It’s ok to ask for help: a creator’s guide to using freelancers
Running and growing your creative business takes time and energy. After a certain point, you may find you can’t hit the goals you’d like to on your own. If that’s true for you, it could be the right time to give part of your work to someone outside of your main business — aka outsourcing. We spoke with Fiverr’s Trisha Diamond, Travis Vengroff, and Kaitlin Statz, creators of Fool & Scholar Productions, to get some advice on how to choose the right time to outsource, delegate effectively, and pick the perfect collaborators to help you scale without burning out.
When to start exploring outsourcing
After working independently to create something you’re really proud of, it can feel daunting to hand over the reins to a new person, but for many creators, not doing so actually hampers potential growth. So when is the right time to begin looking for other specialists to help you out? And how can you be sure it’s a smart business decision, rather than a reaction to a high-pressure workload?
At first, we felt like it was a bit of a weakness to say we needed outside help, Then we realized…it’s a strength to know you can grow and expand with the right tools and help.
“If you find that you’re spending more time on something that isn’t what you’re the best at and it takes up the most of your time, you probably shouldn’t be doing it,” says Travis. That might be using precious hours to manage your social media when you could be brainstorming new ideas for your podcast, or grappling with bulk emails when you’d be better placed to develop your photography. Doing what you love comes with administrative duties, and these will only grow as you do. “When I’m doing tasks that aren’t sparking my passion or where I’m most creative, I lose the energy to do the things that I love,” says Trisha. If these undesirable tasks are costing you creativity and causing your other work to suffer, you might want to consider outsourcing.
Also, if you’re planning a new business venture, creative medium, or product, finding an expert freelancer will help you to get the best results with minimum hassle. It’s a way of extending your workforce, without overextending yourself. “At first, we felt like it was a bit of a weakness to say we needed outside help,” says Kaitlin. “Then we realized that because we were growing and it was becoming a full-time career, we set our feet down and realized it’s a strength to know you can grow and expand with the right tools and help.”
Deciding what to outsource
To help you focus on what you’re best at, you might need to portion off tasks within a project, or a whole project. But the options for what you can delegate are vast, as are the pool of brilliant freelancers to get the job done. Global marketplace Fiverr helps you easily search, contact, and commission freelancers across the globe who work on providing all kinds of digital services: graphic design, web development, video editing, social media design, audio production, translation, GIFs and animation, e-commerce marketing — the list is endless.
For Fool & Scholar Productions, translation was an aspect of their audio narrative podcasts that simply wasn’t in their skillset. “We had to branch out to grow our stories and our worlds,” explains Kaitlin. “We could find people we knew who spoke Spanish, or Mandarin, but not Georgian, Swahili or Japanese. Being able to use Fiverr to find new voices has been a great asset.”
Once you’ve settled on the task you need support with, work backwards to ascertain exactly what you need. Decide on your budget, and then write down the different components of your deliverable. Let’s say you want to find a freelance animator to create an animation for your video series, that might require script production, storyboarding, and voiceover — and that’s even before you consider the actual animation.
When you’re happy with the project outline, speak with a freelancer in your network or on Fiverr to check you have all the components. This means you can come to a potential freelancer with all the thinking done, and they are able to hit the ground running. If this will be your first experience outsourcing, try starting with something small and inexpensive that you’re not overly attached to. Consider it an experiment to get you comfortable with the process of outsourcing so you can learn and adapt for next time.
Finding the right freelancer for you
Fiverr makes it easy to find freelancers who are the best fit for your project. You can filter your search by the service needed, budget and timeline to generate a list of freelancers to fit your needs. Instead of hourly rates, you will always know the project-based pricing up front. The platform aims to make buying a digital service as easy as buying something on Amazon, providing transparency around timing, price, and deliverables.
Each Fiverr freelancer has a profile which includes their experience level, examples of their work, pricing, and reviews. If you see someone who might be the right fit, add a heart to their profile to create a shortlist to return to at a later date. Once you’ve whittled the list down, you can message freelancers and ask some key questions to help you make your decision. It could be useful to ask how they would approach the work, and their strategy.
If the examples of their work aren’t enough for you to make a decision, you could pay them a small amount to provide a tailored sample (for example, commissioning a few lines of text for a voice over to get a feel for their output). As you go through the motions of contacting freelancers, you may need to adjust your budget to what is realistic and needed, or adjust your project timeline accordingly. It’s important that you know who’s going to work on your content, and getting to know them a little in advance helps you plan next steps and get a feel for how they like to work.
Running the process smoothly
“As a creator on Patreon, you are a brand and the face of your company, as well as being the CEO, marketing manager, creative director, and much more,” says Travis. “You don’t have to be creating every single piece, but you have to make sure that you approve every single part that goes in. And by finding people you like working with, you can expand your abilities and work with double, triple, or quadruple the efficiency.” Finding people you like to work with is a key starting point for great outsourcing, but once you have found a person you think you’ll work well with, make sure there is thorough communication, explicit documentation (which Fiverr handles), and clear expectations.
Outline exactly which duties you’re hiring the person to perform and provide instructions to help get the job done, plus elements like account login information and deadline dates. The aim is to free up your time so you can dedicate yourself to what you love, not create more work, so set boundaries and expectations early to get the best end result. “When you hire your first freelancer, you think it’s going to be a nightmare, but then when it pays off, you can do it again and again,” says Kaitlin.
Collaborate with people you feel most comfortable with and you’ll find it easy to relinquish some of that creative control. You’ll end up benefiting in more ways than just saving time, too. “You can pick up tips and tricks from your freelancers that you didn’t know before,” explains Travis. “Working with professionals who do this on a regular basis will help you learn industry lingo and standards.” His tip for getting the most out of the relationship? Ask questions and be ready to learn from them, and you will see your skills and quality improve.
Payment and ownership
If the person doesn’t complete the work you have ordered, you don’t have to pay for it. When you pay, Fiverr holds the money in trust and does not release it to the freelancer until the work is completed. Ownership of work completed through the platform belongs to the person who purchases it ( i.e you). As long as the order is completed, the copyright belongs to you and confidentiality is built into Fiverr’s terms of service. If you want to take an extra layer of protection, you can draw up an NDA for the freelancer you’re working with to sign. Fiverr’s customer support team works 24/7, so you can also voice any payment or ownership concerns to them.
Building a network of freelancers
There are lots of ways to build out your network of freelancers, so you have a go-to list for all of your outsourcing needs. Having a process for this can help save you time and energy in the long run. Fiverr can streamline this through a favoriting system: you can add a heart to anyone’s profile, which will gather them together in one place to quickly scan and search. You will also always have a record of your purchases and your past orders stored in your profile, making it easier to reconnect with freelancers you’ve used before.
Hiring freelancers you already work with to become your in-house team may be something you want to consider for the future, and if it’s cost effective, could take your business to the next level. That said, building an in-house team is considerably more expensive and means you have less flexibility. In the meantime, there are lots of ways to build a brilliant pool of freelancers on Fiverr or elsewhere. Fiverr Studios, for example, enables freelancers to team up together to create a studio, bringing freelancers of different skill sets together to deliver a specific project.
Kaitlin’s top tip? “Just ease into it by collaborating with the people that you feel most comfortable with,” she says. “Once you get to something that nobody you know can do, you can start to give up a little bit more power here and there, and then it doesn’t seem too scary.” Once you’re ready to bring new people in, and get into a rhythm of finding and collaborating with great freelancers, the sky really is the limit.
Where are you on your outsourcing journey? Connect with like-minded creators and members of the Patreon team on our Official Patreon Discord.