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Farming Out Extra Work: Thoughts and Considerations

Have you ever reached a point where you feel stagnant in your career? Are you working all hours of the night and day for much less compensation than you had hoped for and don’t see any possible way to increase your prospects?

Today we’ll discuss how to increase your income potential while keeping your sanity through hiring other freelancers like yourself to help take on the load. If you don’t think you can afford it or don’t know how to begin, you’ll definitely want to keep reading!

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This article is part four of a four-part series on how to improve your small business or freelance operation. We’ve covered everything from time-saving tools to earning extra money and even deciding on the best career path. Brought to you in partnership with Heart Internet Reseller Hosting.

The Simple Key to Making Lots of Money

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Freelancers are often tempted to work every waking hour despite the effects it might have on their sanity and social life. For many of us, the reason is simple: we’re addicted to what we do. Admittedly, a large factor in this addiction is making money. Not all designers are college educated but we do understand at least one mathematical principle: the more projects we take on, the more money we make.

After killing yourself for a few years, this starts to get old. Not only are you sick of missing out on the strange phenomenon your friends and family call “a life,” there’s also the realization that there are only so many hours in the day. Before long you hit your income ceiling; you’re making as much as you possibly can using your current methods.

So what happens when this point comes? You’ve officially maxed out your income potential and yet you’re far short of your income goals. Is there a solution? Actually, there is, and it’s a lot simpler than self-help books would have you believe.

The answer is to let someone else take on part of the load. The equation is simple, on one side is your available man hours, on the other is your workload. If you possess the admirable skill of being able to increase the workload beyond your own capacity, you need to balance it out by increasing your available man hours (i.e. hire some help). If you really think through this you’ll see outstanding potential for breaking through that income ceiling.

However, before you start seeing too many dollar signs, let’s consider a few important questions that you should be asking at this point.

Can I Afford It?

This is an important consideration. To answer this question, let’s consider the typical structure of the agreement between two freelancers: Bob and Joe. Bob has more work than he can handle and is constantly turning clients down. Meanwhile, Bob would like to earn more cash. As a solution, Bob calls up Joe. Joe is less experienced than Bob and really needs some extra work. Bob offers Joe one of his projects. Bob has negotiated a price of $1,000 with the client, then offers Joe $700 to take on the project. Joe gladly accepts and looks forward to more projects.

The most important thing to realize about this story is that, without Joe, Bob makes $0 on the project because he’s too swamped to take it on. With Joe, he makes $300. So if you’re Bob, you can’t make the argument that you can’t afford to hire some extra help because you’re only adding to the income you would otherwise receive.

If you’re tight on cash and you start feeding work to someone else and cutting into your own income, you’re helping yourself work less but doing nothing to expand your income potential. Alternatively, if you only hire freelancers to take on extra work, you stand to benefit financially. So the real question then becomes, can you afford not to hire extra help?

Will This Make My Income Potential Unlimited?

The real entrepreneurial individuals out there already have the cogs in their heads spinning. If you earn a few extra bucks with one freelancer, how much could you earn with three? How about five? Why not just hire as many as you can find work for?

Now you’re catching on. This is the difference between people who own companies and people who work at them. The people who own companies simply realized that they could make more money by being at the top of a team of workers than on their own.

There are two main problems with the fantasy of unlimited income potential through outsourcing. The first is that you probably will in fact reach an end to how much work you can drum up. However, let’s say that this wasn’t an issue. What’s stopping you from hiring fifty freelancers?

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

This is a lesson I unfortunately had to learn the hard way. The problem here is the same problem that brought you to hire freelancers in the first place: time. Remember that you’re hiring extra hands because you’re too busy to do the work yourself. Now consider that you’ll have to not only manage the projects that you’re working on, but also those that your team is working on. Suddenly you’re taking on more phone calls, answering and forwarding endless emails, proofing and sending changes and all kinds of other managerial tasks. Before you know it, you’re busier than you were before hiring on extra help!

The part that we fail to realize is that managers don’t sit back and drink coffee while the underlings work, they manage! Hiring on extra help can be a frustrating and time consuming experience. So much so that many who try quickly realize that they actually prefer doing the work themselves, even if it means working more hours per week than any one person ever should.

So you see, farming out work to other freelancers doesn’t earn you free money. The cost is time, which of course translates to opportunity costs.

Where Will I Find the Help?

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Designers are a tight-knit group on the web. The last time I needed the help of a freelancer I merely browsed my list of Twitter friends to find someone that I had come to know well with a stellar portfolio.

However, not all designers will have such a network and hiring someone random from Twitter can turn into a nightmare. The problem is that the cliché holds true, “good help is hard to find.” When you’re hiring a freelancer to sub work out to, remember that you’re stamping your name on the final product. If you continually work with someone who produces poor quality work, you’ll either have to spend hours fixing it or you’ll tarnish your reputation because you delivered something so poor to a client.

Where Do I Turn?

Fortunately, there are a few stellar services online that allow you to effectively build and manage a team of freelancers. One such site is oDesk. On oDesk you source a global talent pool of qualified professionals. When you post a job, you receive various applicants from interested freelancers. You can view each individual’s work history, ratings, test scores for various technologies, portfolio and more.

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As the person works, they upload six screenshots per hour so you can track their progress and ensure they’re on track.

One on hand, as a freelancer yourself, you shouldn’t like oDesk and other competing sites because they pose a direct threat to your business. However, instead of whining about how they’ll one day put you out of business, how about you try adapting to a changing marketplace and leveraging sites like these to actually earn more income and take on more projects?

Note that I’m merely suggesting that you take a look at some legitimate sites for hiring freelancers, not crowd sourcing. oDesk and other sites like it don’t support the idea of working for free in hopes of winning a prize. You hire someone, they work, you pay them a set fee per hour, end of story.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve read our rant on hiring extra help, give us some feedback. Do you think, when done properly, this is a good way to break through your income ceiling? Is oDesk a good place to start looking for quality help or do you know of something much better? What experiential knowledge have you gained in this area?

Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts. We’re anxious to hear your insight!