The U.S. alone plays host to more than 33 million small businesses. Keeping those businesses afloat can soak up a monumental amount of time with many a small business owner clocking 50, 60, or more hours every week.
Yet, despite putting in long hours, many small business owners struggle to achieve reliable business growth. One of the factors that can slow growth is a lack of employees with the right skills.
While you can potentially hire the right talent, another solution is to search for the best freelancers you can find with the right skills. Hiring freelancers can fill skill gaps among your employees and help drive the business growth you want.
Benefits of Working with the Best Freelancers
A lot of business owners feel wary about the prospect of using freelancers. So, before jumping into the how of hiring freelance talent, it can help to take a look at the benefits business owners can get from freelancers.
As noted above, freelancers can help you fill a skill gap among your employees. Let’s say you need blog posts to keep your content marketing plan moving forward.
You need a good writer with solid SEO knowledge for that. Plus, you need one with at least a basic understanding of your industry or business. You run up against similar kinds of restrictions in areas like graphic design, web development, and marketing.
Freelancers are the middle ground between doing it yourself and hiring another employee.
As an added bonus, freelancers are generally cheaper than an employee. They’re more flexible, as well, as they don’t expect a regular paycheck from you.
Working with freelancers also lets you pick people with specific expertise. If you need a logo, you can probably find a freelance graphic designer who makes logos exclusively.
Now, let’s look at how you pick freelancers for your needs.
Set Your Budget…Accordingly
When it comes to freelancers, there is a lot of truth to the old chestnut that you get what you pay for in terms of quality. Top-shelf freelancers know that their work is good and generates results. So, they charge top-shelf prices.
When you set your budget for freelance work, you should set it with that in mind. If it’s your first time hiring freelancers, then start with a little market research.
See what freelancers are charging for the kind of work that you want to be done. You’ll see a fair amount of variation, but you’ll want a budget somewhere in the middle ground or higher. That will get you decent to excellent work.
Some kinds of freelance work call for specialists. Take freelance writers as a case in point.
If you want a writer who can crank out a general article about web development, you’ve got a large pool of potential writers. If you want a freelancer who can write good how-to blog posts or articles about web development, the number of candidates plummets fast.
The same rule applies to science-heavy or heavily technical pieces. Most freelance writers simply lack the background knowledge or experience necessary to write that kind of material. The ones who can write them charge more.
Develop a Solid Project Description
Despite what many business owners might think, good freelancers will automatically disqualify themselves from jobs they don’t see as a good fit. It’s a practical thing for them to do.
Unless a freelancer is changing focus, they don’t want work that falls outside their usual wheelhouse. Sure, they can probably do the work, but they know it will take them twice as long to do it for the same amount of money. Most would rather maximize their profit margin, like any other business owner.
That makes your project description very important to the weeding-out process. Far too often, a business owner will put together a project description that excels only in being vague.
Make sure your project description includes key details, such as:
Your business or industry
Required expertise or skills
With that kind of information at hand, freelancers can make an informed decision about whether they’ll prove a good fit for the project. That should boost the number of good candidates you see.
Check Out Their Portfolio
Whether you’re looking for a web developer or a photographer, freelancers develop portfolios of their work over time.
Web developers will often provide screenshots of their work, along with links to the websites. Photographers will put up photo galleries on their websites. Writer portfolios are often just zipped folders of previous work you can download from their site or get on request.
Reviewing portfolios is a great way to see if a particular freelancer has what you want. For example, a web developer might possess all the skills you want, but you may not like the way their websites look or function at the finish line.
A writer may put together perfectly cogent content, but their style doesn’t mesh with yours. Use portfolios to your advantage.
Look for Reviews or References
These days, it’s not too difficult to hire pre-vetted freelancers. One way you can do it is through freelance marketplaces. Those sites typically allow clients to leave reviews for the freelancers.
You can also ask around with other business owners you trust for referrals. The referral itself serves as a reference.
Then, there is social proof such as testimonials on the freelancer’s website or recommendations on sites like LinkedIn.
Hiring Freelancers for Your Business
Unlike some positions that mostly require a body in a specific place at a specific time, freelancers almost always bring specific skills to the table. As a business owner, you want the best freelancers you can get.
Getting those freelancers depends a lot on you. Some of it boils down to your budget. If you can’t afford top-shelf freelancers, aim for mid-tier ones.
You can also do yourself a favor by developing a good project description. Smart freelancers will avoid bad-fit projects.
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