When it comes to finding help to run your business, you have three options: hire employees, pay an agency, or assemble a team of freelancers.
While hiring full- or part-time employees makes sense for many businesses, others prefer to use an agency or freelancers. Still other businesses hire employees but outsource some things (such as marketing and advertising) to an outside agency or a team of freelancers — which is definitely the way of the future.
For those who decide to go the freelancer route, the following are some tips to help make things run smoothly and efficiently.
Hiring The Right Freelancer For The Job
Outsourcing has plenty of advantages, but there can be drawbacks as well. These tips will help minimize drawbacks and maximize the benefits.
When choosing a freelancer, it's important to source qualified talent with a proven track record. A freelancer who knows their stuff should have a portfolio of work or references on hand. Be wary of someone who does not have this. Even a freelancer who is just starting out should have something they can show you.
DO: ASK QUESTIONS, PROVIDE ANSWERS
Expect good freelancers to ask you probing questions, make sure you're prepared to answer these five:
- What's your company's main mission?
- Who is your ideal customer?
- What's your goal for this specific project?
- What has been your experience so far in hiring freelance talent?
- How often do you want to keep in contact during this project?
DON'T: SKIMP ON SALARY
Don't be lured into hiring "discount" freelancers. You get what you pay for. Freelance work may be less expensive than hiring a new employee, but it still costs money. Learn more in our guide to hiring freelancers. Download your copy here.
DO: TEAM THEM UP CORRECTLY
When you're working with a team of freelancers, it's important to choose freelancers who can work together well, and to build a team that completes your goal in a reasonable amount of time. One poor worker can bring down an entire project, so what should you do to pair up the right talent?
The first step to getting together a good team of freelancers is to start with a freelancer you trust.
If you don't have a freelancer you love working with you yet, ask colleagues or others in your industry about potential freelancers who do good work. From there, you can ask the freelancer for opinions on others who would be an asset to your project. Many times, freelancers know others who perform similar or compatible work, making it easier for them to get bigger jobs and to work together on projects. Picking out a pair or trio who already know how to work together can be helpful.
Managing Your Freelance Team
Now that you've assembled your team, it's important that things run smoothly and the best way to ensure that is to communicate. Your freelancer should be available to communicate in a way that you both agree to. Skype or other video messaging or email are common methods. Project management software like Asana, Trello or Basecamp are popular for those who want to create easy, open communication, plan projects, delegate tasks and have an overview of what is being done by whom, and when.
Keep Everyone on the Same Page
One struggle many freelancers have is knowing the basics about a project. When will each person be paid? What is the pay rate? When are the deadlines for each part of the project? These are important pieces of information that anyone running a project should be upfront about.
Once you decide on pay, pay dates, and deadlines, you should also work to set up communication routes. Emails are great for quick notes and contracts, but if you can have a platform or online program, like Google Docs, that everyone can access, that's better. When everyone sees the same project, the same updates, and the same remaining work, then you're all on the same page when it comes to finishing off the project.
Be sure your prospective freelancer has some type of contract that outlines what services they are offering. Some ask for a deposit or partial payment up front. It's super important to be clear on what they are delivering, what the time frame will be and what will happen if they are unable to complete the work, or if for some reason you don't accept the work due to poor quality or other reasons.
Lay Out Clear Expectations
In any workplace situation, communication is important, and miscommunication is a common problem. With freelancers, there is even more danger of miscommunications that can affect project quality and deadlines. When you are relying on texts, emails and phone calls as opposed to in-person interactions, it's easy to see how mistakes and misinterpretations can occur.
Be sure you give clear instructions and give feedback often. Don't go too long without checking in, and be sure to encourage your team to ask questions. If your team will be working together or collaborating on projects, be sure they are on the same page at all times. Conference calls and virtual meetings are a good idea.
Show some appreciation for your team. Being a freelancer is sometimes a lonely lifestyle, so a few kind words and positive feedback go a long way!
Don't Be Scared to Ask for Reworks
Reworking parts of a project will be necessary, except in some extreme cases. You shouldn't be scared to ask a freelancer to rework part of his section of a project. Most, when on a fixed fee, will do at least one adjustment of the piece for you without complaint. It's best to ask for tweaks or adjustments unless you feel the work that's been turned in is subpar. Reworks aren't the same as rewriting or recreating a project; remember that your team is working on one final goal, and you should make all adjustments during a planning or working phase, not after the work has been completed.