We are seeing an increasing use of freelancers within the business world for a range of different jobs and tasks. While it is a fairly new phenomenon and some businesses are reluctant to outsource their work, the freelance community represents a reliable and robust group of workers that can have jobs completed efficiently and effectively. But there are, of course, bad freelancers out there, and so below we list out a guide on how to work with freelancers.

The rise in the number of freelancers

The number of freelancers is increasing rapidly, with over 55 million freelancers now existing around the world. While it isn’t possible to explain exact reasons for this rise, workers seem to be wanting to move further away from the office 9-5, and more towards freedom and remote working.

What benefits do freelancers have for a business?

Outsourcing work to a freelancer is not laziness or representative of inability within your own organisation; it is a savvy business move that can allow you to half your workload for half the cost too.

Freelancers are much more flexible than other employees; their work is their livelihood, and they can’t always rely on a steady salary every month, and so you’ll often find that a freelancer goes the extra mile for you. This may be through the quality of their work or the fact that a lot of freelancers work weekends too.

It can be great for SMEs or new startups where the employee headcount is low, and you simply just don’t have the staff who are skilled in a particular area. You can find freelancers for almost any task, whether this is copywriting, photoshopping, research, social media management or some other task that you may have in hand.

The other huge benefit for a small-time company is that cash flow is likely to be an issue during the early years. Using a freelancer will mean you only have to pay them per job rather than a full-time salary. And you’ll also find that typically freelancers charge a lot less than if you had to pay a full-time employee, simply because their overheads are lower.

What are the drawbacks of using a freelancer?

There are some drawbacks of using freelancers; you can’t be completely guaranteed of the work that you will get, particularly as you are unlikely to meet them before completing a job. Some businesses may find that they need that face-to-face contact before getting into a business relationship with a freelancer.

However, websites such as PeoplePerHour and Upwork are good freelancing platforms which are built around reviews and feedback systems. You can carefully review a freelancer’s past work history, and then you should be guaranteed the quality of the work that you expect.

Another drawback is that you may find it hard to build up a company culture if you outsource a lot of your work to freelancers. However, this will be entirely dependent on your business model and what you are after with your employees. There are many highly successful distributed companies that have built up a good company culture.

How can I get the most out of using a freelancer?

If you are worried about using a freelancer and not being able to meet them beforehand, although this could be arranged, then there are ways that you can manage the process. Be sure to be super clear in your brief, keep constant communication throughout, and offer good and detailed feedback on their work.

A freelancer won’t understand your business in the same way that you do, so you may find that the first piece of work doesn’t quite fit the tone or ethos of your company. Agree before any work is started on how the process will work if you need revisions made; some freelancers will offer free edits on work provided you aren’t asking them to make edits that weren’t made clear in the original brief.

You will find that if you do everything to improve efficiency at your end, and you do sufficient research on a freelancer beforehand, that you can build up a solid and long-term relationship with workers who will strive to produce consistently high-quality work. The longer you work with a freelancer, the more embedded they will get in your business and the better understanding they will gain from your company; meaning it’ll be as though your freelancer is almost another employee.

Written by Anna Lemos