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Looking to hire freelance talent? Read this first

Posted by Grace Townsley

September 23, 2021    |     4-minute read (797 words)

The freelance talent pool, also referred to as the “gig economy," has been growing for years. But in 2020, it utterly exploded. With the rise of remote work, widespread job loss and more time cooped up at home, over 2 million people became freelance workers in 2020 alone. An estimated 59 million individuals now make up the freelance workforce. 

It’s no wonder that an increasing number of companies, large and small, work with freelance talent. But what do freelancers even do? How do you find and vet quality freelancers? What should you pay them? What else do you need to know before you trust your project, and your budget, to someone you just met online? If you find yourself asking these questions, read on. 

What can freelancers help your business with?

As a rule of thumb, any project that you can explain in a 30-minute meeting, that doesn’t require access to your proprietary systems or any special licensure, and that has a definable completion date may be able to be completed by a freelancer. There are exceptions to the rule, but short, straightforward projects are usually the most successful. 

Common types of freelancers include:
  • Photographers
  • Writers
  • Designers
  • Marketers
  • Web developers
  • Recruiters
  • Researchers
  • Tutors
  • Consultants
  • Data entry specialists
  • Virtual assistants
Some freelancers, like those creating websites, work with businesses on individual projects. Others, like virtual assistants, may work with several different businesses for a few hours each on a long-term, ongoing basis. 

How do you find quality freelancers?

You can hire a freelancer just like you hire a full-time employee, by posting the job on a job board or LinkedIn. You can request a resume and portfolio, conduct interviews, and send an offer letter, as you would in a traditional hiring process. This is the most straightforward way to find freelancing talent. 

Asking for referrals is another great way to find freelancing talent. Your friends, family, or professional connections may have a go-to freelancer they’ve had a positive experience with. They can speak directly to the quality and consistency of the freelancer’s work. As a note, some freelancers quote every client individually, based on the project scope and complexity. Your project quote may differ from your connection’s, especially if your business is different. 

Some businesses use platforms like Upwork and Fiverr to find freelance talent. This can be a good option for small projects like a logo design or blog post. Just know that when going through these sites, you aren’t able to interview freelancers before you request your project. The quality of work on these sites can be hit-and-miss. Look for talent that has multiple good reviews, quick response rates, and a portfolio of recent work. 

What and how should you pay a freelancer?

Freelancers set their own project rates based on their area of expertise and skill level. Some charge a per-project rate that is agreed upon before the project begins, and some charge by the hour. Businesses that work with a freelancer for a length of time on consistent, repeated projects may even set up a retainer agreement for a specified number of monthly project hours or completed projects. 

Specific payment rates vary widely between industries. Web designers, for example, charge an average of $75 per hour, but web developers charge $300 or more per hour. Writers charge an average of $30.39 per hour, but that rate can go up to over $500 an hour for experienced, published writers. Freelance photographers can charge over $1,500 per hour for special events like weddings or corporate functions. When looking to hire a freelancer it’s a good idea to be up front with your budget in case your expectation is far from their rate. 

Other considerations when hiring a freelancer

It’s a good idea to create a freelance worker contract before hiring freelance talent. You can find free contract templates online, or you can write your own. You’ll want to be sure it covers the timeline of work, cost of the project, a non-disclosure agreement, if necessary, clarification of who will own the rights to the final project, and clarification that the freelancer is a contract worker – not an employee. 

Key takeaway

Contracting a freelancer can be a simple and cost-effective alternative to overloading your current employees or hiring a new one. You also have the benefit of working with someone who has highly specialized skills, giving you a big bang for your buck in a short amount of time. And working with freelance talent gives your business the flexibility to change direction or scale down quickly, without having to let go of traditional employees. With the freelance talent pool bigger than ever, it’s a great time to test out a freelance project for your business.  

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