Hiring a freelancer is risky business and getting it wrong is an expensive mistake.
How so? Well, the difference between one freelancer and the next can be as significant as chalk and cheese. Freelancers are their own boss, running their own show and this has its own rewards for business owners . For the same reasons, there can be vast differences in individual reliability and end results, all of which ultimately impact your bottom line.
The very nature of freelance work has taken off in recent years. It has grown so popular that many qualified and highly paid corporate professionals have ditched traditional 9-5 desk jobs and afforded themselves the flexibility and freedom of a less traditional lifestyle.
By 2020, one study estimates that more than 40% of the American workforce, or 60 million people, will be independent workers—freelancers, contractors, and temporary employees.
Recruit freelancers in the right places
When recruiting freelancers, many employers get it wrong. While you can stick to the traditional methods of recruiting a freelance professional directly via their website or through word of mouth, these days there are a number of dedicated freelance platforms that showcase a wide variety of freelancers.
Freelancing platforms such as Upwork and Freelancer are good places to start and get a bettered of the market, rates and skill sets in various disciplines. The benefit of these sites is that each freelancer is responsible for maintaining their own profile and clients generally provide feedback for completed jobs.
Once you find a potential freelancer to work with, avoid making these common mistakes:
Mistake #1: Saying ‘yes’ too quickly.
Small business owners, especially, are often guilty of jumping right in because they’re stuck in an all too common scenario such as rushing to finish work ahead of a looming deadline or the price per hour or project looks attractively low. Failing to implement a fastidious recruitment process for your freelancer will likely result in a questionable outcome.
Mistake #2: Ignoring the importance of consistent communication.
Communication is pivotal to the success of a freelance relationship. Many employers are guilty as charged when it comes to establishing milestones and then failing to make themselves readily available. A quality freelancer will ask for feedback and clarification and it would be a significant mistake to engage a freelancer, set milestones and simply kick back and wait for completed work.
Mistake #3: Overlooking due diligence on a freelancers’ resume.
It goes without saying. You wouldn’t hire a full-time employee without first diligently reviewing and vetting their resume and the same goes for a freelancer. Make notes of key responsibilities and achievements and then cross-reference them during the interview. Don’t make the horrible mistake of hiring on face value, ever.
Mistake #4: Not awarding repeat business to prior freelancers.
Given the nature of freelance work where each freelancer is responsible for managing his or her own workload, it’s important to understand that not every one is good at doing so. It can be tempting for some to take on too much work, while others find it difficult to cope with juggling multiple clients. Overcome these challenges and re-engage someone whose services you have previously utilized, they’re the most likely to know your business and also the easiest to cut long term deals with as there should be a layer of trust built at this point.
Mistake #5: Cutting corners and compromising quality.
As an employer an additional pitfall is the enticement of hiring cheap labor. A cheap dollar may sound appealing before the work gets started and you might even compare the dollars you’d save in comparison to hiring an extra head count for your business. Experienced and professional freelancers are in high demand and don’t need to work for a pittance. Don’t be tempted to cut corners and hire cheap labor, because as ever before, you get what you pay for.
Mistake #6: Paying freelancers in an untimely manner.
On the note of financials, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is delayed payment to freelancers. Never, ever pay a freelancer late without making a prior agreement. Quality freelancers are in the luxurious position of selecting who they work for. Agree expected delivery and payment milestones together and abide by these when making payments. If not, you‘ll risk losing your freelancer which may possibly even fall half way through that critical project of yours. Show them the respect they deserve and pay on time, every time.
A freelancer can only afford to maintain his or her business over the long term if they’re capable of generating new business for themselves or if existing business continues to utilize their services on a repeat basis. Ensure you continue to engage quality freelance professionals for your business by avoiding these common pitfalls above.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Joe Flanagan is a Senior Consultant for Velvet Jobs. He provides career and hiring advice for candidates and hiring managers. When he’s not writing about employment issues you can find him playing acoustic guitar, learning the Chinese language and walking with his two dogs across the hills. Connect with @velvetjobs on Twitter.