7 Tips BEFORE You Hire Freelancers: An Essential Checklist
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What should you, as the client, do and complete before hiring freelancers? For startups especially, outsourcing may be daunting and intimidating. It doesn’t have to be. Before you delegate, make decisions and be detailed.
This list comes from our experience (me and my teammates here at USource). We’ve all been doing this for several years. We’ve noted what works with our best clients, and why. Following these guidelines would ensure smooth sailing with your freelancers.
1. What do you need? Define your goals and requirements. Be detailed.
Have a think, write things down, and answer what roles you need to fill, exactly what results you want, and whether you need a freelancer long-term or on an on-demand basis.
While many freelancers do volunteer ideas and are happy to do a bit of steering, it’s unfair to expect them to work like a consultant on a freelancer’s rate. It’s up to you to give bonuses for invaluable input and exceeded expectations, of course. But on the whole, your freelancer would feel more secure and confident in his/her given role if you assign clear-cut definitions to that role. Do your research about what you need for your business, page, site, and it would help you in finding the perfect freelancer/s for the job/s.
2. Create a budget.
This seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many clients approach freelancers expecting free work or very low rates! You get what you pay for. Freelancers already work at a much lower rate than those you hire in-house. They also shoulder everything–you don’t have to pay for supplies, benefits, pension contributions, etc. Keep that in mind and measure their bids against what they can deliver.
It helps to look at freelancers in particular fields (social media, administrative, writing, etc) and gauging an average rate from there. The longer you hire them, the better rates you get, because freelancers and agencies reward the security of long-term contracts.
4. Interview rather review.
This is why it’s beneficial to go with an agency like USource to bypass the tricky screening of candidates–USsistants are already tried and tested in their excellence in their fields. If you do post a job on freelance sites, know this: their scoring system is flawed. Many great freelancers have been ruined by idiot (excuse me, but it’s true) clients. On the other hand, many sub-par and mediocre freelancers have collected 5-star scores from non-challenging jobs that doesn’t guarantee how they’ll manage the role you’d give them.
Yes, you should look at scores, but do the next step before making a contract.
4. Do a trial to test their skills.
Sometimes you, the client, also discover things when you do a trial with your freelancers. It shows you not only your freelancer’s skills, but also if your schedule and procedures work, and what you should fine-tune, if any. Beyond the interview, a trial also makes chemistry and camaraderie come to light. You don’t want to work with someone you dislike. Hiring freelancers does away with the friction in offices filled with incompatible people.
5. Speaking of schedules, define work hours.
In exchange for so much value and convenience, you need to compromise and adjust because of time zones. Daylight for you might be bedtime for your freelancer. You can make this work through excellent communication, as outlined above. Clearly-defined tasks doesn’t need monitoring. Your work gets done while you sleep.
6. Decide on your method of communication and collaboration.
Email, Skype, Google Hangouts–these are free and effective for one-on-one and team meetings. From the outset, get comfortable with one or all of these. Your freelancer would be happy to work with what you prefer. You want reliable communication. Your freelancer should be easily reached via email and instant messaging.
For collaboration, there are a lot of project management sites online (Teamwork, Asana, Basecamp, etc.), where whole teams can schedule tasks, set deadlines, and submit documents for everyone’s perusal, and more.
For simplicity, there’s also Google Drive. It’s free, and you can create folders, documents and spreadsheets accessible to you and your freelancers.
7. Stock up on patience and flexibility.
Freelancers understandably avoid impatient and rushing clients. Yes, you should have a clear timeline in mind, but that timeline should allocate enough time for adjustments as you and your freelancer settle in and learn from each other on what works and what doesn’t. This is especially true for virtual assistants. For writers and designers, you might need a second draft.
And sometimes, you get something different from what you initially asked, only for you to realize this version works better. This open-mindedness is essential in hiring freelancers, and would reward you in the long run.