There are approximately 60 million freelancers in the U.S alone, and that figure is growing at a drastic rate. And while several studies have shown a rapid increase in demand for freelancers in the past few years, the global pandemic has taken the market into overdrive. It is projected that 86.5 million individuals will be freelancing in the U.S. alone by 2027, accounting for 50.9% of the total U.S. workforce.
That's why more highly skilled workers in different fields are now leaving their full-time roles and embracing the independence and flexibility that comes with being a freelancer. And more than two-thirds (68%) of people who started freelancing in 2021 are either Gen Z or millennials.
Here’s why you need to hire freelancers and how to hire a freelancer.
When should I hire a freelancer?
With the changing employment market, companies must reckon with these trends and consider how to incorporate this cultural shift into their hiring policy smoothly. Freelancers are now a significant part of the global workforce.
Freelancers have reasons for choosing the freelance path —the flexibility of setting their own work hours, working from home, etc.—but as a hiring manager or business owner, what benefits would your company stand to gain through hiring freelancers?
- Access to top talent
Thanks to the widespread and full-scale adoption of remote work and the emergence of freelancing, you can now hire the world's top talent from anywhere.
- Access to specialized talent
If you require a specific talent for a project, you can easily filter your requirements to identify a freelancer with a skillset and experience.
The business can benefit from the expertise of a freelancer without dedicating internal resources or creating a permanent position in its team.
- Build faster
It takes a shorter time to hire a top freelancer than to hire and onboard a full-time employee. 40% of businesses state that hiring skilled freelancers help enhance speed to market, increase productivity, and boost innovation for their company.
- Global impact
Freelancing allows businesses to scale globally at a rapid pace. In the past, expansions were expensive, decade-long endeavors. But today, you can benefit from global markets by hiring local freelancers who can help you instantly enhance your value and reach consumers around the globe.
- Risk reduction
Hiring a full-time employee requires an investment in the person's future. Training and onboarding full-time employees cost time and money, which generally comes with risks.
Instead of losing that investment if the employee leaves the company, hiring a freelancer, allows you to have a contract with specific deliverables before you pay. It also lowers the risk as you can make changes without affecting your internal processes.
- Cost savings
The freelance economy allows you to do more with less. You can avoid high overhead costs and make your budget stretch further without sacrificing work output. This will enable you to hire more professionals, take on more projects and invest money into your company.
- Fill hard-to-fill positions
Relying on full-time employees limits you to a localized talent pool. This makes it challenging to fill core roles needed to achieve your business goals. Working with freelancers allows you to build efficient teams and fill skill gaps without worrying about lowering your recruiting standards or paying high costs to relocate new hires.
Steps to take to hire freelancers
If you've never hired a freelancer, figuring out how to do it can be overwhelming. Should you use a freelance platform like Upwork? Or hire from your own network?
If you are looking to add a freelancer to your team, here are the steps to follow:
1. Choose a budget
Before you start the search, plan with a realistic budget for the work you want to be accomplished. Remember that most freelancers are business owners who pay their own insurance, taxes, and overhead. Hence, their hourly rates may be slightly higher than a full-time employee's.
When doing an estimate for project costs, consider all the deliverables you expect and then set a fair price. To ensure your budget is attractive and fair for the type of freelancer you want, ask your network how similar projects are priced or research the average price rate of hiring the kind of freelancer you hope will do the work. You can also check related posts online for pricing ideas.
Everyone has a limited budget but aiming for the lowest-priced freelancers may not be a good strategy unless you are looking for beginners or low-quality work.
While this may not always be accurate, low rates often mean the talent is inexperienced or doesn't know the value of their work. Of course, a higher rate isn't a guarantee of quality work. So ensure you dedicate enough time to vet each talent.
Lastly, a satisfied freelancer may become a reliable and long-term collaborator. So be fair and well-intentioned from the start to reap the benefits.
2. Write a job description
A thoughtful job description is crucial to finding qualified freelancers. Understand that independent talent wants to do a perfect job not only because they are usually passionate about their work but also because their performance determines their chances of getting more jobs.
Therefore, when they check a list of job posts, they often look for projects they believe suit their passion. The clearer you present your deliverables and expectations, the better they can determine whether they can take the project.
It's essential to include a lot of details in your description to attract qualified candidates and limit unqualified applications.
A highly detailed job description is the best approach to filtering out unsuitable candidates as it lowers the number of responses you have to review.
Posting a generically worded description and leaving details open to interpretation will get your job posting swamped with responses, and most candidates will be unqualified.
3. Choose the right freelancers
Finding a freelancer is not difficult. On the other hand, finding the right one is not that easy. If you want the right person for the job, you must spend time choosing them first.
How do you know that the talent can actually deliver the job you need to be performed? The only way is to assess and evaluate if they are the right match for your project. This can be done in two steps:
• Create a shortlist
Take time to review the project proposals generated from your job post and discard proposals that don't meet your requirements.
If hiring through a freelance platform like Upwork, you can get more qualified responses by filtering for particular requirements and inviting specific candidates to check out your job post.
Once you have a shortlist, it's time to get in touch and discuss the details.
• Conduct an interview
Interviews are the best way to talk to your preferred freelancers and see if they meet your standards. If possible, conduct video interviews as it's easier to assess the candidate when you see their reactions and behavior in a conversation.
Besides, most freelancers work remotely, so video interviews may be the only chance you meet them. Otherwise, look at their previous work to assess their skills and try a phone call or a chat interview.
Consider offering candidates a short, paid project to ensure you get the right fit.
4. Hire the freelancer
You've found the right talent for the project through the previous steps. You can now hire them for your project. But it's not over yet. It's time to offer them the project and provide the precise details they need to complete the work.
When discussing the job details, remember that you are negotiating an agreement, including when the job starts, what they need to deliver, when you expect the deliverables and payment terms.
You also need some kind of agreement that guarantees the freelancer will complete the project and that you'll pay.
Websites you can use to find freelancers
Several online freelance platforms have made things easier for employers and freelancers. Some platforms are niche and specific to particular kinds of job industries or skills only.
Others are wide in skills and scope for any and every type of job. Whatever your specific hiring need is, here are some of the best platforms to find freelancers:
Upwork is one of the largest freelance marketplaces in the world. The online site has been connecting freelancers and employers for over 20 years.
Thus, you can trust their processes and services. Upwork unites professionals from a wide variety of domains. The platform is secure and provides users with efficient tools for communication and time-tracking.
Indeed is a free online job posting site with a broad reach and excellent reputation. The site boasts over 250 million visitors monthly and over 175 million posted resumes. It is a general platform designed for all workers, including freelancers.
While it started as an alternative to other sites, today, it acts as a host to professionals in web development, digital marketing, social media, etc. Fiverr lets you browse freelancers, also known as sellers, and their portfolios, skills, and prices and choose the ones that fit your project.
This seems to be the best platform for small and medium-sized businesses seeking help in social media marketing, web design, web development, logo design, and more.
Freelancer.com works on a bidding model and provides users with several tools for communication and tracking progress. It's a secure site for payments and sending and receiving files.
Guru is a flexible and cost-effective platform that hosts roughly 3 million freelancers from various domains such as online marketing, web development, software development, and more. This site seems more convenient when it comes to commissions and fees.
Now that remote work is widely adopted and accepted, and freelance platforms make it easier for employers and freelancers to connect, more highly skilled professionals are going independent.
Hiring a freelancer may be the perfect solution for you to quickly connect with top talent for specific projects.