If business success still elopes you after implementing your best strategies, perhaps you need to reduce what’s on your plate and delegate some to other people. This is where outsourcing work comes in. Penny Zenker sits down with Brittany Brewer of Freeup to discuss how hiring freelancers can bring you closer to your goals and vision. She discusses how getting rid of menial tasks will give you extra time to handle much more important business matters. Brittany also explains how to pick the right person to delegate work to and the best way to create clear communication channels with your chosen freelancer.
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Outsourcing Work And Taking Control With Brittany Brewer
On this show, we are looking for ways to work smarter. What does that mean? We all say we want to work smarter, but we still get in our own way. What it means and we’re going to talk about is how to let go of the things you shouldn’t be doing. I don’t care if you are an entrepreneur, a stay-at-home parent, or even within a large organization, and you might feel that you’re at the “bottom of the rung,” so to speak. There’s always an opportunity to have somebody support you in things that you aren’t the expert in. That’s what we’re going to talk about.
I have Brittany Brewer here with me. She is an accomplished figure in the freelancing industry. She’s serving as a Senior Account Executive at FreeUp. With an impressive track record, her career has encompassed a diverse range of roles from the freelance sector to client support to extending support to ancillary businesses. Without further ado, let’s invite Brittany to share her expertise to help us see how we can make our lives easier by delegating the things that we shouldn’t be doing. Brittany, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much. I’m so happy to be here.
It’s great to have you here because it’s so important to have valuable insight and resources to help us get out of our own way. That is what our goal needs to be for this episode. What do you think keeps people from making that plunge to delegate things to someone else?
Something that we like to say is analysis paralysis. The idea of getting started can sometimes be a hindrance for people. They know they have things they need to get off their plate, but figuring out how to delegate them or even identifying what it is is bogging them down and making them want to pull their hair out. Getting those things set out loud or written down is the biggest struggle. That’s where a lot of people will have a failure to launch, so to speak, from the very beginning because they don’t know how to get the ball rolling.
Do you have any suggestions on how people can do that? What’s the first thing they can do to see what they have that they could delegate or get that ball rolling?
I’ve been in the industry for so long. I’ve worn many hats. I’ve been a freelancer in the industry. What I do is I work for FreeUp directly. I have a unique perspective on it. I know from a freelancer side of things what needs to be told to you in order to get you going. From the client’s perspective, I know their struggles. I can hear their struggles. I see the same things day in and day out.
One of the biggest things to get started is being grassroots about it. Pick up a pen and paper and start writing down the things that are time-sucks for you. Start writing down the things that are menial and that are driving you crazy that you wish that you’d never have to look at again. Getting those things down is a great first step because your mind, especially when you’re trying to scale, is oftentimes putting the course. You can see the big picture. You know what your goal is. You see where you want to be. Those little things, those building blocks, that’s where you have to start. Understanding where to begin is going to be the first step.
From my perspective, take the low-value items, the things that don’t really add a lot of value, but also, take a lot of time. Anything that takes a lot of time could be a good thing so that you can free up space. Take what creates stress for you. Those are things that would be great to let go of as well. I like also to have somebody write out all the things that they do in a week and then circle those things that they’re like, “I wish I wasn’t doing that.”
That’s such a good first place to start because you need to do these things no matter what they are. If you’re doing something as simple as answering emails, it’s such a simple thing. It’s not really a big-picture item, but it has to be done. It’s not to say that those tasks don’t have value to your business because they do. When you’re trying to focus on big-picture stuff and those things are eating up hours of your day, it doesn’t give you enough time to focus on growth and scaling. Those little menial tasks are great places to get started.Menial tasks eat up hours of your day. If you want to focus more on business growth and scaling, try to start getting rid of them. Click To Tweet
Having somebody to do that or something else for you is a great filter. For example, your assistant or the person supporting you in your email would say and be instructed, “These are the things that we can let through the filter. These other things, you can respond or put them in my calendar and schedule them for next week if that’s important, or handle it.” Having those filters in place to protect yourself from those non-important or false urgencies or things like that is so critical.
For a lot of people, when it comes to especially working with a freelancer or bringing somebody on, they think that it’s a bigger deal than it is. I don’t want to make it sound like having somebody work for you is a trivial thing, but it isn’t this grandiose process. You identify that you need some help.
These freelancers worked with other clients in the past, so they can almost bring something to the table for you. A lot of these people are project managers. They might be able to help you identify where you need help in areas that you never even thought of. Especially if you’re an entrepreneur, whether you’re a working parent trying to do an online business or something like that, your brain is going a million miles a minute. Sometimes, having somebody else to look at your big picture, take away the things that are giving you more stress, and offer you some insight is all you need to get started.
Something you said is important. We make it a bigger deal. The beautiful thing is that you’re not hiring somebody full-time when you go through a freelancing agency. You’re not exactly having to do all the paperwork, the payroll, and all of that. It is easy. You can also test someone out. You can work with somebody and see the difference.
I know for myself it’s made a huge difference. Whenever I hold back from bringing somebody on to support me, once I do it, I’m always like, “What took me so long? This is so freeing.” It is easier than one thinks. You have to pick up the phone. Organizations like yours vet people so that I don’t have to. I can maybe interview 2 people instead of interviewing 15 people. That makes a big difference, too.
In the past, people, when they’re building a business or getting started, put the cart before the horse. They’re thinking, “Do I have to have an employee identification number? Do I have to have a W-2 employee vacation time? How much do I pay them? How much do I do here?” When you’re working with a freelancer, that’s the beauty of it. There’s so much more flexibility. You can hop on a call with somebody from FreeUp or you can submit a job request on your own. It’s all automated. You can see things clearly and your options before you jump in and make that big commitment.
With FreeUp specifically, it takes a little of that anxiety away and a lot of the guesswork. You can talk to somebody on the phone at FreeUp. We have account managing services. If you’re confused about something or maybe don’t even know where to start at all, you can spitball ideas off of someone and get an idea about where to begin versus going at it alone.
You mentioned that you used to be the person who was taking on other people’s delegations and whatnot. What are some tips that people can think about ahead of time? For example, “I’m ready to do it. I’ve got my list. I know what I want to delegate.” What are some tips on those key things to be able to communicate to your assistant?
It’s something that we focus on a lot for our clients. The number one thing is to try to be as transparent as possible, especially when you’re creating a job request or getting matched with someone. If there are processes you haven’t laid out, be honest about that because that’s going to be something you need to do right from the beginning. If you don’t have a standard operating procedure for how you like a certain task to be done, be honest about that with your freelancer. Let them know, “This is something I’m still trying to build out. We can work through this together,” or take some time to build it out before you bring on your freelancer.
Another thing, too, is to get your communication channels down immediately. Whatever works best for you, let the person that you’re working with know upfront. For example, some people really like to use Zoom for once-a-week meetings. Other people are more comfortable with Google Meet. Some people like to do communication old-school via email. Whatever your communication channel is that works best for you.
If you already have a team in place and you’re bringing someone on, whatever channels you’re using, let the freelancer know and make sure that they understand how you like things to be done. One of the biggest issues that can happen when working with someone who’s remote and not in the office or working with you side by side every day is lost communication.
Also, unclear communication. That also can be a big issue. Tell me if you agree with this. It’s getting those communication channels clear, but it’s also getting the tools that you’re going to use together clear.
I find that to be really useful. If you’re going to use Asana, some kind of project management tool like Trello, or something that’s going to track the tasks, how are you going to keep track of the work being done and make it easier for yourself to put something in the queue? It is so that you don’t have to be on Zoom or connecting physically in order to put something new into the queue.
A lot of people get scared of things like Asan and Trello. They’re like, “All I know right now is that I need product listing done. I’m really overwhelmed with it.” They don’t know about tools like Trello and Asana. What’s really cool about working with a freelancer, specifically a FreeYUp freelancer, is that almost all of the virtual assistants on the platform have experience with a multitude of time management and product management tools.
If you’re looking for somebody to take over the process or build out a process for you because you don’t know where to start, a lot of the freelancers can offer that support and say, “I’ve used Asana before. I know you don’t know what it is, but let me show you. This is going to be great. It will be very helpful for us to keep everything in a clear line and keep the project moving forward.” Having that expertise coming in helps a lot of our clients out.
What’s the average number of hours that somebody needs support? Is there a minimum where I say, “I only need 2 or 3 hours a week. It would really help me to get some things organized,” but that’s probably not enough to hire somebody? What’s the standard? How does that work?
That’s another question a lot of people ask. There are other hiring platforms out there that might have a minimum where you have to hire ten hours a week. We try to be more flexible with it. We want to make sure that if you’re a growing business, we’re not putting you into a box where you have to have that. We have no hourly minimum. If you only needed somebody 1 hour, 1 day a week, that would be completely fine.
As far as the average goes, it depends on where the person is in their business. We have people who hire virtual assistants for 40 hours a week and they’ve been working with them for the past 2 or 3 years. We have people who only need somebody 1 or 2 hours a week, and that’s fine. It depends on where you’re at with your business.
In my introduction, I talked about even people who might be an assistant in a larger organization. Let’s say they’re given the task of putting together a presentation, and they’re not good with PowerPoint. Why not hire somebody to make your life easier who might be able to do that in an hour or two and then you have a basis? That’s worth whatever it is, $10, $20, or $30. People are like, “I couldn’t do that.” Why not?
Even myself, I have a freelancer who helps me on a daily basis with things like Excel. Everybody knows how to use Excel, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating when you’re trying to do formulas and all that good stuff. It is having somebody to come in and do that. The amount of work I can get done doing high-level stuff compared to what I would be doing if I was spending the time doing all of that spreadsheet stuff that somebody else can do in twenty minutes is a no-brainer.
It’s interesting. In this business that you’re in, how would you define productivity and why?
There are a couple of different ways. The number one way to identify productivity for our business is going to be whether this is revenue generating. Is the time that we’re putting into this bringing money or bringing growth back into the business? That’s what we would tell our clients to look for and to develop metrics for that to make sure that whatever you’re working on is conducive to the growth of your business.
It’s easy to see that when you’re working with a freelancer. Everything is tracked within the dashboard on FreeUp, so it’s easy for clients to see, “I’ve been working with Jane for three months. I can very clearly see how many hours Jane’s worked and the amount that I’ve spent. I can also take a look at how much my business has grown since I’ve been working with Jane.” More often than not, the business is growing, the client is less stressed out, and it’s such an easy way for them to gain back time at an affordable cost. It’s a great way for them to measure productivity on that side.
What haven’t I asked you yet about the freelancing world that you think is important for the audience to know?
The show here is making sure that you’re being useful with your time. The biggest thing that a lot of people on the platform when they come in that they aren’t maybe really prepared for is taking the time upfront to vet the freelancer further. We take the hard part out and do the pre-vetting. We’re going to do preliminary identity verification and fraud checks. We have them do a terms of service test and best practices test.
Taking the time when you’re bringing someone on in the beginning to do an interview and making sure that culturally, they’re a good fit for you ends up saving you time down the long run. Working with a freelancer or anybody who can take anything off your plate is going to free up your time. You have to spend a little bit of time upfront to make sure that you’re not repeating yourself down the line and you’re not having a lot of turnover with the freelancers. Finding out if the person that you are interested in works with you and not just on paper is super important.
I found that myself. What I like to do when I’m hiring somebody new is come up with a small project. There’s only so much you can get from an interview that sometimes, it’s in working together that you find out what somebody’s style is really like and whether they can work with your style. I like to do that. I like to come up with a little project for maybe 2 or 3 hours and then debrief it. I’m like, “How did this go for you? What was missing? How could we do this differently and likewise?” You start to understand how to best work together by having a defined first project.
My dad is a client of FreeUp as well. He’s really old-school, but I told him, “Let’s take it one step at a time. Tell me exactly what you need.” All he needed was somebody to come in, use Canva, and create an ad for him. When I visited over the holidays, watching him try to do it on his own, it was like, “I can get you somebody to do this. Trust me.”
We got him a freelancer for two hours for a simple test project. He was hooked from there. He was like, “Why didn’t you tell me I could do this sooner? Why didn’t you tell me how easy it was?” Having a small project upfront so you can see how easy it is and how the freelancers communicate and how things like that would go is a good indicator of whether or not that person will be a good fit for your projects moving forward.
Where can people find out more information about you and FreeUp?
Anybody can head over to FreeUpPod.com. We’ve got a link there if anybody wants to book a call with an account manager. More importantly for your audience, they can get $50 in credits to get started. That’s up to ten hours of free work. There are some other good resources there like our getting started guide and scope of work template. There’s lots of good stuff there.
Thank you so much for being here.
Thank you. It was great to be here.
Thank you all for being here and reading. Maybe we chipped away at some of the fear, the anxiety, or the doubt that you might have about helping yourself to help yourself, which is to hire somebody to be able to delegate things to. At this final stage of our show, I want to share one additional tip with all of you in the audience. One of the things I love to do in my morning routine is to delegate. Everybody talks about, “Get your workout in. Get your head straight.” I agree with all of that.
The first thing I like to do is to delegate. When I delegate something in the morning, I’m already productive. I’ve already multiplied my time during the day and my effectiveness because I was able to give something out. I’m either going to get it back later in the day or the next day. I know that my team is working for me. I love that.
Try it. Go ahead and take that first step. If you’re reading and you get it, take that first step and identify a small project that you could do that you could take off your hands. It would free you up from some stress and give you some time to work on more strategic things, be with your family, or whatever those things might be. See how it changes everything and how it frees you up. That’s why it’s called FreeUp, the organization that we’re talking to. Thank you all for being here. We’ll see you in the next episode.
About Brittany Brewer
Brittany Brewer is an accomplished figure in the freelancing industry, currently serving as the senior account executive at FreeUp. With an impressive track record spanning nearly 5 years, Brittany’s career has encompassed a diverse range of roles, from the freelance sector to client support, and extending to the support of ancillary businesses. Her expertise centers on cultivating enduring partnerships, ensuring client triumphs, and optimizing their FreeUp involvement. Armed with her multifaceted background, Brittany possesses a comprehensive grasp of the freelancing landscape, rendering her an invaluable asset in delivering unparalleled client service. At FreeUp, renowned for housing the top 1% of freelancers, Brittany and her team provide round-the-clock support and seamlessly connect clients with freelancers within a mere 24 hours for their projects.
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