Ninety four.

The best things to outsource.

In this episode, Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to an excellent question from Sophie Greenwood, founder of Ink & Bear.

She says:

“I recently invested in a rebrand of an online event that I run (Super Seconds Festival) — I worked with an illustrator (Vicky Hughes) and loved the process from start to finish. I loved setting a brief and having someone else be able to do the work a million times better that I could do it. 

Now I’m slightly addicted to the idea of getting people to support my business! So, my question is… 

What’s the best thing you’ve ever invested in / outsourced in your business and what’s on your wish list for the future?”


• • • • •

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Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.

Here’s what was said in this episode:

Comments on the previous episode:

[00:01:37] – Frankie
Hello, you’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast, where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life with kids in the mix. I’m Frankie and this is Steve.

[00:01:46] – Steve
Hello! Yes, each episode we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids community. We do our best to answer it, but we start each episode by looking back at the last one. Last time, we were talking about…

[00:01:56] – Frankie
How to get your very first clients.

[00:01:58] – Steve
Lily Rice got in touch. Hey, Lily.

Lily says:

“A good episode to refresh our minds, even for those of us who have been here for a while, *goes to check own insta bio*. Just wanted to say my first gig was a 10k job from a cold call email. Not a brag! Sadly, that money went to pay off a startup loan from my previous brand. But just putting it out there that cold call emails can work well with the right setup.”

[00:02:28] – Frankie
What a story. Love it.

[00:02:37] – Frankie
Leanne Mallinshaw says:

“This episode makes me wish I could go back in time and do everything differently.

ps. Poor sausage dog.”

Our answer to this week's question:

[00:06:05] – Steve
Episode 94 we’ve got a question from Sophie Greenwood of

Sophie says:

“I recently invested in a rebrand of an online event that I run called Super Seconds Festival. I worked with an illustrator, Vicky Hughes, and loved the process from start to finish. I loved setting a brief and having someone else be able to do the work a million times better than I could do it. Now I’m slightly addicted to the idea of getting people to support my business.

So my question is — what’s the best thing you’ve ever invested in/outsourced in your business and what’s on your wish list for the future?”

[00:06:45] – Frankie
It’s quite hard to compare all the things because we haven’t outsourced all the things.

But my gut reaction is the first one has to be accountancy, right?

[00:06:52] – Steve

[00:06:54] – Frankie
Honestly, I don’t know why I put it off for so long. I didn’t have an accountant for seven or eight years and it was fine. I did it and I managed to sleep the rest of the year without being afraid that HMRC was coming for me. But now I’ve got one. I mean, no regrets whatsoever. It’s amazing, isn’t it?

It’s such a classic trope. But, like, they can save you money even though you’re spending money on them. A good accountant, they have all the knowledge about everything and what you can expense and what you can’t. I mean, there were at least three things that I had no idea I could expense. And also just having the reassurance of somebody available all year to ask questions to.

[00:07:38] – Steve
What else have I outsourced? I have hired a few writers to do blog posts. Sometimes that would either be me kind of dictating my thoughts like into Otter or whatever I was using at the time, and then somebody else writing up a blog post. Or I would simply say, “hey, here’s a topic, here are some quotes from the Being Freelance podcast, go fill your boots”.

[00:08:01] – Frankie
Do your magic.

[00:08:02] – Steve

[00:08:02] – Frankie
Yes. I’ve also done very similar. Basically, those blog posts wouldn’t exist if I didn’t outsource them!

[00:08:09] – Steve
Right! Because it’s the stuff which is always on your to do list. Like, yes I could do that…

[00:08:13] – Frankie
…but literally, it’s always at the bottom of the list.

[00:08:15] – Steve

[00:08:16] – Frankie

[00:08:21] – Frankie
With something creative like copywriting. I mean, loads of people offer regular packages, but you can just do a one-off thing too. So if you’ve got a small budget, they can do like a batch of blogs or whatever it is you need, and then you can come back to it again when you’ve got some more money. You don’t have to feel like tied into this ongoing expense necessarily.

[00:08:40] – Steve
I outsource things in my business that I simply can’t do, like animation and videography, like going out and filming stuff. I can edit video, right? But one of the best things I did last summer was we had a project going on — I had an animator, had a videographer, and normally I would have edited it, but we needed to do it in August. And I was like, “no, I’m not working in August”. So I agreed with the videographer that they would edit it, and then I would basically mix it with the animation at the end when I came back from my holiday, I made less money, but I was also doing less work.

[00:09:16] – Frankie
You got a month off!

[00:09:17] – Steve

[00:09:18] – Frankie
So totally worth it.

[00:09:19] – Steve
I do find it’s really easy to outsource the things that I can’t do.

[00:09:23] – Frankie

[00:09:24] – Steve
But I use them in client work, so there’s obviously a way that I make money out of it. And it’s not just my own marketing — it’s my business.

[00:09:32] – Frankie
Yeah, there is a difference there, isn’t there? Between bringing somebody in as part of the marketing for your business, versus essentially subcontracting to somebody else as part of a project that you’re getting paid for.

[00:09:44] – Steve

Things I have outsourced? Graphic design.

[00:09:45] – Frankie
Everyone needs to invest in graphic design, Steve.

[00:09:47] – Steve
No, but really, really, even if you’re using Canva, you need some semblance of…

[00:09:53] – Frankie
…a brand?

[00:09:54] – Steve
Well, yes.

Okay. The things where I have paid someone else to design, like create things for me, they just look not even a million times better. 5 million times better.

[00:10:07] – Frankie
I mean, obviously I’m a graphic designer for anyone that doesn’t know. So I’m obviously going to push for you to pay a designer! I mean, we could do a whole episode on this alone… I work in Canva a lot. I work with clients to create templates in Canva. I give them the tools and advice to make Canva look like them. Because as much as Canva is amazing, when everybody’s bloody using it, you just become, you know… everyone’s churning out the same sh*t basically. You need to be identifiable.

Another thing I have outsourced: legal documents.

[00:10:41] – Steve
Oh, yes.

[00:10:42] – Frankie
Again, a bit like accounting. You can put it off and tell yourself you don’t need it, and tell yourself you can’t afford it. But the peace of mind to have those bits of paper available to me is priceless. Most of the legal things are templates that I use again and again with different clients. Yeah, to have that just feels brilliant.

[00:10:59] – Steve
I’ll tell you one thing I did once outsource, which I didn’t have a good experience with…

[00:11:06] – Frankie

[00:11:06] – Steve
Podcast editing. I did it because at the time I was very busy with all my client work. This person approached me, said, “hey, do you need help with your editing”? And I thought, actually, I do.

[00:11:17] – Frankie
Mmm that cold email worked!

[00:11:18] – Steve
Yeah, it really did.

Anyway, I edit podcasts so I could always do it better than them, frankly. No offence. But it meant that I was listening back instead of just receiving the file and saying, “yeah, that’s fine”. I was always going back with changes, and it would have just been easier for me to make the changes. It would have been easier for me just to do it. What I came to realise eventually was I was better off editing it myself, but then paying someone else to sort out the transcription and the show notes.

[00:11:49] – Frankie

[00:11:50] – Steve
Nowadays I still do that myself but that’s because I’ve now got the time to do it myself. But at the time I was really busy with client work. I would pay someone to upload the audio, to create the web page, blah, blah, blah. So I guess for me, that whole learning curve was about — I’m going to stick to the bit which I’m good at, that I’m really good at and comfortable with, but I’m going to outsource the bit which I’m okay at, I’m good at it, but really, there’s no need for me to be doing it. Someone else can do that.

[00:12:19] – Frankie
Yeah, like, we talked about outsourcing editing this podcast and then we were both like, “hell no”!

But, yeah, you’re right. Sometimes you have to admit defeat and accept that. Well, not ‘accept’… CELEBRATE the fact that there are some things that no one else can replicate, that you do bloody well. And you should outsource other stuff to allow you the time to do the thing that you’re really good at.

[00:12:58] – Steve
Okay, so Sophie said:

“What’s the best thing you’ve ever outsourced in your business? And what’s on your wish list for the future?”

On my wishlist? Social media.

[00:13:09] – Frankie
Yes, definitely on mine. Bane of my life. No?

[00:13:12] – Steve
It’s a tricky one because you still need to be there to respond to it. So I think I would love to get somebody to create and schedule all the things. For example, for the Being Freelance podcast and community and the course and all of that. But then obviously I’ll still be around to interact with things.

[00:13:29] – Frankie
Yeah. My dream is like, somebody batch creates a load of content and then gives it to me and I can put it out when I want to put it out. Yeah.

[00:13:36] – Steve
Why are we both not doing that?

[00:13:37] – Frankie
I don’t know! I spent an entire afternoon making a post about incontinence last week. I mean…

[00:13:44] – Steve
It was a really good post though.

[00:13:46] – Frankie
Good. We both agreed on that one.

Suddenly become a co-mentoring session! Write that down!

[00:13:52] – Steve
Okay. Another thing for my wish list, and again, I should do this… Hire someone to do a really good sales page for the course that I sell, and also for the community. I hate the word ‘sales’ page, by the way, but we all know what that means, don’t we?

[00:14:10] – Frankie
Information that encourages you to buy something.

[00:14:12] – Steve
Yeah. They convince you that this is actually the thing that you need, because you do need it, I know you do page. That page.

[00:14:20] – Frankie
Catchy, yeah.

[00:14:21] – Steve
There is a lot of psychology involved. There are people who are really skilled at laying out a web page to get the best effect. So I might still have to build it in Squarespace or whatever, but to have somebody go, “yes, this is what will work”. Because the fact is, I might only have one chance, right? Somebody might land on that course page once and if it’s a bit rubbish, then people might not buy it, even though it’s good for them, and that’s just a shame for them and for me. So that’s what I need to do.

[00:14:52] – Frankie
Clearly, yeah.

As an extension of that, on my wish list would definitely be website stuff, generally. It’s the classic thing for me of like… my portfolio never gets updated. My personal website is persistently, five years out of date even when I’ve just updated it. It just feels like it’s never ending!

The biggest barrier for me as a graphic designer… You know, people are like, “oh, just whack up some nice pretty pictures of the work you’ve done”. No, mate, it’s not that simple. I’ve got to edit all of those images, I’ve got to do mockups of products. Often there’s like a lot of Photoshopping that goes on behind the scenes to make it look great for your portfolio that you put out publicly.

[00:15:27] – Steve
You can do that in Canva.

[00:15:30] – Frankie
So, yeah, that’s something I could do. Pay like a Photoshop whiz to do those images for me or, I don’t know… something to allow me to get that bloody job done, because it’s never done.

[00:15:42] – Steve
And there is the thing, isn’t it. Thinking, “okay, what is the job? What are the elements to that job? What can I get someone to do?” The best outsourcing happens when you can really break it down and give a really good brief to each person as to what they’re going to do.

[00:15:56] – Frankie
Yeah, but also you have to consider, what can you afford to do? Not just like, “what is the job, what is the problem?” But, “what can you afford?” Because it’s all very well going, “oh, well, outsource all the things”, but if you can’t bloody afford it, you don’t have a profitable business, do you?

[00:16:09] – Steve
Yeah, I think that’s really important because Sophie says:

“I’m now slightly addicted to the idea of getting people to support my business.”

But the fact is, it is a business and it still needs to make sense. And so there’s this fine line between being someone like me, who is quite clearly going, “I’m not going to even add to my overheads, I’ll do everything myself”. Not necessarily a great idea, but also the person who just outsources everything without really thinking, “okay, what is going to be the return on investment? What is that actually going to achieve if I do that?”

Because there’s so many things that we could get someone to do, but if you’re paying someone to schedule an upload to your Twitter, when in fact your clients aren’t even bothering with your Twitter then there’s no one there and nothing’s coming from it in the first place. In which case you’re just investing in a dead end. So, you know much better to focus your energy and your resources, your finances on the things which will make a difference.

[00:17:08] – Frankie
Yes, I think that’s a lot to be said for outsourcing as a freelancer and specifically as a parent who is a freelancer. Like, your time is so tight, right? And one of the ways you can open up more time for yourself is by paying somebody else to do certain things. But we all know that there are expenses around having children that are just ticking away at our overheads anyway. So deciding what to spend and how much to spend is something you need to really think about.

[00:17:38] – Steve
Well done, Sophie. For outsourcing the deliberation of what you might outsource to us, too. That was a job well done.

[00:17:47] – Frankie
And well done for, like, paying somebody for the first time, because I do think that is a bit of a moment, isn’t it?

[00:17:52] – Steve
Yes, it is.

[00:17:52] – Frankie
Yeah. I remember outsourcing for the first time and it feeling like, really, really good. And like she says, it is addictive. There is something deeply, deeply satisfying about paying another freelancer and paying them on time.

I’m excited for you, Sophie. You’re going to do more cool stuff with more cool people and outsourcing can feel and do good for you and the person that you’re paying.

[00:18:16] – Steve
Feels good!

[00:18:17] – Frankie
For everybody involved.

What would your advice be?

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