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Outsourcing to Improve Design

Outsourcing to Improve Design

What do you hate about your design job? I know there has to be a few things you don't like. Why not outsource those boring or tedious tasks and save the good stuff for yourself? The benefits are numerous and it can be a lot more affordable than you think.

Outsourcing is not just for huge corporations. You too can find people to do the work you don’t want to do and for a reasonable price. Potentially even making you more money if you do it right. Outsourcing frees up your time and allows you to focus on doing the important tasks, like making a kick-ass design.

No matter where you live, there are people willing to do your same job for cheaper somewhere else. I don’t care who you are, no one likes pasting copy into static webpages, or cropping and renaming tons of photos. Don’t burn yourself out on unfulfilling tasks. 

There is always someone able to do your work for cheaper than you are willing to do it.

And you don’t have to use cheap labor if you don’t want to. Many times passing work to expensive but highly-skilled workers can save you in the end because they produce better quality and do it in half the time it would take you.

Your Strong Points

Everyone is good at a few things and probably not so good at a whole bunch of other things. Trying to be good at everything is an exercise in futility. You will just end up being average in a whole bunch of things but really good at nothing. You can only really get great at something if you spend all of your time doing it. Do what you do best and shop out the rest (my first blog rhyme!).

Being a designer with not a lot of javascript knowledge, I’ve spend an entire day trying to get a stupid jQuery plugin to do what I wanted. When I could have paid someone for one hour’s time to get it done right, and saved myself the time and grief.

We’ve all had those nightmare projects where something just goes horribly wrong and takes hours or even days longer than it should. And if you think about it, it is always something you are not very knowledgeable about. Or, say it with me, “Something I am not good at.”

Why go through the trouble, go find someone who does what you need for a living.

Money Can Buy You Happiness

What do you like to do? I like to design the front-end of websites. I also enjoy doing the front-end markup, at least the homepage and maybe an interior page or two. But the rest, I could do without. Plugging in all the content into the CMS or even worse, static pages… No thanks.

How much better would you feel if you didn’t have to do all the tedious parts of your job? And how much better would the rest of your work be if you were not exhausted or brain dead from all the crap that goes along with some projects? If you spend all of your time working on only the task you like (are good at), your work will improve immensely.

The stress and fatigue will largely be gone. Your mood will be better and your clients will be happier. Peace on Earth, at least your little slice of it.

But Wait There’s More…

Giving other people your work doesn’t mean you necessarily will have less to do, unless you want it to be that way. With your new-found time and energy you can take on more jobs and more clients.

You will be making the people you employ happy as well. Just because you hate a certain task doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t love it. If you keep sending a developer all of your development work, she’s going to stay busy and pass you all of her design work. You both get to do the work that you like, and the clients get a better final product.

You are also doing people favors by giving them work and at some point you can ask a favor of them. Times are tough and people appreciate any work you pass their way, even if it isn’t the most glamorous of project.

What Can Be Outsourced?

Maybe a better way to put it is, what cannot be outsourced.

Anything that involves confidential material, a non-disclosure agreement, or people’s personal information, you may want to at least talk to the client first.

The other one you want to avoid is small but hard to explain projects. You don’t want to spend four hours on the phone or typing emails trying to explain how to complete the task. Only hand-off tasks that don’t take a lot of instructions to figure out.

For a web designer, you may want to build out the homepage and one internal page, and have someone else finish the rest. Or if you are comfortable with the developer, just hand-off the .psd file and let them markup the whole site.

Now that I think about it, pretty much every aspect of a project can be outsourced. So if all you want to do is meet with clients, just do that.

What You Can Outsource
  • accounting and billing
  • website maintenance
  • design
  • copywriting
  • answering phones and responding to emails
  • photography and color correction
  • proofing
  • web development
  • front-end development
  • daily non-work related chores

Where to Find Workers

Start with your network. I bet you know someone either on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook who does a job you don’t like doing. If you are a freelancer there may be other freelancers in your network happy to collaborate or take on small tasks. If not just throw the job out there and you might just get a bite.

For jobs that don’t require skilled work, there are plenty of options. Something as simple as Craigslist could land you a couple of dependable workers. The trick is to not put all of your faith in one person. Give each worker a small task at first and see how they do. Try to keep in contact with several people so that if one falls through you have a second or third who can step in and get the job done.

Other good places to find fellow designers and developers is Forrst, Behance and Dribbble. Lots of young talent, many of which are fresh in the field or still in school. Which means they probably work for cheaper than you do.

Most people say they cannot afford to pay other people. But really, life is too short. You cannot afford spending it doing the task you hate. You don’t have to start big, find someone to do a few tasks a week. It won’t cost as much as you think and you will be surprised at how much better you feel.

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Couchable is a web design blog created by Tyler Herman. Not really updated anymore because I'm busy doing freelance design work and busy launching my little WordPress theme shop Real Theme Co. You can read a little more about my at my personal site