If your small business is growing but you’re not ready to hire a full-time employee, bringing a freelancer on board could be the answer. Here’s why you might want to hire a freelancer, where to find them, and how to choose the right candidate for the job.
Why hire a freelancer versus a full-time staff member?
Freelance hiring is becoming mainstream as more workers leave their traditional jobs to work for themselves. Approximately 15.5 million people are currently self-employed, and that number is estimated to rise to 60 million within the next five years. In some situations it may be necessary to bring on a full-time in-house employee, but often, hiring a freelancer has its advantages.
- Money Savings
Freelancers typically work from their home, which means you won’t incur the expense of supplying a computer, a desk, or miscellaneous office supplies. If you decide to hire several freelancers instead of in-house staff, you may be able to work out of a smaller office, which can save you money on rent and utilities. And because freelancers work for themselves, you can hire them on an as-needed basis and may not have to pay employee benefits.
Unlike traditional office staff, many freelancers work unconventional hours, like weekends and evenings. This kind of flexibility can come in handy when you need a last-minute project completed. However, keep in mind that freelancers often work for several clients at once, so they may not always be at your disposal.
A full-time employee can count on a regular paycheck. In contrast, freelancers make money only when they are working, and they rely on positive client reviews to get new jobs. This means most freelancers are motivated to complete your project quickly, while exceeding your expectations.
Because freelancers work for a variety of companies, each job they take on is likely to be a bit different from the last. Over time, they develop a well-rounded set of skills that may be valuable to your organization.
Hiring new office staff means training and supervising them while they get up to speed on job requirements. On the other hand, if you hire the right freelancer for the job, they’re already trained and can start making a meaningful contribution to your organization immediately. Plus, they’re accustomed to working with little supervision, which gives you more time to focus on running your business.
Where can I find freelancers?
Tapping your personal or professional networks for references can be an effective way to find freelancers if you trust the sources supplying the recommendations. Well-established freelancer websites are also a great place to find freelancers, and many sites vet their freelancers so you don’t have to. Which site you use generally depends on the task you need accomplished.
- Upwork is a great place to find a freelancer for everyday office work. The site features freelancers who can perform data entry, write your blog, or even serve as a virtual personal assistant.
- Toptal is a solid choice for freelance developers, and freelancers on 99Designs can create anything from a company logo to a trade show banner.
- College Recruiter is a great place to post a job if your task is something a student can tackle.
- If you’re working with a tight budget, sites like Fiverr offers jobs that start at $5.
How much do freelancers charge?
How much you’ll pay for a freelancer depends on several factors, including what type of work they’ll perform, their experience, and whether the site you hired them through charges an employer fee. You’ll find that some freelancers bill by the hour while others charge per project. Typically, contractors bill their hours through the freelance website, and you pay them through the site as well. This saves you the time and hassle of keeping track of their hours and writing a check.
When selecting a freelancer, keep your budget in mind, but remember the most affordable candidate may not have the skills and experience you need. Likewise, a freelancer with higher rates may be overqualified for the job. Look at the freelancer’s previous work, read their client reviews, and select the person that meets your needs best.
How can I make the most of my freelancers?
Once you’ve hired a freelancer, assign them a few small projects before you ask them to take on a more comprehensive one. This gives both of you the chance to get to know one another and set expectations, which can help foster a positive relationship.
Communication is important in any work environment, but it’s even more imperative when you’re dealing with a virtual employee. Check in with your freelancer often, via email, video chat, or phone. Ask them how the project is coming along, confirm deadlines, and assure them you’re available to answer any questions. Help them feel engaged in your company by inviting them into the office if they live nearby or asking them to join your staff meeting via video conference. These tactics may also help your freelancer understand how their work fits into the big picture.
Whether it’s better to hire freelancers than take on additional staff isn’t a cut-and-dry answer, but they can play a positive role in many business.