It’s already eight o’clock in the morning when Josephine finishes some household chores. She steps out of the house thirty minutes later and hops into her car to head to work. But instead of going to the office as most people do, she heads straight to her favorite coffee shop.
After grabbing her usual cup of coffee, she settles into her usual nook, flips on her laptop, takes out her to-do list, and begins to work.
Josephine is one of 57 million Americans working as a freelancer. And she loves it!
In fact, up to 69% of office employees chose to become a freelancer out of preference rather than a necessity because of the perks they can enjoy.
And so are the businesses that hire freelancers. One of the factors contributing to the rise of the freelancing industry is the increasing number of companies opting to hire freelancers rather than full-time employees.
The reason? Hiring a freelancer provides business owners with a host of benefits, especially those just starting.
1. You don’t have to rent an office to start your business.
If you wanted to start a business back in the day, one of the first things you’ll need is to rent out a space for your office.
Unfortunately, this is arguably one of the most expensive investments you’ll have to make to get your business off the ground. In addition to buying your office furniture and equipment, you may also need to renovate the place. Plus, you’ll be required to make a downpayment, which is usually the equivalent of two-three months worth of rent.
On top of that, you’ll be required to pay your rent and utilities each month, whether or not your business has started to earn money.
Business owners who decide to hire freelancers don’t have to worry about all of that simply because they don’t need to provide them with a place to work.
All you’ll need are tools to collaborate, communicate, and monitor your freelancers’ work progress. And although you need to pay for these tools and platforms, they only cost a fraction of what you’ll otherwise spend towards renting an office.
That means you’ll be able to allocate the money you’ll save towards other more critical aspects of your business like inventory, product development, and marketing.
2. You get access to affordable, yet highly-skilled, people to do the job.
Many consultants and even senior-level executives with years of experience in various industries have left their corporate jobs to become freelancers because of the time freedom they can enjoy.
And since they’ll only work with you on either a per-hour or per-contract basis, they’re able to cater to several different clients at any given time. Therefore, they’re more willing to offer their services and expertise at a significantly lower rate than what you’ll pay to a full-time employee.
What’s more, you’re not limited to hiring freelancers within your area. Thanks to the advancements of internet communication technology, you can also hire freelancers from other countries.
Many business owners (including yours truly) hire freelancers from countries like the Philippines and other developing countries. Aside from them getting the job done, the strength of the US dollar against the currencies of developing countries also means they’re willing to work for you at a rate that’s considerably lower than those living in the US.
So not only do you get access to a wider pool of highly talented people, but their rates are also more affordable, causing you to save more money without compromising on quality.
3. You save loads of time working with freelancers.
Experienced freelancers specialize in completing specific tasks and have worked with several clients. Therefore, it’s likely that they’re familiar with using the tools and platform you’re applying for your business.
As a result, you don’t need to worry about spending a considerable amount of time with your onboarding process. In most cases, they’ll be able to start working on the tasks as soon as you hire them without you always having to (virtually) look over their shoulders.
So not only can they help you get the job done quickly, but it also allows you to focus on more critical aspects of your business like getting more clients and customers.
Common types of freelancers businesses hire
1. Virtual Assistants
A virtual assistant is usually the first kind of freelancer that a business will hire, especially those that are just starting.
That’s because a virtual assistant is capable of completing a wide variety of tasks like answering emails, updating your website and social media accounts, and even do basic bookkeeping tasks. So it’s like hiring several people but only paying for one.
However, as your business scales, you’re going to need to hire freelancers with more specialized skills eventually. Still, hiring a virtual assistant is great to help you deal with general administration stuff.
2. Web developer
As you may have guessed, a freelance web developer is in charge of coding and designing your business website so that it functions just the way that you envision.
Freelance web developers also help you manage your website and check it for vulnerabilities. That way, you can be sure that all the transactions and data you collect on your website stay safe and secure from cyber-attacks.
Let’s face it: not all business owners can put their thoughts into writing in a way that their customers and clients can understand.
Those that do find writing blog posts and web copy to be extremely tedious and time-consuming.
That’s where a freelance copywriter comes in. He or she can take your thoughts and ideas and create copy that’s appealing and compelling to your target market.
4. Content marketer
A freelance content marketer shares the same skills as a freelance copywriter in that he or she can also help you write informative blog posts and compelling web and advertising copy.
At the same time, a freelance content marketer can also help you create and implement a comprehensive content marketing strategy from start to finish. This includes:
- Create a detailed buyer persona for your business,
- Pinpointing the KPIs to track and monitor,
- Develop the topic clusters for your content,
- Set-up an editorial calendar, and
- Generate and nurture leads, to name a few.
5. Social media marketing manager
A freelance social media marketing manager works hand-in-hand with your freelance content marketer.
He or she is responsible for developing posts for your business’ different social media accounts and schedule these so that they’re published on the best days and times.
A freelance social media marketing manager also has the skills to interpret the insights of your different social media accounts so that you’ll know how effective your marketing efforts are.
In some cases, your social media marketing manager can also help you engage with your followers and start building a relationship with them. So, when you promote your product or service, they’ll be more willing to learn more and convert.
6. Customer service
The quality of customer service your customers and clients receive can make or break the success of your business.
In fact, customer service is one of the most influential factors that’ll affect a customer’s buying decision.
And that’s not all!
Customers and clients are willing to spend 17% more on products and services for as long as the business provides them with excellent customer service.
Sure, there are platforms and tools like ticketing systems and chatbots to do this for you. However, they don’t provide the one thing that a freelancer can: the human “touch.”
As business transactions become more digital, your customers long for the good old days when they can speak with another human being about their questions and concerns.
That’s why hiring a freelancer to address your customer’s questions and concerns are essential.
7. SEO Specialist
93% of your customers begin their buying journey by searching on Google. So if you want to drive quality organic traffic to your site, you’ll need the help of a freelance SEO specialist to optimize your website.
And that goes beyond choosing the right keywords and adding them to your content.
You’ll also need to make sure that your website’s back-end is also optimized so that spiders and search bots can quickly find your content and display them on search result pages.
This requires a great deal of technical know-how, which can be very overwhelming for you to learn on your own. It’s also the reason why all web developers are capable of doing SEO.
8. Sales representatives.
My mentor once told me: Marketers open the door for your customers, but it’s your salespeople that get them to come in.
And since your ultimate goal is to get your customers to buy your product or service, you’ll need to have a freelance sales representative in your team.
He or she would have the skills and charisma to overcome your customers’ objections and ease their apprehensions while securing the level of trust between you and your customers.
Freelancers vs. Remote Workers
In recent months, there’s been a huge uproar coming from freelancers and businesses that hire freelancers in California with the passing of the AB5 law, which will be enforced in January 2020.
The reason? Many freelancers would have to be classified as employees based on their working agreement with their client companies.
While it’s true that this could mean that many freelancers—particularly freelance journalists—would be limited on the amount of work that they can do for each client, the law would also clarify the confusion on the difference between a freelancer and remote worker.
Believe it or not, many businesses misclassify remote workers as freelancers because they assume they’re the same. This is what came to light in the Dynamex Operations West Inc vs. Superior Court case.
So what exactly is the difference between a freelancer and a remote worker?
A remote worker is someone hired to work full-time or part-time by a company, but isn’t required to report to the office.
On the other hand, a freelancer completes tasks for a client company without having to worry about adhering to any set working requirements specified by the company.
In other words, if you’re client company requires you to work following a fixed schedule each day or require you to wear a specific uniform (like in the case of the remote workers that won the lawsuit against Dynamex), then you’re classified as a remote worker of that company, not a freelancer.
And as such, you’re entitled to receive standard employment benefits like paid leaves and insurance plans.
Where to find quality freelancers for high-skilled tasks
Freelancers are not created equal when it comes to the quality of work that they provide and the pay they charge.
I’ve been so blessed to have a team of freelancers that are exceptionally skilled and highly gifted. They’re one of the reasons why my businesses grew exponentially within a few short years.
Here are the places where I found them:
Google search page results
I have always believed in the saying, “walk the talk.”
And this is the very reason why this is one of my go-to places when I need to find and hire freelancers for my business.
Let’s face it: it’s so easy to write something fancy and impressive on your social media profile or resume. Anyone can do that. But not everyone can (or will) follow this through by taking the steps they need to take to support it.
Searching on Google helps you weed through those that are just saying something fancy from those that’s got the skill and understanding to help you get the job done.
This is especially true if you’re looking for a content marketer or an SEO specialist. The fact that their website came up on the first page when you searched on Google means that they know their stuff, and they’re good at it.
The formula I use whenever I’m searching on Google for a freelancer to add to my team is:
“Freelance + [Skill]”
For example, if I need someone to help me create the graphics for my website and social media accounts, I’ll type in “Freelance Graphic Designer.”
Once you find these freelancers, go ahead and take the time to browse through their website. Check their portfolio and testimonials from past clients. If you want to take this a step further, reach out to these clients so that you can learn more about them.
LinkedIn has earned the reputation of being the “social network for professionals.” This is what makes it another great place where you can find and hire freelancers, especially if you’re looking for someone to handle your social media accounts.
When searching on LinkedIn for freelancers, use the same keyword phrase formula that I recommended to use on Google. You’ll then be given a list of profiles with this keyword in their profile to check.
Check out their profile and look at the companies that they’ve worked for and are currently working for.
One other thing I also look for when reviewing the LinkedIn profile of a potential freelancer I’d like to hire is how they filled up their LinkedIn profile.
Believe it or not, you’ll come across several freelancers that put hardly any information on their LinkedIn profile. This is a red flag because it tells you their level of understanding of what goes into creating a professional-looking LinkedIn profile and marketing on social media in general.
Businesses have mixed feelings when it comes to using freelance marketplaces like FreeeUp, Upwork, and Hubstaff Talent to find and hire freelancers. Some, like me, find it to be an excellent resource for quality talent. Others view it as a waste of time and money.
Here’s the thing about using these freelance marketplaces:
Most freelancers that use these sites are those that are just starting on their careers and are in the process of building their profiles.
That said, it’s best to use these sites if you’re looking for someone that can handle administrative and general tasks.
One important note: Some of these sites charge an additional fee for using their platform to find and hire freelancers. Be sure to consider this when negotiating the rate you’ll be paying the freelancer you plan to hire. That way, you won’t get any surprises when you receive your credit card bill.
Agencies with a freelancer talent pool
These are similar to freelance marketplaces in that they’re made of a pool of freelancers.
The main difference between these sites and freelance marketplaces is that these agencies only focus on delivering a specific range of services.
My business is one example. We provide content writing and marketing services to startup founders. You can read more about it and what we do by clicking here.
Another significant difference is that the founders of these sites have extensive experience in these areas. Many of them are recognized as thought leaders and experts in their respective niches.
Because of that, they follow a specific system and process to make sure that quality work is delivered to you on-time.
Tips for finding and hiring freelancers
1. Know what you’ll be outsourcing.
Before you start searching for freelancers to hire for your business, it’s essential first to determine which tasks you want them to do. This will help you determine which freelancer you’ll need to hire.
This step is especially crucial if your business is based in California. That’s because once AB5 takes effect, you’ll need to make sure that the tasks you’ll be outsourcing to freelancers you hire aren’t central to your business. Otherwise, you’ll be forced to classify them as employees.
If you’re not quite sure which tasks to outsource to freelancers, here are some suggestions:
- Repetitive tasks (e.g., answering calls and emails, publishing posts on social media)
- Tasks you find too difficult or complicated to do (e.g., bookkeeping, writing blog posts)
2. Create a list of your qualifications.
Once you’ve decided which tasks you want to outsource, the next step is to figure out what are the skills and qualifications that you’d want them to have before they come onboard.
That way, you don’t have to spend plenty of time to train them. It’ll also make sure that they’ll be able to get the job done the way you want.
Some examples of the things you can include here are having completed a degree related to the freelance job they’ll be doing and using the platforms and tools you’ll be using for your business.
3. Establish your onboarding process before hiring.
Having an onboarding process in place will make it easier for you to orient and train the freelancers you’ll be hiring with your workflows.
It’ll also make sure that you’re able to keep tabs on how their work is progressing.
There are several ways on how you can create your onboarding process. One way is to set it up on the project management tool that you and your team will be using.
This way, everything is already set up by the time that your freelancers come on board, and you don’t have to spend too much time training every single one, especially once your business begins to grow, and you got a small team of freelancers working for you.
4. Write a detailed job description.
One reason why businesses struggle to find and hire quality freelancers is that the job description that they post looks something like this.
Notice that the job description is very general, and it doesn’t entirely give the freelancer enough information about the tasks they’ll do.
In most cases, this can cause you and the freelancer you hire having a problematic working relationship, leaving you both feeling short-changed and frustrated.
That said, take the time to carefully list down the responsibilities that the freelancer will have, what you expect them to do, and the list of qualifications they’ll need to meet.
Here’s one example of a properly written job description:
5. Screen and shortlist freelancers for an interview.
The moment you post your project, you’ll find yourself with many proposals coming from freelancers interested in working for you.
Take the time to review each of the proposals that you receive and separate those that stand out for you.
Then, visit either their website or their LinkedIn profile to learn more about them. Look at the different testimonials they received from their previous clients. Also, look at the length of time they worked with their clients.
I know this sounds time-consuming. It is. But it’s going to be worth it because you’ll make sure that you hire the right person for the job.
6. Set up an initial interview.
Now that you have a list of potential freelancers to hire, the next step is to schedule them for an interview session. Aside from learning more about the freelancer’s skills, the interview session will also give you a feel of what it’ll be like communicating with the freelancer you’re considering.
You can use a tool like Calendly to help you schedule your interview sessions with each of the freelancers that you’re considering to hire.
Also, opt to do a video interview than voice-only or text chat. That’s because communication is more than just the words that you speak or type. It also includes things like body gestures, posture, and tone of voice during the conversation.
Observing these non-verbal clues can help you see whether or not the freelancer does have the skills and qualifications you need to get the job done for you.
7. Take them for a test run.
The best way to find and hire the right freelancer is to put their skills to the test by asking them to do a specific task that they’ll be doing once you decide to hire them. This will help you and the freelancer to gauge if you’re the right fit for each other.
For example, if you’re planning to hire a freelance blog writer, have them write up a 500-word blog post of a particular topic you’ll be discussing on your website.
Or, if you’re going to hire a web designer, let them create a landing page for one of your content offers.
Take note that many experienced freelancers expect to be paid when you ask them to create something for you. This is understandable since many freelancers had experiences with businesses that would ask them to do a test task, not get hired, and then find out later on that their work was used by the client that didn’t hire them.
8. Put everything in writing.
Like any business relationship, it’s crucial that you have all the tasks, responsibilities, pay rate, and pay frequency written down, and both of you sign it.
This makes sure that both you and your freelancer’s businesses are protected and that both of you are on the same page as you begin your working relationship.
It also allows you to set your expectations with your freelancer (and vice-versa) from the start. That way, you avoid having to deal with misunderstandings down the road.
9. Don’t base your judgment on the rate.
This is the reason why so many businesses end up getting frustrated with the quality of work that their freelancers deliver.
The reason? You get what you pay for. Period.
Think about it: Why would some businessmen invest hundreds of dollars to buy a genuine Armani suit even if they can get an excellent imitation for a fraction of the price?
The answer: You’re paying for quality. You know that even that the suit will still look crisp and smart even after you send it to the dry cleaners a dozen times. You won’t expect the same thing from a cheap imitation.
The same thing’s true when it comes to hiring freelancers.
Experienced freelancers ask for a higher pay rate than others because of the quality of the work they’ll deliver. And because they’ve been around longer than others, they know what works and what won’t. In fact, in some cases, you may even learn a thing or two from them.
More important, their work brings results to your business, which is what you’re ultimately after.
10. Go with your gut.
Even if the freelancer does an excellent job in the interview and the trial run, if you don’t feel comfortable working or communicating with them, don’t go through with it.
Working with a freelancer, after all, involves you building a strong professional relationship built on trust. At that starts with feeling comfortable and at ease with the freelancer you’ll hire.
In this guide, I’ve covered all the basics you’ll need to find and hire freelancers that’ll help you build and grow your business.
Have a clear idea of what kind of freelancers you’ll need. Take the time to search and screen them out. Above all, make sure that your entire working arrangement is clear and transparent.
Now, over to you.
Have you tried hiring freelancers for your business? What was your experience with them? Share it in the comments section below.