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Why hiring freelancers may be the way to go

By Pauline Muindi | February 10th 2021

In the initial stages of setting up a business, you might be able to handle almost everything by yourself. However, if your venture is successful, it gets to a point where you need to hire an employee or two to help you with some of the day-to-day tasks of running a business. But what if you’re not able to afford full-time staff yet?

This is where freelancers come in! Unlike full-time staff, you only pay freelancers for the specific services they provide or the time they work. This is usually more affordable than hiring full-time employees. Full-time staff require benefits like health coverage, leave days, retirement and so on. Not to mention the costs associated with recruitment and training.

Typically, freelancers don’t require you to pay for health insurance or any other benefits. Employees can become bored with routine and allow their work to become lacklustre. You are unlikely to encounter this problem with freelancers – they are judged solely by their output and therefore make an effort to put their best foot forward.  In most cases, you also won’t have to provide freelancers with working equipment such as a computer or laptop or office space and other amenities.

With that in mind, freelancers are perfect for small business owners. Although you can find freelancers for almost any type of work, most freelancers are in the fields of writing, research, graphic design, photography, accounting, and web design.

Here are some tips to help you hire the best individuals for freelancing gigs and get the best out of them:

Determine your needs and pay

Remember that freelancers are paid for specific services or time spend working on a project. To understand exactly what you’re looking for, determine the tasks you’d like the freelancer to handle. Do you want someone to design your website, run your social media, or write blog posts? What area of your business do you struggle the most with and can you hire a freelancer for that? This exercise will help you identify the skills that you’ll need from a freelancer before starting your search.

Next, assess how much you can afford to pay the freelancer. When you start your search, you will quickly realise that different people charge different rates – depending on factors such as skill level, training and experience. Be wary of people with suspiciously low rates, after all, you get exactly what you pay for! Have an adjustable budget in mind and don’t be afraid to negotiate with freelancers if the quoted rates are too high. Most freelancers are willing to reduce their rate if you can assure them of steady work.

Where to look for freelancers

Now that you have an idea of what you’re looking for and what you’re willing to pay, it is time to look for the right person for the job. There are many ways to do this. Perhaps the quickest and most effective way to find a freelancer is by asking your network for recommendations. Start with other people in your industry as they might know someone with a good track record. If you already have other freelancers working for you, ask them to recommend people in their networks.

If this doesn’t yield results, you can look for freelancers through your social media platforms or on skill-based marketplaces such as Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer, Indeed and so on. As you’re browsing these sites, pay attention to rates, reviews, and ratings. While you can find gems in these freelancing marketplaces, a big percentage are self-taught people or students who can’t assure you of delivering high-end results.

Review samples before hiring

As with any other employee or contractor, the proof is in the pudding when it comes to freelancers. Professional freelancers always have a portfolio of samples they are willing to send at your request. If someone seems hesitant about sharing samples of their work, take this as a big red flag. Samples are the best way to weed out incompetent people early on.

Ask for samples that are most relevant to your project. For example, if you’re hiring someone to run your social media, ask them if they’ve worked with a similar brand. If you’re looking for a creative blogger, hiring someone who specialises in technical writing might not be such a great idea.

Before you sign a contract with a freelancer, give them a paid test assignment to gauge their skills and suitability for the project. For instance, you can ask a content developer to write one article for your website. If they aren’t a good fit, you can simply pay them for the test assignment and move on to the nest candidate.

Draft an agreement

Once you’ve gotten the right person for the job, don’t set to work without a contract. To ensure that both parties are protected in case of disagreement, draft and sign an agreement. The agreement should outline the scope of the project, timelines, key deliverables expected, project milestones, ownership of the final work, payment schedules, and conflict resolution. A contract holds both of you accountable for your roles in the agreement. The freelancer will be assured of timely payment for their work while you will be assured of quality work that meets your schedule.

Promote open communication

Because most freelancers work remotely, establishing and maintaining open lines of communication is crucial. Find ways to have regular meetings, whether in person, by phone or video conferencing. Regular check-ins will help you redefine expectations to minimise potential risks and create rapport with a freelancer. A freelancer who is dodgy about communication is also likely to be evasive when it comes to deadlines.

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