It is fair to say that freelancers used to be considered a pretty rare breed. Indeed, anyone looking to outsource work a decade or two ago often had to spend days (or sometimes even weeks) phoning around contacts in order to hunt down one of these mysterious lone wolves.
Fortunately, things are very different nowadays: freelance professionals are everywhere and the omnipotent presence of the Internet ensures they can be reached within moments by any individual or company that is keen to call upon their services.
But how is this achieved exactly? How do you go about hiring a freelancer these days?
Read on to find out...
1. Entering the marketplace
Type the words “hire freelancer” into a search engine and you’re instantly greeted with a plethora of online freelance exchange marketplaces, with the likes of Elance, Guru, oDesk, Freelancer, 99 Designs, and Constant Content being the leading players (at time of writing).These online marketplaces have literally thousands of suitably qualified/experienced freelancers waiting to do your bidding for you so you can be pretty sure of finding the exact individual (or team, if need be) you’re looking for eventually. All you need to do to get the ball rolling is create an account, agree to the terms and conditions and then submit a project for whatever work you want done. Once you have done this, freelancers who are interested in the job will get in touch with you to register an interest and/or place a bid for the project. More often than not, this happens very quickly...as long as you’ve been clear about what it is you’re after.
2. Submitting a projec
It is very important to note that, if you’re not pretty specific about the job you want doing, chances are you’ll be less than satisfied with the offers/results that come back. By the same token though, don’t feel obliged to include every single aspect of the project in the initial posting: most freelancers who generate work through these sites are super busy, applying for many different jobs each day. If your post is way too long then they are likely to just get bored and move on to something else (if you have lots of info to impart then you can easily offload it to the right candidates in subsequent emails/interviews). So, be brief and to the point, but be sure to include the kind of information that will be pertinent to a busy professional looking for work.
3. Narrowing down the field
Most leading online freelancer marketplaces maintain worker rating systems which enable you to look at the feedback candidates have been given by previous employers. Needless to say, it is a good rule of thumb to only hire freelancers who consistently receive positive feedback and manage to maintain high scores (e.g. 4 or 5 star ratings).
If you are advertising for a creative individual then it is well worth asking prospective candidates to include samples/links to previous published work in your job post. While freelancers who are on top of their game will probably do this without needing to be prompted, less experienced (yet no less talented) candidates may need a gentle nudge!
Looking through feedback and scrutinising previous work will soon help you to filter out the wheat from the chaff.
Once you have narrowed the field down to a handful of candidates, the next step is to have some one-on-one time with each one. Although this can be done easily enough via email and instant messaging, taking the time to organise a video call is undoubtedly the best route to go down. For one, you can learn more from interacting properly with someone for five minutes than you can from a whole day’s worth of emails/messages so this is definitely the approach you should take if at all possible. As well as finding out whether or not a freelancer seems like a ‘good fit’, you can also use a video call to impart more information about the project (to the right candidate, of course).
Once this stage is complete, you should – all being well – have found a suitable freelancer for your project.
Perhaps because there are so many freelancers in one place, some employers tend to think of these online marketplaces as being veritable ‘cattle markets’ at times. Don’t be one of them. Practically all of the freelancers on these sites are jobbing professionals who rely on the work they engender to pay the bills and put food on the table. With this in mind, always be respectful of the people you interact with: be polite, be honest, and – above all - stay true to your word. If you offer a freelancer a project for x amount of £s then make sure that is the job they get; if you try avoid paying them, then not only will you get ‘recognised’ by the site’s authorities for inappropriate conduct, you’ll also receive the honour of knowing you may well have ruined someone’s income for the month.
Do you have experience of hiring freelancers via the method mentioned above? Or, are you a freelance professional who makes a living through an online marketplace? If so then we would love to hear from you; please feel free to leave a message in the comments box below.
Image:Infocenterbd.com, Essential tools for the freelancer