Choose digital services and specialists

You'll need people with the right skills to help you put your digital strategy into action. This could be through your employees or other businesses or contractors who offer digital services. Even if you have the skills yourself, you may prefer to outsource digital services so you can focus on your core business.

There are many training courses and programs available to help boost your digital knowledge or upskill your employees if you want to manage digital services in-house.

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Doing it yourself versus using a digital specialist

Before deciding to hire a digital specialist, consider:

  • your level of experience – is this something you understand well and have experience in, or would you benefit from the knowledge and experience of a specialist?
  • complexity of the task – is it something you could easily research and learn to do, or is it more complicated, needing expert skills?
  • if the task is one-off or ongoing – if it's a one-off task, it might not be worth investing time and money to learn a new skill. Or if it's an ongoing task, it might take up too much of your time in the long term.
  • cost versus benefit – weigh up the benefits of having a professional complete the task against the cost of engaging them.

Hiring a contractor versus bringing skills in-house

For large or ongoing digital projects, you may need to decide if you should hire a contractor or appoint an employee.

Contractors:

  • run their own business and invoice you for their services
  • offer more flexibility, so you can engage them as required
  • need less hands-on management than employees, giving you more time to focus on core business activities.

Employees:

  • work for your business
  • can be the best option when you need ongoing digital services or are working on a large project
  • may be more cost-effective.

You can read more about employees versus independent contractors.

Deciding which will suit your business

To choose what is suitable for you, consider:

  • the amount of ongoing work – hiring a long-term, in-house staff member may be more cost-effective than using a contractor
  • training and onboarding – a contractor works independently without needing long-term training investment. They're already skilled in their area and won't need the extra training a new staff member may need. Permanent employees may also need more onboarding than contractors
  • the need for specialist expertise or ability to work across many areas – If you find you need multiple expert contractors to complete a project, employing someone with a broader skill set may be more cost-effective or beneficial in the long term
  • cost – an ongoing, full-time employee has extra costs like holiday pay, superannuation, and sick leave, but may offer better long-term stability and continuity. However, it may make more financial sense to hire a short-term contractor with the right skill set to complete tasks for a set fee.

Read about how to hire a contractor, consultant or freelancer.

Develop a digital workforce

You can upskill or retrain your employees by exploring digital training programs offered by registered training providers. Programs can be tailored to individuals or for groups in businesses of various sizes.

Learn more about digital skills training.

The Digital Solutions program offers tailored advice on how digital tools can help your small business.

Training courses such as Digital Skills for Small Business and Entry to Tech Skills help your business adapt to operating in an online environment.

Use the Queensland Government grants finder or Australian Government grants and programs finder to find funding and support programs to upskill your employees.

Types of digital suppliers

Digital suppliers are professionals (individuals or organisations) who offer specialised digital skills as a service.

There are many different types of digital suppliers and services, but it's unlikely your business will need them all. It's helpful to be aware of the various suppliers and services available, so you can select the right one for your needs.

Getting a website

The following digital suppliers can help you establish your business website.

Website designers:

  • plan and create web pages and websites
  • update the layout, look and feel of existing websites.

Use a website designer when you know what your business needs but don't have the skills or time to design it yourself.

Website developers:

  • create and maintain websites
  • write and modify the code that runs the front-end, user-facing part of a website
  • integrate and link the components of a website
  • optimise website performance, ensuring websites are reliable, efficient and user friendly
  • monitor website speed and traffic capacity.

Use a website developer when you don't know how to code, but:

  • need to update an existing website
  • design a new website.

DIY website builders:

  • enable you to quickly create a website and launch it online with no coding experience needed
  • offer easy-to-use, drag-and-drop templates for building websites
  • make it easy to add your own content into pre-made sections within the template
  • do all the difficult website-building tasks for you.

Use a website builder to create an online presence in a budget-friendly and convenient way.

Weebly, Squarespace, WIX and GoDaddy are examples, but many providers are available. Ask your business contacts for recommendations or do a web search for 'DIY website builders' to find a product that meets your specific needs.

Domain name sellers:

  • are accredited organisations authorised to provide services to people who want to register a new domain name, or renew or change their domain name
  • offer many variations of a domain name
  • enable you to maintain all your domain information in 1 location
  • can send renewal reminders annually
  • may offer other combined services, such as hosting and website building.

Hosting companies:

  • provide the service to get your website on the internet
  • can provide email addresses to match your website
  • may offer both monthly payment options or discounted annual purchases
  • can support growing website requirements by offering different storage sizes over time.

Creating content

You can use the services of the following suppliers to help you create professional visual and written content for your site.

Copywriters:

  • write engaging and clear text (also called copy) for websites and other advertising channels
  • choose words carefully to
    • promote goods and services
    • generate sales and business
    • make consumers take action
    • support brand identity (e.g. Nike's 'just do it' slogan).
  • proofread and edit existing copy for accuracy and quality.

Use a copywriter when you're:

  • developing your brand
  • creating or updating the copy on your website
  • communicating with customers (e.g. through newsletters)
  • running an advertising campaign
  • aiming to generate website traffic for a business through enticing content
  • researching, preparing, writing and editing content for businesses
  • creating blog posts with photos, videos and multimedia
  • designing and writing social media posts
  • developing video scripts and producing videos.

Hire a content developer to create consistent, high-quality content that will:

  • support your advertising and marketing strategies
  • draw web traffic to your website
  • create visual concepts to attract, inform and engage business customers
  • develop the layout and design of advertising and marketing collateral
  • use photo-editing and digital-illustration software to create designs and visual concepts.

Graphic designers use layout, images and text elements to visually communicate ideas, information or a desired impression.

Hire a graphic designer to create a professional and cohesive brand for your business.

Illustrators:

  • create commercial designs, drawings and infographics for digital and print media
  • respond to specific client briefs and adapt illustrations accordingly
  • adapt concepts and ideas into visual images.

Hire an illustrator if your business needs to communicate ideas using a visual medium.

Photographers take pictures of people, places, events and objects to tell a story or meet a specific client brief.

Videographers shoot and edit video footage.

They both:

  • take professional images (still and moving) for advertising and marketing purposes
  • provide photos or informational video content for business websites.

Hire a photographer or videographer if your business requires high-quality, professional images and videos for marketing or internal use.

Marketing your business online

These specialists can help improve traffic to your website, increase awareness of your brand and help you run online marketing campaigns.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) specialists:

  • apply SEO techniques to increase the number of visitors (traffic) to a website and improve the website's ranking in search results
  • test, analyse and improve web page SEO
  • conduct paid search campaigns.

Use an SEO specialist if you want to:

  • improve your website ranking
  • increase your website traffic and sales.

Read more about using SEO to get your website seen.

Advertising agencies:

  • work with you to create advertising and marketing strategies
  • develop logos and advertising material to boost brand awareness
  • implement advertising campaigns
  • conduct research to ensure your business is targeting the right market.

Use an advertising agency to:

  • get specialised knowledge to run advertising and marketing campaigns
  • develop your brand
  • represent your business across all social media channels
  • respond to comments on social media on behalf of your business
  • perform analytics (obtain and interpret statistics) on social-media sites
  • create social-media campaigns and regular content.

Social-media management services can manage your social media presence.

Use a social-media management service when your business is:

  • starting, to ensure a solid social media presence
  • growing, and you need to stay across multiple social media platforms.

Read more about using social media for your business.

Marketing agencies:

  • help businesses implement and manage marketing strategies
  • complete market analysis to determine customer preferences
  • tailor marketing messages to meet customers' needs
  • implement marketing strategies across the business to generate leads or increase sales
  • often specialise in a specific communication channel
  • may work for an agency or be self-employed
  • track key marketing targets and the effectiveness of campaigns
  • adapt marketing strategies to optimise their effectiveness
  • monitor and report on the success of campaigns.

Use a marketing agency:

  • to create a marketing strategy for your business that can be used to increase sales
  • if you lack the time or skills to analyse the market and implement campaigns
  • to help develop, implement and monitor marketing campaigns.

Use a marketing specialist if your business:

  • needs someone to implement a marketing strategy
  • doesn't have the capacity or experience to do so in-house.
  • supports customers in person, over the phone, or through digital channels like live chats, texts and messaging applications.

Other support

There are other services that can also support your business online.

Engage a customer-service support specialist to:

  • meet the expectations of your customers
  • help retain customers and create a returning customer base to increase sales
  • provide support services to businesses while working remotely.

Virtual assistants generally offer remote, freelance business support.

They can:

  • oversee social media management
  • help with marketing, web design, and accounting
  • perform administrative and clerical tasks.

You might hire a virtual assistant if you:

  • need support in your day-to-day business
  • do not have the time or space to recruit a team member in-house.

Read more about what you can do to improve your website.

How to engage a digital supplier

Once you've identified the service you need and the potential digital suppliers you may want to engage with, there are a few more steps to complete.

Communicating clearly with digital suppliers is key to getting the results you want. This means you have to:

  • prepare a clear summary of the scope of services you want
  • where relevant, include a creative brief to give the supplier the information they need to complete the work in line with your business objectives.

Together these documents should provide clear information on what you expect of the digital service or supplier.

A scope explains what:

  • you want to achieve, for example, add a secure shopping facility to your website
  • activities the digital supplier has to complete
  • information or assets you have that can be used, for example, domain names, logos and a product catalogue
  • you can contribute, for example, photography or copy.

Note: You might update your scope after completing the research process discussed below.

A creative brief should give information on:

  • the background of your business
  • your target audience
  • your business branding (style, colours, tone)
  • objectives the product/service should meet
  • the desired outcomes.

When preparing a brief, be as specific as possible and include as much information as possible so the digital specialist will understand your business needs.

It's essential to research potential digital suppliers to ensure they have the skills to meet your needs. You can:

  • search the web for information and reviews
  • ask to see examples of their work
  • ask the questions below, if they're relevant to your project.

Is a one-off or ongoing payment required?

You may need to make an upfront payment to help cover the supplier's costs. It's also common for suppliers to require part payments as different parts of the work are completed. Be wary of suppliers who request the total payment before the work is completed. Ensure you understand the payment structure and any ongoing payments.

What is the timeframe for delivery?

Be very clear on your expectations. Make sure you're clear on what will need to be delivered, and by when.

What will be included in the cost?

Clarify all costs before engaging a specialist. Ask for a total cost breakdown against measurable tasks. The supplier must provide a detailed explanation of what will be included in the price. Use this information to negotiate fees, make agreements, and confirm that work is complete.

How will their services benefit my business?

It can be helpful to ask the supplier to explain the value of their services. Ask them what they think success looks like for your project. How can they add value to your business?

Can I see samples of your work, or client testimonials, or speak to others you've done work for?

Having some background on how the supplier operates and what they deliver can help you decide if they'll be the right fit for your business.

What do you need me to provide during the project?

Ask the supplier to estimate the time and resources they'll need from your business to complete their work. Some digital projects will require a substantial level of input from your business. Clarify if this input will be needed during the initiation stage only, or required ongoing.

How will you communicate with me, and how often can I expect that?

When working with larger teams or agencies, it's important to know who your point of contact will be. Set clear guidelines for the type and frequency of communication you expect to avoid confusion and keep the project on track.

How many rounds of edits and revisions are included in the project?

This can help to establish review checkpoints throughout the project. These checkpoints allow you to monitor and approve work as it progresses.

What happens if something goes wrong?

Before a project starts, it's good to clearly outline and agree on what will happen if something goes wrong. What happens if you're not happy with the quality of work? What is the process for dealing with, and resolving, disputes?

Will I be able to make changes to the product or content myself?

Being able to make changes yourself is especially important if you're having a website built. You may want access to change content after your supplier has completed the initial launch or update.

You'll need to make a clear and detailed agreement with the supplier. This should include:

  • the scope of work
  • the creative brief
  • what costs apply, and when
  • timelines for payments and delivery of the works
  • formal agreements or contracts.

Have a clear understanding of the review process to ensure you'll be happy with the end product.

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