Freelancing makes up a massive portion of the workforce. The idea of providing independent services and working remotely has been attracting workers for a long time. However, freelancing has been boosting up in popularity in the past couple of years due to lockdowns.

According to reports, freelancers are twice as hard to manage compared to in-office employees. To begin with, most freelancers reside in a different country or state from their clients. When you go looking for a freelancer on the internet, there’s a high possibility for you to end up hiring someone across the globe. Keeping an eye on the work schedule of someone who’s situated thousands of miles away from you isn’t a walk in the park. The same applies to billing and payments, especially if you have to manage cross-border transfers in foreign currency.

Best Practices When Hiring Freelancers

  • Understand if you need freelancers on your team

First and foremost, you should figure out if you actually need freelancers on your team. There are certain pros and cons to working with them. To begin with, freelancers are eager to meet and even exceed your expectations to build a reputable profile. They are flexible with their time and can often finish your work earlier than you’d expect. Many freelancers even work through the weekends, so sometimes, you might find a request you sent on Friday evening got finished before Monday morning.

However, you might face some problems as well due to massively varying time zones. Plus, some freelancers could leave your work in the middle when they find it too challenging. In such a case, you need to be able to source a replacement quickly to ensure the successful completion of your project. Even when you have a clause in the service agreement signed by the freelancer that explicitly protects your rights as a client, pursuing legal action against the freelancer is costly and time-consuming.

Then, how can clients protect their rights?

Always ask for references and prior work examples. Depending on the competencies of the freelancer, these could be links to published blog posts, links to GitHub, Stackoverflow, personal blogs, etc. Some advanced FMS ( Freelance Management Systems) like Transformify leverage powerful ML ( machine learning) algorithms to assess the candidates and predict their chances of delivering quality work on client’s projects. Not only the machine learning algorithm predicts the chances of successful project completion, but it also predicts the median hourly rate worldwide based on the competencies, complexity, etc. of the project. At a glance, the clients hiring freelancers have information about the median worldwide pay rate, the desired pay rates of the freelancers provided by the freelancers and the predicted chance of each freelancer of delivering quality work timely and successfully completing the project.

Overall, the pros of working with freelancers far outweigh the cons. However, you want to make sure you only work with vetted, highly-skilled freelancers that are less likely to abandon your project in the middle.

  • Dedicate a budget

Each project has its own timeline, level of complexity, project management requirements, etc. Prior to hiring freelancers for the project, it is advisable to assess the level of complexity, the competencies that are required, estimate the number of freelancers that you need to hire and when to hire them. More often than not, there are dependencies and it makes sense to hire the freelancers at the right moment in line with the project’s lifecycle. This can save tons of money as there will be no idle time or bottlenecks.

Once you list your project on Transformify, the ML (machine learning algorithm) will predict the median worldwide pay rate for the project so that you can work on your budget. The median worldwide pay rate is also very helpful when hiring freelancers as you can compare their desired pay rate to the worldwide median pay rate and select those freelancers whose desired pay rate is corresponding to their predicted chances of delivering quality work timely.

Overall, be prepared to exceed your estimated budget by 10% - 15% as often there are aspects that could hardly be foreseen during the planning page or unexpected bottlenecks.

By honoring this practice, you’ll minimize the chances of running into unexpected budget problems during the project.

  • Hire the right freelancers

The most important step of managing the freelancers on your team is to make sure you’ve hired the right ones. If you’re afraid of hiring people you’ve never seen, and will never see, in your life, you can ask for recommendations from your colleagues, friends, and family. However, by doing so, you’re minimizing the talent pool you’re looking into.

The best way to get the right freelancers is to head to a freelancing platform like Upwork, Transformify, Fiverr, and Guru. On these platforms, you can find freelancers that fit into any budget and address even the most sophisticated competency requirements. Moreover, you can deeply look into a freelancer’s work history and the predicted chances of delivering high-quality work before making a decision. It minimizes the risk of hiring someone who’s not right for your project and maximizes the possibility of ending up with the best fit.

  • Pre-define project deliverables and communicate effectively

Before you hire freelancers, you must have a clear picture of what you want them to do. Plan the project deliverables you want each freelancer to handle and clearly describe the expected deliverables, quality standards, user acceptance testing rules, etc. The quality of work shall be measurable and the criteria shall be clear to the freelancers so that they can improve the quality of their work if needed. Developing milestones is definitely a good practice. Declare reasonable deadlines for each milestone and project. Make sure that your deadlines aren’t too tight and your expectations are not unreasonably high.

Present the information you’ve gathered to your freelancers clearly and concisely. Make sure to paint a clear picture of every aspect of the project so there’s no confusion left behind.

  • Use file sharing and time management tools

If you want to make the most out of your freelancers, make sure to use the latest tools and applications in the market. Track your freelancers’ working time with a time-tracking tool to keep things in control.

To share large files, get a reliable tool that can perform the said function with minimum hassle. After all, you don’t want your projects to be set back due to a lack of file-sharing capabilities.

Final word

Independent contractors and freelancers are an important component of every business team today. Although working with freelancers has its pros and cons, hiring freelancers can add tremendous value to your team and curb those costs associated with idle time and low efficiency. By following the best practices, you can ensure that the freelancers you hire are the right fit and will successfully complete the project that you have assigned to them.