Outsource the Rest By Martin Haworth
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Martin Haworth as he shares with us “Outsource the Rest.” Enjoy!
It’s a few years now since I read Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Work Week, but the memories of what Tim said in that book have lingered with me over the years, even though, up to now, I’ve never quite felt able to follow his life-plan as far as he did. I certainly didn’t swim off to a desert island (wi-fi equipped and all) and earn my mega-bucks at a distance.
The principle of “do what you do best and outsource the rest,” has never been lost on me though. One of the challenges that writers often find is that they get bogged down in the technicalities that are required to produce something worthwhile.
How much debate goes on as to whether Scrivener is better than Word? “Pantsing” is more effective than “Plotting”? Or just where do you find the best/most brilliant editor? These questions and more like them fill the pages of blogs and Facebook pages.
It’s quite tempting to learn and do everything you need to make your idea hit the best-sellers charts.
Some of this is that we see our “baby” as incorruptible by others. That only we can deliver all the other aspects of getting our book out there. We will create it, write it and produce/publish it, and promote, perfectly. (I have written about the ‘P’ word elsewhere – check it out here.)
Part of this is due to the prevarication of even the best of writers. How many other things can we find to fill our time instead of writing?
Even the most horrible tasks can seem more appealing than getting to our art.
Even having the accounting and filing up-to-date, the washing and ironing done, and that dirty mark on the window cleaned, all instead of sitting down and writing the book that will be so brilliant when completed.
What is your purpose here? Are you here to write or to do all these other things? You need to understand yourself inside to know.
For here lies the decisions that we have to make as writers. Are we writing for business, or are we writing for pleasure; for fun?
If it’s the latter, then by all means enjoy yourself and plough on day by day writing something you really enjoy. There is no fault or harm in that. Have all the fun you like, if you have the time and inclination to.
But if you are looking to make your writing a business, then it’s really important to be firm with yourself about doing what you are good at.
I have a friend who is a brilliant coach, but finds that business development is where he is strongest. Where he has the most fun. Where his values are best met for himself. So he finds the work and gets others to do it and gives himself a commission for their work. They love doing that, so everyone does what they are best at.
When you realize that you do some things better than other things, you may decide that you want to outsource everything, except your writing.
If marketing is your forte, then you may well outsource the writing, the cover designing, and the formatting. It is perfectly acceptable to do so.
It may seem like a cop out to do the things that you do best, whilst engaging others to help you out with some of the other activities that get in your way of your strength, but feel secure with the thought it is not. It’s a smart move.
After all, the biggest business leaders aren’t the smartest at every aspect of their business.
They employ people who are smarter than they are and leverage that!
Now I know many writers will complain that they don’t have the money to outsource, but there are so many places at every budget level out there to find experts (even geeks!) in a particular area of expertise, that there really is no excuse to get the help you desire.
You can certainly pay a fortune, but you may find that what might look like high-end, isn’t always worth the uplift in costs. Good quality can so often come at a decent cost, if you are prepared to accept that there is no “perfect”.
Of course, you can spend day after day immersing yourself in proofreading programs, learning how to make a cover, or designing the perfect website.
But if you really want to write and love writing, the best tactic you can develop might be to focus on the writing and outsource the rest.
No one likes to explore new opportunities and learn new things more than I do.
It’s such fun! But I’ve had to learn that maybe some of my expertise is in what I do best and accept that some things I can pay for. That way I can focus on my skills and what gets me out of bed in a morning.
If I can get a cover designed by someone on Fiverr for $15 (I never pay only a fiver!), and it does its job, I’m certainly not going to be a perfectionist about it. I’m going to recognise that saves me one to two days or even a week and so I can get on with business of writing in a focused way.
I agree with Tim Ferriss: “Do what you do best…and outsource the rest.”
Perhaps, one day, from that desert island!
ABOUT MARTIN HAWORTH
Martin Haworth is a coach, trainer and would-be fiction author with a manuscript that “needs work.” He lives in Gloucester, England and has two grown-up kids and three grandchildren. He loves walking, travel, and supporting Burnley Football Club. Check out his website at http://martinhaworth.com.