Writers (and other entrepreneurs): stop doing everything yourselves
Entrepreneurship is a funny thing.
Most of us creative entrepreneurs start businesses because we enjoy having full control over our projects, and get a thrill from seeing something from its very beginning as an idea, through its development, to the final stages and then, the exciting final product. Unfortunately, this also means we’re not always the best masters of our time.
Too many entrepreneurs forget that if they really want to give all their creative energy to a project, there are several administrative tasks that would be better off outsourced.
Outsourcing tasks related to your work means you’ll have more time to devote to the work itself. It also means more time with family and friends. Entrepreneurs should not forget that they are people, too, and they need interactions with others (and others with them).
If you’re so busy with your entrepreneurial work that your family and social life are suffering, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate how you spend your time.
There are probably several tasks related to your entrepreneurial pursuit that you neither enjoy nor really want to do. Those are the jobs you should consider outsourcing. Many entrepreneurs hesitate to hire outside help because of the costs associated with doing so. But this is a big mistake in business, and will cost you dearly when you get busier.
Always work with the mindset that a good portion of your income will be going back into the business. If you do this from the beginning (and you should), it won’t feel so overwhelming when you need to hire people for bigger tasks later on.
Here are some tasks you should consider outsourcing.
1. Bookkeeping and/or Accounting
Most of us (unless we’re accountants of mathematicians by trade) hate bookkeeping and accounting. It takes a long time, it’s a pain in the behind, and it encroaches on time we could be using to pursue our creative projects. So it makes the most sense to outsource this task first.
While I don’t use a bookkeeper, I do have an accountant. I keep very good track of my receipts using Evernote, and of my expenses and income using YNAB. While YNAB is not really meant for accounting, it’s an extremely helpful resource for it, and for a one-person operation, it works just fine.
2. Email Management
Most of us are overwhelmed by the amount of emails waiting in our inboxes, and can’t find the time to give those things our full attention. Hiring a virtual assistant to go through your email for you could help ease that burden.
You can let your virtual assistant know which types of emails you would like to be notified about and which types you’d like deleted. If you accept guest blog posts, for example, you could have your virtual assistant pass on to you only those that he/she thinks will work for your blog.
For example, if someone pitches something completely unrelated to what you publish, or the grammar is terrible, your virtual assistant could kindly reject the pitch so you don’t have to do it. You’ll then gain some more time for higher priority tasks.
If you want to pitch more articles, but simply don’t have the time to research Writer’s Guidelines for each and every outlet you pitch, you can outsource this part of the project to a virtual assistant, who can then provide a point form summary of things you need to keep in mind for your pitch and article writing once you get accepted.
Other research you can outsource includes: finding editors’ email addresses (after you’ve read the writer’s guidelines); finding potential interviewees for articles, data to back up claims you make in your writing, and more.
4. Photo Sourcing
Pretty much everything we write online nowadays needs to be accompanied by a photo. Some outlets provide their own, but several ask the writers to provide photos to go along with their articles.
Photo sourcing can be a time-consuming experience. While I personally love photo sourcing (I enjoy looking at beautiful photography), it definitely distracts from the task at hand: that of writing the article itself. I tend to get lost in image sourcing websites for hours a week if I’m not careful. Outsourcing this task could save you precious time. A virtual assistant is usually the person to hire for this process.
If you’re not a subscriber to a paid photo sharing service, you’ll want to be sure to specify that you want Creative Commons License photos only. If the person you’re hiring doesn’t know what that is, it’s time to hire someone else.
5. Graphic Design
Let’s face it: unless you went to design school or are a graphic designer by trade, chances are, your graphic design skills are pretty poor. Some people have a knack for it, but for the most part, someone who specializes in graphic design could do a much better job than writers.
So if you need a logo made, a great infographic for your blog, or even featured images with text for posts, consider hiring someone who could do it faster. That’ll give you more time for writing.
7. Editing and/or proofreading
This one is not optional if you’re writing a book. Editing and proofreading are both very time-consuming tasks, and it’s nearly impossible to edit and proofread your own work after you’ve spent a certain amount of time with it. This is especially true for longer works.
While self-editing is a must, it’s not enough. You also need someone who’s unattached to the work to mercilessly tear it apart. While it can hurt your ego, it’ll improve your writing tenfold. And if you get an editor who also functions as a writing coach, you’ll be less likely to make the same mistakes in the future.
So whereas hiring and editor and/or proofreader will save you time, the true value in hiring these folks is in how much better your writing will get.
A good editor will cost more than what’s in most beginning writer’s budgets, so if you can’t afford an editor, at the very least, hire a proofreader. These are two different skill sets, and proofreading, in general, costs less than editing, because it’s less involved. You can read more about the differences between editing and proofreading in this post.
These are just some of the tasks you should consider outsourcing from the very beginning of your writing career. Always remember to put some (or a lot) of the money you make back into the business, and oustourcing these tasks won’t feel so overwhelming—because you’ll have budgeted for them.
What task will you outsource first?