Manage episode 319736241 series 108886
Last week, I talked about how you should view your worth. How you are a one-person team. I gave the example of a website project you might start where you take on the role of salesperson, researcher, UX and UI designer, developer, bookkeeper, etc. and how each one of those "people" should be compensated accordingly.
That episode relayed a precious message that many designers don't understand. That message is that you are worth more than you think you are, and you are probably not charging your clients enough for what you do for them. Because, if you needed to hire each one of those people individually, chances are you would pay them more than what you are charging your client for the same services.
But what if the situation wasn't figurative? What if you did have to hire each one of those people? Would you know how to go about it? That's what I want to talk about today, building your team.
I know that many designers are not comfortable hiring contractors. I know, I used to be one of them. I used to have the mentality that my clients hired me; therefore, I needed to do the work myself. I even turned down projects because I didn't know how to do parts of them.
I've shared before how I turned down a $50,000 website project because I didn't know how to code in PHP. I kick myself now for that decision. But that was my mentality back then. If I couldn't do it, it wasn't a project I could take on.
A couple of years after that, I stumbled upon a line in some self-help book. I wish I could remember which one, but I don't. But I do remember the line that stuck with me.
Client’s don’t hire you to do a job. They hire you to get a job done.
And there's a vast difference between those two statements that many designers don't get. You're job, the reason clients hire you is that they have a problem they can't solve themselves. In many cases, you, with all your skills, can solve it for them.
But there are some situations where your skills alone are not enough. Or your skills are not the most proficient option. Or perhaps you don't have the time to do everything yourself. That's where building a team comes in—a team of people who possess the skills required to complete the job for your client.
Do you think the head chef at a restaurant cooks and prepares every meal all by themself? Of course not. There's no way one person could do that. A Chef has a sous-chef, station chefs, junior chefs, and other people working with them. They all form a team that prepares the meals they serve their guests. And yet, people still visit fancy restaurants because of the reputation of the head chef. They want to experience what it's like to eat one of their meals even though many other people are involved in preparing those meals.
Think of yourself as a head chef. Everyone on your team is there to help you prepare what your clients are served.
But, even with this knowledge, many designers still worry about what their clients might think if they "farm out" work. I have news for you. Your clients won't care. Remember, they didn't hire you to do a job. They hired you to get a job done.
Think of it this way, would you be upset if you brought your car in for repair and the mechanic told you he traced the issue to your transmission, so he brought in a transmission specialist to work on it?
I'm going to hazard a guess and say no, you wouldn't be upset. You wouldn't say, "no, I brought my car to you; therefore, I want you and only you to work on it." You would probably be grateful that your mechanic knows someone who can do the job in the best and most proficient manner. That's how your clients will react when you tell them about your team. They'll think it was an intelligent decision to hire you because you know how to get the job done.
Teams are a powerful thing.
- Teams allow you to take on more work.
- Teams allow you to take on bigger and better projects
- Teams will enable you to offer services you couldn't provide alone.
- Teams can help your design business grow and go further.
There's an African proverb that says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." That's what having a team can do for you. It can help you go far.How do you build a design team?
It's one thing to know you should build a team. It's an entirely other matter to put one together.
To be clear. When I say a team, I'm talking about contractors, not employees. Sure, you can hire employees to be on your team, but that's a whole other conversation with additional complexity involved.
I'm talking about contractors or freelancers that you hire on an as-needed basis. Some of them you may repeatedly use, while others may be for a single one-off job.
Simply put, your team is a network of people you can call upon should the need arise.
First, let me break down the type of people you may want on your team before I get into how to find them. Since there's no way I could list or even know all the types of team members you may need, I'll use the ones I've hired myself as examples.Illustrators:
I've used several illustrators over the years. Some I've hired only once, while a couple I work with on a fairly regular basis. Illustrators widely vary in styles, so it's a good idea to have several you can call upon when needed.Copywriters:
Copywriting is one of those services that can set you apart from other designers. While many designers only use the text provided to them by the client, designers that offer copywriting and design are viewed as a premium service and garner more respect, which means you can charge more.
Like illustrators, copywriters range in styles and niches, so it's best to know a few. In some situations, you may need a copywriter who writes in a particular field, such as medical or technology.Translators:
Depending on where you live or what clients you work with, you may need to design in multiple languages. On many occasions, your client might only have the text in one.
Where I live, it's prevalent to display things in both English and French. I have a translator that can provide me with a French copy should I need it.Graphic Designers:
I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes you may want to hand off a project or part of a project to another designer. Either free up your time or because it's something you don't want to do. Having a designer you can trust for this is an invaluable teammate.Web Developer:
I've said it before. Other than HTML and CSS, I don't know how to code. And even with HTML and CSS, I find myself Googling how to do things more often than I used to. So any time I need coding done that I can't manage with a plugin, I hire a developer.SEO Specialist:
If you're not comfortable doing SEO or want to give a website an extra boost, you may want to consider hiring an SEO specialist. I did this at the request of one client, and we saw great results.Virtual Assistant:
The fact is, just about every specialty I just talked about could be considered a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant is just that, someone who assists you virtually. But a VA can help you with so much more than the skills I mentioned above.
I've hired several VAs over the years. My main VA does repetitive tasks, so I don't have to worry about them. Every Monday, she logs into my iThemes Sync account and makes sure all the themes and plugins of every site I manage are up to date.
This updating is a service I offer my website clients as part of my maintenance agreement. But I have better things to do than click on "update plugin" several dozen times. So I pay someone to do it for me.
I've also hired virtual assistants to do research or data gathering for me.
I hired one recently to go back over every episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast and create a spreadsheet listing the episode number, the episode title and the resource or tip I shared if there was one.
Before the pandemic, I was trying to get more speaking gigs, so I hired a VA to create a list of every graphic or web design program offered by a college or university in the province of Ontario. I asked him to find out who was in charge of each program and include their email address. I then asked him to email them on my behalf, asking if they would like me to come to talk to their graduating class about the realities of working in the real world.
This is just a small list of the type of people you may want on your team.How do you find people for your design team?
A couple of weeks ago, I talked about networking. Well, that's a great start. Several of my team members are people I happened to meet through casual networking conversations.
One of my copywriters I found through a friend who mentioned he knew a journalism graduate looking for work. I reached out to her and asked if she could do some copywriting for me.
After overhearing him talking with someone about a project he was translating, I discovered my translator at a restaurant. I introduced myself asked for his business card, and we've worked on several projects together since.
I've hired illustrators I discovered at local comic cons. There are always vendors at comic conventions selling their illustrations. I pick up their business card and reach out if their style of artwork is what I need for a particular design project.
Each of these people was added to my list of potential team members to draw upon should the need ever arise. I have many that I've never used. But I know who they are, just in case.
Last week I hired Brian, a member of the Resourceful Designer Community, to help me with a website.
Brian had done a presentation for us a couple of months ago, and one of the things he showed us was something I could use on a site I was starting on for a client. I intended to take the info from Brian's presentation and learn how to do it myself. You know, improving my web skills, making myself more valuable. But, when I got around to working on that part of the website, I didn't have the time to fiddle around with something new. So I asked Brian to do it for me. I explained what I needed, and he completed the work by the next day. As easy as that.
I'm sure if I had tried doing it myself, it would have taken me over a week to complete. Hiring Brian saved me time, which translates to money.But what if you need someone for a job and you don't have a person in mind?
If you need someone with a particular skill, and you don't already know anyone who can fill the role, the first thing I suggest is asking the people in your network.
Like how people find graphic and web designers through referrals, you should do the same when finding your team members. If you need an illustrator with a particular style, ask people in your network if they know anyone. Need a web developer to help you with a web project? Ask around and see if anyone has a suggestion.
A referral from a trusted source can go a long way in finding the right person.But what if asking around comes up dry?
When all else fails, turn to the internet. There is no shortage of people for hire online. Places like Fiverr and Upwork are great resources. I've hired multiple people from both platforms. TopTal is another excellent source to find freelancers. I've never used them myself, but I know of several people who have and were very pleased with the talent they hired.
Virtual Assistant marketplaces contain hundreds of talented people looking for work. Just search "Virtual Assistant" on Google, and you'll find plenty.Things to consider when hiring a teammate.
What are some of the things you should consider when hiring someone? The top three, in my opinion, are location, language, and price.Location
A talent marketplace such as Fiverr and Upwork allows you to work with people from around the globe. One of the illustrators I use lives in Indonesia.
But sometimes, you may want to hire someone closer to home. Time differences can potentially cause problems if you need to ask a teammate something and it's the middle of the night where they are. These delays can add up, which doesn't bode well if you're on a deadline.Language
Language can also be an issue. The language someone uses to communicate with you may not be their first language. This may cause miscommunication issues should they not fully understand the instructions you provide.
In some cultures, people are raised not to question instructions from those who employ them. So if they interpret something a certain way, that's how they'll do it. Even if it doesn't make sense to them or there's a better way. You want to make sure the person you hire can work beyond just the instructions you provide.
So making sure there isn't going to be a language barrier should be a consideration.Price
Location and Language may dissuade you from hiring someone abroad. However, the price may make you change your mind. There are places in the world where you can hire highly talented people for a fraction of the price you would pay closer to home.
A few years ago, I had a client using an eCommerce platform called PrestaShop. When the client accidentally broke their website, I had no idea how to fix it. So I turned to Upwork and hired a PrestaShop expert. They lived in a country with a much lower cost of living than here in Canada and quoted me $10 per hour for their services.
I knew he would be working while I was asleep. And his English wasn't that good. I had to message him several times before he understood what I needed of him. But the time difference and language constraints were worth it because of the low price. It took him 16 hours to fix the problem. I paid his $160 invoice, and in turn, I charged my client 16 hours at my then hourly rate of $80/hr. I made an $1120 profit, and I never touched the site.Weigh your options
It's entirely up to you who you hire. In some cases, finding an inexpensive option is your best choice. Other times, spending a bit more is the right move.Building relationships with your team.
The trick with this whole team-building thing is to find people you can trust to do the job right. There may come times when someone you hire doesn't work out. Either they don't perform to your liking, or you find some other reason things are not working.
The downside of building a team is that you may find yourself in a situation where you have to let someone go. Luckily these are not employees. So sometimes, letting go is as simple as never hiring them again.
But other times, you may have to fire them if they're not performing to your satisfaction and find someone else. It can be tricky, and you may have to eat that cost yourself. That's a chance we take when we hire people. That's one of the reasons I always try to hire from within my network before turning to online sources.
That website I told you about last week that Brian helped me on. I could have easily hired someone on Fiverr or Upwork to do the same thing for me and probably save some money. But I hired Brian because I already have a relationship with him, and I trust what he can do. It wasn't about the cost. It was about making sure the job got done.
Working with a team is a wonderful feeling. It makes you feel special. It makes you feel necessary. It makes you feel more professional.
When you get to this point in your career where you have a team of people working with you, you'll truly understand what it means to be an entrepreneur. And you'll see that the opportunities when you have a team you endless.
If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, to together. After all, your clients didn't hire you to do a job. They hired you to get the job done.