Happy 2014! If you’re like most business owners, you are settled into the new year and ready to implement the plans created over the last few weeks. And if you’re like most business owners, you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with all there is to do right now. Setting and working toward goals is an important part of a fresh year, but getting behind on your plans is easy, especially if they were “extra motivated.”
One of the best ways to get everything accomplished and reach the goals you’ve set for 2014 is to get the support you need. Whether you work for a large corporation or you are self-employed and running a one-person show, you need support. Support comes in all forms. You might work with services that handle payroll or human resources, or you might ask family or friends to take on some administrative work when you are focused on helping clients.
Another support option you have is to work with a freelancer. Freelancers are professionals who make their living selling their services to companies and business owners. They are typically experts with a particular skill and since they are not full or part-time employees, they save you a bundle of money. But what they really offer is time. Time for you to start new projects, market your business, find new clients, and ensure your company continues to grow throughout 2014.
We’re going to take a look over the next couple of months at how your business can benefit from working with freelancers. We’ll start with finding the best freelancer for your needs.
Hiring a freelancer can be intimidating. Even if you have hired employees, this is a different experience. You can pay a freelancer per project or per billable hour, but you are not required to provide benefits or access to resources. Your role in a freelance relationship is one of client, not employer. Your relationship with a freelancer is governed by a contract, agreed upon by both parties. It is a convenient method for getting things done and it can help you expand what your business is able to do for its clients.
One of the most common questions regarding work with a freelancer is “How do I find the right freelancer for my company?” There are several things to consider:
Obviously, you must be able to afford a freelancer’s services. In some ways, price is the most important consideration because a freelancer that is too expensive for your budget is not an option. On the other hand, price should play only a small role in your final decision because you want to focus more on the quality of the end project. Choose a price range you know fits your budget and gather information for the freelancers in this range. From here, narrow down your choice without thinking too much about price because you know all of the choices are affordable.
Pro Tip: I’d recommend determining a price range and expanding it by about 10-15%. This allows you to see what a little extra can get you. Chances are if you find someone for 10% more who is ideal for the job, you’ll be able to scrounge up a few extra dollars in the budget. Also, keep in mind the more expensive option might be willing to negotiate. I’m always happy to offer a 10% discount to clients offering consistent, long-term work.
Next, you need to find people who possess the skill-set needed to complete your project. If you are looking for a creative professional to design the graphics of a brochure, you do not want to hire someone whose specialty is writing code. Ask to see the resume and/or portfolio of any freelance professional you consider.
Pro Tip: Ask for samples that are as related to your project as often as possible. Even if the freelancer does not have exact experience with what your project requires, similar work can provide a clear indication of what he or she is capable of doing in the field. I’ve started relationships with many clients in a specific industry by providing them samples of work I’ve done in their general field.
Exchange of Information
Take time to get to know your freelancer and learn the ways he or she exchanges information with clients. For instance, if a freelancer prefers to conduct video chat meetings and you don’t have time for something like this, it might be best to look for someone else.
Keep in mind there is a specific reason why a freelancer chooses a certain method of communicating with clients. I prefer email messages because having the information in writing helps me better understand the scope of a project. I’m happy to schedule the occasional phone call, but I find I miss information when talking on the phone and taking notes. Not to mention it can be tough trying to take notes and seem personable the first time you speak to a client. Of course, email is not right for everyone and just as many freelancers prefer phone conversations, in person meetings, and other options. Just be sure you and your freelancer are on the same page and there is a plan in place for exchanging information.
Finally, determine the availability of a freelancer for ongoing work. This is only an issue if you want to find someone and work with that person long-term. One of the benefits of working with a freelancer is the ability to offer work sporadically. There is no need to cut an employee’s hours or send him or her home when there is not enough work to be done. Instead, you contact your freelancer when needed and offer assignments as they arise. However, be as clear as possible about future work when discussing work with a freelancer. If you find someone with whom you love working and you want to be sure he or she is available when needed, consider offering a retainer payment.
Pro Tip: Retainer payments can be put toward future work. For instance, say you create an arrangement with a freelancer to pay him or her $500 each month, regardless of the amount of work you provide. You can create a system in which the accumulated payments are credited toward future projects. Just be sure there is a written agreement that details this arrangement.
So now that you know how to find the best freelancer and begin a professional relationship, you have no excuse for accomplishing all of your 2014 goals. You’ll have the manpower needed to get everything on your to-do list completed.
Next up, we’ll take a more in-depth look at communicating with your freelancer. Considering your communication style and creating a communication system is essential to successfully working with a freelancer.
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