Some quick tips for hiring your first freelancers online

Rachel Hill
Rachel Hill

Do you need some additional help at your workplace but not a full-time employee? Hiring freelancers could be a great option for you.

Freelancers are independent contractors who can work or complete projects for your organisation on a long or short term basis from an off site location. They are largely a product of the gig economy where people are paid for ‘gigs’ or tasks they complete, as opposed to receiving a regular wage. While there are arguments surrounding the exploitative nature of freelance work, it can be beneficial for companies and workers seeking flexibility.

Freelancers are also a great option for startups who don’t have the initial capital to pay the salaries of a whole host of employees, along with vacation time and health benefits. Hiring freelancers offers an ideal way for startup companies to dip their toes in the talent pool, without inducing huge costs. Incorrect hires are often quoted as the biggest expense for companies, so freelancers are certainly a cost effective way of finding out what hires you really need.

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Autumn Adeigbo successful hired freelancers for her ethical startup.

Of course freelancers are not suitable for every type of role, but if you require services in web development, graphic design or administration for example, they are perfect. This is because these types of services are web-based and can be performed from almost anywhere with an internet connection. So once you have outlined the exact services you need, you can begin to hire your first freelancer. Before you do, check out our tips first:

Tip no.1: Where to find freelancers

The most referenced site to hire freelancers online is Upwork, formerly a combination of Elance and Odesk. Other popular freelancer sites include guru.com, freelancer.com and peopleperhour. These sites provide tons of workers who have a range of skills and whose rates are far lower than onsite workers.

Probably the biggest risk with these websites are the geographical and communication boundaries. Many of the freelancers on these sites come from non-English speaking countries, so communication may be an issue. When emailing any prospective applicants from the above sites, ensure you examine their grammar and syntax.

Differing time zones may also cause issues through using these sites, especially if the freelancer does not complete their work by the deadline. If this happens on a recurring basis, it may be best for you to find freelancers through offline means. Try people you know in your local community, groups on social media, networking events or even referrals.

Tip no.2: How to choose the right freelancer

When you post a freelance job online, chances are you will receive a lot of applications from suitable and not-so-suitable candidates. To ensure you get great applicants, be extremely clear about the freelancer’s roles and responsibilities in the job ad. Also advise on what level of expertise they need and provide visual aids so freelancers know exactly what the role entails.

Once you post the job, interested applicants will send their portfolio, their profile and maybe their CV. When reviewing these applicants, examine all their material as carefully as you can, along with their written English. The next step is to shortlist these applicants.

When you have shortlisted candidates who meet your requirements, you may need to ask them some extra ‘screening’ questions first. After you hire the best candidate, it is good practice to ask them to complete a small task first. If they complete the task well, you know the freelancer is worth keeping. If not, you should ask them to amend their work and see if there is an improvement.

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It is important to go through all applications for your freelance roles

Tip no.3: How much do you pay a freelancer?

Pay is always a conscientious issue regarding freelance work – mainly because freelance rates are all over the place. So, it is important to establish a reasonable payment at the beginning of your working relationship. Even if you ask the freelancer to complete an initial project, you should still pay them for this.

It is safer and frankly, easier to use the sites above when seeking freelancers as they often provide their rates upfront on their profiles. Depending on their expertise, rates can range from $4 to $20 an hour. Best practice is to estimate how many hours it should take the freelancer to complete the task multiplied by their hourly rate. 

Depending on the task in question, you may also agree with the freelancer that the final payment is results-based. So if the freelancer completes the task well, you agree to pay the full amount, maybe more. If not, you agree on a partial payment. Whatever the outcome, ensure you pay the freelancer and on time – treat them in a similar manner to regular staff.

 

Hiring a freelancer is not an easy task, but it is something that gets easier over time. Once you hire one great freelancer, hiring the next one will be far easier.

 

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