You’ve probably heard that famous story about the American developer who outsourced his work to China. As you might imagine, that type of thing happens often when it comes to remote work since there’s no one looking over your shoulder. The real question is how good of an idea is it?
Outsourcing freelance work seems like a shortcut to getting to spend all your time lounging around, doing whatever you want. However, in my opinion, outsourcing freelance writing work is way more trouble than it’s worth.
In this article, we’ll talk about how that outsourcing process works and why I don’t recommend it. Then we’ll discuss other ways you can scale your freelance business instead. Let’s do it!
How Freelance Outsourcing Works
The concept of outsourcing itself isn’t anything malicious. You (freelancer A) get hired to do a job. You pay someone else to do it instead (freelancer B). That means, of course, that freelancer B doesn’t get as much money since he’s a sub-contractor. But then again, neither do you.
When it comes to freelance writing, this type of outsourcing is relatively common in hiring platforms. You’ll see a lot of requests that include very detailed style guides, which are usually outsourced gigs.
What happens is, you do the job, freelancer A polishes it up or adapts it to their style, and everyone gets paid. It doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but for me, there are several reasons why I don’t consider outsourcing freelance work to be a good idea.
Why Outsourcing Freelance Work is a Bad Idea
First off, I want to make clear I’m going to approach this topic from the angle of freelance writing. In this field, there are usually two reasons why you’d want to outsource your work: either you have too much of it or you can’t be bothered to write it yourself.
Outsourcing some of your work because you’re strapped for time might sound like a good idea. However, in my opinion, it doesn’t make much financial sense. Let me break down why in a few points:
- You pocket less money than if you’d done the work yourself.
- Finding talented freelancers takes time, which you already don’t have enough of.
- Even with the ideal freelance writer, you will still need to edit their work and adapt it to your style or what your clients want.
To put it another way, outsourcing your work still takes a lot of work. There are a lot of talented freelance writers out there. However, most of them work for high rates which the people that outsource gigs usually can’t meet.
What happens is you end up looking in a haystack for the few and far talented writers that don’t charge the rates they should. Those writers usually get burnt out fast, so you’re back to square one.
On the other hand, if you want to outsource your work to kick back, then what you really need is a vacation. As a freelancer, you technically have autonomy over the work you take on (unless you’re desperate). So, if you accept gigs you don’t intend on doing, then you’re going about it wrong.
Finally, there’s also the topic of what you’re promising clients. Usually, when someone hires a solo freelance writer, they do it because they’ve seen their work and they like their style. If you outsource that client’s workload to someone else, you’re probably not delivering the quality they want.
How to Scale Your Freelance Business Instead
A lot of people think that outsourcing part of their workload is the only way to scale their business. After all, as a freelance writer, you usually want to take on as much work as you humanly can.
The problem is, there’s only so much you can take on before you start burning out. If you’re churning out a dozen articles a day, you’re probably not giving each of them your all. That will reflect in their quality.
Usually, when you reach the point where you’re in demand enough that you have too much work on your hands, your best bet is to raise your rates. Sometimes this will drive a few of your clients away if you don’t approach the discussion from the right angle. On the other hand, it can also enable you to be more picky about the work you do take on and chase better-paying clients.
Another angle you can take is to start a small freelance agency instead of subcontracting work out. That is to say, launch your own small business. That brings with it a lot of challenges of its own, of course, but in my experiences agencies can command much higher rates. That’s because they’re more likely to get hired by big companies instead of getting one-off jobs or working for blogs.
To be fair, you’re not going to be able to kick back and relax with your own agency. Coordinating freelancers can be a lot of work, as is maintaining a high standard of quality for the work you deliver. In essence, running a freelance agency will transition you from the former towards more of an ‘entrepreneur’ goal. Whether you’re up for it or not depends on you!
There are two reasons why most people consider outsourcing freelance work: either they have too much of it to handle on their own or they want to kick back and relax. If you fall into the first category, raising your rates is almost always a better idea. That way, you can usually spend less time working and still earn just as much, if not more, money.
On the other hand, if you’d rather take on a more managerial role, then what you should be doing is assembling a team. Freelance writing agencies often get offered much more serious gigs than solo freelancers. Plus, in my experience, they tend to command much higher rates.
What do you think about outsourcing freelance work? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.