Choosing to hire a freelancer is a decision of two halves: On the one hand, the benefits of outsourcing to a professional with the specific skill you require is the best way to assure a quality product without binding yourself to employing someone full time. But on the other hand, how do you make sure you’ve found the right person?
Bad decisions can be costly, but you’re in luck! Over at PeoplePerHour, we’ve cracked the code, and here are the six golden rules that our clients follow to find that perfect freelancer.
1. Don’t pay peanuts
If a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is, so don’t simply pick the cheapest offer. Make sure you’re basing your choice on the quality of the freelancer’s work, their recommendations, and the fact that they have the relevant industry experience. We use a peer-to-peer star rating system (eBay style), which takes the guesswork right out of it and brings the cream of the crop to the top—and to your attention.
2. Bulk outsource
Though it’s easy to get in the habit of outsourcing only at the last minute, or only when you’re really up against a deadline, the most productive and cost effective way to outsource is in chunks. Have your day planned out and figure out in advance what needs handing over. Freelancers are versatile creatures, so you could find yourself with someone who can take on a few of your tasks without requiring you to explain your business concept to five different people. And remember, if you’re a high-value client, you’ll be right at the top of their list.
3. Audition new talent
It’s very easy to get attached to a freelancer if you’ve had a great experience, but don’t block off your options. Give every freelancer you audition a small project first to assess their capabilities for a bigger project. But remember, there’s always new and fresh talent out there. Keep your options open and your team diverse instead of farming work out to the same person each time and risk getting stagnant.
4. Be crystal clear—and get it in writing
Your concept makes perfect sense in your head, but speaking on Skype isn’t the same as getting it written down in black and white. Remember to give clear instructions and a specific brief, and set your expectations in stone. Making sure that any phone conversations and contracts are in email form safeguards you from misunderstandings and costly wastes of time. Have a template saved with a few short paragraphs about your business concept and include it with every job you outsource.
Once you’ve lined up your freelance A-Team, talk to them! Communication is king in any successful business and, arguably, even more so where any portion of staff work remotely. There are tons of tools you can use to communicate with and manage virtual teams effectively. Without the luxury of having your team physically present, it’s crucial that you build a communications routine into your schedule.
Make sure you always give honest feedback. This is the lifeblood of the flourishing freelancer, and they will always welcome some constructive criticism. If they’re worth their salt, they’ll appreciate your taking the time to give them some tips. Build that relationship by mutual respect and not only rewarding hard work but also helping your contractors become more efficient by being honest about what hasn’t worked, so that next time, it will!
Aylish Jarvie is an expert in the rapidly shifting freelance-marketplace, and has become an authority on self-employment trends across the UK.