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How To Hire a Freelancer for Your Business

The freelance economy is growing, providing employers with additional flexibility and specialized skills in specific areas. If your company needs extra support to complete projects and meet demand, you could hire a freelancer. These ad hoc employees can fill skills gaps and seasonal shortages and assist during periods of growth. This guide explains what a freelancer is and how to hire one. It also contains tips for how to successfully incorporate them into your business. 

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What is a freelancer?

A freelancer is a self-employed professional who sells services for a negotiated rate. They often work with multiple clients instead of one central employer. Freelancers primarily work in creative industries, but anyone who independently offers a service is considered a freelancer. Other names for freelancers include contract worker and independent contractor. 

Some freelancers work in contract-to-hire positions, where they start as a freelancer on a short-term project with the option to join the company as an employee. Others thrive on working for multiple clients on a wide range of projects. 

Unlike standard employees, freelancers typically don’t receive benefits or perks from employers. That means no vacation pay, sick pay, insurance or retirement funds. They calculate their own tax deductions and withhold their own taxes. 

Some freelance workers join talent agencies, which promote their skills to potential clients on their behalf. Alternatively, they work independently and use professional connections, job boards and other tools such as social media to find opportunities.

Read more: Contracting Independent Workers: What is a Contractor? 

Benefits of hiring freelancers

The freelance economy is steadily growing, propelled by the rise of the gig economy and remote work. Hiring a self-employed worker can help you reach business goals without the expense and commitment of building an entire team. Other benefits of hiring a freelancer for your company include: 

Low costs

Growing businesses might require more staff but lack the financial resources to conduct an extensive recruiting and onboarding process. Because freelancers pay overhead costs and don’t receive company benefits, they can cost significantly less than employees. You could also consider hiring a skilled freelancer from abroad, where pay expectations are lower. 

Freelancers can also be cheaper because you can hire them for a specific project. For example, hiring a full-time graphic designer could cost tens of thousands of dollars. But, you may only need to fulfill small design projects at irregular intervals. In this case, you could hire a freelancer to work with you for a few months or weeks at a time at a significantly lower cost. 

Flexibility

Outsourcing to freelancers allows your company to be more flexible. For instance, if you hire a remote freelancer, there’s a huge global talent pool to choose from. Freelancers don’t get overtime pay, so you can hire them to provide services on tight deadlines. 

If you like a particular freelancer, you can offer them more work. Likewise, if they don’t meet your standards, you’re not obligated to keep them, and letting them go won’t come at the same cost as firing and rehiring an employee.

Efficiency

Freelancers focus all of their work hours on completing assignments. Outsourcing certain projects that your team doesn’t currently have the skill sets for eliminates the cost and time you would spend on training. An experienced freelancer can complete projects more quickly than traditional employees who may not have the same highly focused expertise. 

Specialization

Freelancers are highly specialized in their field, offering specific services they can tailor to your business needs. Because freelancers are usually less involved in the day-to-day operations of a business, they can dedicate their full attention to providing individualized service. 

Many freelancers have a portfolio. This allows you to browse available candidates and choose the individual whose work is the best fit for your company.  

Simple employee relationships

Traditional employees are generally expected to be part of a company for a long time, making company culture and relationship-building priorities. Freelance employees may not work in the same location as the rest of your staff and are only part of your team for as long as needed. 

Plus, with freelancers, you don’t have to deal with severance pay or conflict mediation. If a freelancer doesn’t fit in with your company, it’s easier to end the relationship than it is to fire an employee. 

Are freelancers the right fit for your business?

If your company requires a culture fit, and you need employees who can grow with your business and provide leadership skills, freelancers may not be right for you. While freelancers can collaborate with other employees, they’re not expected to build the same rapport or integrate as part of a team of permanent employees. 

Additionally, managing freelance employees requires you to have methods for clear communication and deadline management, even if they work off-site. 

Let’s look at situations where hiring a freelancer could be worthwhile for your business:

  • Tight turnaround: If a project has a tight deadline, you may not have the resources to onboard and train a new employee. Freelancers can fill this gap and can often start working right away.
  • Inconsistent workload: Many companies have slow times and unexpected surges in business. Having a regular pool of freelancers to turn to during high-volume periods can help you push through inconsistent growth periods while meeting customer demands.
  • Project-based business: Companies that work on a project basis can benefit from hiring multiple short-term freelancers. Ongoing responsibilities are better suited for long-term employees, but self-contained projects can benefit from the focus and flexibility of a freelancer.

How to hire a freelance employee

Follow the steps below to start hiring freelance employees for your company: 

1. Create a job description

Document the exact role you want the freelancer to fill, along with details of the project or projects they would be working on. Be clear about the project’s duration, compensation and expected availability. List the skills, qualities and qualifications you’re looking for. Always request a portfolio. Post the job description on job boards and freelance websites to attract quality candidates.

Related: How to Hire an Independent Contractor 

2. Browse portfolios

Experienced freelancers often have their own website where they display past projects they’ve worked on. If you’re looking for a certain skill set, you may not want to wait until the ideal candidate comes to you. Look through portfolios and reach out to freelancers with impressive work.

3. Write a contract

Once you’ve found qualified candidates, negotiate a contract that outlines how and when the freelancer will get paid, the project timeline and other details. Having them sign a contract protects you as an employer, especially if they fail to deliver the expected end product. It also provides a record of their status as a freelancer for your files. 

4. Fill out the correct tax forms

Ensure the freelancer fills out a W-9 to confirm their right to work. When tax season arrives, complete a 1099-MISC form to report how much the freelancer earned. Send one copy to the freelancer and one copy to the IRS. 

Best practices for managing freelancers

Freelancers have a different dynamic than regular employees due to the short-term nature of their assignments. While businesses often hire freelancers to outsource tasks, they still require some level of oversight and hands-on management to ensure quality work that’s aligned with your expectations. 

Build relationships

Get to know your freelancers to learn what motivates them and drives productivity. Building relationships inspires them to be more invested in your project and establishes a professional connection for any further work.

Communicate effectively

Be clear about deadlines and how you expect work to be completed. If you want the freelancer to check in regularly, communicate with them about what reports should include and how often you expect to be updated.  

Provide benchmarks

Create regular checkpoints where you meet with the freelancer and assess progress. Asking for drafts of design work, for example, gives you an opportunity to provide feedback and ensure the freelancer is on track to meet their deadlines.

Offer incentives

Motivate freelancers to produce top-quality work by offering incentives and rewards. Small gifts, public recognition and positive reviews can encourage freelancers to give your project extra attention. Plus, if you’d like them to work with you in the future, incentives can give you a competitive edge over their other options.

FAQs about how to hire a freelancer

Where can I find a freelancer for hire?

There are numerous websites and job boards that provide access to self-employed contractors. You can find freelancers on Upwork, Fiver, LinkedIn, Behance, Crowd Content, Dribbble, Guru and Freelancer.com. You can also ask business partners, associates and other people in your network for recommendations of freelancers who have proven their acumen. Social media is another place you can see evidence of a freelancer’s work and contact them directly. You might also conduct a Google search to look for top freelancers’ websites and get in touch that way.

Which roles are best-suited to freelancers?

With the freelance economy growing, there are an increasing number of self-employed contractors across a range of specialties. That said, some roles are better suited to freelance work than others.

Employers often seek to hire a freelancer in the following roles:

  • Web designer
  • Writer 
  • Editor
  • Graphic designer
  • Social media manager
  • Virtual assistant 
  • Programmer
  • Web developer
  • Digital marketing manager
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