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When to stop marketing solo and hire

It’s a new year—a new decade, and it’s the perfect time to talk about goals that you can accomplish on your own and goals that can be more easily accomplished with others’ help.

What goals did you accomplish over the past 12 months, and what goals do you wish you’d accomplished? Think about what helped you succeed, and what kept you from succeeding. Was it time? Energy? Resources? Chances are, all three played a part in both scenarios.

Find Your Marketing Plan

Spend a few minutes considering this year’s marketing plan. Perhaps you want to keep it simple like increasing your social media presence or hosting regular happy hour events. There’s nothing wrong with taking baby steps like these—as long as you have a plan, stick with it and tweak as necessary.

Or, maybe you’re ready to take your business to the next level by creating the ultimate, full-service marketing plan. You’re at a point where you want your business to grow by leaps and bounds, and you’re all in. There’s only one problem: you have a life, work, kids, pets, hobbies, relation­ships, family and clients—all competing for your time. How much time, energy and resources do you have to devote to your marketing plan? Can you really do it all by yourself—or is it time to hire some help?

Easy Math

Look again at your marketing goals and estimate how much time each one will take on a daily or weekly basis, without interrup­tions. For example, if you plan to send out a weekly email or monthly newsletter to customers, how much time will it take to write a catchy subject line and content, add images, proof it, distribute it and track the results? You can also do this for social media posts, print ads, happy hour events, networking and so on.

Now, ask yourself how many hours a day you typically provide services. If you’re with clients only four hours a day, you can probably execute your marketing plan by yourself. But, if you’re with clients eight hours a day, you’ll need to hire someone to help you. Yes, like most things in life, marketing plans cost either time or money. Very few people don’t have to worry about either one.

Temptation to Go Solo

I get it. It’s tempting to try and do everything by yourself, especially when your income isn’t “there yet.” At some point, especially as you get more clients, the time you’ll need to spend on marketing takes a hit and, worse, quality begins to suffer. Providing excellent service is important but marketing is equally important. Ask yourself some key questions when deciding whether it’s time to stop going so solo. Wouldn’t you rather focus on your clients than fretting over typos on a holiday flyer? More importantly, are you getting the results you want by doing everything yourself? Could you get better results by hiring a professional?

What to Farm Out, What to DIY

My rule is farm out anything that’s very time-consuming or that someone else can do better because it’s cheaper in the long run. A good example is pay-per-click advertising. While marketing platforms like Google Ads offer tutorials and free phone support on setting up campaigns, you still need to spend time creating catchy ads, educating yourself on keyword strategies and constantly monitoring results. You can easily find someone to do this for you and pay them only 5-10% of what you spend (setting your own budget).

Another example is print advertising. If you’re a whiz with design software, you might create your own ads and save some money (just be sure they don’t look DIY). On the other hand, if you’re not a DIY expert, hiring someone who is good at it could be money well spent. Keep in mind, you don’t have to go top of the line; you can find a talented graphic design student or even barter with someone to get professional results.

Hourly vs. Salaried

Finding independent contractors these days is a piece of cake (though I suggest you ask friends for referrals). You can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $50 per hour for designers, social media managers and marketing experts. Paying someone hourly allows you to control costs and stick to your budget, but as your business grows, it might actually make more sense to hire someone full-time. If they’re working only for you and helping you get the results you want—and you pay them $35,000 per year—that breaks down to only $16 to $17 per hour versus $30 to $50 per hour for an independent contractor.

Above All, Be Realistic

It’s all about setting goals and being realistic Sometimes, we really can ace it on our own, and other times, we need a little help. That is a good thing.

Top 3 Tips for Hiring a Marketing Person vs. DIY

  1. Track, track, track. Tracking results is crucial. Whether you DIY or hire someone to do it for you, don’t keep “doing the same thing” over and over, expecting a different result.
  2. Stay in the grey zone. You don’t need either struggle on your own or hire an expensive marketing agency (unless you’re ready to do so). Instead, always be on the lookout for talented folks who can help you, a little bit here and a little bit there.
  3. Listen to your stress. Any time you’re feeling really stressed or guilty about NOT marketing your business, might be a good time to think about hiring someone who can reduce your burden.
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