Aside from omnipresent da Vinci types, most entrepreneurs depend on freelancers.
Freelancers fill the gaps in your workforce on demand. They keep your business operational. Freelancing has even become a popular gateway to permanent positions. But consorting with contractors can be a pain.
You might spend weeks scouting out the perfect writers and graphic designers, only to have them opt out at the last second. Or brilliant talent you just landed may end up churning out uninspired bunk. The good news is you can prevent that.
During my freelance career, I’ve discovered how business owners can save time, money and frustration while making the most of their freelance talent.
Follow these four steps to find and keep the highest performing freelancers for your business.
1. Hire specialists.
Ask your prospective freelancer: “Is this role your specialty?”
Make sure your prospect has specific experience for the job you have in mind, and don’t be lured in by general talent; you’ll pay for a less-than-premium service.
Because I’ve excelled as a writer, I’ve been asked to do freelance jobs where writing was a secondary focus. I rejected most of them. But there have been cases when the pay and perks seemed to make sense; I went forward with the process, only to bail when I knew I wouldn’t enjoy the work. It was a waste of time and money for both parties.
So hire specialists.
If you need social media work, make sure your prospect has a ferocious appetite for Facebook and Twitter. Dabblers won’t do. If you need editorial help, ask if the freelancer edits just for the fun. Scan her blog for the polished feel you’re looking for.
2. Pick passionate people.
Ask your prospect: “Are you 100 percent passionate about doing this work?”
If they aren’t, hold out for someone who is. Starting out, I took any freelance job I could get. But after a year, I realized that my best work came from assignments that I had a genuine passion for.
Then, I decided to be more selective with my assignments. My work quality soared. I exceeded my clients’ expectations, and I developed stronger relationships.
As a client, you’ll benefit from hiring passionate talent. Google surely does.
Do your freelancers and yourself a favor by hiring the ones who are on fire for the work and who have a learner’s attitude. You might have to choose less experienced freelancers, but with your guidance, their joy for the work will overcome any technical limitations.
You’ll profit from the inspired work.
3. Pay more.
Ask your freelancer: "How much will you be happy working for?"
Most clients don’t care about happiness, which is essential, so it thrills freelancers to hear it asked. If you can’t afford the freelancer’s happy wage, and if you can’t negotiate anything to compensate, don’t be afraid to pass them up.
Your quality of work and their happiness are one in the same.
Unless you can meet 70 percent of what they normally charge, just pass. Sometimes a talented freelancer will be in payment limbo, looking for anything. But your business isn’t a charity. If they won’t be happy, you won’t get their best work. Find someone else.
When you do settle on a happy price, bump up your offer between five percent and 10 percent. Your generosity will make the freelancer squeal with joy (I’ve actually squealed before), and it will inspire their best work.
Extra pay goes a long way in starting and maintaining a profitable freelance-client relationship.
4. Negotiate when more pay isn’t an option.
Ask your freelancer: “If more money isn’t an option, how else can we make you happy?”
Freelancers, who are happy with their pay do the best work. But just because a freelancer is beyond your cash budget doesn’t mean you can’t make her happy with perks.
Start negotiating perks.
Many businesses accrue airline points from bulk purchases. Those points are as good as cash for people, who love or need to travel a lot. The same goes for hotel points. You can blow away a potential freelancer by combining airline and hotel points for a vacation package - all while saving resources.
If you want to land the right talent, and keep them satisfied, get creative with your compensation.
Consider discounts and freebies on your goods and services as well. As a freelancer, I love working with companies that include goods in a deal. I end up loving the product. I become a fan, and I tell everyone I know to buy it. Everyone wins.
Here's the takeaway(s).
I’ve worked hard to become the right freelancer for my clients, and I’ve made a ton of mistakes along the way. Here’s what I’ve learned. You’ll find and keep the best freelancers if you ask the right questions; hire passionate specialists; pay a happy wage; and negotiate benefits when more cash isn’t an option.
If you want more success with your freelancers, follow these steps in your hiring process.