Outsourcing Design & Content

I’ve been pretty out of it this week. The days have started off slow and groggy. Of course, it’s beautiful out right now, but it’s been pretty crappy outside the last few days. Plus, I spend a lot of time sitting in this recliner working. It’s a wonder I don’t run out of breath going downstairs.

Fortunately, while I have a list of work to do, I knock things out fairly quickly. As with most things, it’s the getting started that’s hardest. Even if it’s only sending an email to bother someone about the content item he or she is supposed to be writing for me.

So far, I’ve been able to outsource some design and writing work to friends.

One nice thing about my position is identifying areas across the company needing improvement and improving them. Not long after I started, I noticed we needed a real brochure. brochure sketch editThe closest thing they had was this. So I had Amanda Riley quickly design this — so it actually tells people what we do. Once we run out of these, I’m going to have it redesigned and completely change the content and art. (That content and art came directly from the company website. There wasn’t time to come up with a brochure’s worth of content and new art before the conference started.)

I have my old friend Deborah Dera working on a Wikipedia page for the company. Our partners, competitors and others in our vertical have Wikipedia pages. We’ve been around since 1989. I think we deserve one. It takes a lot of time and effort, though, that I don’t have. So Deb’s working on that for me.

Finally, I have Cassandra Laux working on a “slick sheet,” “sell sheet,” or what I call a “flyer” for sales to give clients. The example that was pulled from our library may as well have been written in Comic Sans with Word art thrown in for good measure. I’m certain her first shot will kill that.

I like — when I’m able — to give work to friends and family. Apparently, most people do, given nepotism and civil service laws. But I like being someone willing to pay a reasonable rate for good work from a friend knowing that our outside marketing firm’s designers will likely charge far more than anyone in Austin (or in these cases, Alabama, New Jersey and Nashville, where my labor is outsourced, respectively). And I don’t think designer and writer rates are higher in Minnesota than Austin (or the above mentioned cities). I know local rates. And I don’t cheat anyone. That’s what I like about it most — not trying to screw people over on money. I know how crappy that is.

I also know if someone tries to take me for a ride. One-hundred dollars an hour for a visual designer, unless he or she is a fucking crackerjack designer, and there aren’t many of those around, is a no-go. More important, I wouldn’t use them because of cost.

I don’t get to sign checks (but corporate CC is cool) and I, ultimately, do have to get management’s approval for most things, but they trust my judgement enough to let me go pretty far. It’s nice to be valued! And I do my best to get the company the best value.

In other news, the design firm in Detroit is dragging its feet, while the U.S. Digital Service is moving faster in interviewing and hiring Misty than any government agency I’ve ever dealt with (and that’s many). I already subscribe to The Washington Post, so I guess I just need to cancel my Detroit Free Press subscription again. I think this will be the third time I’ve unsubscribed after we felt sure we were going.

Years ago, I took one of those stupid online quizzes about where you should live (based on preferred weather, whatever else) and it picked D.C. for me. I’ve always been interested in Washington. I know: Surprise, given my political work. Lots to do D.C. and the local area and quick hops to the rest of the Northeast Corridor.

I’m jealous. I’d love to get to go help cut through the red tape and improve citizen’s access to government with the U.S. Digital Service. So far, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security want to meet with her. We know DHS is working on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services site, so she chose DHS. (We just found out it is consistently rated as the worst place to work in the federal government.)

We’ll know more after she speaks with them tomorrow. She’s a little wary because she’s never worked in the public sector, but that’s the point of the Digital Service — to bring in private sector experts to revamp not only the federal government’s technologies but also their processes, technological procurement, policies, et cetera. I know I’ve heard discussions of trying to get offices to go lean- or agile-style.

My office had a D.C. office not long ago. It was one engineer. I guess if I moved there, we could have a D.C. office again. Sans engineer.

Time to get back to work.

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