Freelance writers and other small business owners tend to work alone.
It’s a stereotype, but I know plenty of writers who would rather work by themselves. You probably do too.
For many writing projects, working alone is no problem.
For smaller projects or projects with a comfortable deadline, it’s actually more efficient to work alone.
Some projects are better handled by teams, though. That’s where getting help to get more done comes in.
In this post I describe three different ways that freelance writers can get help. This is the fourth installment in my productivity series.
Get Help #1: Hire Professional Help
Bringing someone on board to work on your project can be scary. And if it’s not done right, it can be more trouble than it’s worth.
After all, your helper could mess the project up. They could take up a lot of your time with questions. In a worst case scenario, you might have to redo everything your hired help was supposed to complete.
The fear of a helper disaster scenario is enough to keep me from hiring help for most of my projects. But some projects just go better when you bring someone else on board. Here is a list of the situations where you are better off hiring help:
- Projects with lots of deliverables and a short deadline.
- Projects that require a skillset you don’t have.
- A workload that is more than you can handle.
If you do decide to hire a professional helper for your writing project, here are some tips to find a good one:
- If possible, hire someone you already know and trust. A pre-existing relationship makes dealing with your helper so much easier. This is just one reason why freelance writers should connect with other writers and freelancers.
- Check recommendations. If you can’t hire someone you know, look at the testimonials that others have written about your helper’s work.
- Plan to pay a fair rate. Nothing upsets me more than freelance writers (and other freelancers) who whine about unfair rates and then underpay their own hired helpers. Don’t be hypocrite. Pay fairly.
- Put your agreement in writing. Even if you know your helper well, you still need a written agreement. Use a tool like QuoteRoller to create a formal agreement (here’s my review of the QuoteRoller tool).
- Give yourself oversight time. No matter how good your helper is, you’re still responsible for the project in the end. For that reason, you need to allow yourself time to review your helper’s work and make minor corrections if needed.
Of course, professional help in your field is not the only type of help you can get.
Get Help #2: Hire Administrative Help
Hiring professional freelance help is not the only way to work more efficiently. As your business grows, you may need to hire someone to help with the administrative tasks. Here are three other types of helpers who can help you with your business and administrative needs:
- Virtual Assistant. If you find yourself bogged down with unbillable routine tasks, a virtual assistant may be the answer. Although many sites offer administrative services, I recommend going to a site that specializes in virtual assistant services.
- Bookkeeper. If your accounting needs are complex, an accountant can help you find ways to save money. Don’t wait until you are behind to get help in this area.
- Legal professional. You may not need to use a lawyer on an ongoing basis. But it’s a good idea to run your business structure, basic contract template, and other business matters by a legal professional.
My earlier points about hiring a professional helper (such as checking recommendations, paying fairly, and getting an agreement in writing) also apply to hiring administrative help.
Get Help #3: Get the Right Tools
Software tools are expensive. The more popular a tool is, the more it costs.
Many small businesses try to avoid building up a lot of software costs. Sometimes this means doing tasks manually that could easily be automated.
You don’t need every software package that you see advertised. But the right software can save you time and ultimately free you up to earn more.
And not every software tool is expensive. Some are reasonably priced, or even free. Shop around to find the tools that work for you.
Here are four questions to ask before you buy business software:
- How much time will this tool save me?
- Can I afford this tool?
- How steep is the learning curve?
- How much time will it take me to get set up?
Have you hired helpers for your small business? If so, what tips would you add?
Which software tool helps you the most?
Share your answers in the comments below.