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How To Know When It’s Time To Hire Help

Re-use businessmenDoing something is learning it. Learning something is creating connections between what you know and what you don’t know. Those connections lead to increased creativity but also to an understanding of what others, who already are experienced in the field, can do, when they can help you, and how.

I could hire out my art. Have my prototypes made by The Game Crafter, print my cards at ArtsCow and get a logo from 99designs and get everything packeted at oDesk. I could even hire out the actual game design (hey, just try dropping a post with the title “I’ll pay you $500 to design a game for me” in the Board game design forum…). But why would I?

A few weeks ago I wrote about hiring out more. I wanted to stop working on my own and get someone who’s good at, say, art to do the stuff they’re good at so I could do the stuff I’m good at. And now this. How can I advocate doing it yourself if I just spend a week advocating farming your jobs out?

Easy. I’ve done art. I’ve seen how hard it is (especially for me), I’ve gotten the fundamentals down. I’ve learned Photoshop and Illustrator well enough to be able to do fairly ok stuff myself. And it was fun, an experience, a learning curve.

But now I do understand my limitations. I know what to ask for when I outsource my art, I can see what I’d want the final product to be and know what type of feedback to get from anyone who’ll I contract (and what to discard as well). I wouldn’t have had that if I didn’t start by doing everything myself. I’m not an expert, but I do have an understanding.

“The right time to hire is when there’s more work than you can handle for a sustained period of time.”


This is the very sentence that got me thinking about outsourcing some of my game design activities. I wouldn’t outsource the design – that’s what I am – or the writing – that’s what I do expertly – but of the rest I could imagine outsourcing the art because a professional artist could do it better and faster than I could. And I don’t have the time to do it all myself. I don’t have the time to make my prototypes look enticing for my playtesters (and they should, at least for my blind playtesters). Hiring out when I know enough to ask for the right things isn’t selling out. It’s working smart.

And it gives me more time to focus on the things I enjoy and am good at.

Ps. If you’re interested in exchanging services or want to hire someone to write or copyedit your texts, drop me an email.

Dreams of Futures Past Book Cover


  • I like the reference to Rework–great book!

    I like the sentiment you express here about outsourcing at the right times for the right tasks. Good luck as you move forward with that!

    • Filip Wiltgren

      Thanks! One thing I’ve learned is that outsourcing for sweat equity is a lot better than outsourcing for cash as it increases your footprint in the industry (more people who see your work).

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