How to Delegate Effectively as a Freelancer

Apr 26, 2021 | Business

When you run your own biz, it can be easy for everyday tasks to pile up. With client work, marketing, invoicing and admin, it’s understandable if you feel overwhelmed. It may seem that you have a choice to make – expand your team or cap your income. For those of us who have elected to stay a one-man (or woman) show, this can be a double-edged sword.

The good news is this – you don’t have to hire more people or limit your earnings in order to relieve the stress. It is possible to delegate as a freelancer and protect your headspace while still reaching for the stars. Read on to find out how.

Take a step back

First of all, breathe. Get a big piece of paper or make a list on your Notes app of all the tasks you do in your business. I mean everything. Section them out into categories – Client work, Finances, Marketing, Onboarding etc. You can even use different coloured pens or post-it notes if that tickles your pickle. Sometimes having everything down on paper gives you the distance you need to be pragmatic.

Work out what to delegate

This one deserves a shout out to the wonderful Alice Benham and her IG Live on Streamlining your BTS.

Once you’ve got your tasks all laid out, you’d be forgiven for assuming you have one choice – to delegate or not to delegate. As Alice shares, this isn’t the case, you have OPTIONS!

Eradicate

First off, look through your list and work out what you can opt out of. Ask yourself whether your business would still make as much money without this thing. When your boss is as nice as you are, it’s common to spend time on the nice-to-haves. This is fine, but when time is tight it’s those added extras that have to go to allow you to focus on what’s important. Once you’ve got your pile to eradicate and you’ve removed them from your to-do list, physically delete them/throw them in the bin/cross them out. Feel the weight starting to lift.

Automate

From the remaining tasks, work out what you can automate. Getting an online tool to do the heavy lifting is usually cheaper than bringing in someone external. Even if it takes you extra time to get set up at first, the automation will pay dividends in the long run.

Have a look through Zapier’s Explore page for inspiration. You could also consider ConvertKit for onboarding emails and Asana for client communications.

Again, once you’ve figured out what you can automate, add time to your calendar to get them sorted and bin the post-its.

Delegate

At this point, you should just be left with a handful of tasks. Pick out the ones you LOVE doing, and save them for yourself. Add the tasks that can only be done by you to this pile (think sales calls, “talk to camera” style Insta-stories and delivering client work).

Pick a few things from the remaining pile that might be easy to delegate – things that you’re not very good at or are time-consuming and easily taught. Then look for someone to help (tips below). Remember, the time it takes you to teach someone else how to do a task might be an investment initially, but the time you save in the long run will mean it pays off.

Look at what you’ve got left. Do you realistically have time to do them all, on top of the tasks you already assigned to yourself? If not, head back to eradicate and repeat the process.

Find great people (and trust them to get the job done)

Consider the tasks you’ve decided to delegate, what kind of expertise is needed for each one? Ask other self-employed friends for recommendations, or check out Upwork and Facebook groups such as Freelance Heroes and Being Freelance Community for great freelancers.

When you’re assessing whether someone might be a good fit, don’t forget to check it makes financial sense to outsource to them. For example, if your day rate is £500 and the task usually takes you half a day per month, the cost of you doing the task is £250/month. The freelancer’s fee should be £250/month or less to make the exchange viable. The one exception to this is where the freelancer has expertise in a specific area and will get better results than you from the same task, making or saving you more money (i.e. marketing, debt collection, tax).

Once you’ve got someone on board, trust them to get the job done and give feedback periodically. Don’t breathe down their neck – you hired them for a reason and you’ll spend more of your time micro-managing them than you would have if you carried out the task yourself.

Write watertight briefs

A great way to make sure you get the results you’re after without looking over people’s shoulders 24/7 is to write great briefs. You might want to do this via email, or use Loom to record a video brief. Be sure to include anything the freelancer might need to get the task done, and don’t assume any prior knowledge (unless it’s subject specific – i.e. a marketing specialist should know the basics of marketing, but might not be familiar with your CRM platform). Make sure you share what you’re hoping to get out the other end and how this fits into your wider work. This will give your freelancer crucial context and help them do the best job for you – you may even find they suggest improvements to your processes that you hadn’t considered before.

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