While you may be an expert in your field, generating significant revenue from an online course requires expertise in marketing, sales, operations. Knowing how to delegate effectively will make or break your success as an entrepreneur.
Hiring a freelancer with expertise in online course creation and marketing is a great way to lean on specialized knowledge when you need it. This way, you can speed up your business growth. Moreover, whether you’re just getting into online courses or already have a course and are looking to scale up, having the space to focus on your highest-value activities can be a game changer for your business.
But how do you know when to hire a freelancer? And what tasks should you outsource?
These are common questions that many online course creators face. In this post, you’re going to learn the benefits of hiring a freelancer to grow your online course business, and some practical strategies to help you hire the right talent, at the right time.
Specifically, we’ll cover:
- Why you should hire a freelancer
- When you should hire a freelancer
- What areas of your business to outsource
- How to effectively hire a freelancer
Let’s dive in…
1. Why Hire a Freelancer
If you’re used to working solo, you’ve probably felt the crunch at one time or another when it comes to running your online course business. Between developing your course content, marketing, sales and client communications, there’s a lot to do in a day!
There are many benefits when it comes to hiring a freelancer. Here are a few most common to online course creators:
Inexpensive way to scale.
Instead of hiring full time staff and having to deal with contracts, HR management personnel, and benefits, hiring freelancers enables you to be flexible in your business decisions.
Need more help running a marketing campaign this quarter? Hire a freelancer with that expertise, and then assess whether it’s a worthwhile investment long term. And never fear, because with the right freelance platform, you can successfully hire remote.
Focus on high-value activities.
This is the difference between working in your business, and working on your business, as Michael E. Gerber, author of the best-selling business book The E-Myth would say.
Hiring a freelancer enables you to step out of execution-mode and focus things like the long-term strategy of your business. Want to increase the visibility of your brand and online course within your niche? Taking time to refine your course positioning is a high-value task that likely only you can do, while getting to the bottom of your ever-growing inbox is not.
Burnout is a reality for many entrepreneurs and first-time online course creators. There’s just so much to get done, and it’s easy for solopreneurs to become overwhelmed and overworked. Not spending as much time with family, exercising, or creating ‘white space’ in your calendar to reflect on progress will negatively influence both your professional and personal life. Delegating a few tasks can have a large impact on your overall quality of life.
2. When to Hire a Freelancer
With those benefits in mind, you might be wondering, when is the best time to hire a freelancer? How do I know if I’m ready to hire?
While there’s no one size fits all answer, here are a few things to consider:
Key business milestones.
There is no magic number for revenue, course enrollments, or sales metrics to point to the right time to hire a freelancer. If you have the ability to hire while still maintaining positive cash flow in your business, you may be in a good position to outsource a few tasks.
Pro tip: consider delegating a few administrative tasks to a freelancer to start. You may be surprised how much time it saves you, and the impact it has on your productivity and business growth. Just make sure you hire carefully so you can avoid experiencing your own hiring horror story.
Look out for repetitive tasks.
Find yourself doing the same things over and over? If you’re spending all day on repetitive or administrative tasks like responding to emails, onboarding students, or paying invoices, there’s a good chance you’re ready to delegate your tasks to a freelancer to free up your time for more valuable activities.
Calculate your hourly rate.
Even if you’re used to being the marketing department, customer service, accountant, and content creator, the fact is you are the CEO of your business. This means that in order to experience growth, you need to shift your thinking to a CEO mindset.
This often starts by calculating your hourly rate for each of your tasks, deciding what is the most valuable use of your time, and outsourcing the rest.
For example, if you want to make $150,000 in one year and only want to work 1,500 hours in a year, each hour of your time is worth $100.
Based on this calculation ask yourself – am I spending time on activities worth less than $100 per hour? If the answer is yes, make a list of those things and plan to outsource them. In order to grow your business and increase sales for your online course, you’ll only want to spend time on your highest-value activities.
3. What Areas to Outsource
To decide what work to outsource, a good first step is to start dividing your tasks into categories. Here are a few questions to help you determine which tasks to delegate:
- Which tasks are low-value, but essential?
- Where do I find myself doing repetitive tasks?
- What are my weaknesses, and what do I hate doing?
For online course creators, there are two common categories for tasks to outsource: creating your online course and marketing your online course. We’ll look at a few examples in each.
Creating your online course.
Even though you are the subject matter expert, putting your knowledge into an engaging online course format takes time and skill.
While the Thinkific course platform makes it easy for you to create your online course with step by step training, pre-designed themes and technical support, you may want to outsource certain aspects of your process to speed things up.
Copywriting and editing. Need help creating transcripts, text-based lessons, or writing highly-converting copy for your sales page? Freelance content writers, copywriters and transcriptionists can help you take your messaging to the next level. Having a second set of eyes proof your course content, or refine your benefit statements can make a big impact on your marketing efforts.
Logos and graphics. Unless you’re a graphic designer, outsourcing your logo and design needs to a freelancer can really elevate your overall brand image. While it’s not necessary to spend a fortune on logo development, having a cohesive look and feel to your sales page, social graphics, and course materials helps communicate the value you’re providing to your students.
Videography. After studying the most successful course creators on Thinkific, a common element across their course curriculum was the use of video. Having a welcome video and video-based content including lessons throughout your course content is proven to increase student completion and satisfaction rates. While it’s not necessary to break the bank on video production, being strategic with your video investment can really raise the quality of your course content.
Marketing your online course.
SEO. With Google making algorithm updates more than 500 times a year, staying abreast of ranking opportunities with an SEO specialist can pay dividends to your course site’s visibility. Freelancers can assist you with ensuring both your on-page and off-page SEO is maximized, to get the most out of your marketing efforts.
Social media. There are many skilled freelancers who specialize in running social media for others. Whether you need help developing a strategy, managing your online community, or just want support on scheduling a few posts, delegating social media can free up a huge chunk of time for you to focus on other aspects of marketing your online course.
Email marketing. If you’re at the stage where you’ve got a healthy amount inbound traffic coming in from Google or your social channels, delegating aspects of your email marketing strategy and execution can be a great investment. This may look like setting up automations or lead scoring systems to engage your subscribers and nurture them down your sales funnel.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive! Here’s a list of 30 more ways you can leverage freelancers to free up time in your business.
4. How to Hire a Freelancer
Once you’ve decided you’re ready to hire, you need a process to find the right freelancer. What should your criteria be for your vetting process? What are the skills and characteristics you should look for in a candidate?
Here are five steps to help you hire the right freelancer:
Before you start writing up task descriptions, make a comprehensive list of the tasks you may want to outsource. This may be a collection of repetitive tasks, or any activities you’ve identified as low-value.
Grouping your tasks into themes will give you an idea of the scope of work you need to hire for, and the particular expertise you need for each.
Decide how you will measure success and ROI for the freelancers you hire. Will it be based on output, or outcomes?
If you’re hiring someone to help you answer emails, you’re likely going to evaluate your their success on the output – the fact that they can get your inbox down to zero each day.
On the other hand, if you’re hiring someone to map out and execute a social media strategy to market your online course, you’ll likely want to measure success based on the outcome – a 10% increase in leads from your Facebook page.
Pro tip: This goal-setting step is really important. Not setting clear expectations from the beginning with each freelancer is one of the most common mistakes of outsourcing.
Depending on the level of expertise you’re hiring for, your task descriptions may include a comprehensive summary of the outcome you’re looking for, or be a few bullet points outlining the main tasks to be done. At minimum, it should include:
- background on the market your course is in
- level of experience you require
- required software
Once your task descriptions are ready, you can upload the details on a freelance marketplace like FreeeUp to start generating awareness about your opening.
Interview and sample assignment.
Once you have a few potential candidates to choose from, score them against the criteria you developed earlier and set up a short interview with your prospects. The three most important characteristics to look for in a freelancer are skills, attitude, and communication.
If they pass the phone interview, consider giving them a sample assignment to work on, to gauge whether their style, responsiveness, and professionalism translates according to your standards.
Consider developing an onboarding process to help freelancers get up to speed quickly. This may include a document with information like communication guidelines and more background information about your business.
Pro tip: If you’re planning to work with multiple freelancers, put your onboarding information into an online course format. This will save you time from having to explain the same information to multiple freelancers and standardizes the experience for each hire.
Taking the first steps to hire a freelancer and delegate in your business can have massive impacts on your productivity and business growth.
If you’re new to courses and not sure where to get started, check out Thinkific’s helpful guide to creating your first online course.