Have too much on your to-do list? Doing something that’s not your expertise? Need some time to think about other facets of your business? Even if you answered “yes” to all of the above, there’s one simple solution: help.

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That’s where outsourcing comes in, to give you time to focus on the areas of your business that need you the most — and have someone else do the rest. Plus, businesses all over the world are already utilizing the practice. In fact, the outsourcing market equaled 85.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2018.

So when do you know you’re ready to start outsourcing photo editing? Look for these 13 signs:

In this article

What is outsourcing?

Outsourcing is when one hires an external business or individual to provide services. These services can be the same, complementary, or supportive to the hiring business’s core offerings.

For example, a freelance photographer might edit photos themselves but also outsource edits from time to time. Or, the product photographer may outsource bookkeeping to an accountant. When it comes to outsourcing, the possibilities are literally endless.

Do what you do best and outsource the rest. – Peter Drucker

All in all, outsourcing is beneficial because it helps businesses grow. This can be through increasing bandwidth, optimizing existing business processes, reducing costs, or adding new specialities or lines of business to your existing revenue stream.

Deloitte conducted a survey on outsourcing and found that many companies use the practice to give themselves a competitive edge.

Simon Woodcock, business owner and photographer of Man With A Camera Photography, outsources photo edits to help him in his business. “Initially I was wary about handing over creative control to an external editor but after some test shots and a little guidance, I reached a point where I was happy,” he says. “Sure, there are sometimes hiccups, but when things don't go well, I simply reject the file and request for an alteration or it to be reworked.”

Ready to get started? Find out the best way to outsource work for your ecommerce business.

13 signs it’s time to outsource photo edits

You can’t keep up with demand

Whether you’re working for yourself, in-house, or both, there might come a point in time when you simply can’t keep up with the workload. Clients and colleagues are pulling you in different directions, and everybody needs everything yesterday.

That’s what happened when Jim Palmer, product photographer at Toysmith, was responsible for keeping up with 100 product launches each week. So, he relied on outsourced photo edits to help him get it all done.

Woodcock also uses outsourcing to increase his freelance bandwidth. “I started outsourcing my retouching and editing work when my event photography work was really busy,” he says. “It freed me up to deal with the event clients who often needed images quickly. The product work wasn't so time-sensitive so it was good to be able to hand it over in its raw state and then have them returned finished and ready for the client.”

You’ve maxed out your photographer’s bandwidth

If you outsource product photography and editing already, you might find that your photographer has a limit in terms of workload. Alee Mills, director of operations at Ice Cream Castles, can relate. Their talented product photographer had a max of 50 edited photos per batch, so Mills started outsourcing extra edits to Path.

Your photographer is too expensive but you don’t want to sacrifice the quality

More than half of those who outsource do so to reduce costs. In fact, 59% of respondents to one survey say their company uses outsourcing services because it's a cost-cutting tool.

In many cases, outsourcing your photo editing gives you the best of both worlds: savings and quality. Simply find an outsource partner who can upkeep your level of quality at the right price. For example, Path's image editing services start at just 49¢ per image.

You have to meet a tight deadline

Last-minute product launch? On the way to a trade show? A sudden influx of client work? Whatever your impossible deadline, there are ways to outsource photo edits quickly.

At Path, for example, the rush fee is just 1.25 times extra if you want your images back in 6 hours (compared to the normal 24-hour turnaround time).

You’re too stressed

The leading cause of stress? Workload.

causes of stress pie chart

It’s easy to fall into the routine and feel like stress is a normal part of the gig. It’s not. Stress can wreak havoc on your health, and if work is too stressful for you, it’s time to make a change.

Outsourcing photo edits is a great way to ease some of the burden and hand off part of your workload to someone else.

You’re stuck creatively

Employee burnout is a real threat to productivity and professional success. 67% of employees report feeling burned out at some point in their career. And those workers are 63% more likely to call out sick and 2.6 times more likely to be active job seekers.


If you’re feeling burned out and unmotivated at work, consider outsourcing the photo edits you dread doing or that take up the most amount of your time. This could free you up enough to feel motivated about the work you do every day.

You’re working a lot of overtime

We all dream of the ideal work-life balance: a fulfilling career that lets you pursue your creative passions, with plenty of free time to spend with friends and family and on hobbies.

But more than half of Americans work overtime — 47% on weekends. 81% wish they had more time to spend with loved ones, and the friends and family of 31% of those folks are actually bothered by the amount of time they spend on work.

Note this: The second-most stressful part of the job for Americans is working “long or erratic hours.”

These are not numbers we like to see. But thankfully, outsourcing can address these workplace challenges and improve satisfaction. You can spend less time editing, and more time enjoying your life outside of work.

You spend hours doing repetitive edits

Repetition is tedious — so outsource those routine tasks. Nitty gritty photo edits like background removal and drop shadow can be taxing, both on your time and mental well-being.

We ran a survey to find out how long it takes to edit each product photo, on average. We found that nearly 24% of professionals spend less than 5 minutes on each shot, but 20% spend more than a half hour. That’s 16 images in a single day if you’re not working on anything else. Imagine doing that day in and day out?

time it takes to edit product photos

Find out the cheapest way to put products on a white background

You’re expanding to more commerce channels

Today’s retailers can’t survive with just a single or even a couple of commerce channels. Since consumers now have an average of nine shopping channels to choose from for every purchase — and nearly three-quarters use multiple channels every time they buy something — having two marketplaces can nearly double revenue.

Great! More touchpoints, more customers, more sales. But each channel has its own image requirements. And guess what? Pretty much none of them are the same.

That means you not only need to familiarize yourself with each channel’s guidelines, but also spend extra time sizing and editing each product photo accordingly. Talk about tedious ...

You have seasonal fluctuations

The holiday season is a busy period for any brand. The winter holiday months are responsible for driving 20% of overall retail sales, and retailers need to prep a ton of collateral to prepare. That means lots of photo editing.

You might have other busy seasons, too. Fashion brands have sales fluctuations based on the winter, spring, summer, and fall. Bathing suits, for example, are popular in the spring, as consumers prepare for summer vacation — while warm clothes are in high demand during autumn.

Trade show season and regular product launches can also create a surge in demand for photo editing, making it an ideal time to outsource.

Pro tip: Don’t wait until you’re in the midst of your busy season to start outsourcing. Find a reliable outsourcing partner beforehand, so you can become acquainted with one another and hit the ground running when it’s time.

You want to shorten turnaround time

Looking to improve your turnaround time to impress clients and stakeholders? Or is it simply to optimize your current workflow? Whatever the reason, outsourcing can help.

Here’s an example: Suddenly a batch of 50 photos that would otherwise take you a full day to complete now takes significantly less when the job is outsourced to a team of editors who can work together to crank it out more quickly.

With outsourcing comes more time to focus on other things, all while ensuring your editing is done quickly and efficiently.

You’re outside of your expertise

Not everyone knows Photoshop. While powerful, it’s a heck of a program to learn.

“I like handing over product shots for editing by professionals since I'm better at photographing images than I am with the retouching side of things,” says Woodcock. “It's great to have the support from professionals who do this type of work all the time.”

It’s okay if Photoshop isn’t in your skillset. Learning Photoshop takes hours upon hours — time you could be spending on more valuable and impactful business tasks.

Nisa Zulkifli, co-founder of conscious skincare brand Speak, tried learning Photoshop herself at first. She and her co-founder were running a lean operation, so it made sense to keep everything in-house. They even took a photography course in addition to learning Photoshop. Eventually, they realized that outsourcing to a skilled editor made more sense for business growth.

You want to focus on growth

Whatever “growth” means to you — more clients, more sales, more customers, a promotion, more money, management, new skills, anything — outsourcing will free you up to focus on it.

“Offloading some of this work has given me more time to spend looking for work that I prefer and is usually of higher value, as well as spend more time with my young family,” says Woodcock. “Not only that, but the prices are usually great!”

Move forward with outsourcing your photo editing

Whether you’re looking for more bandwidth, less stress, or something in between, outsourcing photo editing could be the key to falling in love with your job again. Path offers professional photo edits by hand, starting at just 49¢ per image.

Get a quote for outsourcing your photo edits

Alexandra Sheehan

In her past agency life, Alex has led digital marketing initiatives for Fortune 500 companies. Now, she’s passionate about helping retailers and retail industry leaders harness the power of the written word and fuse it with strategic content, email and social media marketing campaigns.

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