Look, I know:
Managing your online business is not at all a piece of cake. Especially, if it's your side business. And it's your first time. And you're a one-person-team.
Been there, done that. And found a way to stay sane, find time for myself and not file for divorce.
The secret? Outsourcing.
The practice of having certain tasks done outside a company, either by another company or an individual (eg., a freelancer).
There are three situations when you definitely should look for help outside of your one-person-team:
- You lack skill
- You don't have time
- You really, honestly don't want to do something
With the rise of freelancing, virtual assistants and tools that help you automate your business, there are few things in life - and even fewer things in business - you cannot outsource.
Simply put, it's not necessary to do everything by yourself when there are talented, skilled and hard-working people you can hire for the job at hand.
In this post, I'll show you:
- What tasks digital creators can outsource
- Where to find the person for the job
- Things to pay attention to before hiring
- How to delegate tasks effectively
68 tasks digital creators can outsource to save hours of time
As an entrepreneur, you may be wearing different hats, multitasking, and trying to hold your life together.
Outsourcing skill-specific tasks not only gives you the chance to free up your schedule, but also grow your business faster and enjoy a higher-quality outcome than doing everything by yourself.
That being said, here are things you can start outsourcing now:
Tasks that require legal knowledge are the most dreaded part of business for most entrepreneurs. Luckily, today it's possible to outsource these important but cumbersome tasks to professionals.
To name a few:
- Setting up your business
- Preparing contracts
- Registering your trademark
- Applying for a copyright
Accounting and bookkeeping
If numbers and financial reports are not your thing, start looking for help - better sooner than later. Because there's nothing worse than realizing your bookkeeping is not in place, and even getting fined for that.
Here are some things your outsourced bookkeeper can do for you:
- Pay bills
- Create invoices
- Prepare reports
- Take care of taxes
Research is extremely time-consuming, especially if you want to do it right. No matter if you need in-depth competitor research or to find trendy topic ideas for your next blog posts, there are people who can and are willing to spend hours doing just that.
Here are some types of research you can outsource:
- Market research
- Competitor research
- Customer journey
- Buyer personas
- Influencer research
- Media and journalist research
- Blog topic research
- Keyword research
- Tool research (eg., sales tools for your shop)
Strategizing is another time-consuming task that not only includes research, but also putting the findings to use and creating an action plan.
Here are some things you can outsource:
- Business plan
- Sales funnel
- General marketing strategy
- Social media strategy
- Blogging strategy
- Content distribution strategy
- SEO strategy
Not everyone is a writer, and not everyone has to be. If you don't feel like writing a blog, or are not sure about your copywriting skills to write a sales email, stay calm because writing is one of the tasks you can easily outsource.
Here are popular writing tasks many entrepreneurs already outsource:
- Website copy
- Product descriptions
- PR and press releases
- Emails (from sales emails to marketing campaign emails)
Design is often what makes the first and lasting effect on your customer, and can play a great role in your success. A professionally designed website makes you look more reliable. A high-quality banner stands out and gets the click. So, if you're not a designer yourself, this is the skill to pay for.
Here's what freelance designers can create for you:
- Brand visual identity
- Web design
- Product design
- Banners, ad visuals
- Image editing
If picture is worth a thousand words, video is ten times more. Hire a freelancer to make your product explainer video, help you record your online course, or create a teaser video for your upcoming ebook. It's worth it.
Here are tasks you can delegate to your freelance video maker:
- Writing a scenario
- Creating animations
- Composing or finding music
- Recording voice
- Montaging and editing
If you do feel like doing some creative tasks yourself, it doesn't mean you cannot outsource the most time-consuming part - creating outlines. No matter if it's a blog post or presentation, you can hire someone to put the structure together for you, so you can later fill the blanks.
Here are some types of outlines you can ask a freelancer prepare for you:
- Blog post outlines
- Video outlines
- Online course outlines
- Presentation outlines
Setting up and connecting accounts
Setting up accounts, connecting them to each other, taking care of configuration… It's not rocket science, yet these tasks may take hours of your time, especially if you're doing it for the first time. For manual tasks like these, hire a freelancer who's already done it many times and will get the job done in minutes.
Hire someone to set up:
- Social media accounts
- Facebook advertising
- Google Analytics
- Payment gateways
- Different tools, apps and extensions for your shop
Other technical help
None of us is a Swiss army knife able to do everything that an online business requires. Make sure you know your strengths and ask help with tasks that aren't exactly your profile.
That being said, here are some more technical tasks you can delegate to remote workers:
- Website programming
- Adding tracking codes to your website
- Setting up a blog
- Chatbot programming
- Adding new landing pages
- Conversion Rate Optimization (including setting up A/B tests, etc.)
Everyday growth hacking
For most creative entrepreneurs, something like sending a cold pitch email is as frightening as coming face to face with Freddy Krueger.
Luckily, there are people who like the challenge, so why not entrust such tasks to them? Here are just a few tasks you can outsource:
- Forum commenting
- Cold emailing (eg., sales emails, pitch emails)
- Link building
- Guest blog pitching
People appreciate fast responses to their questions, and outsourcing a customer service rep may help you improve their shopping experience. Hire someone to take care of your existing customers, while you focus on attracting new ones.
Here's what an outsourced customer service rep can take care of:
- Email support
- Phone support
- Live chat support
- Proactive customer service
Just when you thought it's finally time for you to get to work, think again. Here are even more tasks you can and should delegate:
- Ad campaign management
- Social media management
- Proofreading and editing
Hiring a freelancer: where to look for the right person for the job?
Once you've decided what tasks you want to outsource, the next step is to find someone to hire.
There are many websites and other resources, specifically made for this purpose - here are the top outsourcing websites:
Fiverr is probably one of the most diverse and cheapest freelancer databases found online. Need a copywriter? You got it! Looking for a voice over for your video? In here! A business consultant? Yep! You can find pretty much any skill and very decent result from hiring a freelancer through Fiverr.
Price: starts at as low as $5 per task
Upwork is similar to Fiverr, but freelancers there are higher qualified and thus will cost you a bit more. You can outsource almost any skill through Upwork, from writing and design to accounting, legal consultations and software engineering.
Price: depends on the skill, mostly around $20-$30/hour.
Hire your personal virtual assistant through Wishup who'll take care of all the little business and life tasks - from bookkeeping and research, to managing doctor appointments for you. Extremely handy solution that costs less than expected.
Price: starts at $259 / month (includes 30h of work)
An alternative to Wishup, Time etc is founded by Sir Richard Branson's former assistant and offers highly qualified virtual assistants with relevant experience. The price is, consequently, higher when compared to similar services, but according to its customers, Time etc is definitely worth the money.
Price: starts at $250 / month (includes 10 hours of work)
99designs lets you either launch a contest and crowdsource designs (you describe your idea, various users submit their designs), or go the usual way - hire a designer through the platform. The first version works if you don't have a clear idea of what you're looking for, eg., if you need a logo but don't have a clear vision how it should look like.
Price: starts at $299 per design
Dribbble is like a social network for artists and designers. Here's how it works: you browse through designer profiles, find the person whose style you like, then reach out and offer the job. Many artists using Dribbble are professional designers at large organisations, and take up freelance works on their free time.
Wooshii is a project management tool that includes freelancer marketplace, designed to help you manage your video projects. In other words, if you need any kind of video, Wooshii can help you with everything that it includes - just post your task in the marketplace, how much you're willing to pay, and let freelancers apply for the job.
Price: you set the price (just make sure it's motivating enough for freelancers to apply!)
Codeable is a freelancer database to find a developer that specialize in WordPress.com - world's #1 blogging platform. So, if you consider writing a blog and building it on WordPress.com, Codeable is the place you'll find the help you need to get your blog up and running.
Price: upon request, depends on the task
Besides browsing through freelancer databases, there are other ways to find outsourced help, to name a few:
- Look through your personal connections.
- Ask friends to recommend freelancers they're working with.
- Reach out to people whose work you like (eg., if you read a blog post that you like, reach out to the author).
- Post your job offer on social media and let people apply.
- Reach out to universities and let them know you're interested in hiring an intern.
What to pay attention to before hiring a freelancer
Now, there you are - ready to outsource some of your daily tasks and looking for a freelancer to hire. But before you make the decision and seal the deal, here are some questions to ask:
1) Is the person qualified for the job?
This is especially important if you're hiring a freelancer with speciality knowledge, eg., an accountant or legal consultant.
First of all, look for someone living in the country or state your business is operating. There's no use of a great accountant from Germany if your business is based and operates in the US, as countries and laws differ.
Secondly - this should go without saying but I'll mention it here - ask for proof of qualification!
2) Do you like the person's style and taste?
Before hiring always ask the person to share examples of their work. Then, if you like their style and if you're satisfied with the quality of their previous works, it'll be much easier for you to get the result you're looking for.
3) What are the reviews?
I always choose to work with freelancers others have already tested. Before hiring, I always go through the reviews, paying attention to these things:
Does the freelancer stick to deadlines?
If previous customers are often complaining about missed deadlines, leave it and move on - you'll save yourself time and nerves.
What's the overall quality of his/her work?
In their portfolios, freelancers always highlight their best work. That's why I always read through reviews to double check if the quality is consistent.
Is it easy to communicate with the person?
Look - you don't want to hire someone who disappears and ignores your emails for weeks, showing up minutes before the hard deadline. You also don't want someone who doesn't read your task descriptions carefully and then does something completely wrong or unnecessary. So, pay attention to what the freelancer's previous customers say about everyday communication with the person you're planning to hire.
Does the freelancer have repeat customers?
If you see reviews from the same customers repeatedly, it's a great sign that the person you've found is all the things mentioned above - great with deadlines, provides high quality work and is easy to work with. On the other hand, make sure the repeat customer is not the only customer the freelancer has.
4) What language the person speaks?
For some tasks, language will matter. For example, if you're hiring an outsourced customer service rep, make sure he or she speaks the language your customers do. Or, if you need someone to proofread your writing, look for a freelancer who's native in that language.
How to manage work effectively
Once you've found and hired the freelancer, the last step is to actually get the work done. Here are some tips - learned the hard way - to make sure your collaboration is smooth and effective:
1) Provide the freelancer with detailed task descriptions
Better be overly descriptive than skip details. The more precise your task description will be, the easier it'll be for the freelancer to get you the result you're expecting.
For example, if you're hiring someone to do your keyword research, make sure he/she knows how you're planning to use them, who your competitors are, and which countries or regions you're targeting. In other words, prepare a detailed brief and you'll help yourself avoid misunderstandings.
2) Make a timeline and set clear deadlines
If you're working with someone for the first time, don't rely on their time planning skills. Instead, take the reins in your hands and make a timeline that clearly states what must be finished by when. This is especially important with big and time-consuming tasks.
Let's say, you've hired a video maker. Making a video is a process that includes many steps - writing a scenario, filming, montaging, editing, etc. Make sure you set a deadline for each of the steps, not just one final deadline for the finished video. That way, it'll be easier for you to follow the process and be sure that you'll receive the finished result by the hard deadline.
3) Ask for drafts
Remember that it's easier to make corrections while the work is still in progress than when it's done. Therefore, ask the freelancer to submit a draft before the task is 100% finished.
For example, if you're working with a designer, make sure you see sketches to get the idea how the end result might look like. From the sketch, you'll see if the person has understood the task and is going in the right direction. And if not, you'll still have time to get him/her back on track before it's too late.
5) Don't micromanage
It's important to communicate with your freelancers regularly and it's okay to ask for reports. But don't turn it into micromanaging.
Don't ask for a report every day and don't expect that freelancers will work on your project every day - you're probably not their only client, and that's okay because they're not your employees either. As long as people you're outsourcing are sticking to your timeline and deadlines, give them the autonomy they were looking for when they decided to become freelancers.
6) Bonus tip: Use a task management system
Emails, live chats and phone calls may be a way to manage your outsourced projects. However, to keep everything in one place and make it easy to overview, I suggest that you us a project management app like Trello or Asana. These tools are free, user-friendly and created for project managers to make it easy to overview and follow the workflow.
Final words on outsourcing help
Now that you know what tasks you can delegate, where and how to find freelancers, and how to manage work effectively, there's one thing left:
Start outsourcing, get more things done and carry out projects that you couldn't before, due to lack of time, skill, or motivation. Because now you know - there are people out there ready and willing to help!
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