There are times in the life of a freelance web designer when design projects come like rain falling from the sky. Those times are great and abundant to a point that the said freelancer’s bucket is too full that he can’t carry it.
Of course, he has options- either he carries the whole bucket and take on all projects or he asks someone to carry the bucket for him.
And that is where this outsourcing guide comes in.
Outsourcing is the act of reaching to a third-party entity to do a contract or business deal. It often involves transferring employees and assets to another.
In simple terms, outsourcing, in freelance web design, is the act of hiring another freelance web designer to do your projects. It is often done by experienced freelancers who have too many projects under their names.
It is practical
The simplest reason for outsourcing is practicality. In freelancing, the most common and prevalent thinking is that more project equals to more money. While that is true in most cases, the common thought is incomplete.
The more comprehensive way to look at freelancing is more projects = more effort = more money. Yes, effort comes along with projects. The more you accept opportunities to earn, the more you effort you need to put in.
Guided by this formula, freelancers take on a lot of projects and sometimes, they can’t even finish everything. So, to patch this loophole, they acquire the services of others who are also looking for ways to earn and outsource the project to them.
Less effort and ka-ching, more money.
It is efficient
Outsourcing also is time-saving. Getting another freelancer who can design for you gives you time to concentrate on other important tasks.
Say, you have a couple of projects going on, and one of them is a really big task to complete. You can focus on the bigger tasks (which in turn can be bigger cash), and allow outsourced freelancers to focus on the smaller ones.
That way, you can do projects simultaneously without sacrificing the quality of the ones that can give you more money.
It is all about innovation
Lastly, the best reason to outsource is when you want to do something but you don’t have enough knowledge to do it. Say, you were tasked to develop a website but you need certain plugins to be created for the site to function properly.
The only problem you have right now is that you don’t know how to develop (or customize) plugins. Would you abandon a half-finished project just because you can’t develop plugins?
Well, you could. Or, you can seek others who are knowledgeable, pay them and walk away a few bucks richer.
The Pros and the Cons
Before preparing to outsource, it is wise to look at the pros and cons. These will guide you in weighing whether you will try acquiring the service of other freelancers or just continue working on your own.
- Outsourcing is cost-efficient
Tasks like maintenance, design, development and marketing would often require people with varying skills and expertise. That would also mean that you have to pay each person for a fixed salary every month.
However, if you outsource, you will only be paying the said freelancer for the time spent working on the project rather than full-time salary.
- Outsourcing allows you to concentrate more on your core business
As said earlier, outsourcing lets you focus on your bigger projects (which in turn can return bigger earnings). You also give yourself extra time on marketing, client feedback, customer support, troubleshooting and more.
- Outsourcing allows you to work faster
Because most outsource service providers live in different parts of the world, you will be assured that work is progressing even while you sleep. You will surely find it relaxing to receive an email update first thing in the morning, telling you that work was done even while you were asleep. Technically, you get your work done while you’re not working.
- Communication Risks
This is the greatest hurdle when turning to outsourcing service providers. Often, you are communicating with different people, the risk of miscommunication due to language barriers increases. You have to be extra careful in hiring providers. Consider the fluency in English.
- Difficulty in finding great outsources
Sometimes, when you are looking for help, what irritates you the most is not the absence of people who are willing- it’s the absence of people who are qualified.
The same is true with outsourcing.
Finding service providers can become difficult at times, especially because you have lesser time to assess one’s skills in the shortest time possible.
- Exposure of Confidential Data
Privacy and security is sometimes compromised in outsourcing. It can be compared with sharing a secret to someone. The more people who know what the secret is, the higher the chance that the secret will blow and shock everybody soon.
In some cases, data is sometimes exposed to the wrong hands causing havoc in the life of both the client and the outsourcer.
- Synchronizing Deliverables
They say two heads are better than one. But if those heads don’t think alike, one head is enough. Most times, outsourcers have a hard time synchronizing ideas which often lead to faulty partnerships and, in result, bad outputs. This can hurt the company (or the freelancer) very much.
Must-haves Before You Outsource
Of course, before going to outsource service providers, you need to prepare some things to fully utilize and make use of the money that you will be paying. You have to look for positive qualities and sift each applicant into one best candidate.
- Avoid mistakes
- Avoid wasting time
- Avoid money
- Avoid effort
In that case, here are some tips on what you need to prepare before outsourcing projects:
- Check past projects – don’t be fooled by a great cover letter. Assess each applicant in order to have a worry-free outsourcing experience. Check the previous works. How great a designer is that person? And how will the past projects help you on your current problem.
- Go Search – try to search for outsource providers through LinkedIn. This is to make sure that the people you acquire are competent and professional.
- Prioritize communication and availability – is the outsourcee reachable when needed? Does time zones affect submissions? Is the location of your outsourcee prone to Internet problems and power shortages? You need to know all of these because it might hurt your progress in the future.
- Talk – strike a conversation with the person you are trying to outsource. Make sure you come to know each other. That way, you will be comfortable in your conversations. Maybe this can help you in the future!
- Sign an NDA – always prepare a Non-Disclosure Agreement to protect the privacy and confidentiality of your project. You will hold grounds using this when crisis arrives.
- Orient the outsource service provider – discuss the specifics of the project with the outsourcees and ask if the project is doable. You need to be assured that they know what they are doing.
More than that, you also have to be secured that they like what they do. Unless, you’ll have a very difficult time in syncing ideas, or worse, you have to go under the burden of motivating the service providers because they got too lethargic.
Truly, these tips will give you an overview at how you should prepare before going to the refuge of other designers to help you with your task.
Just remember each of the tips mentioned above and follow them. Else, you’ll have freelance web design experience you will want to forget.
Outsourcing Websites You Need to Know
Listed below a few websites where you can find outsource providers (and, maybe be outsource providers yourselves). Here they are:
Image from: Freelancer.co.uk
This website dubs itself as the one-stop shop for outsourcing projects. It has been featured in Forbes, TIME, The Wall Street Journal and other publication entities.
With an outstanding number of 2.2m users, you will surely outsource the freelancer you are looking for. Just post a job, wait for bids, choose and pay once finished.
Image from: Elance
With striking similarities to freelacer.co.uk, this website offers jobs to programmers, designers, writers, marketers, VAs and other temporary outsourcing needs you may have.
Image from: Guru
Guru is another outsource marketplace with over 250,000 users registered. What’s admirable with Guru is that it works with Escrow. This means that you, as a outsourcer, is secured of the deposited fund via the website. The funds are immediately released once the person outsourced completes the deliverables.
Image from: Crowdspring
Crowdspring has truly amassed a crowd of 19,000 small businesses. It focuses on design and writing projects. This is a great market for outsourcing because you can submit your project requirements and then users will deliver it for you.
However, this can go bad for the users themselves as they exert effort in working for a project which has no assurance of payment.
Image from: 99Designs
99Designs offers more services than CrowdSpring as it covers stationery design, print design and WordPress development. The mechanics are simple. Launch a design contest, with a price of course, wait for your contestants, choose and pay.
Again, this is great for the outsourcer but for the service providers, 99Designs can be pretty debilitating.
Outsourcing Gone Wrong
Have you ever wondered what will happen if in case you forgot to tend to the things you need to prepare before outsourcing? Here are some cases that have bothered big companies. These are big dollar wastes because of simple outsourcing mistakes:
When we speak of outsourcing cases gone sour, we cannot disregard the $4 billion deal between the US Navy and EDS. It was 2003. EDS has beaten IBM and Accenture for the contract to manage voice, video, networking, training and desktop services for some 350,000 Navy Marine Corps.
However, the deal closed a year later with EDS writing off a whopping amount of $350m because it had difficulty fulfilling the contract.
The real reason behind this issue is very complicated. However, it is safe to say that one of the major concerns was that EDS, who was desperate to get the deal, never thought of the Navy and Marine Corps to have tens of thousands of legacy and custom applications that they have to integrate or replace.
Lesson: Learn to test the waters first. If you think the person you are outsourcing cannot perform his duties honestly, you should not pursue. Never rush to find the right one. It will soon come. As a the person who is outsourced, you need to be careful not to be desperate to the point that you take projects that are difficult to work with.
Fran Schmidt had experienced a lot of headaches with outsourcing. She was tasked to head a team who should outsource employees for a development and quality assurance projects.
She recalled that there was an Indian she couldn’t understand over the phone. It took months to know what he had been talking about.
Schmidt expected this. However, what she didn’t expect was that her firm’s exisiting configuration management tool would be a train wreck when meddled with by collaborators from different parts of the world. It took 13 hours for the Indians to get updates on their source codes. This left the outsources behind by a shocking margin of a full day.
“When we hit the [Send] button, there was no code done by the previous shift the entire time they were at work,” Schmidt remembers. It caused havoc for the in-house developers because they did not have instant access to what has been done the day before.
“All our progress schedules were behind. It’s a domino effect with everyone playing catch-up,” she continues.
Of course, the clients were not so happy about it. It took them six months to recover.
Eventually, the firm switched to a newer configuration management tool. This cut the barriers of distance from 13 precious hours to a very reasonable an hour and a half.
Lesson: Before outsourcing, you need to test everything, including the locations. You also should not be baited by a low price. Remember that quality is above everything else.
Outsourcing is working hard and working smart. You can work easily while you earn the same amount. However, there are dangers to this technique.
If you don’t plan everything carefully, you will end up losing clients and cash. More than that, you smear your reputation as a web designer if you fail.
Remember, before hiring that guy to help you out, be sure to help yourself first. Be aware of the pros and cons, weigh them and decide whether to seek help or do everything all by yourself. Good luck.