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Subcontracting - WWYD

(6 Posts)
regularpromise Mon 23-Sep-13 18:58:03

Am a regular MN and regular on this board but have namechanged because I really need some advice on this situation, but the situation is outing!

I am a freelancer and occasionally have toyed with subcontracting out work. One of my regular clients asked me to look at it a few months ago as they were keeping me so busy. I always said no because I feel my work is of very high quality and I'd have to spend a lot of time 'bringing someone up' to my level. Plus hassle, invoicing, etc etc.

Recently though I have been very busy. I also want to devote more time to my sideline, which is creative/speculative - ie I can't often sell it and when I do it's for buttons. But I like it and it makes me happy.

An acquaintance of mine works in the same field and is ill, she has cancer. She's also a lone parent. She's broke. She's recovering well but over the past six months has lost most of her income streams. She's good at what she does but hasn't been as lucky as me with clients, so has always been pretty hand to mouth.

Our mutual friend (over wine) came up with the bright idea of me sub-contracting work to her. Essentially, if I subbed out a couple of days a week, I'd still be earning, still be in control, but would free up time to pursue my other projects. She wants no client contact, so isn't in a position to pinch my contacts (atm).

I would like to do a good thing. And it would potentially be a positive for my business. But all my original 'cons' for subbing are still there. And obviously her illness will have to be managed, there will be days when she can't work.

DH thinks too much hassle/taking on lame duck. But like I said, she's good, fast, and it would be a really good thing to do.


Punkatheart Mon 23-Sep-13 21:00:56

Now I will come to this with an interesting perspective. Like your friend, I have cancer and I am a lone parent. I'm a journalist/copywriter/proofreader and I am very very good at what I do. I have won prizes. I know my limits and it has never ever been a problem. I don't work a great deal but I do it all from home. I have never missed a deadline; I have won prizes and been published in all the broadsheets.

She will know her limitations. But why don't you talk to her and ask her if she is REALLY able to deal with the work. Show her what you need doing and tell her, kindly, that you will let her try it for a couple of months to see how she copes.

It sounds as if you are itching to pursue your creative interests and who knows - they could start to pay off if you have time to do them.

Your DH is being a little brutal but he is trying to protect you. You WOULD be doing a good thing - people put faith in me and have been very happy with all my work.

Good luck to you and I hope your friend gets better too. You have no idea what it is like to be in our situation - it is truly horrible. Work is such a distraction.

regularpromise Mon 23-Sep-13 22:27:38

Thank you punk.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Tue 24-Sep-13 12:29:54

Firstly sorry to hear of the cancer punk but good to hear that you are able to work and that it helps. Wishing you all the best.

OP - I think it could help to remove your aquaintances difficult circumstances to consider the business aspect first. From what you have said I think these are the postives:

- You move ahead with subbing something you have contemplated before.

- Which if it works as a model could help you expand your profit. If your business is only you, then there is a limit to what you can earn.

- You keep your client happy by increasing your capacity.

- You could be 'earning' whilst carrying out an interest as you will earn some income from the subbed work.

The negatives are:

- The potential damage to 'your brand' if it doesn't work.

- The additional work - checking their work and the admin of having somebody else involved.

A couple if questions come to mind:

- Is it likely that whatever capacity you add your client will fill? Ie Will you find yourself not having time to pursue your interest as you'll have to work for them.

- Have you done the sums? I assume you will pay the subber less than you get paid, bit will that be enough to let you spend time on your interest?

I think (ill subber or not) the biggest issue is managing the process well to a) protect your brand and b) preserve your client relationship.

So if I were you I would give it a go after I had a conversation with the aquaintance as punk suggests. And do a trial on once piece of work. And if possible build in contingency time should she not be able to work one day etc.

On a human/personal level you'll be doing something amazing smile

regularpromise Tue 24-Sep-13 16:44:44

Thanks Margo, that's more or less where I am. I am going to try and speak to her tomorrow and see where she's at - it may all be academic.

Talkinpeace Fri 27-Sep-13 13:32:24

I sub out some of my work at peak times and often wonder if its more hassle than its worth.
I am busier than them because I'm better is what it seems to boil down to.
But if the client gets a bill from me, they expect my standards ...

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