Seven Success Tips for Clients Hiring Freelancers

What are the key tips for clients (that is businesses, departments and agencies) looking to take on freelancers and offer freelancer jobs?

Why would / should you hire freelancers? How do you do it? And what are the top 7 key tips?

Lionel Bunting, Marketing, PR and Design expert has been advising enterprises on how to innovate and succeed and here he shares his seven top tips for hiring freelancers (with advice for freelancers on what to look out for too)…

Freelancers are a really attractive proposition for small businesses

The act of “outsourcing” has been going on for years but many businesses have been slow to understand and embrace this or indeed run their business model this way. It’s becoming a lot more popular now under these tougher economic times and it’s perhaps seen as more of a business survival tactic than a strategically planned and well executed business decision. And in this, many businesses are missing a great opportunity…

If you do make sourincg freelancers a strategic business activity, then following these seven key rules will help put put your enterprise on the path to success rather than failure.

Seven Success Tips for hiring freelancers

1) Be clear about what freelancers can offer and what to expect from them; manage your expectations early on. The hourly rate for work by a freelancer may be higher than that of an employee but you are only paying for the time they spend on your business and not idle time or HR add on costs.

2) Search for a freelancer in the most appropriate places, join a network, use an agency, ask colleagues or business contacts to recommend someone or attend one of the enterprise freelance fairs or failing that, promote your vacancy on the freelance job board. Meet with them on more than one occasion, when you recruit a member of staff you are likely to have at least three points of contacts with them before deciding to hire – perhaps an initial call they make to introduce and ask questions, their CV/covering letter/application, an initial selection panel or interview and then possibly a second interview. So, do the same with freelancers.

3) Talk, talk, talk with all your possible options, get a feel for what they can do, their standards, how they work and make sure you like them enough to work with – do they understand you and your business? You should ask to see work they have done, perhaps seek a couple of references, really question them about their work as they many not have done everything they claim on their own!

4) Agree terms of service, perhaps agreeing a service level agreement with deadlines and payment terms for both parties to agree on and work to. A good freelancer will inform you of their terms of service, not all work with service level agreements so you may want to set this out with them for added security and confidence.

5) Manage your freelancers, don’t micro manage, but don’t give them free reign. You wont need to breathe down their neck but you will need to ensure progress is being made the way you want it to be made and helps in building better relationships. Freelancers are quite often really hard working since the money is more important to them than an employee as work can start and end at almost any point and this is always a worry for anyone freelancing.

6) Once the work has been delivered and signed off by you, then pay them soon after; cash flow is extremely important and vital to a freelancer; this will help you to get better work and service from them in the future. In many cases the client load of a freelancer is fairly limited so every client is really important and valuable and you need to remember this too in the way that you treat them and indeed how swiftly you pay them.

7) Don’t give up to easily. It’s not going to be plain sailing; it’s a shift in the way you have worked before and needs to be managed, change in business and the way you do things is always challenging at first. If you are looking at this as a business model then you may still need some employees to effectively manage the team of freelancers, quality project managers to keep all those involved working well and hitting your deadlines to the standards you require.

If you get things right then freelancers really can offer you a highly flexible business model.

You can keep your overheads down and thus maintain sensible value for money prices for your clients which they will undoubtedly appreciate especially now. If you select the right people (use a reputable agency to source and select if you want help getting this right) then you can build a great team around you.

They may be working from home, or from an office elsewhere or even from your offices once a week, you can still easily build personal relationships with them, meet them for the occasional social or team building day, I can guarantee most freelancers would jump at the chance to get out of their home office or workplace for a little while and mix with other professional and co-workers.

(Okay freelancers, now you know the advantages that you offer and the concerns you need to overcome. If you tackle these with your clients, you’ll build better, longer lasting relationships and win more business).

by Lionel Bunting

Lionel has been running his own marketing, PR and design business since 2001 and currently undergoing a rebrand.  Lionel has worked with, and for, many leading companies and rising stars across the UK and indeed Europe developing and implementing effective marketing strategies and creative promotional campaigns are the core activities he is involved in, for the company and indeed for his client base, specialising in leisure, retail and lifestyle businesses.

A leading figure in the northwest, Lionel has presented at conferences, developed international education programmes as well as creating and presenting academic resources and workshops on enterprise, entrepreneurship, business planning and marketing. His educational special interest areas are sports, fashion and the creative sector.

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Written by Editor on September 6, 2010 and filed in Entrepreneurs, Featured, Freelancers, News , , ,

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