Global digitization brought great benefits to companies around the world by expanding the talent pool available. Online collaboration enables companies to hire skilled professionals, regardless of location.
For companies, working with freelancers has numerous benefits. You can fill skill gaps and specialize in roles you can’t justify a full-time hire with. To ensure smooth freelancer partnerships, you should know how to protect your company and build a stable long-term relationship with them. Here’s what we recommend.
Hiring freelancers is almost always about finding the right specialists to fill the knowledge and skill gaps of your own team. That means when you look for freelancers, you look for a well-defined set of skills.
In order to facilitate your search, be as specific as possible in your job description. You need to list down preferred experience, soft and technical skills, level of expertise, expected timelines, budget, and project domain.
Over-communicating is better than under-communicating to filter out under-qualified applicants. Plus, many freelancers will be able to identify projects they can bring useful suggestions to.
Use different platforms to search
There are dozens of freelancer marketplaces where you’ll find hundreds of suitable candidates. However, there are several other niche platforms that may help narrow your search.
If you are looking for freelance software developers, consider visiting GitHub, Stack Overflow, and CodeProject. Developers can share their knowledge and showcase expertise so you can assess some level of skill without even contacting the person.
Quora is a great place to find opinion leaders, managers, and marketing specialists. As for hiring freelance copywriters, have a look at blogs like Moz or Single Grain and contact writers whose articles seem the most engaging and informative.
This approach is a bit more complex and requires more time and effort than using freelancer marketplaces. However, these niche platforms will help you pinpoint your perfect candidate more quickly than sifting through a flood of generalists.
Avoid the price wars
Freelancers are known to have cheaper rates than in-house specialists. However, that does not mean you should opt for the cheapest rate available.
When looking at the freelancers and their rates, try to find the best quality to rate ratio. To assess quality of work, ask for a portfolio or send a paid test task. Experienced freelancers usually have a record of work that they can show to employers.
Use HR assessment tools
Hiring a freelancer is not much different from hiring an employee to join your in-house team. That means you can use HR assessment tools to assess soft and technical skills.
Here’s how to insert it into your hiring flow;
- Conduct an interview in an online call
- Send an HR assessment to gauge fit and skill
- Request a test task
- Send them through interviews with the team they’ll be working with
These methods create a win-win situation for both parties. For the freelancer, it is a good chance to become part of the company and learn about its mission, goals, and culture. For the employer, it is a great way to see whether a freelancer is reliable, communicative, and has the right soft skills for the job.
Negotiate in advance
To keep things transparent and minimize risks, we recommend negotiating on payment method, reporting, and communication in advance.
When working with freelancers, communication is the cornerstone of project success. Clear communication guarantees that the freelancer understands your requirements and there are no misunderstandings. To achieve that, decide on the most suitable communication channel and set strict deadlines for every task so you know when to expect progress reports.
Choose the most suitable reporting method (i.e. Trello) so you can see at what stage the project is and what work has already been done. And obviously, negotiate on the payment method and the rates to avoid any issues in the future.
All these questions have to be discussed before starting work, as they should be included in your contracts and agreed on in writing.
Don’t forget the documentation
Working with someone you’ve never met can cause a fear of abandonment. After all, there is no 100% guarantee that your freelancer will complete the project after receiving payment. To legally protect yourself from financial loss, secure your project, and protect your data, you should prepare a few documents for your freelancer to sign.
Here are some examples;
- NDA: A non-disclosure agreement restricts third-parties from accessing your data. That means the information is shared only between you and the freelancer, and if they share it with anyone else, you will be in the full right to legally protect your data.
- A working agreement: This one lists the terms and conditions of your collaboration. Such a document may have stated rates, deadlines, type of services, etc. This document is very similar to the one that in-house employees sign.
- Invoices: Some employers prefer to work by invoices, so a freelancer will need to create one in order to get paid.
The documents that you should prepare for a freelancer will depend on your project type. However, the NDA and the working agreement are the two essential documents that you should have with any freelancer before starting work.
Freelancers can be more experienced and flexible than in-house specialists, and may be able to provide useful suggestions or recommendations to optimize your project. The key to successful client-freelance relationships is a healthy feedback loop, so be ready to give and get feedback, and you could be amazed at how well your projects go.