Working with freelancers is something that an increasing number of small businesses are doing today. As we have previously discussed, we have now entered the freelance era, and you can expect freelancers to become even more prominent in most industries. This is also an opportunity for your business to add skill, knowledge and talent in a flexible manner.
If you haven’t worked with freelance consultants already, you have probably mulled over the idea. The truth is that not all freelancers are the same, and you still need to take the correct approach to hiring them to ensure you find the right fit for your company.
Where to Look for Freelancers
Freelancers themselves operate as a business, and they connect with the majority of their clients online, so this is a good place to start. Look for freelancers on:
LinkedIn: Check out your LinkedIn connections. The odds are you already know a freelancer, or be connected to a colleague who can help.
Google: Most serious freelancers will have a blog or website so you can learn about their services.
Kijiji/Craigslist: Freelancers frequently post ads on online classified sites. You can also post an ad to request freelancers.
Freelancer websites: Sites such as Upwork will provide you with a plethora of options. Word of caution – you may have to spend more time vetting potential options due to the volume of freelancers and varying levels of experience.
Using your professional network and asking other business owners you know who have used freelancers can also help you generate some leads.
Tips for Hiring Freelancers
Set up a meeting: Many small business owners make the mistake of having an online only/ email only relationship with freelancers. If you are looking for someone you can trust and work with long term, it’s important to meet with them. You can do this via phone or video chat if you are not in the same city.
Request references and samples: Asking for a short list of references and relevant work samples will help you narrow your list of options. It will also quickly show you who has the experience you need and who doesn’t.
Do a trial: One of the benefits of hiring a freelancer is that you can offer a trial period to see what they can do and determine if they are a good fit for your company. What you shouldn’t do is ask them to do something for free with the promise of paid work in the future.
Sign a contract: Once you decide to move forward with a freelancer, create a contract outlining the scope of the work, timelines, expectations, and payment details. Working with freelancers without a contract only opens the door for issues to arise.
Six Tips for Working with Freelancers Efficiently
Now that you have hired a freelancer, it’s important to leverage this relationship and make it beneficial for both parties. When working with freelancers:
1. Maintain an open line of communication at all times
2. Plan to meet (phone, in person, video chat) regularly to discuss project needs
3. Establish a work flow that both parties are happy with
4. Notify them when deadlines change and when you are away – and they will do the same
5. Treat them like an employee and part of the team – keep them in the loop
6. Understand that you are not their only client
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