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A Web Designers Guide to Outsourcing

Written by Tom Ewer on 22 April 2014

If you've reached the point as a freelance web designer when you're offered more work than you can handle and you don't feel that you can raise your rates anymore, outsourcing is the next logical step.

Outsourcing is the key to growing any business. One person can only do so much and trying to do everything by yourself will only limit your earning potential.

Even web designers who are just starting out in freelancing can benefit from outsourcing, allowing them to free up more time for client work and marketing their business

Increase Your Income by Outsourcing

Many web designers are reluctant to outsource tasks because they don't want to spend more money on their business than they need to, but this is short-sighted. Any task you do that can be outsourced for less than your hourly rate without affecting the final quality of your work can increase your income potential.

Say, for example, you charge £50 an hour for web design and you spend 5 hours a week on dealing with your emails, invoicing and other administrative tasks. If you can hire a personal assistant to deal with these tasks for £15 an hour, you'll have the potential to earn an extra £175 per week.

Once you start outsourcing work to not only replace your normal tasks, but also to allow you to take on more work than one person could physically do, the income potential is even greater.

Fit More Work Into Your Day

As a freelance web designer, the amount of income you earn is limited by the number of projects you can complete in a set time. Many freelancers start out worrying that they won't get enough work, but after building up your portfolio and getting new clients referred by word of mouth, eventually you'll find you have more work than you can handle.

The only way to make more money is to increase your rate or increase the amount of work you do. Eventually you'll reach saturation point when you can't work more hours and your rates are at the point of not being competitive with other service providers. If you're expensive and your work starts to suffer because you're trying to do too much, your clients may well choose to take their business elsewhere.

Once you've reached this point, the only way for your business to grow any further is by outsourcing some of your work to other freelancers. You can hire freelancers to share your workload, pay them a lower rate than what you're charging clients (this is acceptable to most freelancers as you'll be providing them with work and removing the aspect of client management). This allows you to complete more projects and earn more money.

Outsourcing to Expand Your Client Reach

Outsourcing is another excellent way to expand the skills and services you offer to clients and therefore get more business. If you're more of a designer than a developer, you may well want to take on full websites and outsource the development work to a programmer.

Many clients won't want to spend extra time finding a designer, database expert and Joomla programmer (or whatever they need for their site), so if you can provide all these services as a single package, you're more likely to be awarded the job.

Some clients also want copywriting, logo development, branding and social media management and often expect these all to be provided by one "web person," or will go directly to a studio or marketing agency. You can outsource all these tasks to different freelancers through outsourcing and offer the same service as an integrated studio.

Finding Freelancers

There are several online marketplaces for finding freelancers once you make the decision to start outsourcing. It's also worth asking around for recommendations as affordable and reliable service providers can be difficult to find.

Remember that cheaper is not necessarily better. If you're looking for a personal assistant or someone to do data entry or some other low level task, it's probably okay to look for cheaper labour, but you'll still want someone who's reliable and trustworthy. You'll find many outsourcers willing to do tasks like this in countries such as Philippines, where the cost of labour is cheap, but the level of English is still good.

For web design and development you need to be more careful as substandard work will impact badly on your business brand. Don't judge on price alone, but it is still possible to find freelancers for this kind of work that are good quality as well as affordable. For example, there are many Indian web developers and programmers who do excellent work at very low rates. The tricky bit is sifting the talented freelancers from the pool available.

For copywriting and other tasks where a high level of English is required, the expression "you get what you pay for" is pretty true here and you'll need to budget appropriately for a skilled copywriter.

You can advertise your requirements on sites like Elance, PeoplePerHour and oDesk. These sites will give you a lot of freelancers to choose from and you have the option to read feedback from previous clients before you hire them.

Outsourcing Pitfalls and Tips for Success

The hardest part of successful outsourcing is finding the right person for the job and this may take a while. Once you've found someone who produces good quality work and is reliable, it's sensible to pay them as much as you can afford in order to keep them.

Good communication can nip a lot of outsourcing problems in the bud. Make sure that all tasks are described clearly and with detail, including deadlines and any project milestones required. Check in with your freelancers regularly to make sure they're on track, as when they fall behind, you'll also run the risk of missing client deadlines. Always allow a time buffer for freelancers so if they're a bit late with their work it shouldn't affect you too much.

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