Savvy Speaks: When Outsourcing Makes Sense

Savvy Speaks: When Outsourcing Makes Sense
Savvy Sisters - Wed Apr 20, 2011 @ 07:30AM
Comments: 14

If you haven't heard it yet, there's a new buzzword out there in the business world; it's "giggers." While this is basically just a fancy new term for "freelancers," the rise of the term parallels the rise of the gig workstyle. So when your plate gets full, what functions make sense to outsource to an outsider?  



The Sky's the Limit

Marketers can outsource everything from developing buyer personas, a brand image and a messaging framework, to defining lead scoring, setting up a marketing automation system and creating content. Deciding what to outsource comes down to assessing your in-house skill gaps, time constraints and organizational goals -- and even what you just plain hate to do. While budget is always a consideration, think about the opportunities you may be missing by putting off these activities.

That said, outsourcing doesn't mean you throw everything over the wall and expect the freelancer to figure it out. To get the most from working with a consultant, you need to be prepared to describe your company's culture, challenges and goals. And you and your colleagues need to actively engage with the "gigger" in information-gathering, strategy and review sessions. 




The answer depends on you

I suggest asking these three questions.

Is this something where I can add value?
If yes, it may be a good idea to keep these kinds of activities in house. However, you may have tasks that take time and are important, but they aren’t specific to your skill set.  These are great things to hand off to someone else.

Do I have the skills to do this?
Of course, no one is good at everything. If you're a writer, you may need help with design. Or maybe you exceed at developing strategy, but you aren't the most conversational writer. These are natural places to find help.

Do I have time to do this?
Even if you have the skills and can add value, you may not have the time. If this is the case, consider finding help. Just make sure that you have the time to manage the project and provide the support needed.



Gettin' Giggy With It

The answer to the question depends entirely upon the nature of the organization and the skill set of the "gigger." If the company needing resources has a closed door environment, they will obviously want to be guarded about certain proprietary information and may want to limit outsourcing to administrative and research tasks.

If, however, the company has a more open ecosystem, the appropriate resource can fill almost any role - from developing a new branding strategy to writing the next E-book to training the customer service staff. Sometimes, that outside perspective is exactly what's needed to move things forward efficiently.

Wendy Thomas


Send out for writers

Almost always it makes sense to outsource writing jobs. Although most people would like to think they can, not everyone knows how to write a compelling piece. It takes time, experience, and a lot of practice to understand how to write for a specific audience. Although all businesses need writers, very few of them carry a full-time writer inhouse. 

I can't tell you how many times I've been called in to fix a problem created by internal people's attempt at "throwing something together". The entire debacle could have been avoided in the first place by recognizing that a good writer is just that - a good writer and not just someone who simply has free time on their hands.  





Make sure to hire the right person for the job

If you decide to hire a freelancer, don't go in willy-nilly, hiring the first person to come along, throwing a bunch of material at them and then let them sink or swim. 

First, do your due diligence and look for professionals who specialize in the job you're hiring for and who charge a professional rate. (Someone charging well below the going rate should raise red flags.) To figure out how much to pay, take what a salaried person would make, add 30% for benefits and another 30% premium for the person being willing to be at your beck and call (as opposed to working for a steady paycheck). That should put you in the right ballpark.

Once you've hired them take the time required to get the person up to speed and make introductions to the people they will need to collaborate with to do a good job.   



To make the Blue Ocean less scary

It also makes sense to outsource if you are entering a new market (geographically, vertically, etc) and don't have the expertise in house from the start.  Freelancers who come from that niche can provide the expertise you need to seem like an old pro when you are just starting out. 

Freelancers also get a large part of their business through referrals so your current freelancer is likely the gateway to a lot of additional excellent resources.  I am lucky enough to live in a city that has a Freelance Exchange where freelancers get together every month to network, publish a directory of their members for local business and offer a annual "fair" for people to come in and meet them.  You might want to find out if such an organization exists in your area.


What jobs do you feel comfortable outsourcing to a gigger?

Are you a gigger? What value do you add for your clients?


Comments: 14


1. Barbara Bix  |  my website   |   Wed Apr 20, 2011 @ 11:55AM

Great points all. I recommend outsourcing when you have a temporary need for a particular skill set or experience--or you need expertise that will accelerate your time to action. Hiring talent makes more sense for those skills that you'll require on a consistent and ongoing basis, or to get a higher level talent than you can afford by "sharing" the costs with others. Here's a link to a post I wrote on a similar topic, complete with others' thoughts and comments <a title="" href=""></a>

2. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Wed Apr 20, 2011 @ 01:17PM

Barbara - thanks for the fantastic addition and pointer to your post!

3. Richard Bellikoff  |  my website   |   Sun Apr 24, 2011 @ 04:25PM

I've run into the situation that Wendy describes many times. Typically, the client will say something like "It just needs a little tweak," when what's actually required is a complete overhaul. A rewrite often takes more time than it would have to write from scratch, and it can be challenging to persuade clients that your fee is appropriate in reflecting that. Sometimes the best you can do is to get the client to hire you at the start of a project the next time.

4. Heather Rubesch   |   Wed Apr 27, 2011 @ 09:25AM

Richard - I think we have all been there. I guess the technique I use in that situation is to see if I think there is more work to follow and perhaps you "help out" in the first situation with the overhaul if you think they will involve you earlier in the process for future projects. That has had about a 50% success rate for me!

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