It’s okay to ask for help: a creator’s guide to working with freelancers

By Megan Carnegie

Photo by Jeremy Cohen, featuring Will Campos of Dungeons and Daddies

Find answers to common questions about delegating, outsourcing, and using tools like Fiverr to find 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.

We spoke with experts on outsourcing — Trisha Diamond, director of customer success at the Fiverr, a company dedicated to helping you find freelance services for your business, as well as the creators of the audio drama company Fool & Scholar Productions, Travis Vengroff and Kaitlin Statz — to get 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 is it time 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 delegating 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?

Decide how to best spend your time — and delegate the rest

Doing what you love comes with administrative duties, and these will only grow as you do. "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 Vengroff. That might mean that you're 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 developing your photography would be a more valuable way to spend your time.

"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."

"When I'm doing tasks that aren't sparking my passion or where I'm most creative," says Trisha Diamond, "I lose the energy to do the things that I love." If these undesirable tasks are costing you creativity and causing your other work to suffer, you might want to consider outsourcing.

Find help growing your creative venture

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… 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."

What should I outsource, and how?

To help you focus on what you're best at, you might need to portion off tasks within a project or a whole project. The options for what you can delegate are vast, as is the pool of brilliant freelancers to get the job done. Global marketplaces like Fiverr can help you easily search, contact, and commission freelancers across the globe who provide all kinds of digital services: graphic design, web development, video editing, social media design, audio production, translation, GIFs and animation, e-commerce marketing, and more.

Seek expertise that's beyond your skill set

For the founders of 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," Kaitlin explains. "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."

Work backwards to make a plan

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 before you even consider the actual animation.

When you're happy with your project outline, speak with a freelancer in your network or on a site like Fiverr to check you have all the components. This means you can come to a potential freelancer with all the thinking done, and they will be able to hit the ground running.

Start small

If this is your first experience with outsourcing, try starting with something small and inexpensive that you're not overly attached to. Consider it an experiment to get comfortable with the process of outsourcing so you can learn and adapt for next time.

How can I use Fiverr to find the right freelancer?

Fiverr makes it easy to find freelancers who are a good fit for your project. You can filter your search by the service needed, budget, and timelineto 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 super simple, providing transparency around timing, price, and deliverables.

As you contact freelancers, you may realize you need toadjust your budget to what is realistic and necessary, 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.

Review freelancers' profiles

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 short list 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.

Commission a sample, if you'd like

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, you could commission a few lines of text for a voice-over to get a feel for their style.

Handle payment and privacy agreements

When you pay, Fiverr holds the money in trust and does not release it to the freelancer until the work is completed. If the freelancer you found on Fiverr doesn't complete the work you have ordered, you don't have to pay for it.

Ownership of work completed through the platform belongs to the person who purchases it (that's 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 a non-disclosure agreement (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.

How can I make sure the process of working with a freelancer goes 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." By finding strong collaborators, you can multiply the work you do, and how efficiently it gets done.

Hire people you like working with

Finding people you like to work with is a key starting point for great outsourcing. When you collaborate with people who you feel comfortable with, you may be surprised to find how easy it can be to relinquish some creative control. You may end up benefiting in more ways than just saving time, too.

Set your team up for success

Once you have found a person you think you'll work well with, make sure to maintain an open line of communication, keep explicit documentation (which Fiverr handles), and set clear expectations. Outline exactly which duties you're hiring the person to perform and provide instructions to help them get the job done. This might include things like account log-in information and due 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.

Keep an always-learning mindset

"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 the freelancers you hire, and you will see your skills and quality improve.

"You can pick up tips and tricks from your freelancers that you didn't know before. Working with professionals who do this on a regular basis will help you learn industry lingo and standards."

How do I build a network of freelancers?

Building out your network of freelancers means you'll have a go-to list for all of your outsourcing needs, and developing a process for this can help save you time and energy in the long run.

Keep working with trusted freelancers

With Fiverr's 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'll 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 worked with before.

Hire an in-house team

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.

Take it at your own pace

Kaitlin's top tip? "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.

This article is based on strategies discussed in "Own Your Output with Fiverr," part of #OwnYourGrowth, Patreon's 2021 series of live, online events on how to grow your creative business without burning out. To join a future workshop, explore Patreon's upcoming events for creators.

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