6 Tips for Getting the Most Value From Your Freelancer
More businesses are contracting with freelancers today than ever before, and this trend is expected to continue. According to the experts at Freelancemyway, currently 36 percent of the U.S. workforce is in this category, and their numbers, the website predicts, will grow to over 50 percent of the workforce by 2027.
That makes sense: Businesses choose to hire these independent contractors because this channel gives them access to specialized skills and is cost-effective and scalable to their needs. While these benefits are significant, of course, they occur only when you select the right people and manage them in a way that achieves the best outcome.
Know what you need.
Get the most out of your freelancer by understanding exactly what you need him or her to do and the skills required to produce the expected result.
Map out project details, including time frames and deliverables, collaboration logistics and budget. The experts at Indeed recommend that this information be used to draft a detailed list of responsibilities that the freelancer is expected to perform, as well as the required and preferred skills for the position. When creating the job description, be clear as to whether the job is full- or part-time, short- or long-term, and if a remote work is an option. Taking the time to write this level of a job posting will help you weed out those who are not the right fit for your needs.
Use a great platform.
You can hire freelancers from websites such as Craigslist, or by posting ads online. But using sites such as Upwork, Guru and Freelancemyway can be a better option. These and similar sites have performance tests, industry-expertise designations and verified work-product histories.
This means that someone else has already confirmed that the freelancer has the education, skills and experience you need, and a proven track record of deliverables. Most of these sites also have customer-service reps who will intervene if disputes arise between client and freelancer regarding pay, project scope, etc. This feature can save you time and hassle.
When using these sites, be sure to take the time to review select freelancers’ portfolios to determine if their style and work quality meet your standards.
Put it in writing.
During the selection process, there should be discussion of the scope of the project, the deliverables, deadlines and the hourly or fixed-price rate. There should also be a clear understanding of when payments will be made and the milestones that must be reached to trigger the payment process.
Upwork recommends formalizing this agreement in a contract to be sure that both parties are clear on the terms. Some freelancing sites, such as WriterAccess, limit the scope of communication between their freelancers and clients. In these situations, the pay and scope are stated in the job posting; and when the freelancer accepts the project, he or she is required to meet the terms that have been set. Even in this situation, it is important to be as detailed as possible to receive the product you require.
Use a non-disclosure agreement.
Your business is, well, your business, and you probably have information that you want to keep confidential. While all freelancers and other independent contractors should respect this boundary, it is best to formalize this expectation with an agreement, according to the experts at EveryNDA.
The non-disclosure agreement (NDA) can protect your confidential projects and data from being used by the freelancer in work for other clients. Many freelancing websites include confidentiality clauses in their user agreements so you may already have this protection, but if you have any doubts ask the freelancer to sign an NDA you provide.
Pay attention to freelance onboarding.
According to surveys from Tiny Pulse, effective onboarding increases revenues and reduces employee turnover for at least three years. The benefits a company receives from an effective employee-onboarding process are also available with freelancers, and are just as important.
These activities will familiarize the freelancer with your operations, systems and office hierarchy. He or she will know whom to go to with questions and how to complete work in a manner consistent with your brand. A meaningful onboarding process can reduce confusion and improve efficiencies, allowing the freelancer to complete the job requirements faster and in a way that best meets your expectations.
Manage communications right.
Ongoing and effective communication is the groundwork of a successful freelance experience. The challenge comes when people have different communications preferences, in terms of both frequency and channel.
As part of the onboarding process, have a specific conversation about communication, including how often you expect to hear from the freelancer and what channels you prefer, i.e., emails, phone calls or texts. In addition, explain how the freelancer can get access to you or whomever you designate as the primary resource within the company.
The goal of this conversation is the creation of guidelines for when and how communication will occur, your expectations regarding updates and information on how the freelancer will be supported when he or she needs assistance.
The bottom line
Freelancers can be a great asset to a business. To get the most value from the relationship, be clear on your expectations, protect your confidential information and trust these individuals to do the job. This foundation can transform a short-term gig into a long-term, mutually beneficial engagement.