For anyone who has been following the PFRE blog for the past few years, you know I started outsourcing my post-processing in 2016 when a massive wildfire wiped out my city. My competition left town and my volume doubled, so I had no choice but to find help.
Back in 2016, outsourcing was a very sensitive topic. While it might still be in some areas, I think, for the most part, it has become a critical aspect of many high volume real estate photography businesses.
We get messages all the time asking how to find a good, sustainable post-processing company to trust. The explosion of overseas outsourcing companies has made the task of finding and creating a long term relationship with a reputable outsourcing partner nearly impossible. That said, here are a few steps to help make the process less painful.
With literally hundreds of outsourcing companies available online, the best ways to cut through the noise are:
1) Ask your peers for recommendations (Facebook groups, industry contacts, PFRE forum, etc.)
2) Check out the companies listed on the PFRE preferred vendor list.
3) Try a standard Google search and contact 4-6 companies that stand out to you. (Don't get hung up on the top results or paid ads.)
Once you have identified 4-6 candidates, use this free PDF download to vet them.
This is critical. You MUST put in the work. How many times have you heard about someone trying to outsource their editing only to give up a month later? I went through about five companies before I found one that I thought had real potential. Once I committed to them, I put a ton of time into training and mentoring them on my workflow. I'll admit, it was painful in the beginning, but once they got it, my business (and life) was changed forever.
Training and mentoring your future outsourcing company is very front end heavy from a work perspective, but it's well worth the trouble. I recorded a series of in-depth videos detailing my standard workflow as well as all the little hacks that I use to maintain efficiency on-site.
I used the following training method (learned from John C. Maxwell), and it worked like a charm.
Once they understood my shooting style and workflow, we didn't need to talk more than a couple of times per month. It took about four months to get things to the point where I could barely tell the difference between my edits and theirs. This is when I stopped editing my own images entirely and haven't looked back.
Maintenance is the easy part. Any time I upgrade my gear or change my workflow in any way, I record a new video and update my editors on the potential impacts of these changes. They have become adaptable, forward-thinking, and are now an invaluable part of my team.
The rest will take care of itself.