It takes a huge variety of skills to start and run a business. Every company needs a great copywriter, web developer, graphic designer and office administrator. Maybe your business needs someone to take professional-quality photos, write content for your blog, transcribe interviews, translate documents, enter data or proofread content. That's a lot of work, and what if you only have a few employees? Or none? As an entrepreneur, you're comfortable wearing a lot of hats, so you do what you've gotta do. Maybe you can juggle it all for awhile, but then you realize how time-consuming it is trying to fill every role, and you've probably realized that you can't be an expert at everything. Face it, not everyone is a talented photographer or web designer. You know you need help from someone who has the skills to produce the high-quality work your business needs, but you're afraid you just don't have the budget to hire someone full-time.
So you decide it's time to hire a freelancer — someone who can produce the specialized work you don't have the time or expertise to pull off — but how do you find someone who will do an amazing job, on a budget? Maybe you try posting on job boards or Craigslist. You get a few responses, but none of them look remotely like someone you'd trust to do a decent job. Maybe you ask some friends for referrals, but once you start finding people who seem qualified, you're shocked to find out how much it costs to hire them. How do you find the right balance of cost and quality?
Once you finally find someone who looks qualified and doesn't charge an arm and a leg, you decide to give them a shot, and you outsource your first project. When it comes back to you, you're disappointed to find out that the person you thought would do an amazing job was confused about what you actually hired him or her to do. At the end of the day, the work you paid for just wasn't what you needed. As if finding people who are truly cut out for the job isn't hard enough, you learn that managing and communicating with them is even trickier.
Not being able to find a qualified, affordable freelancer is a challenge many entrepreneurs and small businesses face. According to research by Tower Lane, many companies are struggling to hire and manage extended workforces. A survey of these companies revealed that 37% feel they can't find qualified freelancers. The study reports that “companies surveyed noted that identifying appropriate talent was the strongest freelancer-related challenge they face.”(Source) You're not the only entrepreneur who's been frustrated trying to find someone who can actually do a great job!
As more and more workers join the global freelance economy, the entrepreneurs who want to hire them are running into brand new hiring and management challenges. No matter how talented you are at finding great employees to work alongside you every day in your office, working with a remote employee is a totally different story!
There is actually a solution that makes finding and working with talented freelancers much easier. The companies who benefit most from working with freelancers know that communication is the key to success, both during the hiring phase and the project itself. Though it takes more effort to keep the lines of communication open with someone who doesn't work 20 feet away from you in the same office, clearly setting expectations during the hiring process and staying in touch during the entire project to keep freelancers engaged and motivated makes working with freelancers a smart move for your company.
Rather than choosing people based only on their resume, website, or portfolio, it's critical to have a conversation with them to make sure they are the right culture fit for your business. According to The Freelance Economy, “Just because a freelancer isn't in your workspace every day doesn't mean that a mutual understanding of your business' culture isn't important. You need to make sure that your working styles are similar, or there may be clashes down the road over work ethic, timelines, creative direction, etc.”
Once you've found people who are the right fit, it's incredibly important to keep them motivated and engaged by staying in close contact. The Freelance Economy explains, “By checking in often, you can not only keep your business in their thoughts, but you can describe – from your point of view – how the work is coming along. Keeping freelancers updated on what you think of their deliverables is a great way to foster a working relationship and motivate them to continue creating great work.”
Despite the challenges that come with hiring and managing freelancers, it remains a great solution for businesses that need specialized work in today's shifting economy. Most companies expect to continue outsourcing more work in the near future – 60% of the companies in Tower Lane's study reported that they expect to hire more freelancers in the next year. (Source) Worldwide, companies spend an estimated $300 billion dollars a year on contingent labor. (Source)
Clearly, the freelance economy is booming, and you can benefit from it by setting up great communication with the freelancers you hire. As Nik Badminton reveals in The Freelance Economy, “Communication and understanding expectations are paramount.”
How does keeping the lines of communication open with freelancers make sure you get great results every time you outsource a project?
- Freelancers who know exactly what they need to do to achieve success are far more likely to produce great work for you, so you don't have to worry that your time and money has been wasted on their project.
- Strong communication with freelancers makes them feel engaged and motivated, so the work you receive from them will be the best reflection of their passions and talents.
- Taking the time to communicate with potential freelancers before hiring them ensures that they are a good fit, so you don't run into conflicts over work ethic or creative direction down the line.
- Staying in touch during a project allows you to check in on freelancers to ensure that they are on the right track, so you don't invest your money without getting the results you need.
- Setting good expectations for how you expect freelancers to communicate with you prevents unpleasant surprises, so you're never frustrated when a freelancer can't answer your email or text immediately.
To learn more about how you can meet the challenges of finding and hiring qualified freelancers through great communication, check out The Freelance Economy!
This guest post is courtesy of Julia Anghel.