When developing business operations, things can expand beyond one’s reach. While it is definitely a good sign for the success of the business, the fact of the matter is that it can get to too much. So there can be an obvious need to have a spare pair of hands to handle some of the proceedings. Enter freelancers.
However, there is a catch: You can’t just hire any freelancer and expect to get the job done well. In fact, chances are that this kind of approach will bring more of a headache than a relief.
According to recruiters from The App Solutions, hiring a freelancer is a big responsibility for two major reasons:
- You need to find a professional with a relevant skill set and background.
- You need to avoid even the slightest chance that a freelancer might let you down or mess something up.
But first, we need to sort out the “why” part of the equation.
Why Hiring Freelancers?
Here are the big reasons to consider hiring a freelancer:
Perhaps you don’t have enough manpower to handle many important but monotonous and background tasks, such as link aggregation and crowd marketing. This reason is especially true when the company is expanding. These processual tasks often eat up large chunks of time that your staff could more effectively use on more important tasks.
Also, you may have some one-and-done tasks that pop up here and there but don’t require full-time employees. Alternatively, other tasks require a specific type of expertise that none of your employees have. In these cases, hiring a freelancer is a necessity, so it is the most reasonable way to accomplish the task.
9 Valuable Tips for Working with Freelancers
Freelancers can be cost-savers for your business, but if hired incorrectly, they can be a liabilities. These tips will help you get the best talent for your projects. If strictly followed, they can help you quickly expand your business and minimize your costs.
1. Use Credible Freelance Marketplaces
The freelancer economy is organized around specialized hubs and marketplaces that gather regular gigs and guaranteed deals for dedicated professionals. Needless to say, this makes freelance marketplaces preferable, especially when it comes to handling more sensitive tasks.
Websites such as Upwork offer a wide array of freelancer services, with proven and tested individuals. From a practical standpoint, freelance marketplaces streamline the process by connecting you with candidates that fit your requirements, and you can view their CV, testimonials, and samples upfront.
While these features might not be a guarantee that a freelancer will fit you like a glove, the specialized tests that marketplaces offer give them more credibility than freelancers who don’t take them.
The main advantage of getting freelancers online is that you’ll have a long list of candidates to choose from, so you’re more likely to get the best talent for the type of job you have.
2. Demand Samples of Work
One of the biggest problems that occurs when hiring freelancers is a lack of expertise, followed by a lackluster performance. This issue seems to be absolutely unbeatable in the current economy, due to various methods of obfuscation that can create an illusion that’s strong enough to allow a “freelancer” to take your money and run.
However, there is one solid way to avoid this problem altogether: Ask for samples of work before you offer a freelancer a gig. While it may seem obvious, it is a very effective way to check the credibility and competence of the candidate.
In the case of more creative tasks (such as copywriting), you can take it a step further and ask the freelancer to write a test article before you get the ball rolling.
3. Conduct Interviews with Candidates
Another useful way to check the expertise, background, and communication skills of candidates is to interview them. While interviewing is often a time-consuming and laborious process for recruiters, interviews are actually one of the more effective ways to ensure the credibility of a freelancer.
Why does an interview matter? It’s all about psychology. It’s one thing to communicate via email since you can calculate your responses, but it’s a completely different thing to have a conversation face-to-face or screen-to-screen. An interview creates spontaneity that allows you to uncover many personal traits that could have remained hidden. And the information achieved in the interview can be critical when choosing a candidate.
In addition, an interview is a good starting point for a professional relationship. It is more personalized and can lead to further developments.
You can use a tool such as Appear.in to quickly set up interviews.
4. Price Is Not the Most Important Factor
The freelance market is overcrowded, and there can be vicious competition, even for the smallest gig. And since every company isn’t ready to invest in the best freelancer, price can be an important deciding factor. Such is life.
However, you get what you pay for, and the lowest-priced freelancers can’t always deliver the highest-quality results.
If anything, considering experience and references will be much more effective than choosing the cheapest option above all else.
5. Insist on References
References are amongst the most effective ways of filtering loudmouth braggarts from consummate professionals. The reason is simple: If the candidate has a bad reputation or something questionable in their background, it will probably come out via references from former colleagues.
There are two kinds of references. One comes from former colleagues, and usually involves a description of how individuals were doing their jobs, what kinds of people they were, and how they behaved. It is more of a ground-level reference that is crucial for the assessment of soft skills.
The other is more general employer feedback. While this kind of reference is rare among freelancers (mostly due to privacy and rapid turnaround), it is better to ask their former employers about their job performances and attitudes.
These kinds of references can paint a vastly different picture of a freelancer. For example, one can be a dedicated worker, but have attitude issues.
Do you quickly need some kind of proof? Consider asking for testimonials. Testimonials are faster for everyone involved, and they provide feedback from more people. It takes a few seconds to read a testimonial, but it can take hours to track down a reference. Also, you should make sure that (if needed) your hired freelancers are capable of using your marketing agency software.
6. Secure Regular Communication
Communication is the key element for maintaining an effective and productive relationship with a freelancer, which should be established as soon as the wheels are in motion.
Why should you take communication this seriously? Well, the fact of the matter is that freelancers usually don’t dedicate themselves to one particular project, especially if it is something processual. They juggle a lot, and things can get lost in the shuffle. Then deadlines can start slipping, and important changes aren’t implemented. So regular communication helps keep freelancers focused, and allows both parties to stay on the same page and avoid needless surprises.
In order to make the most out of communication, one needs to establish ground rules early on. This process includes cycles of communication, project reports, and deadlines (also check our proven methods for meeting every deadline). In emergency situations, the rules might also include standard operating procedures, but they’re optional.
Another reason why communication must be tight and steady is that it makes freelancers feel more like they’re a part of the project. Then they feel like they matter, which may lead to them to suggesting something useful.
7. Make Task Requirements as Clear as Possible
When dealing with freelancers, another very important factor is the way you formulate the task requirements, which must be crisp and clear. Here’s the fact of the matter: If your task requirements are misleading, poorly planned, or too abstract, don’t blame the freelancer for doing the job incorrectly. It was your problem all along.
In order to avoid an unfortunate turn of events, it is better to talk through the task in every detail and clear up everything that might be misinterpreted or described too vaguely.
Here’s what you need to focus on clarifying:
- Project Milestones
- Timely communication
- Payment schedules
- Task sheets
8. Be Aware of the Freelancer’s Timeline
As mentioned before, freelancers are rarely, if ever, dedicated to one sole project. Juggling multiple tasks can seriously affect your interests, due to overlapping and good old stress.
Upon setting deadlines, it is better to know what the freelancer is doing at the moment, at least in a general sense. Then you can set more realistic timelines that will make the work less stressful.
Always ask freelancers whether they’re able to do a specific job within an approximate amount of time. In addition, you need to be aware of any changes in plans and the reasons for these changes. Everything can be accomplished via tight communication and trustworthy relationships.
9. Weigh Giving Freelancers Access to Sensitive Information
Many industries involve relentless competition. One wrong move and you get into trouble. Sometimes, all it takes to lose ground is revealing information to someone who was just supposed to do one gig and go home.
Since freelancers may be working with your competitors, it is important to keep in mind that freelancers may be the sources of leaks if you spell out too much or give them access to information they shouldn’t have. There are three ways to prevent these leaks:
- Keep freelancers separate from the main business operation.
- Give them limited, heavily monitored access to information, and only give them the information they need to do their jobs.
- Make them sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which will legally prevent them from being a Chatty Cathy.
(Image Source: nondisculureagreement.com)
Freelancers are part of the modern economy, and as such, dealing with them must be treated seriously. If done properly, hiring a freelancer can be a valuable contribution to the working process. However, if organized poorly, it can feel like eating razor blades.
Hopefully, with these tips, you will be able to avoid the majority of hidden traps and successfully manage freelancers.
Max is a SaaS enthusiast and loves actionable content that provides direct value.