How to Work with Contractors in a Web Design Business
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So, you’re at a point in your web design business where there is too much work for you to do alone, or you don’t have all of the specific skills needed to complete a job.
You could need help doing the work you would normally be able to do, or you might need a special skill like a copywriter or a translator.
Now it’s time to get outside help.
Building a web design company will require people working with you.
But, you may not be necessarily looking to hire people in-house because either you cannot yet afford a full-time person, or because you would prefer to instead work with a remote team of contractors with different skill sets.
Nonetheless, when starting to build your team, you will most likely need the help of contractors.
But, if you have never worked with contractors before, you may not know what to expect and what the process is like.
So, here is a breakdown.
Where to find Contractors for your Web Design Company?
There are a few different places you can find contractors, and some places are better than others.
For most contractors, Upwork is going to be your best bet.
Upwork is a platform that connects freelancers and businesses from around the world.
It allows businesses to get access to talent that they might not otherwise be able to find, and easily work with thanks to the features of the Upwork platform.
You could hypothetically run your entire business with a team of Upwork contractors and the Upwork platform.
And, you can find any type of contractor on Upwork.
You can find graphic designers, web developers, UX/UI designers, online marketing specialists, copywriters, lawyers, and more.
For businesses, it’s free to post a job listing.
Once you post, you will usually get a lot of different applicants from around the world. Then, you can review and vet the applicants, and award the contract to a particular freelancer.
Upwork also has its own tools so you can manage your contractors.
For example, Upwork has a timekeeping feature that companies can require freelancers to use if their projects are hourly.
Upwork also has a messaging tool so you can communicate in the platform with your contractors.
To ensure the projects get completed and your freelancer doesn’t just take the money and run, Upwork has its own escrow service. Once you hire a freelancer, you deposit part of the contract amount into Upwork’s holding account. The freelancer is then notified that you have fronted the money, so they know that once the work is done they will be paid. Then, the freelancer works on your project. Once completed to your satisfaction, you can release the escrow funds, and the contractor gets paid.
For its service, Upwork charges a small fee of around 2.5% of the contract amount. Overall, pretty reasonable considering the service it provides.
Fiverr is a platform specializing in low-cost contractor gigs.
The pitch is that you can find contractors for as little as $5.
The reality is, with Fiverr you get what you pay for.
In my experience, most of the work you get accomplished from Fiverr is work that vendors are doing thanks to scripts and automations.
Not everything is exactly $5. Most vendors charge more than $5, upwards of $40 for different services.
That being said, some of what you get is decent quality.
You can get a decent video animation or very cheap logo, provided that you are fine with the templates that they give you.
But, for anything requiring a modicum of complexity should be sought elsewhere.
Posting Your Contractor Gig Listing
When hiring a contractor, you will need to be as specific as possible in the job requirements.
This is important for finding a contractor that can do exactly what you are looking for.
If you are vague in your job description, “Design a website”, then you will get a million responses from job applicants, and your project may appear to have a very wide scope.
Make your project as narrowly-defined as possible.
E.g. “Design a logo following these notes from the client: [insert notes], providing the final version in a PSD format”
Make it so it is very clear what you are looking for. If there is too much room for interpretation, then things can get confusing, as the expectations for the project between the contractor and you might be very different.
Trying Out a Contractor
One recommendation for hiring contractors is to, if you have the budget for this, hire several for a “test run” project.
Create a small project that can help you validate the contractors’ skills.
And instead of hiring 1 contractor, hire the 3 top candidates.
Make it a very narrow fixed scope, like a project that you would pay $50-$200 for.
Then, hire the contractors and compare their results.
The candidate that does the best job – that will be the person you hire moving forward on your regular projects.
From this test run, you’ve spent anywhere from $150-$600, and you’ve saved yourself a lot more cost by ensuring that the contractor you are ultimately hiring for projects moving forward is the best candidate and can do what you are looking for.
It would be very frustrating to hire a contractor, pay them hundreds or thousands of dollars, only to find out that they are not the best-fit to work with you.
How to Work with a Contractor on Your Web Design Project
Here are some general recommendations for working with contractors on your web design project.
Set a Fixed Budget
For your projects with contractors, there can be a tendency to keep working with contractors to refine and further refine work. On an hourly basis, this can creep up and cost you a lot. Before you know it, you’ve been through many revision rounds and you’ve spent your entire budget for the project on working with a particular contractor.
To prevent this, set a fixed budget for your project.
Keep a Fixed Scope on Your Projects
“Scope creep” is a common thing in web design projects. It refers to when you set a defined project with your client, and then over time the client starts asking for more work from you that is beyond the scope of the initial project.
The client will say something like “oh and one more quick thing, can you fix this?”
And then there are 50 more “quick things” to fix, and you are spending most of your time working on things that are beyond what was initially contemplated and quoted to the client.
That can be fine, as long as you make sure the client pays for it. But, often designers can acquiesce to the client because it might make the project move along quicker.
With contractors, you might find yourself being the one causing scope creep.
So, be mindful about exactly what it is you are paying for and what inputs and outputs you are supposed to get from this.
The contractor might come back to you and say “Hey, I said I would design you a logo, not 3 logos because your client, in a very subjective way, said that they didn’t like the logo. That’s your problem.”
Sites like Upwork let you give milestone payments to your contractors for meeting certain criteria during the project.
This is important if this is a big project you are working on.
Your contractor will want to get paid along the way.
So, if this is a website design project you are outsourcing to a contractor, you might want to have milestones like:
- Create and configure WordPress install and theme
- Design first draft of homepage and interior page template
- Add client’s content to the site
- Final website design
This also helps the contractor better understand what your expectations are for the project, so they can quote you the right price. Otherwise, you might get into a disagreement later about what was contemplated in your original job posting.
Working with contractors, you will find yourself slowly spending more time managing elements of your project rather than doing the work itself.
Having great website design skills is important, but now you will need good management skills.
Regular communication with your contractors is important to ensure they are staying on-task and getting the work to you ahead of your deadlines.
Keep spreadsheets or use project management tools like Trello to stay on top of the statuses of your different web design projects and contractors working on them.
You should even consider sharing access to your project management tools with your contractors so they can enter in notes and keep you updated on the project.
You might find that after a few projects, that particular contractors are basically like regular members of your team that you can regularly call on for assistance.
Looping them into your project management tools can help you better be on top of all of your projects and clients.
Overall – Working with Contractors for Website Design Projects
Overall, contractors are a great resource for web design businesses looking for help with client projects.
The platforms out there to find contractors are easy to use to find contractors, and the platforms themselves also have great tools to help you manage your contractors and projects.
Contractors can be more cost-effective from a business perspective than hiring an in-house person, especially if you just need help on a particular limited project.
Working with contractors can be a great way to start to scale your web design business to be able to work on more than one project at once, and ultimately grow your business.
If you have had any experience working with contractors, share it below in the comments section. What was your experience like?
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