Choosing and Vetting Freelancers
Freelance arrangements are becoming a popular option for workers and companies alike. There are many benefits to both becoming a freelancer and hiring outside help: the partnership is only active when there are specific projects to be done, both parties have more freedom and autonomy, and the arrangement is usually less expensive than hiring a full-time employee. However, choosing the wrong freelancer, or not understanding the legal requirements of hiring freelancers can spell trouble for your business. So how do you go about finding the right fit and creating a partnership that works? Start with these 5 tips for choosing and vetting freelancers.
It’s totally possible to hire a writer, graphic designer, or web developer at $5 an hour—halfway around the world. However, budgeting with extremely low numbers in mind can cause several problems, such as:
- Low-quality deliverables
- Wasted time and money working with a number of unsuitable freelancers
- Poor communication
- Time zone problems and inefficiencies
On top of these complications, expecting work for a very low rate undervalues the work freelancers do. Think about it—how much money could a beautiful web page bring in for your business? Why wouldn’t you invest in the value an experienced freelancer can offer when the ROI is likely to more than make up for the price you pay initially? Freelance rates can be all over the map, so it’s important to think about the value you’ll be getting before you make a hiring decision. Budget a reasonable amount of money so you can hire a freelancer with the knowledge and skill to bring you the value you’re after. Do your research on fair market value, and talk money with respect.
Prioritize the Relationship
You’re not just hiring a freelancer for their skills, you’re hiring someone you’ll be working with on an everyday basis. You won’t be training them, but you will be introducing them to your brand, your culture, and yourself. You’re probably hoping to create a long-term partnership with freelancers you hire, so prioritizing the relationship is an important step in vetting freelancers. Choose someone who has both the skills you need and a personality that meshes with your own. After all, don’t you want to hire someone you like to work with?
Ask for Samples and Testimonials, Not a Resume
When you’re hiring a traditional employee, you have the opportunity to do an in-person interview and get to know the candidate better. When you’re hiring a freelancer, however, you typically won’t be meeting in person. In fact, you may only have a phone call or video chat to get to know your prospective hire. That’s why it’s so important to see samples of work and to get testimonials or references, so you know that you’re hiring someone who has the skills and reliability you’re looking for.
A freelancer isn’t part of your team, but you should communicate with them using the same care and respect you would with any of your employees. Communicate your expectations from the beginning, and invite freelancers to ask any questions they may have at any time. Building the relationship on mutual respect and communication will go a long way toward preventing misunderstandings and issues down the line.
Test the Waters
Even if you’re desperate to cover for your personnel shortage, don’t jump into a freelancing arrangement with both feet. Test the waters first. Most freelancers will expect to do a trial project before signing a full agreement—as long as the assignment is paid. You should never expect work for free, but it’s a good idea to start with a small project and expand from there, to ensure that the arrangement works for both parties.
While it’s very easy to work with freelancers, it can take some time to get to know each other’s quirks, communication style, and preferences. Give the partnership some time to develop, and keep in mind that you might not see results right away. Finally, be sure you’re complying with all legal obligations—like sending every freelancer a 1099 at the beginning of each year. Hiring freelancers might seem daunting at first, but with the right fit, you and your business will enjoy significant benefits.
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