If you’ve just hired a freelance professional to help deliver a specific piece of work you might be worried about the potential challenges managing permanent employees and employees you’ve never met might pose.
This blog post will explore how to manage individuals with very different personalities, work habits and locations so that hiring a freelancer doesn’t impact your ability to meet your business goals.
Hiring the Right Freelancer
Understanding where freelance talent fits within your business is key to hiring the right freelancer(s). Getting it right can see your business soar from strength to strength while getting it wrong could make for many sleepless nights.
“First, it enables startups to access the very best talent. Second, it provides startups flexibility. Things change fast in startup land, so it’s important that you can move quickly. At Passionfruit, we can go from project creation to kick off in as little as 7 days. Third, it allows startups to execute on specific goals, sustainably” - Issah Abdul-Moomin, Co-Founder of Passionfruit
Freelancers provide immediate access to talent to support a wide range of specific business requirements or projects. The more experienced a freelance worker, the more likely they are to increase the flow of ideas and introduce a fresh perspective, paving the way for better solutions and greater innovation. The right freelancer will look different for every company so try to hone in on the skill set you need to reach your business goals, writing a detailed scope of work can help with this.
Remember hiring freelance teams should always involve the same level of onboarding as permanent members of staff. Always make time to speak to each and every candidate you shortlist - ask questions about their experience, skillset (including qualifications), hourly rate and availability.
Employees should be a good fit for both the role and the company regardless of whether they are a permanent member of staff or freelance worker. There is no point investing in talent you know will not gel with the wider team - no matter how impressive their CV is. Simply put, failing to hire properly means running the risk of missed deadlines, below par deliverables and overspending.
It’s also important to remember that because freelance workers pay their own taxes and overheads, their rates are often higher on average than in-house employees. Looking into the average hourly rate can help you to determine what is and isn’t acceptable - most marketing freelancers cost between £150 - £700 a day depending on their level of experience.
If you’re not sure about hiring freelance talent, read our blog post on How to Hire Freelancers. Here you’ll find tips on what to look for when hiring and where to find the best freelance talent, starting with Passionfruit.
Clearly Defining Scope
Once you’ve decided to hire a freelancer to support your business it’s important you take the time to identify what it is you need them to do. That means creating a detailed scope of work. Nailing the scope of work will help to ensure you identify the necessary skills and level of expertise required to complete the task in hand.
Most Freelancers require a lot of detail to do their job properly so while it might feel like you are pointing out the obvious, make sure you outline every single task you require them to deliver no matter how big or small. Even if the task itself is working out what needs to be done! As part of this process, always try to identify key dates, deliverables, expectations, project requirements, project deadlines, points of contact, budgets and resources. Collating all of this information upfront will not only ensure freelancers are clear on their role and responsibilities from day one, it will enable tasks to be completed to a high-standard and on time.
Don’t forget to give them context as part of this exercise - make it clear how what they are doing connects to the bigger picture and why it is so important. We’ve found that sharing this information can really help to motivate freelancers to deliver their best work.
“Freelancers need to hit the ground running so often need (and appreciate) clear guidance on what is expected of them. Make sure you adopt a collaborative approach and get to know and understand how they like to work. Adopting a considered approach helps to build a strong relationship with the talented freelancers you hire, making them easier to manage.” - Raffi Salama, Co-Founder of Passionfruit
If you’re a small team you might need to start this process by getting all the stuff that’s in your head down on paper. A good place to start is by mapping out the customer journey, sales funnel, customer demographics etc. From here you’ll begin to document the processes that can help you build out the scope of work.
Onboarding is one of the most important elements of managing freelancers. Make sure you start off the onboarding process by scheduling a video meeting with the existing team. This will allow you to introduce freelancers to the wider team. It also gives freelancers the opportunity to ask any immediate questions and project managers the chance to brief them on the brand and company values.
Once the initial introductory call has taken place, encourage existing team members to catch up with freelancers one-to-one. Spearheading this type of regular communication will help to facilitate open conversations between employees and allow them to determine best ways of working on a daily basis.
As part of the onboarding process make sure to share all of the information your new freelancer hire will need to get started - you can use the scope of work to determine what information is and isn’t helpful. And, remember to check in with any new hires a week or so after sharing key documents to ensure there are no unanswered questions. Doing this will help you to mitigate risk of anything going wrong.
As part of this process you also need to set expectations. To achieve this, we’d always recommend:
- Establishing clear reporting cadence (i.e. who should be cc’d into emails, who is required to attend what meeting etc.)
- Creating an information hub by promoting “knowledge reuse” - a backlog of knowledge, stored in one place
- Promoting knowledge sharing between permanent and freelance teams
- Prioritising video calls and emails over back-to-back meeting, allowing adequate time for deep work
- Collecting constructive feedback (e.g. when and why freelancers struggle to move forward, why you value their work)
Depending on the size of your company and the number of freelancers you’re looking to hire you may choose to automate the onboarding process. There are a number of online tools you can use to do this. For example, Xolo can help you to streamline this process by looking after the admin side of things (e.g. contracts, compliance etc.) while also helping you to automate payroll.
Another key thing to consider as part of the onboarding process is how you will pay for freelancers. As the employer, it is your choice how you choose to pay the freelancer you hire. However, it’s sensible to listen to the preferences freelancers have for payment platforms. Google Wallet is one of the most recognised platforms for freelance payments but Payoneer, Skrill and Payza all work well. That said it is also possible to pay freelancers via direct bank transfer or if you sign up to Passionfruit we take control of the payment for you, making it easier than ever to pay freelance talent.
Scheduling weekly meetings over video call is also a great way to ensure freelancers are managed effectively as it enables you to discuss their deliverables in detail, meaning potential risks can be identified early and updates on key project milestones like the A/B testing can be shared. That said, you might find that some freelancers prefer to update you over email due to differences in time zone. If that’s the case, you could suggest using Loom - a video messaging tool that helps you get your message across through instantly shareable videos. If that’s not of interest make sure to ask them to share weekly updates with you outlining everything they have achieved that week and everything they plan to work on the following week.
Given the freelancers you hire are likely to live in different locations it’s important you make adequate use of project management tools like Trello as well as communication tools such as Slack and Zoom to manage a remote team. Tools like these can help freelancers (and the wider team) keep on top of their daily, weekly and monthly to-do list as well as schedule short meetings and keep in touch with each other.
Working with a team you feel connected to is proven to improve performance, and freelancers are no different. Take time to get to know them as you would do a permanent employee. Creating a connection that goes beyond the task in hand is key to ensuring the delivery of high-quality work and securing the possibility you can work together in the future (provided you both want to, of course).
As part of this make sure to include them in the company culture - invite them to join you on trips to the local coffee shop if you’re lucky enough to be working in-person or from virtual team building sessions if you are working remotely. Another simple way to do this is to use words like “we” and “us” in place of “I” and “you”.
Always take time to give feedback regardless of whether it is good or bad. Doing this can help to improve the performance of the freelancer you have employed. As part of building connections with freelancers make sure you present yourself and other business partners as trustworthy. That means paying them on-time. While it may seem like a small thing to you, paying on time will keep freelancers happy as late payments are often a pain point. It also demonstrates to them that you value their work, which leads to a more transparent working relationship - and no bad reputations.
Setting goals from the very beginning of your partnership with freelancers can help to ensure effective communication, project deadlines are met and trust remains strong. Make sure to map out key goals as part of the scope of work and regularly check-in to make sure contractors are on track to deliver the work set. Giving freelancers a good understanding of your strategic plans is one of the core techniques involved in growth hacking, something which is more important for freelancers than for traditional employees.
Setting clear goals for remote workers throughout the project is helpful for both parties. To begin with it will help you to find the right hire and enable you to communicate to the freelancer what you need them to do. It will also provide a framework to review their work and analyse key milestones.
Learning how to effectively manage freelancers can be game changing. Make sure to onboard them properly, communicate regularly and clearly define the scope of work. Nailing these steps is key to helping your business achieve its goals and ensuring your employees are motivated to succeed.
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?