Of all the different types of workplace flexibility out there, freelancing is perhaps the most flexible. One of the best decisions you can make in order to keep your business competitive and growing is to hire freelancers. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting as an entrepreneur, or if you want to scale your small business, or even if you’re just looking to migrate to a friendlier paradigm workplace within your business.
For any type of business, some of the main advantages of working with freelancers are:
Hiring by project or by hours instead of having a permanent employee allows you to save a lot in hiring costs and fixed salaries. It also encourages to work by goals, which is the most efficient way to work. One of the most obvious reasons why businesses are hiring more and more freelance developers is that it is very cost-effective to do so. On top of paying annual salaries to full-time developers, you also have to pay for legally required benefits, insurance, paid leave, retirement and savings, supplemental pay (overtime and premium), and much more. Unless you’re hiring remote developers, there’s also overhead and general & administrative costs.
Freelancers move like fish in the sea in a commercial environment characterized by change and a constant evolution. They work on simultaneous projects; they have a more diverse experience and they can offer a wider and more assertive vision of the solutions that your company needs.
Whether you’re a startup founder or an engineering manager, being able to hire quickly and as-needed is one of the most attractive reasons to work with freelance developers. Imagine this: the IT project manager calls the entire development team into the meeting room and lays down a close-to-impossible timeline for your project. You have three people on the team but you’ve just been asked to deliver five people’s work. This is where freelancers can help you. You can hire them for just this project and then free them. This provides a lot of flexibility.
Global market & access to talent
Thanks to online freelance platforms, businesses can now hire the best freelance developers from around the world for their projects. Furthermore, businesses located in more expensive areas of the world can easily hire quality freelance developers at a much lower cost. By hiring freelance developers, you wouldn’t have to worry about visas or relocating someone. Not only can you find freelance developers who are ready to work immediately, but you can also hire domain experts, saving time and money.
There has been a growth of freelancers in the business because the industry is demanding more specialized talent. Let’s say you’re trying to find a web developer well-versed in Go because it scales nicely and can handle high concurrent performance issues. Even though Go is an awesome programming language, there is a relatively small pool of developers skilled in it, especially if you’re limiting the search to specific locations.
Hiring a freelance web developer who specializes in Go would be significantly easier. Maybe you’re not looking for something as niche as a Go developer. Let’s say you want to develop an Android app. Even though the developer you are currently working with is somewhat familiar with mobile development, he or she may not be an expert in Android development. A freelance developer who specializes in developing Android apps will definitely deliver better results.
Three Ways to Find Awesome Freelancers
You can scour the internet to find high-quality freelancers, but there are more reliable (and productive) ways to find the best freelancers and consultants for your needs. These three methods lead you to talented freelancers without the hassle:
Ask for a Referral
Your professional and personal networks are the best places to find freelancers. Start by asking your coworkers, former colleagues, and industry contacts for referrals. Chances are, they will do the work for you and pass along some talented folks.
Reach out to a Local Trade Organization
Freelancers love to connect through their own networks. Instead of using a freelance site, reach out to a local trade organization to find top-notch talent. If you need a freelance writer, email the head of a writer’s group in your city — the same goes for developers, designers, consultants, bookkeepers. You could look into Meetups as well!
Check Out the Secret Hive
Most companies don’t know about the best online resource for finding amazing freelancers — it floats just under the radar. The Freelancer Union’s Hives are the go-to spot for independent contractors for all things freelance. Post your project on their Work Hive, and watch as the responses flood into your email.
What can you use freelancers for?
While freelancers offer a range of unique and specialist skills, businesses are most likely to use them for technical and creative projects. The most popular freelancing skills are:
- Web design (36%)
- Programming (31%)
- Graphic design/illustration (30%)
- Web/mobile development (26%)
- Web marketing and sales (24%)
- Accounting (24%)
- Data entry and internet research (23%)
Best practices for hiring freelancers
A strong relationship with your freelancers is key to getting great results. While they’re not on your staff, they are providing you a valuable service and sometimes you may need them to prioritise your business over that of other clients. Without a strong relationship and mutual respect, that’s not an easy ask.
Here are best practices to follow when hiring freelancers to support your business.
Identify the best platform
It’s not easy to find remote professionals with good references and with the exact abilities that you need. You need to find a specialized platform that allows you to look for them by category, browse their record with other clients and protect the investment you make in each hiring process.
59% of businesses surveyed said they use a freelance platform to source talent. These platforms let businesses advertise opportunities, promote themselves and access freelancers in international markets. Sites like Freelancer, Fiverr, Upwork and Guru, specialist platforms like Commtract and The Freelance Collective vet freelancers before listing them.
Share your big picture
The first you need to do when hiring freelancers is share big picture with them, i.e. why you are hiring them and how will their work fit into your main project. This little insight helps them better understand your expectations, ask better questions, and most importantly deliver better results.
Set criteria and filters beforehand
Hiring a freelancer is also a recruiting process, and, just as in any other process of this kind, setting filters and appropriate criteria will help you save time and select the best profile. For example, you can include specific forms in your proposal, or notes to see if the freelancer is paying attention, to see if they follow instructions or if they have provable experience in similar projects.
Optimize your payment process
Remember that when you are paying an independent employee you are making an investment, and this should be congruent with the service you expect to receive. Offering a fair salary means you are conscious of the value that the freelancer’s work will have for your business, and that you can adjust the budget range in consequence.
Knowing how to manage payments is key to attracting and retaining the right talent. More than 75% of businesses using freelancing platforms pay directly through the platform, and the majority use PayPal. From a freelancer point of view, their most important payment considerations were:
- Security (47%)
- Speed in receiving payments (33%)
- Ease of withdrawing money when paid (31%)
- Fraud protection (22%)
- Pricing (22%)
Mobile compatibility is key
Mobile payments, mobile apps and mobile communication continue to grow in importance and usage for freelancers. Part of the charm of freelance work is the ability to build your own schedule and work on the go. Be flexible in how you work and communicate with freelancers to build a strong relationship.
Align on communication preferences
Communication issues are the biggest reasons for failed freelance gigs. Before working with any external partner, share your communication preferences with them and ask them to do the same. For example, I tell my freelancers the best way to get in touch with me is email and they can expect an answer within 24 hours.
This way, my freelancers know that if it has been more than 24 hours, I have either missed their email or have forgotten to respond, at which point they can shoot another email or call me. I also ask them about their preferences and ensure that I stick to them. For example, one of my freelancers has told me the best way to get in touch with her is via phone calls after 6 pm. This information helps me save time and get the needed response quickly.
Give and request candid feedback
Freelancers thrive on feedback. Your job is to not only give them honest feedback on what you loved/did-not-love but also ask them for their feedback on you. Very often, the freelancer’s experience allows them to make very useful suggestions to improve your projects or even to propose creative new strategies to keep growing. Take advantage of all that knowledge and seize it as much as you can.
Giving importance to the dos when hiring a freelancer will ensure a good experience for both and it will ensure the addition of a valuable ally to your team. After you hire your freelancer, make sure to onboard them to your Payable account for seamless onboarding, invoicing, and payments. What do you think about this article? Please let us know in the comments section below.