Your freelance team: Using contractors in your freelance business
Gauging success in freelancing is not a cut and dry affair. However, when a person’s got their very own team, you can easily assume they’re killing it.
In fact, that’s why top freelancers are so good in the first place. Instead of a freelance marketer writing everything themselves from scratch, they employ a lower priced research, writer, and virtual assistant to get the ball rolling. More established freelancers who have teams, depending on their niche, typically employ some of the following freelancers as part of their team:
- Graphic designer
- Virtual assistant
- SEO specialist
- Social media manager
- Web specialists
Regular gig workers, or ones that are just getting started, have got a lot on their plate. We’ve already discussed this. Whether it’s talking to clients, conducting research, managing finances, marketing yourself, or simply working on improving themselves as professionals, there’s always something else to do.
And by something else, I mean things they don’t actually get paid for. You know, the extra work that comes with being a business in the most real sense of the word. Social media, prospecting new clients,
What is your most valuable freelancing task?
Having your own freelance team means you’ve taken things to the next level. Because it allows you to focus solely on the things that you do best, or that are best for your business. Which single task is the best long-term for your freelancing business?
Most importantly, which task brings in the most money over time? Chances are that prospecting new long-term clients is the most important thing you should be focusing your time one.
Let’s say you’re a writer, for instance. You charge $200 per article. You write about 3 articles a week, and spend the bulk of your time researching, drafting, editing, and delivering those written products to your clients. Fair enough, this is a solid freelancing side hustle.
But, consider if you sourced a lower-paid writer from Upwork, or used a paid service like TextBroker to get the ball rolling on your writing assignments. With TextBroker for instance, you could pay $30 to get a 4-star writer write about 1500 words for you on any given topic. How would you feel getting a written product that you don’t have to start from scratch, and is about 75% complete?
See where we are going with this? Yes, you now only made $170 on that writing job, but you saved more than half your time by adding a team member to your freelancing business.
The point here isn’t to outsource your freelancing work. You work with the client, establish their needs, develop in-depth and specific instructions for your team member, have them spend time developing a draft while you work on more important tasks, and then you come in at the back-end for editing and interactions with the client.
Simple as that!
Spend more time prospecting!
What if you spent more time prospecting new freelance clients? Hire a newer freelancer who is cheaper to get the ball rolling on your projects, while you spend an extra hour or two a day prospecting new clients on Upwork, LinkedIn, ProBlogger, and Freelancer.com.
See what we mean? Clearly, your business would be better off if you passed off some of the busy work to a team member. Even if you spent one hour a day prospecting new freelance clients and only brought in one long-term client a month, the ROI on the subsequent hours billed with that client is undeniable.
It’d definitely be cool to have a bunch of people dealing with the more tedious aspects of your business, right? Or the ones you simply don’t have enough expertise in. We’ve all been in a situation where a client asks if you can do something you have no experience in. What if, instead of saying no, you said yes, and brought on someone with that expertise?
If you agree with me, then a freelance team will help you get to the next level as an independent worker.
Develop your freelance team network
For starters, you’re going to need a network of contractors that you can reach out to whenever you need. A web developer when you need to update your website, a researcher when you need someone to find sources for a written project, or similar designs for your graphic design work, or a virtual assistant who can manage your social media, handle your emails, and make calls on your behalf to potential local clients. The possibilities are endless.
What does a freelance team look like?
Depending on your niche and specific needs, the duties of these contractors could be anything from conducting research, designing, writing articles, polishing your WordPress blog, etc.
Outsourcing some of your work. Well, it rocks. Especially nowadays, when the gig industry is getting bigger every day. There’s someone out there for every type of task, you just need to know where to find them.
Upwork is a great place to start when looking for any new team member.
Onto the basics. You may need a lawyer, an accountant, someone with less experience than you in your given niche like a writer, graphic designer, wordpress developer, and the list goes on. Take a moment to develop a list of what your freelancing team may look like.
Wouldn’t it be delightful if you had one of those lovely assistants that you see in films? One who’s always wearing a Bluetooth headset, and always has a pen and a notebook in their hands. Maybe even gets you a cup of coffee when you’re too busy to take a break and go to the Starbucks across the road.
Okay, that was a joke. And I’m also well aware that very few of us can afford to pay someone over $40k a year to follow us around and do the boring stuff for us.
But hey, having a virtual assistant might be a great idea. There’s a great many talented VA’s out there, and the best thing is, we’re still talking about freelancers.
For the first few years of my freelancing business, I hired a virtual assistant from Africa with amazing English who was killing it for me working 3 hours a day. Social media, email responses, drafting article outlines, guest post management, WordPress management, and the list goes on. For all that, I paid this virtual assistant only $400 a month.
This was the best money spent considering if freed up my time to find new clients. Those new clients now pay me thousands a month on long-term contracts. Not too shabby right?
And you know what collaborating with freelancers means? Flexibility. Which is exactly what you need.
Am I ready for a freelancing team?
Maybe not, and that’s OK. One thing you need to keep in mind. Forming a freelance team isn’t all fun and games. Before you start looking for team members, ask yourself the following questions.
Are you already established as a freelancer? You can’t have started freelancing, say, a month ago and expect to have a team up and running right away. Which takes us to the next question.
Are you making enough money to afford paying other freelancers? Is your income steady?
Are your professional goals clear enough? Do you have a daily routine planned out? Let’s face it, having a freelance team means you’re organized enough to delegate some of your responsibilities.
For example, you can’t have a virtual assistant if you’re still winging your freelancer duties. I mean, how could they know what tasks they have to complete if you don’t know this yourself?
Start by tracking your daily tasks. What are you spending time on? Which of those tasks do you need to do, and which could be outsourced? Have a general idea of the tasks someone else could take on before getting started with a freelancing team.
The freelancing team
The lawyer and the CPA
Freelancing is nowhere nearly as rigid as having a regular job, but this is by no means reason to ignore the formalities. When in doubt about something, always consult with your lawyer. They can help you with contracts too.
Engage with a qualified and certified public accountant to keep you out of trouble, especially with your taxes.
You can be sure they’ll know everything about what you have to declare, which costs can be deducted and all the nice details.
Start looking for a lawyer and a CPA early on. Virtual assistants can come later when you are more established.
The Virtual Assistant
Take time choosing the right virtual assistant for your needs. You’ll be spending lots of time collaborating with them. Ensure they are the right fit. Upwork is a great place to source dozens of virtual assistants for your job. Test out a few of them, giving them all the same tasks and timeframe. Which one was most communicative? Which one produced the best result?
Make sure the job description is elaborate enough, so that potential candidates know what to expect.
I know it’s tempting to hire someone you’ve taken a liking to right away, but you’ll be much better off choosing a small number of freelancers, interviewing and testing them before picking one.
And make sure that the person you choose to work with is available for a long-term collaboration. After all, continuity does have its advantages, even if we’re talking about answering emails and handling your research.
Wrapping it up
It’s no secret that you’ll not be as good in some business functions. We all have our niches, after all. That’s why you need a network of talented contractors. A graphic designer, a bunch of writers specialized in different areas, even some researchers – anything that suits your specific needs.
If you want to achieve your full potential as a freelancer, forming a team is an absolute must.
Yes, it will cost you something, but your income WILL grow in the long term.