As your business grows, so too does your payroll. Hiring can be one of the biggest struggles for growing business. The amount of time, money, and other resources needed to find, vet, hire, and train new employees are overwhelming. And, when these new employees don’t work out, you find yourself in an even bigger hole than before.
Therefore, many successful businesses are turning to short-term contractors, or freelancers, to alleviate some of the bandwidth struggles they are experiencing. Using a freelancer can make sense if you want to mitigate the risks of new hires.
Freelancers are cost-effective, specialized, and expendable, which makes them incredible resources for running growing businesses. Whether you are hiring freelancers to redevelop your website, build email lists, or run your social media, there are some important tips to help you hire more effectively.
Below are my top tips for hiring freelancers and building solid working relationships.
1. Define and Document the Job
Before you can hire a freelancer, you need to make sure you understand the role that person will fill. The most common positions for freelancers are in the areas of digital marketing, web development, creative, sales, and office management.
These fields are the most popular because they can be performed remotely and relatively low-impact, meaning if you have high turnover it will not have a major effect on your production. Regardless of the position you want to hire for, you need to take time to understand and define all factors of that role including:
- Who manages the freelancer?
- What are the KPIs by which they will be measured?
- What training can you provide them?
- Do you have a clearly defined job description?
- How long is the contract and what are you willing to pay?
- What hours will they work and how do they communicate with your team?
2. Have an Ideal Candidate in Mind
Understanding the job is an excellent first step, but you also need to define the ideal candidate. Think about the characteristics and experience needed to execute the job description. Does your candidate need to have a college degree? Does that person need to be fluent in a specific language or possess some other minimal qualifications?
After you have a general idea of the perfect candidate, start thinking about other factors like their ability to work on the same schedule as the rest of your office. Many qualified freelancers might live outside the United States, which means they could have a substantially different time zone than you.
Having a blueprint for the perfect candidate will help you weed through the applicants. It’s important that you not just internalize your candidate expectations, but clearly define them in the job description so that you do not waste the applicants’ and your time.
3. Know Where to Look
Looking for freelancers can seem like an overwhelming task with so many options at your disposal. With an understanding of your job description and the ideal candidate for the role, the next step is to make sure you are looking in the right place.
Some of the most popular freelancing websites are:
Each website has pros and cons, so you should only look for freelancers after you’ve outlined the requirements for the role. For instance, if you plan to manage the freelancer internally, then you may want to use UpWork or another freelancing marketplace.
Take some time to look at the freelance platform you are considering using before you begin a relationship. Many companies require all communication and upfront payment inside their system if you want to hire a freelancer, and some may charge a service fee.
4. Set Clear Expectations and Defined Measurables
Clearly defining expectations and milestones is one of the most difficult steps when hiring a freelancer. However, outlining the requirements by which the freelancer will be measured is probably the most critical step in the hiring process.
These expectations help the freelancer understand exactly what you want, while also providing you a tool to keep the relationship on track. It’s a good idea to physically document your expectations and have the freelancer agree with them before hiring.
If the freelancer is not hitting the milestones, you can point back to the agreement as leverage for improving the speed or quality of the work. Additionally, many freelancing systems lock payment until the deliverables are approved. This means that you can ultimately have the final say when work is completed.
5. Run a Test Before Hiring
Another freelance hiring tip is to execute a test project before entering into a long-term contract with a freelancer. For instance, if you are looking to hire a freelancer to take over your blog and write daily or weekly articles, it would be wise to hire them to write 2-3 piecemeal articles before agreeing to a month-long engagement.
A test project will not just show you the freelancer’s skills, but it will also give you an idea of how the relationship would work. You’ll see how well that freelancer communicates with your team, you’ll work out some of the hiccups in the process, and you’ll build some trust with that freelancer.
It’s not uncommon for companies to see a high turnover for a freelancing position. There are a lot of variables that go into the relationship, and it’s impossible to predict all issues beforehand. However, by taking your time to test the relationship before you agree to any substantial partnership, you’ll be able to weed through some of the bad relationships before they get too serious or you become too invested.
Why Hiring Freelancers Just Works
Growing businesses that are looking to add team members with little overhead or resource allocation would be wise to look at hiring a freelancer. Freelancing is becoming more and more popular, which means the talent pool is only getting better.
Businesses can now find qualified, contract-based employees with experience and knowledge in different business sectors. This, in turn, helps the company rapidly improve operations, without incurring the risks that come with the typical hiring process. If you are considering hiring freelancers to help you grow your business, you need first to make sure to take your time and make sure you find candidates that can match your expectations.