With over 56.7 million Americans working as freelancers these days, there are high chances that most businesses are working with an independent contractor of some type. In addition to these huge freelancer numbers in the U.S., there are various other countries that also have a ton of freelancers, including the Philippines, India, Kenya, Pakistan, some European Countries and many more.
Working with freelance contractors does give your business the comfort of not having to worry about the overhead costs involved in hiring of employees. Instead, you just pay the contractor a fraction of the normal overhead costs of having staff.
However, if you work with freelancers, there are few things you should be prepared to deal with, to avoid any potential misunderstandings or challenges that may arise.
How to Hire Freelancers?
When dealing with a virtual work environment, it can be a real challenge for employers to hire the right freelance talent for your business. With all freelancers claiming to be experts, and best in their niche, it can become challenging to pick the perfect person for your job.
Below we cover 20 important tips to know when working with freelancers.
- Be Sure To Culturally Onboard Freelancers
Often companies don’t on-board freelancers the way they do full-time employees. Some business owners even expect freelancers to get right to the project and deliver results without any corporate culture training. This is detrimental for the employee. If the freelancer doesn’t understand your cultural nuance and the spirit of the company, their output will usually not be in-line with your expectations. It is worth your while to spend some time to culturally onboard your freelancers.
- Use A Reputable Hiring Service
Hiring freelancers is different from hiring full-time employees. While you probably have a solid process for hiring full-time employees, those same processes will not work when hiring freelancers. Using a reputable hiring agency who has been in the freelancer business for a while will help make the process smoother and ensure both employer and freelancer find the relationship mutually beneficial.
- Enforce A Transition Plan
You must have a transition plan for onboarding your freelancer and also one for when their contract is over. From their initial hiring you should ensure they understand your SOPS and expectations, including ensuring they document all their work and create process documents. Before they finish their contract with you, they should also do a knowledge transfer to one of your internal employees. This will help you troubleshoot any problems which may arise in future.
- Take Your Time To Find The Right Fit
Business owners have access to some huge freelancers hiring platforms. As a result, whenever you post a job requirement, you will likely receive hundreds of applications within a very short time. One thing to keep in mind is, almost every freelancer is going to claim to be the expert with their skillset.
When hiring freelancers, you should take your time to find the right fit for the project and who will fit in with your corporate culture. In this article we talk about a few tips for finding freelancers, as well as some red flags to watch out for.
- Be Mindful Of Hidden “Fees”
Once you have shortlisted who you want to work with from your pool of candidates, you should have a contract which outlines the exact scope of work, the pay that is mutually agreed to, etc. We cannot overemphasize how important it is to have the contract in place. Never start the work without a contract, as it could result in a nightmare when it comes time to pay your freelancer for work delivered.
- Let the Contract Govern The Relationship
The contract should specify the employer’s obligation in the contract. This will help you avoid any misunderstanding, and minimize risks or lawsuits. Below are some of the specifics to cover in your contract:
Be specific and thorough
Mention the agreed pay rate
Chose the payment terms
How will you manage the changes to the freelancers, in the event if your client asks for changes.
A Termination Clause
Anything else that is important to you
- Critique Their Work Often
You should review the freelancers work often, starting from when you are reviewing their candidature to each deliverable. Each time they submit a project deliverable, take the time to review the work. You may be tempted to wait till the end and then review it all at once, but then you’re on the hook for the hours that have been worked, even if you’re unhappy with the end result. It’s always better to review the work in stages.
- Match your needs to their experience
When you’re shortlisting candidates, it is advisable to pick people who have worked on projects similar to what you’re looking for. This will keep the learning curve short. One of the things we recommend is to do a video interview where you ask them to share their screen and show that they have actually done the type of work you are looking for. For example, if you’re hiring someone for Facebook ads, you will want them to share their screen and show how they would set up a campaign in business manager, rather than just sharing a screenshot of it.
- Don’t Decide Based On Price Alone
Don’t shortlist a freelancer solely based on price. For example if you are looking to hire a web designer to build your website. You may find someone who agrees to do the work at half price of other candidates, but there’s a good chance that their output will be less professional. Thoroughly check the sample work of each candidate and pick one which aligns closest to your needs. Remember, you get what you pay for, and even then, the cheapest bid can still end up costing you the most in the long run!
- Know Your Tax Obligations
Independent contractors and freelancers consider themselves as a business. As an employer, you are not responsible for withholding taxes from their wages nor are you responsible for paying certain payroll taxes on their behalf. You should be very careful to know and follow the tax laws for hiring freelance contractors.
- Know That They Have Other Clients Besides You
Some business owners tend to forget that freelancers have limited availability and set their own hours. Freelancers have other clients besides you so if you send them a task and ask them to finish within a few hours, they may not even see it.
At Agency Alliance, we don’t have fixed working hours for our employees but we do require them to show up once in 24 hrs.
- Protect Your Assets
One of the main risks of hiring freelancers is the risk of them cutting you out and working directly with your clients. Depending on what your internal policies are, you may not want the freelancer to have any contact with the client. Always protect your assets by having all freelancers sign a non-competition agreement that prohibits them from working directly for the same client within a specific period of time.
- Tap Into Your Network
Before you start searching for freelancers on job portals, check if you can get some recommendations through your professional networks. If someone in your network is recommending a freelancer, it may be wise to give them preference over an ‘unknown’ freelancer. The freelancer has worked with your associate and they’re impressed with their work, which is why they are recommending them.
- Consider Them To Be A Part of The Team
Freelancers miss the office camaraderie that a full-time employee gets. By making them feel a part of the team, you can boost their productivity and their willingness to go above and beyond for you. A few things you can do to make them feel a part of the team are:
- Invite them to your internal communication system such as Slack
- Share internal communication with the freelancers
- If you have a weekly team call, invite them to be part of it
- Create a Personal Relation With Them
Take the effort to know the freelancer at the personal level as well, along with creating a good professional rapport. Make yourself approachable so they can reach you without hesitation. Along with all the freedom, the freelancing workday can be lonely at times. Try to have a quick chat once or twice a week. If your schedule doesn’t permit you to have a call, put them in touch with some other senior team member who can do that.
- Don’t Micromanage
Most freelancers are pretty good at managing themselves so it’s best not to micromanage them. Give them the flexibility and space they need to get the job done and they will perform better. Be approachable so they can reach you when needed, however don’t try to get into the nitty gritty of how they are getting the job done.
- Avoid Last Minute Requests
Since freelancers may be juggling a number of clients and projects, it is unfair to expect them to give a fast turnaround. It is best to plan well and assign the tasks in advance, and make last minute requests the exception. If you do anticipate any last minute request, talk to the freelancer beforehand to see their availability. If they are available and can do the work, well and good. If they are not available, you at least know it so you figure out a plan B.
- Pay Them Fairly and Promptly
You should take time to learn the industry standard pay rate for the position you are hiring. You also need to consider what other value the freelancer brings to the table. If they are asking a fair rate, don’t try to haggle the rate down. You don’t want an underpaid unhappy person working on your project!
Know that the freelancers have their bills to pay just like everyone so be sure to pay them promptly.
- Respond Promptly to Emails and Chats
Make sure that you establish your channel of communication with the freelancer. Be sure to check-in with them at regular intervals and don’t ignore questions they ask pertaining to the task. Remember, if they are not able to get answers to an important question, that may stall their workday and put their tasks behind schedule. Be sure to respond promptly, that will be a win-win situation.
- Assign Task Priorities
When you assign multiple tasks to a freelancer, be sure to set task priorities. This helps them know the order of tasks they have to work on. If you have a strict deadline on a task, make sure you convey that to them. If you’re flexible with some deadlines, convey that too.
Hiring Freelancers Successfully
Doing research on hiring freelancers will save you future headaches like poor communication, missed task deadlines, poor work quality etc. We hope you found these strategies useful.
If you have any questions or need help hiring a freelancer for your next project click here to schedule a FREE CALL with our CEO Maggie Benson. She’s always happy to answer any questions you may have.