[Editors Note: This article was written by Angela Mastrogiacomo.]
Let me know if you’ve heard this one before: “I know I need to hire ___, but I just can’t afford it.”
Or what about this one? “I know I need help, but I’m just not sure I can trust anyone else!”
When I first started my entrepreneurial journey 10 years ago, I was a total control nut. I didn’t trust anyone to do anything and as a college student I didn’t have money for anything, so I constantly resorted to what I thought was the only solution: working like a maniac, doing everything on my own, and burning out a couple years later filled with frustration, exhaustion, and confusion at what I could have done better.
Now, as I sit over five years away from my first burnout, I can easily identify all the warning signs and clearly diagnose a solution: delegating.
Had I just allowed myself to let go of control, find the money, and bring on team members, I could have saved myself a lot of misery. My guess? You might be feeling a little bit of that burnout paired with an uncertainty on what to do next.
So here we go.
Get clear on the time you’re putting into everything
The first thing you want to do is get really clear on what it is that’s taking up all your time. Odds are it’s not one or two major things, but rather, five to ten small moments throughout the day that are slowly eating up all your time.
For me, scheduling social media posts or writing press releases are two of those things. It’ll take me 15 minutes and, somehow I blink and an hour has gone by. For you it might be scheduling or posting on social media as well, but it could also be your mailing list, your DIY marketing or PR outreach, booking shows—try to track how much time you’re putting in and you’ll start to get a better idea of what you can delegate.
There are a few ways to do this. I ‘time block’. For instance, I know that from 12pm-1:30pm today I’ll check my emails, so I automatically know I spend roughly one and a half hours per day on emails. Then, I might section off another hour for social media. If you have a rough idea of how long each task takes, you can try this out and make notes about how long each thing actually takes. Just remember to give yourself about 15 minutes buffer time between tasks.
There are also numerous Chrome extensions that allow you to start and stop a timer so you can get an idea of what each task takes.
More than that, try to pay attention to the in between moments. The five minutes you think you took a break to look at Facebook for may actually turn into 20. Or when you go to look something up and get sucked into a research frenzy for three hours instead of just making a decision (hello, that’s me.) This is where a lot of time gets lost. Luckily, it’s not terribly difficult to recover once we’ve identified it.
Figure out what you can’t do vs. what you don’t want to do
There’s a big difference between the things we really suck at and actually don’t have the time for, versus the things we just don’t want to do. For most things in our lives, we really can just hire someone to do the things we don’t want to do. But with your career as an artist, it’s a little different.
For instance, you may really dislike the amount of work you have to put into social media, and as such, you may think, “Well I’d like to just hire someone to take it over.” But if you’re a relatively small band with a few hundred followers and no real brand, voice or identity yet, you really ought to be putting the time into building that skill and developing your own brand and voice–rather than asking someone else to do it for you.
There’s a lot of reasons to consider this path within this specific example, namely that your social media channels are where you build connection with your fans. There’s nothing wrong with hiring a consultant to help you better utilize social media or help you understand it, but as for the actual posts, you really should be doing that yourself. Put in the time, and try to remember it’s not a chore. This is a wonderful opportunity to connect.
So when you’re beginning to brainstorm where you’d like to delegate, just remember that these should be things you really can’t do or that are too time-intensive, not things you’re just phoning it in for. Team members are there to help build the momentum on what you’ve created—so just make sure you’ve first created something for them to really work with.
Put together a budget
In order to truly grow your career, you’ll need to eventually bring on and accept help. You really can’t do it all on your own. To do those things, you need to be able to outsource and hire professionals, which of course, is going to require money.
Before you say you can’t afford it, try to think of five artists who have made music their full time careers while doing 100% of everything by themselves. I don’t even mean they didn’t have a label, I mean they didn’t work with anyone—they did all their tour booking, merch design, PR, marketing, management, and all the little pieces in between without ever working with another person, and now they’re playing major festival stages, touring the world, and we hear their songs on the radio.
It doesn’t happen.
I know in the early days of your career it’s simply not feasible to spend thousands of dollars. And there’s a lot of value in being able to do all the crafts of your trade, and know how it all works. But eventually, you’re going to need to bring someone (and then more ‘someone’s’) on, so you need to budget for it from day one. This might mean you take a flexible job for a couple months to save up for this one thing you’re working towards, but trust me when I say, you will need a budget.
This is the fun part! Deciding what it is you want to outsource is the first step in really freeing up your time and allowing you to re-allocate it to tasks that are better suited for you, and help move you forward.
Ask yourself: What am I bad at? What am I good at but it isn’t a great use of my time anymore?
You want to be focusing your talents on tasks that move you ahead, so as not to get stuck just working IN the business instead of ON the business, so to speak.
For instance, if you’re not a great writer, don’t try to take on the task of writing your bio, just hire a freelancer or a publicist who can write it for you. Or perhaps your website is in disarray and you just don’t have the time or passion for fixing it. Good news, there are people that do that and are really good at it!
Bring on (and trust) your team
Once you know what it is you want to outsource, start looking for your team members. The best way to find someone is word of mouth, so talk to your friends in other bands or areas of the industry, post in Facebook groups asking for recommendations, and then do your research and find the right fit.
Once you decide who to hire, trust them. If you’ve brought them into your circle, you did it for a reason. I know it can be difficult to let go of control and trust someone else with your project, but you hired them for a reason, so let them do their job.
Bonus tip: try to automate the process as much as possible so that if you hire someone else in the future, you don’t have to recreate all of those documents. For instance, a list of all your login information if you hire an analytics or marketing expert for your social media.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placement on Alternative Press, Substream, New Noise, and more. She’s also the owner of music blog Infectious Magazine.Tags: