Don’t Hire Your First Freelance Employee Without Reading This

With more than 53 million Americans taking on freelance work, it’s safe to say that the freelancing industry is booming. This is good news for both freelancers — defined as non-full-time, non-part-time, non-contract workers who take assignments on an as needed and as negotiated basis — and businesses, as working with freelancers comes with a number of benefits:

  1. You pay for the freelancer’s expertise, not the overhead.
  2. You can use as little or as much of the freelancer’s time as you need.
  3. You can quickly change gears if a relationship doesn’t work out or if priorities change.

If this sounds like what you need, you might be ready to hire your first freelancer. Here are four tips for finding and hiring a freelancer without the headache:

Find freelancers through your network

Each industry features several online hot-spot hubs of freelance talent that are easily sourced with a quick web search. However, the most efficient way to find a freelancer who will be a good fit for your budget and your organization is to find one through your personal and professional network. Not only will that guarantee you’re working with someone who has an active interest in doing their best work for you (after all, you already have an acquaintance in common), but you’re also securing a freelancer who does good enough work that they get referred.    

Be open to alternative pricing

Depending on the industry in which you work and the type of work you need to have done, freelancer pricing can vary from an hourly rate to a per-word rate to a project rate. If you’re not sure how much a project should cost, start with the value of the outcome of the project in mind, then build a budget based on what you can afford to invest. Ask the freelancer to design a package or deliverable that meets that budget and go from there. While it might be tempting to dip into bottom-of-the-barrel options you’ll find on “freelancer farms,” you will often get what you paid for. If the project is important, plan to invest in it.

Be clear about what you want

Before you hire a freelancer to get the job done, make sure you identify what, exactly, the job is. Are you looking for a consultant or strategist who can walk you through the why and the how of what you need to do? Or are you looking to complete a specific task? When you’re screening freelancers, make sure you outline exactly what you want to get out of the relationship (for example, a new website that drives leads or three blog posts per month) so that they will know if they are right for the job.

Set expectations for your working relationship

Since freelancers often work virtually, you need to be intentional about getting up to speed with your working relationship. If you expect to communicate mostly by email, phone or live Skype sessions, make sure you say so up front. If you need to hear back from them within 24 business hours, make sure it’s in your contract. Seeing eye-to-eye on these day-to-day details will make it easier for both you and the freelancer to relax within the relationship.