According to Small Biz Trends, more and more people are turning to freelancing as a way to make a living. They state nearly 54 million Americans participated in some form of work as freelancers in 2015. That translates to 33 percent of the entire U.S. workforce and is an increase of 700,000 workers over the previous year. This is not a trend just tied to the U.S. either. The European Union saw a 45 percent increase in the number of independent workers from 2012 to 2013. On top of that, this trend is not slowing down anytime soon. Over the next five years, both the U.S. and U.K. are expected to increase this freelancer pool to half of their populations.

54 million Americans participated in some form of freelance work in 2015. Click To Tweet

With this many remote workers available to hire, chances are your company relies on this market sector. But how do you work with them when they are remote? How do you make sure you are getting your money’s worth? And if you’ve been burned in the past by a bad freelance relationship, how do you ensure this won’t happen again? We’ll walk you through how to get the most out of your freelancers so it’s a win-win for everyone.

Why work with freelancers?

Maybe you’re considering using a remote worker on an upcoming project. Or maybe, you’ve used one in the past and the experience did not go smoothly. So why use freelancers at all then? There are actually a lot of benefits to using a freelancer versus hiring someone on full-time.

  • It saves money

You’ll find you actually spend less hiring a freelancer versus a new employee. Really it comes down to benefits and taxes. When you on-board a freelancer, you pay them a salary and that’s really about it. There are no costs for things like social security, medical, dental, and other employee perks like paid time off. Plus, you save on office expenses like supplies, computers, and locating an office space for them. And, time is money so the time you would involve H.R. and I.T. to get this person up to speed, is also saved.

  • Get a specialist

A lot of times employees wear several hats around the office. This is especially true for smaller companies. When you hire a freelancer, they usually have one skill that they excel in. They may have more than one client, but chances are they perform the same or similar projects for these clients. When you hire a freelancer, they will learn about your business and then get right to work on what you need. It’s more efficient than pulling an existing employee away from what they are working on or hiring a new one.

  • Part-time employee

Whether you have a large project that is too much for your staff or a project roll-out which needs more attention, freelancers can help. Sometimes you need a part-time employee. The nice thing about freelancers is they can fill in these holes. Bring a freelancer in for as little as one week of help or a cap of five hours total. This gives you the flexibility of an extra set of hands when you need it most. You don’t want to hire a full-time employee and then scramble trying to fill their eight hour day.

  • Little repercussions

Freelancers understand that they are hired on for a particular task. They know this is not a full-time job and working for you is only a temporary gig. This knowledge leads to an understanding that once the work is complete, the freelancer/employer relationship ends. Unlike in-house employees who could sue when for being let go, freelancers usually don’t have the rights to sue for being terminated unexpectedly, harassment, discrimination or worker’s compensation.

  • Bigger talent pool

When hiring a new employee, you are subject to who is currently looking for a new job. This talent pool is typically in your town or city. This limits the number of great candidates to choose from. When you hire a freelancer and when the work can be done remotely, you cast a wider net of talent. This affords you more choices and a better chance of finding that ideal candidate.

What do freelancers want?

Hiring a freelancer provides a lot of benefits. But what are freelancers looking for in a company? You may say why do I care what the freelancer needs. But thinking about what a freelancer needs will only strengthen your working relationship and will ensure you are always getting the best work from him or her. So what do freelancers want? Let’s take a look.

  • Plan ahead

Before you have a freelancer start on a project, make sure you put together a plan of action. Then hold an in-person or conference call to go over the project highlights. Be upfront about your expectations, deadline, and number of drafts you anticipate. Then allow the freelancer to jump in with any questions and ask them what details you may have missed. This extra step lays the groundwork for a great working relationship and makes sure everyone is on the same page.

  • Just enough detail

Freelancers appreciate communication, but they also want to get the job done. In order to work best with them, provide enough project details so that they can hit the ground running. On the flip side, don’t provide so much that you are actually doing their job for them. After all you hired them to fill a need. Let them fill this need in the framework of your project scope.

  • One point of contact

If you have a larger organization or one where several managers have decision making power, appoint one contact for a freelancer. Freelancers want to concentrate on the task at hand. Chances are they have more than one client and want to expedite your project quickly and with ease. When they have two or three managers giving them project direction, mistakes and confusion set in. You end up with a frustrated freelancer and delayed project deadlines. Really, a lose lose situation for all involved.

  • Streamline payment

Since freelancers pay for many expenses out of pocket, they rely on a steady income coming in. Work out an easy and quick payment solution with your freelancer in advance. An easy solution is to have your freelancer send you an invoice at month end and then pay this freelancer through PayPal or something similar. Being consistent and tracking payments will help you adhere to budgets and will help the freelancer stay organized come tax time.

  • You get what you pay for

Your goal is to make money for your company. A goal of a freelancer is also to make money. If you interview freelancers all at different rates, don’t try and match the lowest rate given to your chosen freelancer. Just like you wouldn’t expect to pay the same money for a hamburger at a fine dining restaurant than you would at a fast food place. Freelancers come with different levels of experience. The better ones in the business demand a higher price, which they have earned. You may pay a higher price up front, but you will have a more qualified candidate for the job. Plus, this leads to less edits and time spent on a project.

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What to look for in freelancer relationship?

Now that we’ve talked about some of the major freelancer needs, what should you look for? You may know what your needs are, but how do you translate these needs into the best working relationship? Here are some key points to consider when working with a freelancer. These will help you get the best work out of your freelancer.

1. Find the best freelancers

The first step is uncovering the best talent. You can’t receive great project work if you don’t employ a top-notch freelancer. There are several sites available for finding freelancers. A great option is Hubstaff Talent. First this site is free to use for both freelancers and companies. This allows both sides a chance to connect with each other. You can also browse by skill or view individual profiles.

2. Hire the right freelancer

Before hiring a freelancer, think about your project scope. Will you need this person to come into the office from time to time? Does this freelancer need to know technical industry jargon? Are you hiring a writer who needs to be well versed in the English language? Also, think about hiring in different time zones and how this will affect deadlines. Planning ahead will save you time in uncovering the ideal freelancer and provide higher quality work.

3. Check freelancer schedule

Before you say yes to hiring a freelancer, ask about their work schedule. Freelancers rely on a steady stream of work. But some freelancers will take too much on their plate. You don’t want your project to play second fiddle to the freelancer’s roster of clients. Be up front about how many hours a week this project will take. Make sure this freelancer truly has the time to spare.

4. Establish trust

Once you’ve hired the ideal freelancer, you’ll need to establish a mutual trust. This is a trust built on deadlines being met and project scope being understood. Once you’ve laid out your expectations, let your freelancer get to work. Freelancers don’t like being micromanaged and really it’s a waste of your time. You’ve hired this person as an expert in what you need so really there is no need to constantly check in to see how it’s going.

5. Test drive

One of the perks of hiring a freelancer versus using hiring a full-time employee is you are not committing to a long-term relationship. Start by giving the freelancer a small task to complete and see how they handle it. Was it done on time? Was the work done to your satisfaction? Were you able to communicate effectively with the freelancer? If you answered no to any of these, simply pay for the work completed and look elsewhere for a freelancer.

6. Keep track of project time/deadlines

You may not have time to jump on a Skype call for a small project tweak with your freelancer. And as we’ve have stated, freelancers would rather keep the project rolling than waste time in more meetings. So what’s the solution? Use an online project management system to store files and streamline communications. Also, consider using a system to track your freelancer’s time on a project. You can see what websites they are visiting for research and how much time it is taking them to complete each given task. Plus, time management systems come with a reports feature. This allows you to assess the project once complete and make tweaks for your next project involving a freelancer.

6. Give/receive feedback

Once the project is complete, give the freelancer a fair assessment of how you think he or she did. If there was room from improvement, let them know what you think they could have done differently. This will only help strengthen their client relationships and give you a chance to reflect on the project. If you will use a freelancer in the future, this process will give you a better snapshot of how best to work with a freelancer. Or if you would work with this freelancer again, you can tweak anything that wasn’t working the first go-around.

7. On-call employee

Once you have completed a project with a freelancer and provided feedback, would you work with this person again? If the answer is yes, let the freelancer know. Even if you don’t have an immediate need, you’ll have a willing and capable freelancer ready to jump into your next project. Plus, hearing that a freelancer may have an ongoing client, will be well received. Since freelancers pay out of pocket for most expenses, including marketing, this saves the freelancer time in scouting new business.

How to get the most out of your freelancers?

In order to best work with freelancers, you need to look at what their needs are and what your wants are. Together these points will create the best working relationship for both sides. And since hiring a freelancer has a lot of benefits not found in hiring a full-time employee, you’ll save money and lower your risks in the process.

Do you currently hire freelancers? If so, how do you create the best working relationship? Please comment below and let us know your thoughts.