The Fantasy: Your marketing budget is packed to the brim with money to help build your dream marketing team. You hire nothing short of the best. Life is good.

The Reality: Your staff is overworked, your budget's tight and you complete about half of the projects on your to-do list.

This reality is what many marketing managers and small businesses face on a daily basis. Even so, you're still expected to consistently produce better results—and the bar keeps on rising while you keep losing resources.

It's situations like those that call for the outsourced consultants and freelancers of the world to help turn your fantasy marketing team into a reality.

What Can You Outsource?

You can outsource just about anything. With the layoffs and budget cuts that plague marketing departments and agencies, there are a ton of freelancers out there ready and willing to take on your projects. Everyone from designers to copywriters to project mangers can be brought in to help with any number of marketing communications tasks.

Many times, you can find a team of freelancers that regularly work together. Look for freelancers by doing a Web search, browsing the yellow pages or seeking referrals from colleagues.

Wanted: Good Copywriting and Design

If marketing communications were a building, copywriting and graphic design would be the support beams. Without these critical components, you really don't have a chance of communicating your message, making a sale or building your brand.

Some of the best marketing communications pieces can come from a copywriter/design team, and most freelance copywriters and designers have a colleague they will refer to you.

A good copywriter/designer team should be able to understand your project quickly and get to work on it right away. In addition, they should be willing to work with you, your staff and any other creative partners you need involved in the project.

However, don't assume that all freelancers will be able to effectively work with your staff. Make sure they have the people skills to do so by interviewing them and checking their references. In the freelance industry, you can often run across so-called "hermits" who enjoy working by themselves and don't do well working with others. Not good if your project requires a lot of teamwork.

Thinking Outside the Box (or Your Office)

One of the biggest benefits of working with freelancers is getting their perspectives on your projects. If seasoned pros, they are used to giving advice to clients and should be more than happy to do so.

Since you are so close with your industry and work with the same colleagues every day, your perspective can become skewed. Many "insiders" adopt the company's perspective rather than the customer's. A good freelancer can help you by asking questions and suggesting ideas that you might not have thought about.

No More Drained Resources

Your full-time employees generally have a full-time workload. Even if you have writers and designers on staff, adding more duties to their already overflowing to-do lists can cause burnout and make your department fall behind on important projects.

Bringing in a freelancer can help even things out and give your staff some breathing room.

There When You Need Them, and Never When You Don't

Hiring a full-time employee is a big investment. Salary, training, insurance and office supplies are all part of the costs. When you hire a freelancer, you pay only for the project and nothing else. It's like having a full-time professional on call 365 days a year.

You've Made the Decision—now it's Time to Hire

When hiring freelancers, don't just look for the best price and quickest turnaround times, look for someone who will be there for the long term and will become more of a partner to your company.

Follow these steps, and you should be on the right track to building your dream marketing team:

  1. You first need to find the freelancer. Some of the best work will come from referrals—ask colleagues and other creative partners. You can also do a Web search, browse the yellow pages and check with local business organizations such as the chamber of commerce.

  2. Interview the freelancer and view work samples to help you determine whether they do quality work and would fit in with your company and projects.

  3. Request references from previous clients. When checking the references, try to get a feel for timeliness, teamwork and professionalism.

  4. Develop a contract or a letter of agreement that details the scope of the project, due dates and payment terms. This will help keep everyone on the same page, and protect both you and the freelancer.

Most companies are looking for ways to reduce costs and keep their staff happy while building their brand and increasing sales. Hiring a freelancer to help out with your marketing workload can help to accomplish this.

So what are you waiting for? You'll put your company on the right track to success, and yourself on the right track to having your dream marketing team.

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Greg Quigley is a business writer and owner of Q-Com Business Writing (