As a small business owner, or a startup entrepreneur, you often have to take care of everything. A lot of times, however, you’ll encounter a problem or a task that you either don’t have the time or the knowledge to deal with. This is where you should start thinking about finding a good freelancer to help you out and make the project successful.
How do you find the freelancer that will be a perfect fit for not just the job you have in mind, but also one that will fit well with your company and the team? This is not an easy or a quick process and many an entrepreneur have, for one reason or another, hired the wrong freelancer. In turn, this has, at the least, set their business back, sometimes for weeks, sometimes months and sometimes even for years. And that’s not even taking into account the money spent (or better wasted) on that freelancer and the project itself.
There is no perfect formula for finding the right freelancer for your company, but if you keep an eye on the next few things, you’ll have a much better chance of finding one that will be an asset, rather than a detriment to the project and your business.
Have a Clear Vision of What You Want the End Result to be
Unless you have a clear vision of what the end result of your project should be, how can you expect a freelancer to have one for you? Of course, over the course of the project, some things will inevitably change, others will get added up, while some will be deemed unnecessary and removed as a result. That’s okay and is to be expected. In fact, often times, it will be the freelancer himself or herself to suggest these changes. But you need to be able to tell the freelancer from the first interview “this is what I want”.
Because a freelancer can’t read your mind, he won’t know what your idea is unless you present him with your plan and vision for the end-product. There is nothing worse for a project and nothing more that freelancers hate than a client who keeps asking for something new. Then that client himself becomes a liability to the project.
Don’t waste the freelancer’s time, don’t waste your own time and don’t waste your money. Have a plan and a vision for your desired result.
Where Can You Find Your Perfect Freelancer?
Freelancing is now open to all, much more than it has been a decade or so ago and we have the Internet and the entire modern communications technology to thank for it. This means that there won’t be a shortage of places you can check to find a freelancer to do a job for you. The trick, of course, is to find a good freelancer and one that will be a positive addition to your company. This is just like with a football team. You can find a great player, but if he doesn’t get along with the other players, the whole team and the results suffer.
An obvious way to go about finding freelancers is to look for them on a freelancing website like Upwork, Guru, Toptal or many others like them. Although I understand many entrepreneurs and small business owners shy away from them, freelancing platforms are still a great pool of talent that your company should take advantage of. Even if the net you cast sometimes brings out much more bad freelancers than quality ones, the few good ones are well worth the effort.
When working with freelancers from Upwork or similar platforms, it’s important to remember that the budget is not the most important thing. What many do is hire the cheapest labor and therefore get the worst results. You get what you pay for, so don’t complain about the end-product being crap. Instead, take your mind off the budget for the moment and focus on actually making sure that this freelancer can help with you. Interview them to see not just what their past work experience is, but also to understand what kind of person they are. Also, make sure to give them a small test, paid of course, to see firsthand if they can do what you ask of them.
Since finding freelancers via freelance websites can be a hit-or-miss process and you may not have the time to go through the whole interview/test stage, you may consider referrals. Ask your colleagues and the people in your industry if they’ve worked with a freelancer before and if they have one to recommend. It may not be a 100% sure way to find a freelancer that will be appropriate for your project, but it sure as hell comes close to it.
Communicate Clearly from the Get Go
For the success of the project itself and the success of your business, it is vital to establish a clear communication with the freelancer you picked from day one. You can’t just tell him “I want some blog posts”, or “I need a new web design” and expect to get anything good.
The first point of communication should be your vision of the project and the end-product. Like I said before, it’s crucial to present that vision clearly to the freelancer so that he also knows what is expected of him. Make sure to present him with clear guidelines for how you want to reach your goal, but leave room for the freelancer’s suggestions as well. Those freelancers that bring in ideas of their own are worth gold.
When communicating with freelancers, you have to understand that this is different than when you need to communicate with one of your regular employees. Supervise, but don’t suffocate the freelancer. It’s okay to requests updates on how the project is coming together and at what stage it is, but don’t Skype the freelancer every hour to ask if they’re finished.
Set a “meeting” or a call time with a freelancer when you will discuss the current state of the project. This can be done via Skype, phone or Hangouts, it can be every week and will give both you and the freelancer enough time to get a better picture for the project and what should be done next.
Make a Contract
Do not, I repeat DO NOT leave your project up to chance. You must have a contract for the job and have the freelancer sign it. This piece of paper or an e-document will protect both you and the freelancer and set the ground rules both of you should adhere to. It doesn’t have to be (and it really shouldn’t be) overly complicated or long and could be only one or two pages. Also, you may not even require a lawyer, although it is a good idea to have one to write you a draft. Assume that the other side will also ask someone for legal advice.
The freelance contract should have the following 7 points or “clauses”, but more can be added by either side if necessary:
- Deadline Delivery – By what date should the project be completed? If you tell me that you need an article done “soon”, I could send it to you next week, even if you meant tomorrow, but if you tell me that you need it by 16th May 2017, I know I have to send it to you by Tuesday.
- Payment Schedule – When should the payment be made to the freelance and how? Some freelancers will require an upfront payment. This can be a 50/50 or it be in more installments.
- Single Point of Contact – If there are more people involved with the project, this clause limits the freelancer’s communication with just one person. Trust me, this will save everyone from a lot of confusion.
- Revisions – This one can be tricky. As a client, you want as many revisions as you can get from the freelancer, but freelancers are the most happy when they don’t have to do revisions at all. Of course, often revisions are necessary, so this clause states how many revisions a freelancer will do for free (after which they can charge for them).
- Scope Creep – As a client, you may get all these “cool” ideas during the project. You may want to add a new feature to the website, change the key phrase in an article or something else. You may not even think that it’s such a big deal and that the change is minor and can be implemented quickly. Oh, how wrong you can be! This is what’s called a “scope creep” and it drives freelancers mad. Trust me, it looks like something that only a freelancer will benefit from, but a scope creep clause also makes sure that you stick to the point and complete the project quickly.
- Project Kill Fee – What happens if the project gets canceled on your side? What happens if the freelancer leaves before finishing it? Who gets penalized and how if the project gets cancelled before it is completed?
- Copyright – This one, of course, is important for writing projects, but not so much for some other freelance services. Basically, if you’ve made full payment, you should own the copyrights and the freelancer should not be able to use the work anywhere else.
Be Nice to Your Freelancer
Remember that, even if you can’t see them, freelancers are men and women of flesh and blood who provide a service for you. Make sure they understand you appreciate their help by providing them a feedback for their work and sending them a referral if you hear someone needs the services they provide. Also, respect their time and don’t expect them to be at your beck and call and available 24/7 to you. They are people who need to eat, sleep and work on other projects aside from yours, as well.
Finally, if the project is completed successfully, don’t neglect to pay the freelancer. I hate to have to tell you this, but it is a poor business strategy to have a freelancer do some work for you and then not pay them. No matter if it’s tens, hundreds or thousands of dollars or euros in question, it’s not worth it being a non-payer and can even force the freelancer to go into legal action against you.
What advice do you have on hiring a freelancer for your project? What do you look for and what’s a deal breaker for you? Let me know in the comments below the post.