Hiring Freelancers: Pros and Cons to Consider (and avoid)

December 22, 2020 • By The Zirtual Team

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Hiring Freelancers: Top Advice & Pitfalls to Avoid

There are over 53 million freelancers in the United States. This number is expected to increase steadily over the next decade, with researchers projecting that freelancers will account for over half of all workers by the year 2027.

These statistics are no surprise to many business owners who regularly hire freelancers to fill positions and complete special projects. But if you've never hired a freelancer before, you might be a bit reluctant to take the plunge and hire a freelancer yourself.

The good news is that there are some steps you can take to ensure you hire productive, dependable freelancers. Below is a look at some of the most popular freelancing roles along with some recommendations to help ensure that your first experience hiring freelancers is a fruitful one.

What are the top roles companies hire freelancers to fill?

Before diving into hiring advice, it's helpful to understand what type of workers are considered to be freelancers and the most common types of freelancers that companies seek. First, here is a short summary that describes the role of freelance workers:

Freelance workers, also known as freelancers, are defined as workers who work for various causes without any attached, long-term commitments to continue to do so. First coined in 1924, this term survives as common subject matter for the present generations of workers today. – Human Resources MBA

While there are hundreds of different types of jobs a freelancer can perform, the majority of freelancers tend to work in a handful of roles when they are hired by organizations. Here are some of the top roles companies seek freelancers to fill:

  • Virtual assistants to help with scheduling, email, and travel arrangements
  • Web designers to develop and maintain company websites and pages
  • Content writers to prepare written content for websites, flyers, and blogs
  • Event planners to organize company meetings, trade shows, and expos
  • Social media marketers to manage Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages
  • Marketing specialists to develop advertising and promotional activities
  • Software developers to design applications and debug existing platforms
  • Graphic designers to manage the layout and production of marketing pieces
  • Video editors to create and sharpen visual media campaigns

What are 10 pieces of advice for hiring freelancers?

Knowing what to look for when hiring freelancers for the positions above is critical to a positive experience. While there is no magic formula that guarantees success, there are some steps you can follow to boost your satisfaction with the process. Here are 10 pieces of advice to help you find a high quality freelancer:

1) Work with an established freelancing organization

One of the best ways to ensure you hire a top-tier freelancer is to work with a freelancing company that has a proven track record of success. Ideally, the organization you choose should have a minimum of five years of industry experience to ensure access to a large pool of qualified prospects.

2) Choose an agency with positive reviews

As you compare freelance organizations, look for those with positive online reviews from people who have used their services. You can also check their social media pages to read reviews provided by past and current clients.

3) Schedule a virtual interview with top candidates

Whether you choose to hire a freelancer on your own or seek the services of an agency, it's always a good idea to schedule a short virtual interview. This will allow you to assess the candidate's communication skills and professionalism. You can also gauge whether the prospect would be a good fit with your company culture.

4) Clearly outline goals and expectations

It's up to you to ensure that any freelancers you hire have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. Carve out some time to establish some key goals and provide freelancers with guidance on how to best achieve those goals.

5) Have a plan in place to manage freelance workers

Who will supervise the freelancer? How frequently will meetings occur? And how will you assess their performance? Having a plan in place that addresses these questions is vital to a smooth working relationship with freelancers.

6) Outline your response time needs

Timing is critical when hiring a freelancer. If you decide to use an agency to find a freelancer, make sure you are crystal clear if you need the freelancer to start in a week. Also, it's important to outline your needs with respect to time so the agency will choose a candidate with plenty of time to meet your project timetable.

7) Give candidates a mini project or scenario to handle

One of the best ways to assess a candidate's capabilities is to present them with a mini project or a hypothetical scenario to see how they respond. Candidates who are quick on their feet, intuitive, and professional with their responses are often good choices.

8) Clarify payment terms before moving forward

If you work with an agency, they will likely have a clear-cut payment plan in place. But if you work with an independent contractor, you will need to discuss payment in advance and prepare a written plan.

9) Rethink your decision if they fail to produce quality work

Ideally, the freelancer you hire will turn out to be the perfect solution for your staffing needs. However, this is not always the case. If the freelancer consistently fails to meet expectations and goals, it's best to part ways and find someone who is better equipped to handle the job duties.

10) Provide positive reinforcement for a job well done

The freelancer you hire may prove to be so impressive that you find yourself wishing they were a full-time employee. If a freelancer blows you away with their work, take time to recognize them for a job well done. And if you're working with an agency, be sure to let them know you are thrilled with the freelancer's performance.

What 10 things should you avoid when hiring freelancers?

The pros of hiring a freelancer are too compelling to ignore. But not all freelancers are created equal. Failure to carefully evaluate freelance candidates can end up having a negative impact on your business. This is especially the case if you decide to hire freelancers online from a fly-by-night agency. Below are ten things you should avoid when hiring freelancers.

1) Hiring the first freelancer you find

You might be exploring hiring a freelancer because you need someone to fill a position or role fast. But you could end up with a poor quality freelancer if you hire the first candidate you meet. Do your best to avoid rushing the process and make time to evaluate candidates with care.

2) Using a little known site or agency

Working with a freelancing startup or fly-by-night agency may seem like a good idea at first. But if you choose an inexperienced firm or freelancer, you likely won't get the maximum value out of your contract.

3) Ignoring the freelancer's skill sets (or lack thereof!)

Allowing your eagerness to hire someone stand in the way of a candidate's resume is a costly mistake. You need a freelancer who can hit the ground running – not someone who lacks the skills to fulfill their assigned job duties. Look for candidates who specialize in the tasks you need them to perform

4) Failing to verify previous work contracts or references

When candidates seem trustworthy and capable, and you are also short on time, you might be tempted to skip a background check, drug screen, and reference check. By the time you discover your oversight, your new freelance hire could have forged a path of destruction.

5) Hiring family or friends

Offering a freelancing position to your unemployed brother-in-law or your friend who was just fired may seem like a helpful and noble thing to do. But if you discover they aren't the right fit for the job, you could find yourself in an uncomfortable position both inside and outside the office.

6) Holding out for the "Perfect Freelancer"

While you should certainly look for a freelancer who delivers high-quality work, you might find yourself in a time crunch if you insist upon finding a candidate who is perfect in every capacity. If you encounter a professional freelancer who has the skill sets you require and the work experience to prove they are capable, then they are worth considering.

7) Selecting a freelancer based solely on price

If a freelancer's rate seems too good to be true, you should probably allow extra time to evaluate the candidate's work history and skill sets. Choosing a freelancer on price alone can lead to a poor hiring decision and undesirable results.

8) Neglecting to outline job duties and goals

Freelancers are not mind readers. They will depend on you to clarify their role and goals. Do your best to avoid speaking in generic terms, as this is little help. For instance, rather than saying, "I want you to handle our social media," you might say, "I would like for you to respond to any inquiries on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Also, please post two articles per week on each."

9) Choosing someone who is a poor fit with your existing team

Before signing a freelance contract, it's a good idea to assess whether the candidate will be a good with the other employees with whom they will work closely. The last thing you want is for your work environment to be disrupted by a person who likely won't be on your team for the long haul.

10) Failing to provide feedback on performance and results

The freelancers you hire deserve to receive feedback on their performance. Without your feedback, they are left to guess whether they are performing as expected. Be sure to provide periodic written and verbal reviews so they can address any weaknesses right away.

What can you do today to get the hiring process started?

Hiring freelancers is a great way to grow your business and complete special projects at a fraction of the expense of hiring full-time employees. The best way to move forward with the hiring process is to seek the guidance of an industry expert.

We invite you to contact us at Zirtual. Since 2013, American business owners have turned to us to meet their staffing needs. From website maintenance to marketing to event planning, our virtual assistants have the freelancing skills needed to boost your company's productivity. We look forward to helping your organization prosper with the support of high quality freelancers!

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