“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.”
– John C. Maxwell, American author
There’s a difference between being your own boss and being a slave to your work. When you work for yourself as a freelancer, there’s a lot to do in addition to the actual paid work. You are constantly looking for work, responding to client questions, answering phone calls/emails/text messages, managing your invoicing, keeping track of tax information, and more. In most cases, your clients don’t pay you to do those things; they pay you for the work you turn in.
It took me a few years to find a fair price for the freelance price-per-project work I do that took all of the above things into account. It was around that same time that I also decided sometimes I just need help. Sometimes with writing, sometimes with billing, sometimes with my own branding and social media. I’ve paid editors to help me with this blog, too.
There are some things you simply can’t outsource, of course. I research and write all of my bylined stories for newspapers, websites and magazines. Website content for businesses, social media postings for brands and other non-authored items fall into the realm of content items I’m comfortable having other people write on my behalf. I always tell my clients when this is the case, with a disclaimer that I am still reading, tweaking and editing every piece of content before it is presented.
Having a small but mighty team of people I can count on to help me complete consistent work and one-time projects has made a huge difference in how productive I can be in my other writing. I have more time for “big picture” items and use less of my time on things that won’t grow my business or personal brand.
If you’ve been freelancing for awhile, you may be wondering at what point to ask for help. You should do it in these cases, in my opinion:
When things aren’t getting done.
If you have more work than you can possibly complete yourself, you have to make a decision: hire some help or drop some clients. I did the math on both and discovered that I’d still make money after paying other writers/editors a fair rate if I outsourced some of my non-bylined work to them. I’d make no money if I dropped the clients completely. From a simply math perspective, bringing in the help made more sense. Now there are other things to consider – like the manpower that goes into managing the work others do. In my case, I am still the main communicator with the clients and I also edit everything that comes in before I send it to the client or upload it. So I’m still working – but if I spend the upfront time training my helpers and getting as many specifics as possible from clients, it means a lot less work for me long term.
When you can afford it.
When I started out freelancing I needed every single cent I made because it wasn’t much. It took a few years to get to a place where I was making enough to meet our family income goals — and then there was more money above and beyond that. I ran some numbers and decided that I could either stop looking for work, or keep my options open with others to jump in and help me. The great thing about having help with my freelance load is that if there’s a time that I need to make more money myself, I don’t need to find a new client. I simply take back some of the work I’ve dispersed to others.
When opportunity presents itself.
I’ve had people approach me over the years and ask me if there was any extra work I needed help completing. I’ve never had to hire a stranger to help me with my work (though this is a completely acceptable way to do it – it just takes a little more work upfront). I’ve been able to get some admin help from friends too who are much more organized in those regards than I am, and who can look at my work objectively.
Are you a freelancer who delegates? What are your thoughts?
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