Running a start-up or small business is a lot of work. Not only do you wear a lot of hats, but there may be times when you need an extra pair of hands. However, budget-conscious businesses may not have the resources to hire new employees or expand full-time teams. In this case, it often makes sense to outsource the work — whether it’s writing, programming, or design — to a freelancer. It’s something companies of all sizes are doing.
When you hire freelance talent, you need to trust they are qualified to complete the task at hand. You want someone who can step in immediately, understand your vision, work independently and make good on their proposed skill set. To give you the best chance at a fruitful freelancer/client relationship, we’ve compiled tried and true tips for hiring remote freelance talent.
Before beginning your search, know how to spot a quality freelancer. Look for:
A solid portfolio. Your freelancer should be able to provide proof of their skill and experience. A writer should have published articles, blog posts, or marketing materials they’ve created, a photographer a portfolio of their prior professional jobs. Many examples of prior work can be found on a freelancer’s website.
Specialization. Sometimes your company can benefit from a generalist. Other times you require a specific set of skills. This person may have a professional certification or can show prior examples of their work. Be as specific as possible in your questioning to ensure you hire the most qualified applicant.
Testimonials. If reviews aren’t present on the freelancer’s website, feel free to inquire about their references. In testimonials, look for signs that the freelancer is communicative, timely, and works well with others.
Flexibility. While you should hire a freelancer who has demonstrated experience with the types of projects you’re looking to complete, it’s also important to hire someone who can adapt to your standards and processes, even if it’s not the way they’re used to doing things.
Remote work experience. While most freelancers are used to working remotely, this isn’t always the case. Remote work requires more discipline, accountability, and communication. This is an area to inquire about with references and prior managers.
Tips for Hiring Remote Freelance Talent
Know Where to Find the Best Talent
As a starting point, ask your current employees if they have worked with freelancers in the past. Many can vouch for the qualifications of friends, colleagues, or peers with whom they have had successful working relationships. Similarly, LinkedIn is a great online resource based on networking and recommendations. The site allows search specificity. For example, if you need a writer who specializes in martech, search “martech copywriter”, then check if any of the results cross-reference with people you know.
Alternatively, you can go directly to online freelancer hubs where those seeking work post their resumes, portfolios, fees, and availability. Upwork is a valuable resource to find creatives who have extensive experience in their fields. Use Fiverr for project-based freelancers at low costs. ProBlogger is especially helpful if you need content creators such as SEO or B2B writers. The Toptal platform offers specialists in software development, finance, and project management.
Host Remote Interviews
If your freelancers will be working remotely, begin your interactions with them online. A key benefit of remote freelancing is that the talent pool is geographically unrestricted. To run a successful interview, host video calls. It’s easier to get to know someone when you can see them face to face. But don’t forget, they are interviewing you and your company as well. So, treat an online interview the same as in person. Make sure the background is tidy. Dress as you would during a typical day at the office. Test your connection and video conferencing software before the meeting. And prepare ahead by creating online interview scripts for a seamless session. These scripts will help you fine-tune the basic points you must communicate during an interview, from your company background to the scope of the job.
You Get What You Pay For
Since freelancers set their own fees, the cost of hiring a freelancer can vary drastically. It is possible to get freelance work on the cheap. But remember, you get what you pay for. For example, a writer may provide services at a low cost per word, yet it may cost you more down the line if the quality is poor and multiple revisions are required. Therefore, always be realistic and upfront about your budget, the project cap, and expectations.
Provide Communication Channels
When working with remote freelancers, it’s critical to be able to connect instantly. If the project is nuanced, or if you have an exact vision that you want to see realized, you need to provide the freelancer with the right direction throughout the project. It is best practice to offer multiple communication channels such as a video conferencing platform with collaborative screen sharing capabilities and project management software, ideally with an IM function. You want to be able to easily hop online, check on your project and provide immediate feedback.
Set Clear Expectations
It’s key that your freelancers have a full understanding of what your partnership will entail. Top-notch freelancers want to work with clients who are respectful, understanding, and articulate about their goals. Set clear expectations about the following.
Project details. With each project, it’s important to provide a written brief outlining the project objective, how it fits into your overarching strategy, the context, mandatories, specifications, etc.
Timing. Always be clear with deadlines. Set timelines and coordinating deliverables from the outset.
Payment. Agree before work begins on the fee structure and the invoicing and payment process to avoid any disagreements down the road.
Create a Contract
A contract is important as much for understanding the job responsibilities as it is for liability reasons. A contract protects both the freelancer and the client and enforces expectations. Simply put, a written agreement guarantees you’ll receive the expected deliverables and the freelancer will receive the correct payment. Three basic elements that every freelance contract should include are the financial agreement; the fee and how and when will it be paid, deadlines; include interim needs as well as the overall project completion date, and ownership of work product; this section clarifies who owns the work upon completion.
Continue the Relationship
If you have found a successful freelance employee, it’s in your best interest to nurture the relationship in expectation of any future work you may have. One of the best ways to build a relationship is to check in with your freelancers over video calls every once in a while. In these meetings, you can ask for their advice on matters within their areas of expertise, give them feedback on a project, or simply share your appreciation for their work. Your next freelance relationship could turn into your best full-time hire.