• Is Outsourcing Right For You? – Getting Shit Done

    by  • October 17, 2016 • Getting Shit Done

    Is outsourcing right for you?

    The simple answer - yes.

    penny pinchingFor most of us, the 5% of the time that we spend shooting is the easy part. The rest is a mix of  love it/hate it/tolerate it. But we didn’t go into business for ourselves doing something fun and rewarding to also suffer the garbage tasks! Brace yourself for this: you don’t have to.

     Outsourcing is scary - I totally agree with you on that. What if they screw it up? What if they aren’t as good as you? What if they bend you over and take your money and you are left with nothing to show for it? There is also the cost. Photographers are the biggest penny pinchers out there, and the thought of letting go of some of those hard-earned dollars is brutal.

    All legitimate concerns. But much like when your clients have similar worries, it all comes down to hiring the right person for your needs. A professional who, like you, works hard knows what they are doing. If you hire some rando off Facebook that happens to be willing to do various tasks that week, it might suck for you. You get what you pay for, you know this.


    What should you outsource?

    process map for outsourcingDeciding what to outsource is a personal choice, and there isn’t a wrong answer. For the analytical brains, you can examine your hourly cost of running a business, analyze how long each task takes you, and find where the least profitable areas are. Another option is to do a process map of your entire workflow. This should give a pretty clear view of where you can bundle tasks and go hands off.


    For my fellow emotional decision makers, there is an easier way. Follow the Marie Kondo system, and dump anything that doesn’t spark joy in your workflow. When you sit down to work, which tasks do you avoid? What makes you sigh and whine and groan? Those are the tasks you should pass off, saving you not only time, but annoyance. It doesn’t matter if it is culling, responding to emails, placing orders, editing, or newsletters.

    Who do I hire?

    Some tasks require a knowledgeable pro, like retouching. Others can go to an assistant, either virtual or local. Consider past clients, your sibling, your spouse, or an intern from the local college as viable options! Take your time in training, communicate often, and be clear with your expectations and boundaries. If it isn’t working, make adjustments or move on. You are the boss!

    How do I know they will do it the way I want?

    This is the most common worry I hear, because art is subjective and our business is our baby. If you take the time to line out your processes and your needs, the work should be as simple as following a set of instructions. A good retoucher is going to not only match your style, but do a better and faster job than you, because that’s what they do full time. Industry standards provide a baseline, and your style provides the rest. If they can’t replicate your style and match your work, or edit for their preferences instead, find someone else. If you are worried about giving access to the inner workings of your business, get referrals, a privacy policy, and non-disclosure upfront.

    Is it really worth it?

    Whether you are making more money by offering better service, getting more time to play with your kids, or simply freeing up brain space, outsourcing even the smallest job is healthy. For AIBP member Lynn Clark, finding the right retoucher has resulted in saved time and less hassle.

    “I’m selling about 10% more images, which will equate to about $200 more per client on average just in album images. I’m also sending back a smaller number of images for client requested adjustments. That saves me time and money on the output. Because the editing is so clean and so close to my desired style, I’m saving about 45 minutes per client in ordering appointment prep because I’m not going into Photoshop on every image. To me, it’s less about increased sales and more about higher efficient and less stress. I save about 6 hours per client by outsourcing the retouching, and about 2 hours per client with my current retoucher, compared to a retoucher that wasn’t the right fit.”


    Image courtesy of Lynn Clark Portraits. Retouching by Jen Swedhin.

    Be brave and give it a try - I know it will change your life. 



    Jen Swedhin is a Denver-based photographer specializing in intimate male portraiture at Jen Swedhin Photography. She also owns a professional boudoir retouching and virtual assistant business, Jen Gets Shit Done. Jen is a workflow ninja.