Whether you just launched a startup or you’ve been running a small business for a couple of years, there will be times when you need to outsource certain tasks to freelancers. Whether it’s someone to contribute to your blog, design a logo, build your website, or be your virtual assistant, freelancers are one of the best ways to complete projects – and save some money and time while at it.
Because the freelance market has become so large, it can be a challenge to hire the right freelancer for your business. Thankfully, if you use the following pieces of advice, that search will become less of a hassle.
Address Your Needs
Why do you need to hire a freelancer? What are your goals? What is your budget? These are all questions that should be asked prior to searching for a freelancer since these answers will guide you in your search. For example, if you’re looking a copywriter and you’re running an automobile industry blog that is geared towards car dealerships, then you would probably want to find a writer who has past experience in the automobile industry.
Find the Experts
There’s no shortage of websites and job boards available that you can use to find freelancers. But, let’s be honest here. There could be a big difference in talent level from the freelancer you find on Upwork and the one you connected with on LinkedIn. That’s not knocking the freelancers on sites like Upwork. It’s just a warning that sometimes you get what you pay for since you may dealing with a new freelancer who doesn’t have much experience under their belt. While you may find a cheap designer, they may be overwhelmed with multiple other gigs and aren’t available to give you the dedication or lack the expertise that you prefer. But, if you just need a quick website to get started until things get moving, then this may not be an issue.
If you require top talent for a major project, the best place to start is going through your current contacts. Maybe you worked with a talented logo designer. You have a cousin who is an coder. Perhaps a colleague had a great experience with a writer. If you’re network is dry, then go through LinkedIn, Craigslist, and then work your way through freelancing sites. But, don’t’ neglect local meetups and business networking events. Lots of freelancers attend these community events.
When you do find the perfect candidate, make sure that you check out their portfolios or at least samples of their work. If they haven’t provided a link or a sample, don’t hesitate to ask. Remember, never hire a freelancer whose work you haven’t scoped out. If you want to hire the right freelancer, you need to be patient and thorough.
Hire the Right Freelancer by Meeting Them
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to meet with the freelancer face-to-face – although that is recommended. Thanks to tools like Skype and Google Hangouts you can chat with the freelancer no matter where they live. Building a relationship with the freelancer is important because it gives you the chance to make sure that the individual is the right fit for your company. It also gives you the opportunity to explain the project and ensure that you’re both on the same page before the start of a project.
If you do decide to work with the freelancer, establish how future communication will be held. It could be a weekly email or monthly Skype call. This keeps everyone on the same page during a project.
Assign a Small Task
Even if you believe that you found the right freelancer, you don’t have to make a long-term commitment with them. It is acceptable to assign them a small task or two. This gives you a better idea of their work process, see if you can work together, and know if they’re able to deliver a project on time. If you do go this route, make sure that you pay the freelancer. Don’t ever ask the freelancer to do a project for free by promising them more work in the future. That’s disrespecting their time.
Treat Them With Respect
Freelancers aren’t mind readers. You still have to give them some guidance on what you’re exactly looking for. Establish clear guidelines and provide honest feedback so that they can deliver exactly what you’re expecting. On the flip side, you also have to respect the fact that they’re the expert. It’s easy to critique a blog post, but if you don’t have any experience with coding then you’ll have to take the word of the expert if they can’t add a certain feature to your website.
Just because a freelancer isn’t a full-time employee, doesn’t mean that you can treat without the same respect that you would give a 9-to5er. At the same time, you also have to understand that because they aren’t a full-time employee means that you have no control over their hours or expect them to respond to your email immediately.
Pay Fairly and On Time
Freelancers have put a lot of thought in how much they charge for their services. And, they’re going to charge you that rate. No exception. Keep that in mind during your search. Top talent is going to pay more than mediocre talent. If you want a top talent freelancer, then expect to pay top talent prices.
Finally, when you receive an invoice, make sure that it’s paid on-time. Freelancers are relying on that income and you may actually be their sole source of cash flow. Without being paid for their services, freelancers can’t handle their expenses and may opt to find a client who actually pays their invoices when they’re due.