I don’t have enough arms to keep all of my balls in the air, so I look at my roster of contractors and I think, “Hmmm. Who’s a fit for my less-than-optimal-arm-quantity scenario?”

Hiring contractors is incredibly empowering. It’s the culmination of all those moments where you can say:

  • My time should be spent doing other things.
  • I’m so busy that I can’t do everything myself.
  • There are people who do this stuff faster/better/more efficiently than I do.

But there’s a key element in this list that’s missing: can you afford to outsource?

And by afford, I mean both financially and intellectually.

The financial costs to outsourcing are two-fold. You have to be able to retain enough profit margin on whatever it is that your outsourcing that it covers your costs. For example, if you’re outsourcing a page of SEO copywriting, you have to cover the time and costs it takes YOU to:

  • Manage the project (explain to your contractor what needs to be done and how)
  • Edit the project (review the work)
  • Communicate with the client
  • Invoice and manage accounting
  • Pay your contractor for the work that’s been done
  • (holy crap, that’s a lot more than just writing the damn page, isn’t it?)

If you’re outsourcing a community management initiative, you’ve got a whole other world of costs to consider:

  • (Again) Managing the project
  • Communicating with the client
  • Setting up reporting
  • Monitoring the account (so shit doesn’t get all Fake Sarah Palin on ya)
  • Invoicing, accounting, paying contractors
  • Making everything above WORTH your time

There’s more to just charging $100 and paying someone $50 to do it. Many business owners forget about the value of their time and what they actually do to earn the business, keep the business, get paid for the business and close out the business.

But, Erika – if I start billing for MY time, that’s going to make my costs go up! Nobody’s going to hire me?

<insert big ass “waaaaaaaaaaaah” here>

Great work is worth paying for. There’s a reason that agencies charge what they do – and in many cases, it’s because they actually sat down and figured out what it takes (manpower-wise) to write a page of copy. Design an ad campaign. Compile and deliver monthly reporting. If your costs go up, there’s going to be some fallout – some good, some bad.

  • Holy balls – you might actually MAKE money on a project!
  • The cheap-ass clients you’ve been catering to might go away, making room for those that will pay you what you’re worth.
  • You’ll be able to pay those nifty quarterly taxes on your 1099 income that you’ve been putting off.
  • You’ll rethink how efficient you are in completing and delivering projects and if you need to lower your new-fangled pricing, you’ll find a way to do so to remain competitive.

I just found myself sharing this information with a good friend this week and writing down and passing it on to you seemed like a dandy thought.

17 comments
Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2
Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2

It's really fuckin' cool to see you bringing consciousness to a topic that can free you up to explode your business. This is something I've struggled with being a control and perfection freak... to a fault. But I recognize this has to be done, and I'm happy to have found another source here of inspiration to stop being so anal and let people help me so that I can grow certain areas of my business at the speed of light as opposed to the speed of me "getting around to it someday" which of course is the speed going in reverse. Thanks Erika for always bringin' the RAW! I love coming to see you here! You're always the bearer of good news... even if it doesn't feel so good until the sting wears off because it came in the form of a bitch slap.

Michael LaRocca
Michael LaRocca

Been there, done that, wish you'd posted this three years ago. You rock.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Well, here's what I can offer. I own a company. I represent us as "us" not "me." Any cookie worth their frosting knows I can't handle the volume of work I do on my own. My team gets my work done. So no, I'm not passing anyone's work off as my own. It's our work. Hope that helps. And for what it's worth, I don't equate (ever) to hiring a contractor as plagiarism. Ever. Nothing leaves my desk without my input, review and approval. And unless you want to severely limit your income potential, your business needs to be scalable :)

D.T. Pennington
D.T. Pennington

Why are you keeping your balls in the air? Don't you know it's better to keep them in your girlfriend's purse?

Ben Anderson
Ben Anderson

What is it with you red heads? You and @CherylHarrison have rocked the blog posts this morning in a way sexy snarky kind of way. I love reading your stuff and find myself thinking almost as much as I'm laughing. Keep bringing the brazen red head attitude. You rock.

Alex
Alex

Like it. Yes. I like this post. (I paid somebody to comment for me. I need to check their work.)

Tena
Tena

This is awesome - thanks for sharing your insights! This would be my favorite part: The cheap-ass clients you’ve been catering to might go away, making room for those that will pay you what you’re worth.

LegalTypist
LegalTypist

Great article (as always)! :) Some helpful links: Brian Clark (@copyblogger) wrote an ebook on Outsourcing - it's free here: http://www.copyblogger.com/outsourcing-conspiracy/ Really need to know how to narrow down how much to charge per hour? Use this free calculator to add in ALL YOUR COSTS: http://freelanceswitch.com/rates/ Interview anyone you'd subcontract or outsource to as well as someone you'd let into your home based office. Trust and communication are the two most important aspects of a virtual relationship, IMO.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Right on, Nerd #2. I'll keep on makin' it so as Nerd #1:)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Delighted to be of service, as always!

Francisco Pavez
Francisco Pavez

Well, thank you, again. This reply certainly qualifies as giving more than is expected of you. I will think hard on the use of the first person plural. 11 years working as a 'freelancer' make it hard to change the mindset to 'company owner'. Cheers

The Redhead
The Redhead

I don't swing that way, Dave. I'll ask Carly about yours next time I see her, however.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Awww...shucks, Ben. Thanks :) That Cheryl - she's a sassy one!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thanks for stopping by today, Tena, and glad you enjoyed the post :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

You're a business owner, not a freelancer ;-) I have an entire post about that. Do a search for "whiny freelancer" - and thanks for the dialogue!

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