More often than not, the freelancer is the one being outsourced to. A business will recruit the expertise of a freelance professional on a project-by-project basis, to supplement their in-house teams or plug a skills-gap the business might have.
Freelancers tend to work solo, though will occasionally find themselves in a situation where they need to be the ones outsourcing for additional skills.
Reasons why a freelancer might need to outsource work
Although it might not be an everyday occurrence, there may come a time when you need to bolt-on some expertise to fortify your own efforts.
When you need an extra pair of hands
How many times as a freelancer have you wished you could clone yourself, and smash through the seemingly bottomless to-do list faster? Outsourcing some additional hands on-deck can help you achieve a similar result when time isn’t on your side.
Sometimes it’s as simple as that. If you’re working to a tight deadline which you can’t meet by yourself, enlist somebody else so that you can divide and conquer.
To plug a skills gap of your own
Most freelancers are highly skilled at spinning multiple plates at once. But, whilst you might be nurturing a whole toolbox of diverse skills, you’re only human. You can’t possibly excel at everything.
If you’re working on a project that calls for something outside your own skillset, there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging your limits and outsourcing to somebody more qualified. In fact, it’s a strength.
Perhaps you’re a freelance videographer who can operate a camera, film incredible footage, colour grade the video, mix it with audio, and edit it all together to produce a knockout piece of video content for a client.
However, what happens when you receive a brief for a video project that requires an emotive and impactful script? If you don’t possess the creative writing skills to fulfil that part of the brief, you can outsource to a copywriter who does.
To win more diverse work
Another common reason why a freelancer might choose to outsource work is to fulfil a brief or bid for work. Supplementing your own skillset with the expertise of others will enable you to construct the all-in-one solution that your client needs.
It may be the case that you receive an invitation to bid for a piece of work, but you can’t tick all of the necessary boxes on your own. Outsourcing allows you to cover all bases and sink your teeth into opportunities you might not otherwise have the chance to experience.
Advice for outsourcing work as a freelancer
When selecting who you’re going to work with, do your research! It’s not a decision to take lightly, no matter how well you get along. Who you outsource to can have a make-or-break outcome.
Do your homework before working with someone new
When choosing who you’re going to outsource work to, don’t just go with the first person you find just for the sake of saving time. There’s a chance that this person is going to be great, but with nothing to compare them to you can’t possibly make the best decision.
Shop around, have some conversations, set up some interviews, and look through plenty of portfolios before settling on somebody. Our article about hiring other freelancers has a few more pointers!
- Don’t forget: Whoever you outsource to is producing work that will have your name to it so essentially, they become an extension of you. Ensure you’re happy for this to be the case before proceeding.
Start building up a repertoire of reliable contacts
Once you do find somebody great, who is reliable and you have confidence in, nurture a professional relationship with them and keep their contact details close to hand.
Eventually, you’ll build up a list of contacts that you can call upon if you need to outsource work, minimising, or even eliminating, the arduous research process.
Don’t test a new working relationship out on your biggest clients
When you do start working or partnering with somebody new, it’s advisable to start with smaller projects. Give yourselves chance to gel with one another and refine your working relationship.
Starting small and working your way up means you won’t jeopardise your main sources of income or most longstanding client relationships if any hiccups do arise.
Be honest with your clients to manage expectations
This is crucial for every client contract, so we’re always more-than happy to say it again. Be realistic with your clients about they can expect you to do, in what timeframe, and to what standard.
Be as open and transparent with your clients as you need to be. Of course, you don’t need to tell them every single detail, but do share enough to assure them that you’ve got everything under control. In a way that lets them know the reality of timeframes and delivery. They need to know they can rely on the quality of the work that is produced, and when they can expect it.
Don’t forget to file your outsourcing costs as an expense
Yes, that’s correct! When you outsource work to somebody else, you may be able to claim it as an allowable expense when you file your Self Assessment tax return.
Naturally, outsourcing means spending money, because paying those invoices inevitably eats into your profits. Including them in your bookkeeping will help you make sure you don’t pay more tax than you should!
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