I remember the moment the responsibilities of my business grew and then I had to hire freelancers to help the business process run smoothly. The thing is, I could have done it all myself but the business would have suffered as most tasks would not have been completed in time. I had to make the decision to hire someone to help me ensure the business could run as smoothly as possible.
I had no experience recruiting anyone so I had no idea what to do. I started thinking about taxes and national insurance and employee benefits. Hiring someone here in the UK was simply not an option. It was just too expensive. I was then made aware of freelancers. At the time, there were multiple freelancing websites around, but now I don't seem to find a lot of good ones, there are only a select few.
When I first started, I made some huge mistakes. Some freelancers were such a waste of money, some were amazing, some were just the wrong fit and some I hired because I felt bad saying no to them because I really liked them. I was stupid (yes, I said it) and I was basing decisions on emotions. I soon realised that in order for my business to succeed, I can not do that.
I have put together 6 of the top points I that need to be taken into consideration when hiring a freelancer to join your team. I hope they prevent you making the same mistakes I did!
Follow these 6 tips to increase the chances of hiring your perfect freelancer.
BE SPECIFIC IN YOUR JOB DESCRIPTION
If you want something done properly, you have to be specific. t's a bit like finding you nićhe. You are always told to narrow down your focus in order to find your ideal client. It's no different with doing a job description.
In order to get the right freelancers approach you. You need to know the following;
- What do you want them to do?
- Are there any applications you expect them to be able to use when working for you?
- How many hours per week/month do you require them to do?
- Do you have any mandatory and non essential requests?
- What is the timeline for job completion?
Let's look at an example of a not so great advert and I will tell you why…
This job description leaves a lot to be answered. The person has mentioned several things in this post;
- Social Media Management – Creating content or just scheduling content? By answering this question, you would be able to narrow down your applications as those who do not have the design skills to create your media would most probably not apply thus narrowing down your potential candidates (which is what you want). If I am doing the graphic design, do you expect me to use certain applications? Some people prefer you use certain applications incase they want to be able to open the file themselves and edit it.
- Website maintenance – What platform? WordPress? Blogger? Squarespace? There are many individuals that know multiple platforms but there are some that may be highly skilled in just one platform. In order to attract the correct freelancer, you need to give the information they need in order to decide whether they could be a potential fit.
- Blogging – Okay. So what? Am I writing blog posts? Editing blog posts? Either way, how many articles am I checking or writing within a week?
- Editing – Editing what? We could assume that they are talking about blog posts or websites, but what if they are taking about videos? What application do I need to do this ‘edit’?
- Sales Development – What is exactly am I developing?
- Graphic Design – Of course you may be required to produce multiple files, but again, more details please?How many hours a week am I needed?Although it is mentioned the more experience I have, the more I may be needed, how long am I initially needed for?
Note: The budget for the job was actually listed incase anyone was wondering ‘What about the fee?'
You are trying to hire the right person without attracting people without the appropriate skills or experience. What you don’t want to do is spend 50 hours sifting through 372 applications full of only 10 people who are potentially the right fit. You rather receive 10 quality applications of people who know exactly what is expected of the job and all you have to worry about which one to pick.
Being direct from the beginning will prevent many people emailing you to ask questions regarding some of your requirements. It cuts down the amount of people who apply that don’t meet your criteria (but some will still try) and increases the chances of you getting the right fit. Doing it right the first time frees up more time for other things.
And here is an example of a good advertisement…
It has been made clear what hours you will be required on each day as well as the total amount of hours you would be required to work each week. It is common to hire a freelancer who works in a different country so the time zone has been mentioned.
The websites and programs to be used have been mentioned so a potential applicant can assess whether they would be a great fit and decide whether they have the relevant skills to perform your tasks. The job description is short but clear enough to directly attract the right candidates.
Here is one more example…
This is another good example of a job description. She has made it clear exactly what tasks you will be doing, what skills she wants, what applications and websites she requires you to use. She knows what she wants and being a VA herself, she knows what to expect from the person working for her.
I would say that the one thing she could have added is the amount of hours she would expect you to commit to per day/week.
AGREE THE TIMELINE IN ADVANCE
If you have a task that is very time sensitive. Make this very clear at the beginning. Many people state that the work has to be done urgently but do not actually give a measurable timescale. Most good freelancers will ask you this anyway, but make it so clear that they don't have to.
You may find that someone people simply brush over the fact that you need the project completed by a certain time, but if you are relying on the work being done on a completed date, make it crystal clear and arrange dates when you can catch up to check on the progress and agree any action that may need to be taken, in order to ensure you meet the specific deadline.
ASK FOR EXAMPLES OF PREVIOUS WORK
Sometimes people prefer to work with people with no experiences because they come in cheaper. This is fair enough but you could always set small tasks to ensure that the person you require is up to the standards you require. For example, you may want a writer to write blog posts. You may ask them to come up with a 300 word document on a specific topic. You will find some may do this for a free or a trial fee. I have encountered both types of people.
I normally offer the potential 50% of their actual fee only because the are using their time to do this. Time they will not get back and could have used doing something else. If you are hiring an experienced individual, they should have a portfolio of their best work. Make sure you are happy with the work they have produced for other clients and its work you would be proud of it if it was yours. No work to show?
Why not ask them for references of previous clients? This is not normally an issue for most freelancers. References allow you to hear about the experience of working with the freelancer from someone in your shoes. Are they experiencing the same things you want to achieve by hiring this freelancer? Getting some sort of example of work they have done in the past is a good way for you to judge their quality of work.
INTERVIEW YOUR POTENTIAL CANDIDATE
You really do want to get to know the person you are about to jump into bed with. An interview is the best way to do that. Having an interview allows you gauge what type of character your freelancer is and whether your personalities click.
You can do telephone and/or Skye interviews although I know most people prefer Skype for several reasons. From the interview, you should be able to collect information about their past history with clients, their strengths, weaknesses, the value they would provide to you and your business and how committed they are to their trade.
The interview does not have to be so structured and awkward. You can have a nice relaxed conversation without making it seem too much like a job interview.
DO NOT COMMIT TO A PRICE YOU CAN'T STICK TO – Negotiate if you have to
Freelancers in most cases rely on any commitment that you make with them. If entered into a contract promising to pay them $1000 a month for 6 months and all of a sudden you couldn't commit to this and YOU KNEW! You're really really bad.
Now listen carefully, I mentioned if you knew. I am not talking about things unexpectedly taking a turn for the worse and the event could not have been predicted. I am talking about knowing clearly you can't afford the person but because you do desperately want to work with this one particular person, you just enter a contract and do not consider the consequences. I know of people who have hired freelancers because they wanted to work with these particular people knowing very well it was not within their budget to keep with their fees. They hoped that the freelancer would simply ignore the fact that they have not been paid or they have not been paid what was agreed.
If you find a freelancer that you like, respect the fact that they have set their price accordingly. The same way you have set your price to charge what you know you are worth. How would you feel if the tables were turned?
If possible, negotiate a price. Some freelancers are open to this and some aren't. You might be surprised if you just take the time to ask. Be comfortable with your budget and stick to it if you know you can't afford anything more.
PROMOTE AN HONEST RELATIONSHIP FROM BEGINNING TO END
For a longlasting reciprocal relationship. You need to have an open relationship and promote your freelancer do the same. You want to be comfortable with each other and if you work together well, your partnership will only help your business grow.
I had an assistant for my skincare company and she felt comfortable enough to tell if she felt a choice I made was detrimental to my goal. Not only that but she was able to make recommendations to me and with her recommendations, I was able to do things that I hadn't even thought of.
From day 1, I had told her;
‘I want this to be a relationship where you are able to use your expertise to the max. I hired you for your skill set so if you feel I have made a decision that is not ideal, I want you to be comfortable enough to tell me and use your skill set to strengthen my plan”.
And that she did, with positive results.
What you don't want your freelancer to do is carry out an instruction that they know is not doing you any good. If they tell you their opinions but you choose to ignore them, fair enough but also remember, you hired your freelancer for a reason.
DO NOT HIRE A FREELANCER SOLELY BECAUSE YOU LIKE THEM
Oh god, I made this mistake several times and I am ashamed to admit it was several times. I hired people because it was nice to have a nice chat with them and we grew up in the same neighbourhood or we shared some other silly sentimental thing. They were lovely people but, the work was not always up to scratch. Because I liked them, I accepted their mediocre job and I was left having to hire someone else. Expensive mistake!
When you enter into a contract with a freelancer, the contract more or less states that you are hiring them to do a job in exchange for money, you want to get what you pay for, right? So leave emotions outside the door and hire a freelancer solely on their ability to do the job you require them to do. No one is saying hire someone when you don't like them, but what I am saying is skill set should come before how they make you feel inside.
You are recruiting the said individual to help enhance your business, you are not buying a friendship. Sometimes this may mean hiring someone who may not necessarily see everything eye to eye with you but someone who is going to use their expertise to do the job you expect them to do if not better.
I've shared with you the things I have personally experienced when dealing with freelancers. I would love to hear what you've been through when working with freelancers.