Outsourcing a lot of tiny stuff made easier

I have a handy tip for building a contract made up of lots of very small quick-to-make items with a fast turnaround, like icons. I only do this with long-term contractors that I’ve built a trusting relationship with.

Let’s say you want to outsource small icon art. Say $50 per icon for 75 icons. That makes $3750. It’s perfectly logical to break it down into the exact number of icons you need and pay them for each one, right? Of course. It makes even more sense to build this directly into the terms of the contract itself, doesn’t it? Naturally!

But what happens if, in the middle of the contract, you decide you only need 71 icons? Or 77? You have to quickly cobble something together for them to do, amend the contract, or add something onto the next contract, or create a new contract just for the overage. You can waste a huge amount of time trying to fix it in any one of these ways.

But I have a simple way around it — roll it into one bulk price. It’s a very simple three-step process:

  1. Itemize it. Figure out exactly to the number how many assets you need: 75 icons.
  2. Price it. Negotiate a fair rate for each asset: $50 per icon.
  3. Bulk it. Multiply the number by the price, come up with a total, and make that price one flat, flexible unit: $3,750 for approximately 75 icons.

You MUST specify carefully how much above or below that number ‘approximately’ is so no one takes advantage of the other. In this case, I think a cap of plus two or minus four icons is acceptable. Be ethical. This is supposed to save time renegotiating and amending contracts for you and your contractor, and is NOT to give you a tool to get more for your money. First and foremost, be a decent human and respect your people so they’ll want to keep working for you.

This has been a useful tool for me to save time with my contractors when I’m outsourcing really simple, small stuff whose numbers change constantly. Whenever I can, I make sure to keep the absorption even on both sides. “Whoops, I only need 72 instead of 75. That cool?” and “Crap, I need 76 instead of 75. That cool?” And never let it get too one-sided. You’re people, you’ve been working together for a while and you trust each other. “Hey dude, yeah, sure, I’ll get this one. It’s cool.”

If you abuse this to take advantage of a contractor, you are an asshole. This will bite you in the ass, and please stop reading my site. 🙂

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