There have never been so many people in the marketplace who consider themselves ‘freelancers’ – and the vast majority of those people work in the digital field such as SEO consultants. Whether you’re looking for a programmer, designer, translator, writer, marketing guru or salesperson – if you use the right resources, you’ll have one awaiting your instructions in a matter of minutes…
However, convenience does not mean that all freelancers are good! When you deal with a company you’ll have some kind of service level agreement in place – even if that is only casually assumed from their marketing info or reputation. Finding a good freelancer is a different task altogether – but following these 5 tips will help you avoid any pitfalls – and find great hired help…
- Plan your project
The majority of people who are looking for a freelancer do so because they have a specific project in mind. Understanding what this project is going to entail is the key to finding the right people first time around. Thrash out some details and break things down into individual tasks.
We’re yet to hear about a psychic freelancer who can read your mind and fully understand what you need after a brief outline – so being very clear about individual tasks is really important! If you use a project management tool – why not invite that person to collaborate? You might need to pay them for a little additional time for doing so, but that’s infinitely preferable to them returning work that’s missed the point entirely…
- Create a budget
While it’s important to keep an open mind when it comes to freelancer price, there’s likely to be a figure you have in mind – and sticking to that can be useful.
Firstly, no matter how impressive their claims might be, using a freelancer that’s out of your price range could drag you over budget for work that could be adequately delivered by someone less experienced or qualified.
But it works the other way around too – you might find that you enter the marketplace and see people offering the same work for a fraction of the price – but you have to ask yourself if going in cheap is the best plan. Will you be able to communicate your needs to this person as efficiently as someone at your original price point? Are you going to end up regretting your decision for the sake of a 10% saving?
- Look everywhere
You probably know some of the big freelance sites – People Per Hour, Upwork and so forth – while these places are usually chock full of people that could help – they’re not the only places to find great freelancers.
If you’re part of any professional networks, whether that’s on social media or in the real world, there are often freelancers on that are part of those groups because of the field you or they work in. Big freelance sites have payment gateways, reviews and other tools that protect both parties, but that doesn’t mean the people working outside of these sites aren’t reputable and top level.
Ask around, look in your networks and; moving neatly on to our next tip…
- Take recommendations
You probably know other people who work in your industry, failing that, you probably know other people who have their own small businesses, whether that’s clients, business partners, suppliers or anyone else you cross paths with.
As a rule of thumb, if you get along with them then you’re likely to get along with the freelancers they use. Ask who they are, people love dishing out recommendations – and if they don’t, they might be able to tell you who to avoid!
- Establish a good working relationship
The early days of working with a freelancer can be formative and are arguably some of the most important. If you invest some time in making sure they understand you, your business and what you’re looking for, then it’s going to save you feeling like you’re repeating yourself further down the line.
This works both ways too – you might want to talk to them about what they can do, the path to becoming a freelancer could have included a mass of skills, talents and knowledge that you could tap into.
If you imagine the freelancer you’re working with is a part of the team – rather than someone you just bark instructions to via Skype or email – then you won’t go far wrong!
- Pay them!
Whether the freelancer you’re working with is a sole trader or an established limited company, paying them swiftly and accurately is always going to keep the working relationship on the right path! Although it depends on who you’re working with, freelancers often require full or part payment before they commence work – just be sure that if this is the case you’re confident in their ability to amend or adjust any work they produce for you.
You’re unlikely to be the only client your freelancer is working with – so when you and another of their clients have got a chunk of important work that you need turning around quickly, the person who’s the most reliable with payment is probably going to go to the front of the queue.
Money talks, make it talk in your favour!
- Offer proper feedback
It’s often not in people’s nature to be direct and frank with feedback – but when you’re working with freelancers it’s in everyone’s best interest if you develop this habit.
Ultimately, you’re paying for a service – and assuming you’ve following our first tip correctly and planned both the bigger picture and what’s going to be needed from the freelancer, then you’ve set some good guidelines out. The result needs to be to your liking.
Now, there’s no need to be brutal – freelancers have feelings too! But you shouldn’t lead anyone into believing the work is good if you’re not 100% happy. Discussions about what you’d like to be changed will often be met with full understanding and quick amendments – as well as the fact that you’ve developing a person’s understanding for working with you and other people moving forward.
Not happy with the service despite good planning and clear feedback? Find someone else. It might sound cold, but there are plenty of excellent freelancers out there – you owe it to your business to find someone who’s on the same wavelength as you and meets your expectations…