Whether you’re a start-up, established business or agency, freelance support can be an invaluable resource, offering flexible cover, specialist expertise as and when you need it.
No surprise then that the independent workforce is booming, now making up six per cent of the UK’s workforce, a 36 per cent rise since 2008, while contributing £109bn to the UK economy last year. This is great news for businesses, with even more skilled professionals to choose from. But, just like hiring any employee or supplier, finding the right freelancer is essential.
That means the right skills, experience and personality – all within your budget.
If you’ve never worked with freelancers before, it can be tricky to know where to start. How do you make sure you match your needs to the right person, particularly when you’ve got deadlines looming?
To help you on your way, we’ve compiled a list of top tips and advice. So you’ll find the freelancer of your dreams in no time!
1. Your wish list
Before you do anything, take some time to decide exactly what you need from freelance support. What is the scope of the project, how long for and what are you prepared to pay?
Also think about the kind of person you are looking for – for example, is it simply somebody to execute your plans, write some copy, make journalist calls. Or is it more advice, consultancy and strategic support you’re after?
Your answers will determine the level of experience you need, the time required and therefore what it will cost you. If you’re short on budget, think about where you can take on aspects of the project in-house, leaving the freelancer to focus on where you really need support.
2. Navigating budgets
If you’ve never worked with freelancers before, setting a budget can be a minefield. A quick Google search and you’re likely to come across a whole array of different rates, and it can be tempting to think you’ll find a bargain.
But, before you snap up that copywriter for £2.50 an hour, remember that cheap usually means more expensive in the long run! Setting your budget a bit higher is likely to mean higher quality work, a more professional service and ultimately better results. Plus, a more experienced freelancer is likely to get the work done faster, so will need less time than a cheaper option.
To get an idea about what is reasonable, ask around some contacts that may have used freelancers in the past to find out what they paid. Many freelancers work on a day rate so using that as a benchmark can be a good starting point, while thinking about the amount of work involved in your project and the level of experience you’re looking for.
3. Don’t scrimp on the brief
A detailed and specific brief is essential to avoid being bombarded with lots of irrelevant CVs and pitches, while ensuring you attract the best freelancers for your needs.
This starts with a clear, concise and descriptive heading for your project, followed by an overview of what you require, including plenty of detail about your organisation and what you do.
In the main body of your brief, the more detail you can include the better, being sure to include the following details:
• Your objectives – what are you hoping to achieve through the project?
• Timescale – how long will the project be for? • Workload – full time or part-time, how many days per week?
• What kind of experience and expertise you’re looking for, including any qualifications or technical expertise required?
• Your budget – if you’ve done your homework, you should already have an idea of what you’re prepared to pay so make sure you include this detail. However, if you’re still unsure, or don’t want to rule anybody out, then you can choose negotiable here.
• Any specific questions – if you have any details you would like freelancers to provide when they respond, or you would like to see some examples of their work, then make sure you outline this too.
Alongside these details, The Work Crowd also allows you to stipulate whether you want a freelancer to work in your office, or whether they can work remotely. So think about how you would prefer to work and what best suits the needs of the project.
4. Make sure you’re tagged
The Work Crowd’s tags enable our clever computer bots to connect you with the freelancers that match your needs. So be sure to tick the skills, experience and market expertise you’re looking for, to increase the chance of finding the perfect fit!
You may find it useful to keep your search broad initially so you can see the range of freelancers available, then you can filter these down by their specialist expertise and day rate once you have seen the range. At this stage you can choose to contact some professionals directly, or wait to see what responses you receive based on your post.
5. Picking your shortlist
Once you’ve submitted your brief, you’ll soon receive lots of messages from suitable freelancers. If you’ve written your brief and selected your tags carefully then you should have a few good matches, but take some time to read through the responses carefully, reviewing each one based on your requirements.
It’s also worth taking the time to reply to each freelancer. You never know when you might want to work with them in the future so you don’t want to create a negative impression. You should also mark candidates as ‘unsuitable’ or ‘shortlisted’ on the system, so that they receive this feedback. And when you do finalise your selection, the other candidates will be notified of this as well.
6. Getting to know your shortlist
It might be tempting to pick your freelancer just from initial responses, particularly if you’re short of time. But try to avoid this shortcut and take the time to speak to your top choices, either by phone, face to face, or videoconference, so you can get a better feel for their suitability and that all-important personality fit. To make things easier, interviews can now be done through The Work Crowd platform using appear.in – just click the link on the message page to activate the call.
The interview is an opportunity to:
• Find out more about a freelancer’s relevant experience and expertise
• Ask how they will approach the project – for example, what would they do first?
• Find out if they think the objectives and timescale are realistic
• Get a feel for their interest and passion in the project and your business – do they ask the right questions and show where they can add value?
At this stage, you may find that one person jumps out as being the ideal candidate for you – in which case great, you’ve found your match! If you’re still unsure, try to think objectively about which freelancer best suits what you’re looking for, or even arrange another chat to help you decide.
7. Set a trial period or project
Many clients choose to set an initial trial project or period for their freelancer (paid of course!), to check that their work and the relationship is what they’re looking for. It can work well to carve off a small part of a larger project as a starter, then if you’re happy, it’s easy to extend this. Or alternatively, ask your candidate to produce an initial blog or press release to check the quality of their work, and understanding of your business.
8. Making it official
Once you’re ready to get started your project, there are a few bits of final admin to tick off. First of all, you can formally accept your chosen freelancer through The Work Crowd – this is your agreement with the freelancer that you are moving forward and confirming the cost quoted.
Next, we’ll ask you to set your milestones for the project, which gives you a way to plan, track and approve project deadlines. If you’re quite flexible, then feel free to discuss and agree these with your chosen freelancer, to check how they like to work.
And voila – you and your freelancer should be good to go!
Of course, if you do have any further questions or need more support then we’re here to help! Just get in touch!