Knowing how to manage freelancers is becoming increasingly essential in a changing economy. Using freelance help offers businesses a way to augment their talent base without taking on the administrative costs of new W-9 employees. Freelance contracts offer a way to test out new talent before offering a full-time position with benefits.
On the demand side, more and more workers are simply choosing to go freelance on their own and gain more independence over their careers. Here are some important general tips that will help your business get the most out of the freelance relationship.
Plan in advance
It’s not that you can’t hire a freelancer on quick notice. There are a number of networking sites that will help you get somebody with the basic qualifications for your project almost immediately. But if you aren’t cultivating freelancers on a regular basis, you’re taking substantial risks.
Is the person you hire on the spot for a one-off project any good? If the project is going to take several months, do you have any idea if they’re reliable? Or will they bail on you the first time an offer with a higher rate comes along? How well will they interact with your regular team?
When you plan in advance, you can use networking sites and social media to develop relationships with potential freelancers before the actual job comes up. Reach out to interesting candidates on LinkedIn and tell them about the type of work you might have coming up in the future. Good freelancers value long-term networking like this as much as you should.
Smart planning—which includes an annual budget for freelance work—ensures that when the time comes to offer a contract, you’ll have several candidates that you feel good about and know you can afford.
Understand what your freelancers want
Good freelancers have a multitude of projects and the motivations for each one are often different. Some projects are simply to pay the bills. Others offer a chance to develop a new skill set and enhance their resume for the future. Still others are about working in an area they’re passionate about. The more you know about your freelancers’ motivations, the more you’ll be able to help them get it.
This is a broad concept and may seem obvious, but it does have some specific applications where freelancers are concerned. Make sure they understand how their project fits into the overall picture of what your business is trying to accomplish. Your full-time employees know this simply by being in your culture on a daily basis.
You’ll also want to provide feedback. Freelancers don’t get the chance to interact with you daily and often have no sense of whether you and your team are happy with their work. The same applies to expectations—freelancers are usually juggling multiple projects, so if there are any specific deadline needs you have, that needs to be communicated.
Pay on time
Most freelancers are paid after their work is completed, so trust is a significant factor. Businesses that pay on clearly identified intervals get a good reputation. Freelancers return to them and give the business good reviews with other independent contractors. You build up a lot of goodwill by simply telling your freelancers when your payment schedule is and then delivering.