How and Where to Hire Freelancers That Benefit Your Business
As I discussed in my last article, people are critical to your business’ growth – without the right people in place, you can’t scale. Crucially, those people need the skills and competencies required to handle the tasks and help you reach your Vision.
In most cases, these tasks are either too sporadic or specialised to justify a full-time hire. If you try to retrain an existing employee, you’ll have to invest time and money and generally lose capacity elsewhere.
Freelancers help provide a more focused solution to your resource problems. I’m a big fan of using the right tool for the job, and in hiring a freelancer, you generally benefit in many different ways.
Why hire a freelancer?
- Focused project completion: freelancers with expertise in a specific area will be able to complete tasks faster, speeding up your overall growth journey
- No training commitment: you won’t need to train a freelancer in a specific field as you’ll explicitly hire the ones who can do the job you need them to do. I would, however, always recommend spending time integrating the freelancer into your organisation’s systems and processes.
- Scale faster: the flexibility of freelance hires means you can quickly fill gaps in resources as soon as they become obvious, rather than having to commence with a lengthy recruitment process.
- No employment contracts: this is the big one, really – the reason that freelancers can charge a higher hourly rate and why we’re usually happy to pay it. We can hire and say goodbye to freelancers without any of the complexity or emotion tied to employees. This flexibility is absolutely essential for a growing business, where you’ll have to reassess your resource and needs and make tough decisions regularly.
How to hire freelancers with a framework
Before you start sifting through the vast pools of freelancers available in the UK and overseas, you need a system to keep the process controlled and aligned with your goals. It doesn’t have to be super strict, but you should have a rough step-by-step outline to follow whenever you hire a new freelancer.
- What needs does your business have that you can’t solve with existing resources?
- What skill set does a freelancer need to possess to serve those needs?
- What tasks will the freelancer perform for your business?
- Knowing the above, what rates are you willing to pay – you might need to research listings based on what requirements you’ve come up with to determine the market average.
- How will you approach freelancers and get them to buy into your business?
- How will you onboard a freelancer once both of you agree to work together? What steps do you need to take to get them to work smoothly across your team?
With this loose process in place, you can begin looking for freelancers. As you search, I’d also bear the following ideas in mind. I’ve written a blog all about avoiding common mistakes when hiring (outsourcing) which I recommend you read as well.
- You should always have a job description detailing exactly the “role” you are looking for the freelancer to fill. This should include information about your business and why you are looking for someone, what specific tasks this person will need to undertake, what specific skills and experience are required, what technology they will need to work with and whether they need to know how to use that technology (or whether you are willing to train them).
- You should always ask to see examples of their work – but don’t just accept generic stuff, ask them for relevant examples of the tasks you need them to do. If they don’t have any, perhaps they’re not the right choice?
- Don’t be afraid to ask them to do a task as a test – but make sure you pay for it. Quality freelancers don’t work for free; those that do are generally just getting started, and not a good idea.
- Look for more than one freelancer at a time so you can create a list of back-ups if one falls through.
How to find freelancers
Freelancers are available across all disciplines, from specialist web developers through to copywriters, marketing executives and more. There’s an almost endless pool of talent – which causes problems in itself. How are you meant to find quality professionals who won’t waste your time?
I’ve done some of the hard work for you. I’m not going to recommend the platforms you’ll hear about in other similar articles. No Fiverr or Upwork here – both of those sites have a place, but I’d argue that neither are going to offer the type of instantly beneficial support you want from a freelancer for your growing business.
Rather than heading to these popular freelancer portals, I’d instead advise using LinkedIn to ask for recommendations. Failing that, do some research through Google to find freelancers in your area offering the skills you need.
Go and meet the freelancer face-to-face if you can. Failing that, have a video call chat with them. Like with a normal employee, you want to interview them to gain a level of trust and shared understanding with your freelancers – which I think can only be established through a good chat rather than through emails.
It might seem counterintuitive that I’m suggesting using local freelancers when the internet gives us access to a global pool of talent. While it’s true that there are probably loads of freelancers in other countries with the skills you’re looking for, it’s also true that you have to deal with additional problems like time zones and language barriers.
Some organisations choose freelancers from developing countries to save on costs. This can work, provided you do the right onboarding work, but it can also lead to more costs further down the line.
Create a defined work contract
Once you've chatted with your freelancer and decided they're the right person. Now, all that’s left is to get started, right? Sadly, no – you can’t just throw a freelancer into your business and expect things to work out.
You’ll need a framework to help smooth the transition and create a safety net for you and your business. I’d advise drafting a subcontractor agreement, outlining the scope of work and the length of time you’ll work together, with conditions around how work is delivered and approved.
Once you’re happy with this, send it to the freelancer to sign. I’d recommend a digital tool like Docusign or Singaturely so you’ve got total visibility over the process.
Onboard and get stuck in!
Once everything is agreed and signed, it’s time to let your freelancer get to work…but wait, what about onboarding?
If you don’t onboard them, you might quickly find the freelancer isn’t using your chosen systems or working in a way that suits your business. After all, why would they? They’ve got their own methods and preferred systems.
Onboarding a freelancer is vital if you want them to feel more like a part of your business than an external tool. In the context of freelance support, onboarding should include:
- Holding a kickstart meeting to introduce the freelancer to any other team members and agree on monthly goals.
- Sending over any relevant documentation to the freelancer, such as brand guidelines, tone of voice, etc.
- A demo of any tools or technologies you use in the business, such as Monday or Asana.
- Indoctrinating them into your task / project management tool and any associated SOPs and processes for the work they will need to carry out
- Establishing an agreed system for the submission, approval and sign-off of tasks.
Onboarding doesn’t have to be complex, but you should define the process and stick to it with every single hire. I go into more detail on an onboarding process in my blog all about avoiding common mistakes when hiring (outsourcing) which I recommend you read as well.
As I’ve said many times before, people are at the core of scaling your business – but only when supported by strategic planning and robust processes. Freelancers can offer an instant boost to your resource, provided you’ve put the plans and systems in place to ensure they can work seamlessly in your business. With a smarter approach to hiring freelancers, you’ll be better positioned to focus on growth.
If you’re struggling to address resource challenges, can’t seem to get a plan in place, or you find systems too much to deal with, why not drop me a line? I act as a freelance Operations Director for businesses, helping plug the operational gaps that many owners struggle with – leaving you free to focus on what you do best.
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