Freelancing takes up a gigantic slice of the modern American economy. CNBC estimates that $1.2 trillion of all business goes through the work of freelancers, underlining their importance to businesses and the wider economy. For modern digital businesses, freelancers offer a quick, easy, and often economical way to get priority work during periods of high stress. However, as with any business decision, there can be downsides to hiring freelancers. Understanding how you should hire freelancers, and then what you should and shouldn’t allocate to them, will ensure you get the most value for your money out of this invaluable business process.
The hiring process
Freelancers have an established skill set. When you approach a freelancer for work, it’s transactional – unlike when hiring talent for your business, which requires a nuanced approach. Some of the questions you need to ask a freelancer are simple – their experience, their schedule, and evidence of their work are baseline questions. However, thinking further can be advantageous. Consider asking freelancers what their ideal client relationship looks like – when you have a handful of potential workers to outsource, knowing who you will be able to communicate with effectively and in a collaborative manner can be invaluable to ensuring the work is done well. The current freelance pool sits at 59 million workers, according to TechRepublic. You won’t be losing out by properly examining candidates.
Benefits to gain
Hiring a freelancer is simple. You have work to be completed; they complete it; and you pay. As Entrepreneur outlines, benefits packages and salaries need never be discussed, and as long as the market is densely populated with freelancers, you’ll be able to find value by comparing your rates competitively against other businesses. Furthermore, by hiring top-quality freelancers, you bring expertise into your business that, by the virtue of needing outside work, was lacking. That can be a much quicker win than looking to internally train.
Freelance work is exchanged on a singular basis – there is no performance management system to correct work, and unless work is incomplete or markedly off what was promised, no legal avenue of recourse. This can lead to the need to have the work re-done at a cost, which is a complete loss of revenue for the business. Furthermore, freelancers don’t offer a long-term solution. Even if the work is excellent, they may be unable to work with you in the future, and your business cannot retain them for the future. Using freelancers can produce high-quality work but there will always be question marks over the longevity of the work and how your business can grow without continually visiting the marketplace. Freelancers are unlikely to want to join permanently, as SHRM notes that 96% of freelancers intend to continue working this way in the future.
What’s the solution? Arguably, using freelancers to cover short-term gaps in productivity that can’t be met with your current workforce or expertise. Over time, freelancers may continue working with your company, but you cannot wholly rely on the freelance market.