More and more high-growth start-ups are taking advantage of the talented pool of on-demand web developers, graphic designers, copywriters, and digital marketers available to help grow their businesses. In this article, we’ll unpick the does and don'ts of hiring top-notch freelance talent to help your start-up achieve its business goals.
“There is a lot of information on the internet about how to become a freelancer but very little information exists about how to hire a freelance marketer. At Passionfruit, we’re determined to close this gap and make it easy to find the right marketing talent to support high-growth start-ups achieve their goals.”
Why Hire a Freelancer?
Traditionally full-time employees are expensive. In addition to paying a yearly salary, employers are responsible for a number of overhead costs like paid holidays and company benefits. Hiring a freelancer allows companies to bypass these responsibilities, leaving business owners in control of how much they spend. That said, you may find that in order to achieve your business goals you may be required to hire for a permanent role.
Finding, hiring and onboarding a freelancer is also a much faster and more efficient process than hiring a full-time member of staff. In most cases, you can begin to start work with a freelancer after only a few days.
Freelancers also offer immediate expertise to companies to support specific business requirements or projects. The more experienced a freelancer is, the more value they bring to the job at hand. Hiring experienced freelancers is a great way to increase the flow of ideas and introduce different ways of thinking, paving the way for better solutions and greater innovation.
“Early stage companies often don’t have the capital or infrastructure to warrant full time hires in crucial yet narrow areas. This often results in the hiring of a generalist who is often unable to move as quickly or effectively as a seasoned specialist with tons of experience. By working flexibly with freelance talent, startups can quickly augment the skill base of their teams to deliver on the targets in front of them.”
- Hannah Jackson, Passionfruit Specialist
In addition to delivering accurate, high-quality work freelancers often work much faster than full-time employees. This is because they tend to work on a project basis versus across a wide range of larger projects. For example, a freelancer can support SEO optimisation while the core team focuses on different deliverables (e.g. ongoing projects).
Freelancers can work from anywhere, opening up the recruitment process to a bigger pool of talent than ever. This means companies can not only hire individuals with very specific qualifications and skillsets, but they also have access to expert support around the clock. Just think, while you sleep in London, skilled freelancers can work on the task in hand 10,559 miles away in Sydney.
How to Hire a Freelancer
Define The Scope of Work
“Step one is identifying the right task for a freelancer! Freelancers are not hourly employees, they are engaged experts. If you have a business need or specific problem, that's a good place to start in developing a scope for how a freelance expert could help you. Step two is to go for it and try to learn something!”
- Ben Reisler, Head of Marketing at WE.VESTR
It might sound obvious but before you begin your search for the perfect freelancer, it’s important to take the time to think about who you’re looking for. The best way to do this is to define the scope of work. This means outlining the specific task(s) you require support with - much like you would write a detailed job description for a permanent employee. From here you can work out the necessary skills and level of expertise required. Ask yourself the following questions to determine what is required.
- What are the key deliverables/ milestones?
- What is the timeline?
- What are the project requirements (e.g. word count, lines of data, hours per week etc.)?
- What material is needed to deliver the project?
- What specific skills are required to complete the project?
- Who will they report into?
- What are the payment terms?
- What is the project budget?
Nailing the scope of work will help to ensure the individual you employ can accurately deliver the work required, leaving you free to focus on other workstreams. Getting it wrong will cost you valuable time and money.
Set Your Budget
As well as considering the scope of work for the project you’re looking to complete, it is important to set a realistic budget. Remember freelance rates are often higher than in-house employees as they need to cover their own salary as well as things like income tax, IT equipment, etc. When it comes to setting your budget don’t forget to consider factors like this as failing to do so could shut you off from attracting top talent.
If you’re unclear or want some advice about budgeting ask other business owners how they budget for similar projects. It can sometimes be helpful to research the average hourly rate for the freelance professional you’re looking to hire - most marketing freelancers cost between £150 - £700 a day depending on their level of experience.
Find Your Freelancer
It is typically much quicker to find a freelancer than a full-time hire thanks to freelancing platforms like Passionfruit which allow you to immediately search for talented freelancers including expert graphic designers, content marketers, social media marketers and more. To kick-start, your search, register with Passionfruit and begin browsing through hundreds of vetted freelancer profiles.
“Technical skills are table stakes for Passionfruit specialists. Once that’s been verified we’re looking for passionate and proactive doers, who want to get stuck into their client’s business. We all want to work alongside great people that inspire us and that we can learn from - it’s no different when it comes to freelancers.”
— Raffi Salama, Co-Founder of Passionfruit
If you’re looking for freelancers to support you with lots of small tasks Fiverr could be a great option for you. The platform allows start-ups to make payments based on projects, not hourly rates, making it easy to manage budgets and outsource smaller tasks to creative freelancers (e.g. graphic designers). Upwork is another useful platform for companies looking to connect with freelancers, fast. It’s simple to use and allows businesses to review examples of an individual's work before contacting them. However, the freelancers who use these platforms are not vetted making it harder to determine whether working with them is a good investment.
Asking the people in your personal and professional network if they know of any experienced freelancers who might be able to support you is another great way to find support. The advantage of trying to find a potential freelancer through your existing social network is that they have already been vetted by those you trust thanks to the quality of their work.
What Kind of Interview Questions
Once you have reviewed the applicants and narrowed your selection down to 2-3 potential candidates, invite them to interview. Given most freelancers choose to work remotely, the best way to do this is over the phone or via video call.
Interviewing freelancers is generally very similar to the hiring process for permanent members of staff so make sure you take time to prepare for the interview. Think carefully about the questions you want to ask - asking the right questions is the key to determining whether the qualified candidate is the right person for the job.
As part of the interview make sure to ask questions about the candidates experience, skillset (including qualifications), hourly rate and availability. Don’t be afraid to probe them on previous work or follow up with requests to see examples of their work. We’ve listed some useful interview questions below to help you get started:
- How would you approach this project?
- Have you worked on similar projects?
- What do you think will be the biggest challenge when delivering this project?
- Do you have experience working with similar businesses?
- What is your preferred method of communication?
- What is your availability?
- Do you have the skills to deliver this project?
Don’t forget to ask candidates what they know about your business. It’s important you work with an individual who understands your business goals regardless of whether they are a freelance, part-time or permanent employee. Other obvious red flags include not being able to share examples of their work from previous clients and poor communication skills both in person, over the phone or by email.
Managing Your Freelancer
Once you have found the right freelancer to deliver the work required it is important you take time to sign a contract. Freelance contracts clearly outline the scope of work (inc. cancellation policies, ownership, usage rights etc.) and ensure both parties fulfil the responsibilities assigned to them. For freelancers, this means completing the task at hand within the time and budget set. For business owners, this means providing the necessary support/ resources and paying invoices on time. Setting out requirements like this ensures both parties are legally required to uphold the agreement.
It is also important to communicate regularly with freelancers to ensure tasks are completed on time. To make this easy it can be helpful to establish clear points of contact and schedule weekly or bi-weekly check-ins - always try to do this via video call as this will ensure no questions go unanswered and tasks are not misunderstood. Don’t forget communication between you and the freelancers you work with should always remain open (even after any work is complete) as it makes it faster and easier to hire freelancers for future projects.
“The best marketers are increasingly opting to work independently due to benefits such as greater personal autonomy, better pay and more fulfilling work, to name a few. As such, startups are short-changing themselves by only participating in the full-time talent market. Increasingly, the best people are only available on a flexible basis.”
— Issah Abdul-Moomin, Co-Founder of Passionfruit
If you have a one-off project or are unable to justify a full-time employee, hiring a freelancer could be the solution. Talented freelancers can open up a lot of great opportunities for high-growth start-ups, helping to fill knowledge gaps within the business, boosting efficiency and profits and allowing the wider team to concentrate on other work. Hiring the wrong freelancer can put your business at risk, costing you precious time and money. Always make sure to vet candidates properly and lean on your network for referrals - recommendations and freelancing websites go a long way in the start-up world.
Ready to partner up with a freelancer?
Whatever project it is, here at Passionfruit you’ll find the passionate, knowledgeable and fun-to-work-with freelancer that will turn it into a success. So…What do you need?