Many printers can’t afford to provide all print services in-house, but they don’t want to turn away customers’ requests. Printers are learning that the Internet is making it easy to find and work with printers to the trade. These print providers are brokering more work such as color output, carbonless forms, and envelopes because it is more economical to buy them outside than to produce them in-house. By combining a product mix of in-house and brokered printing, printers are able to sell more services to their customers and make more money.
Printers often view outside resources as an advantage that enables them to offer additional services. For new managed marketing services, printers can find a number of online vendors to help with content recreation, website development, variable data programming, social media support, and other complicated computer-based services. Pricing is very competitive and turnaround times for delivery are reported to be very good.
Where to Find the Pros
With the Internet, printers now have access to thousands of experts who can be added as needed. With the right experts, even the smallest printer can take on any size job and be competitive. Printers can have access to designers, typesetters, programmers, Web designers, and writers from around the world and experts in almost any subject.
Finding these online contractors is easy. For instance, a printer selling content creation will need a stable of writers. To find a writer for a project, you can post your job on such sites as elance.com, ifreelance.com, writingbids.com, getafreelancer.com, odesk.com, and guru.com. Most of the sites let freelance writers bid on your work based on your specifications and your budget.
Most of these sites will also let you post jobs for graphic designers, website designers, and even computer programmers. On many of the sites, you post the specifications for the job and what you are willing to pay, and then wait for a response. The vendors will bid on the project with either a set fee or an hourly rate. All fees and payments to the vendor are handled by the company that owns the website.
One website of note is odesk.com. Not only does it connect you with writers, designers, and programmers, it will provide you with a “diary” of what the vendor is doing on your project. You will be able to see what they have done and how long it took them to do it.
Another type of site offering graphic design provides “crowdsourcing” services. This is where you post your specifications and budget and graphic designers will submit work to you. You pick the one you like best and pay for it. The prices vary at the different sites. To find these sites just search for “graphic design crowdsourcing.”
Mind the Details
Finding the help is easy. Managing a virtual project can be difficult. The key to successfully dealing with outside technology vendors will be how well you can explain your project. Whether you are working with a graphic designer, a website designer, or a computer programmer, you have to be able to write down what you want. The more precise you are in the instructions, the faster and more accurate your results will be.
Like any production job, outside projects should be scheduled with a final delivery date and interim due dates for the completion of different steps. Keeping in close contact with the virtual team and holding them to the interim due dates should make any job flow smoothly. Usually, a printer will find an outside vendor he enjoys working with and will use that vendor for other projects.
To survive, printers need a competitive edge. That edge could be the virtual specialists the print provider adds to expand his services within his market. The workplace is changing and virtual employees are going to play a bigger role. The faster printers gain experience using this new advantage, the faster they will gain market share and grow.