Can freelancers outsource their work?

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For the most part, the freelancer is the one being outsourced to. A company is recruiting the expertise of a freelance professional on a project basis to complement its internal teams or to fill a skills gap that the company may have.

Freelancers usually work alone, but occasionally find themselves in a situation where they need to be outsourced for additional skills.

Reasons a freelancer might need to outsource their work

While this is not an everyday occurrence, there may be times that you need to add some expertise to bolster your own efforts.

When you need an extra pair of hands

As a freelancer, how often have you wished you could clone yourself and get through the seemingly bottomless to-do list faster? By outsourcing some extra hands on deck, you can get a similar result when time isn’t on your side.

Sometimes it’s that easy. When you have a tight deadline that you cannot meet on your own, reach out to someone else so you can share and conquer.

To close your own skills gap

Most freelancers are highly skilled at turning multiple plates at the same time. But while you may have an entire toolbox of different skills, you are only human. There is no way you can surpass everything.

If you’re working on a project that requires something outside of your own abilities, there is nothing wrong with recognizing your limitations and outsourcing it to a more qualified person. In fact, it’s a strength.

Perhaps you’re a freelance videographer who can operate a camera, film incredible footage, color correct the video, mix with audio, and edit everything together to produce dazzling video content for a client.

However, what happens when you are briefed on a video project that requires an emotional and impactful script? If you don’t have the creative writing skills to do this part of the assignment, you can outsource a copywriter to do it.

To gain more diverse work

Another common reason a freelancer might want to outsource their work is to fulfill a job or a quote for a job. When you complement your own skills with the expertise of others, you can create the all-in-one solution your customer needs.

It may happen that you receive an advertisement for a job, but you cannot tick all the required boxes yourself. Outsourcing allows you to cover all of the basics and discover opportunities that you might not otherwise experience.

Advice on outsourcing activities as a freelancer

When choosing who to work with, be sure to educate yourself! It is not a decision to be taken lightly, no matter how well you get along. Who you outsource to can have a crucial outcome.

Do your homework before working with someone new

When choosing who to outsource your work to, you don’t just hang out with the first person you find for time constraints. Chances are that this person will be great, but without comparing them there is no way you can possibly make the best decision.

Before you decide on someone, look around, have a few conversations, schedule some interviews, and look at many portfolios. Our article on hiring other freelancers has a few more pointers!

  • Do not forget: Whoever you outsource is producing work that bears your name to become an extension of you. Make sure it does before proceeding.
Start by building a repertoire of reliable contacts

Once you’ve found someone you can trust and trust, maintain a professional relationship with them and keep their contact information handy.

Finally, build a list of contacts to call when you need to outsource work to minimize or even eliminate the tedious research process.

Don’t test a new working relationship on your biggest customer

When you start working with or partnering with someone, it is advisable to start with smaller projects. Give yourself an opportunity to merge and refine your working relationship.

Starting small and working your way up means that if problems do arise, you won’t put your main sources of income or most long-standing customer relationships at risk.

Be honest with your customers in order to meet expectations

This is crucial for any customer contract, so we like to say it again and again. Be realistic with your customers about what they can expect from you, in what time frame and in what standard.

Be as open and transparent with your customers as you need to be. Of course, you don’t have to tell them every single detail, but do give them enough to reassure them that you are in control. In a way that lets them know about the reality of the timeframe and delivery. They need to know that they can rely on the quality of the work produced and when they can expect it.

Don’t forget to record your outsourcing costs as an expense

Yes that’s right! If you are outsourcing work to someone else, you may be able to claim that as an eligible expense when you file your tax return for self-assessment.

Of course, outsourcing means spending money because paying those bills inevitably eats up your profits. By including these in your bookkeeping, you are making sure that you are not paying more tax than you should!

Visit our Freelance Information Center for more guides, advice, and tips.

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