When you start out in your business, it’s just you, and you have a tiny budget, it’s easy to get into a mindset of needing to save every penny.  You really watch what you’re spending money on and try to do as much as you can yourself.  I did this for almost an entire year.  

I’ve now realised that there are areas where it actually makes more sense for me to spend money because:

  1. Other people are more experienced / qualified / talented / competent than I am and therefore the end result is much better.
  2. Someone else could do the same task much faster than I can. You need to put a value on your time too.  If you think about it, if you spend half a day doing something that someone else can do in an hour or less, in reality you’ve probably spent more money, as you’ve taken your own time away from tasks that only you can do.

So, here are the things I’m currently outsourcing or have outsourced recently.

European VAT

I could probably do a whole post on this one.  If you’re an Amazon seller, you may have heard of Pan-European FBA. Basically, it means that Amazon will move your stock around their European warehouses, placing it where it feels is best to serve their customers.  What they didn’t make clear initially (in my view anyway), was that for every country your stock is held in you now have VAT obligations.

I found this out earlier this year and spent a lot of time and energy worrying about it. After hours of online research I decided this was a task I just couldn’t tackle myself.  Besides the language barriers, there’s a lot of paperwork and you need to know the financial side or your business inside out.

There are lots of specialist companies out there that can help with this – but that can be very expensive.  If you’re in this situation and you’re a small seller, with a small budget, you might be best to hire someone to deal with each country individually for you.  

I’d suggesting searching for ‘File VAT for [country name]’ on these sites:

You can share your brief and potential freelancers will let you know how they’d approach it, what they charge, etc.  You can also see feedback from their clients to give you an idea of whether they’ll be the best person to help you out.

Accounting

When I became a registered company earlier this year, I decided that managing my finances and filing company tax returns was going to be something I’d need help with.

To keep costs down, I’ve found a good middle-ground where I use an online system to manage everything day-to-day and pay my accountant to then complete the return.  The system I use integrates with my bank account and Amazon Seller Central, so requires me to do very little.  This has taken accounting almost completely off my plate (and to-do list!)

Design work

I’ll start out by saying that you can do a lot yourself here.  If you’re a small business you may not have much of a marketing budget, but you can use Canva to produce pretty good social media posts.  You can also create posters and business cards, but I’m not sure how necessary that is for an online seller!

There are also some great, free online photo-editing sites.  One I particularly like is Fotor, although I find it works best on Chrome.

Having said all that, while I think day-to-day design for your marketing can be done yourself, once you get into product and packaging design you probably do need to pay someone to do that for you.

There is a chance that your manufacturer will have an in-house design team that can help you. If not, I recommend 99designs, purely based on my experiences, which you can read about here.  I used it again for my packaging design and now work directly with two of the designers I found there, whenever I come across something I don’t have the skills to do myself.

I should mention there are other sites out there where you can hire freelancers directly.  I personally like the ‘competition’ element of 99designs, the fact you get so many options, the chance to review and refine them all before making a decision and the option to involve your friends and family (or perhaps customers, if you choose) in the final decision.

Website building and maintenance

I wrote before about how you can do this yourself by using an online platform.  As this is me sharing what I’ve paid freelancers for, I have to be honest that a, I’ve had some help with my website and b, I haven’t exactly paid for it!

My husband built my site for me and can do a lot of the really technical stuff (like adding a Facebook pixel) that I just can’t.  You might have noticed I now have a new site – this is all down to him.

There are elements, like this blog (powered by WordPress) and the Shop page (Shopify) that I can completely manage myself.  He’s just made sure they’re integrated. This is a really nice balance, in my mind and, if you do decide you need to get someone to build a site for you, perhaps you can think about which elements you need to update regularly and see if there’s a way you can do that for yourself.

Translations

When I started out selling across Europe, I let Amazon automatically translate my listings for me.  This turned out to be a mistake, as the translations are done online and the finished listings didn’t make much sense.  I only realised this when I asked some kind friends and acquaintances, who were native speakers, to review them for me.  

They kindly gave me some great feedback and helped to get them accurate, but when I decided to re-write my swaddle listing (I’ll do a separate post on why and how) and create my towel listing, I thought asking them to translate for me was too big an ask.

I therefore decided to use a freelancing site to find someone who could help me.  You can hire people who specialise in writing / optimising Amazon listings to do this.  At the moment, I feel my listing is pretty good, so I went for a straight-forward translation, which was slightly cheaper.

I’m happy with the end result and I guess time will tell as to whether they convert or not!

Photography

I wrote a whole post on photography a few weeks back, so won’t cover it all again here.  I do want to reiterate that it is definitely possible to do it yourself.  (I plan on trying it myself soon.)  However, I did pay a professional photographer who specialised in babies and children, as I wanted lifestyle shoots, as well as shots of the products alone.

What next?

There are definitely other areas/tasks that you can hire in help for.  In fact, you can probably hire someone to do pretty much any job that you don’t / can’t want to (assuming you can afford to).

I am considering hiring an Amazon Virtual Assistant at some point in the future.

First, I need to figure out:

  • What exactly I need them to do.
  • How much I need to pay them.
  • Whether there’s a cost and/or time saving in doing this.
  • Whether I can afford it.

I’ll be sure to keep you updated!

What don’t I intend to outsource?

For me, marketing is one area I feel I can manage myself.  I know you can pay people to run your Facebook ad campaigns, write your blog posts, manage your social media, etc, but I do think doing it yourself is achievable.

Check out my post on improving your social media for a few hacks and time saving tips.

Two people I follow that I get a lot of great value from are  Amy Porterfield and Michael Mulready.  

Both are online marketing experts and you can pick up some great, actionable advice on their websites and podcasts – for free.

To summarise

Paying people is super scary (for me anyway).  I definitely don’t feel flush, or that I have money to throw away. However, I do recognise that there are areas that I’m not an expert in, and probably never will be.  In those instances, paying someone to do a professional job is preferable to me doing a terrible one!

There are of course pros and cons to outsourcing.  What areas of your business have you outsourced?  I’d love to hear your experiences!