Outsourcing to freelancers can give a huge boost to your business — cost effectively.
If your business is like mine, you have an endless number of goals and activities you want to accomplish. Yet few of us have sufficient cash flow to commit to hiring part-time or full-time employees for everything that needs to get done.
What’s a business owner to do?
That’s where a flexible workforce comes in. “Flexible workforce” refers to getting help from those you can use when needed, without long term commitments you may not be in a position to make yet. Typically this means hiring freelancers.
Working with freelancers on specific projects gives you flexibility as it helps you scale and accelerate growth. With talented freelancers, it’s possible to get amazing results — without exceeding your available financial resources.
However, the trick to getting great results when working with freelancers is structuring the project properly. Here are seven tips for working with freelancers in your small business, for maximum success:
1. Choose a Freelancer with the Right Skills
Skills and ability — this is arguably the single most important factor in successful outsourcing. Does the freelancer have skills in the area you need? Don’t just look at what the freelancer says he or she can do, but look at the person’s portfolio. Does the portfolio reflect the types of skills and the level of ability you need?
Look at past jobs. For instance, on Fiverr you can look at current and past gigs to see what the freelancer has delivered. Also, look at testimonials. What do past clients say about that freelancer’s skill level and results? Marketplaces that embrace transparency around reviews and previous portfolio work can be a great asset in getting a job done quickly and effectively.
A capable freelancer can deliver awesome results, so make sure there’s a good match between the skill required and what the freelancer is capable of delivering.
2. Match Budget Expectations on Both Sides
Price is important, of course. Find a freelancer whose expectations about compensation are in line with your budget expectations.
But at the same time, check around to make sure your expectations are realistic. If you are seeing a lot of talented freelancers expecting $200 for a project you budgeted at $100, you may need to adjust the project scope or your budget expectations to meet market rates.
3. Make Sure Your Style Syncs Up
Skills and budget are not the only factors in a successful project. It’s just as important to get a result that matches your style and approach. That’s especially true in any kind of creative or design project. The question isn’t merely whether the freelancer turns out good work, but whether the end result is the style you need.
Look at the freelancer’s portfolio and past projects to assess style. Do you like the way something was done or the look of something else? Point out what you like as specifically as possible.
4. Clearly Outline the Project
State clearly what you expect in the project. Your freelancer and you must have a meeting of the minds when it comes to the project. Take the time to outline exactly what deliverables you want and what you would consider a successful result.
Examples help tremendously. Point out examples that you see online or in the freelancer’s portfolio to describe what you’re looking for. Examples save time and help to avoid having to re-do work later on–something that hurts trust and impacts tight deadlines.
5. Encourage Open Two-way Communication
It might be tempting to think you can whip off the project requirements, sit back and wait for an awesome result. Sometimes it is that simple. However, projects may require back and forth discussion. You may need to communicate about revisions or tweaks to a design or illustration. There’s no need to settle for the first result delivered if it doesn’t meet your needs. Give feedback to the freelancer and an opportunity to make a few changes if necessary, so that you get a result you can wholeheartedly embrace.
Just as importantly, encourage the freelancer to ask questions. He or she may be unsure of the requirements or need input. The more the freelancer understands your needs, the better able he or she will be to deliver a terrific result to wow you.
6. Start Small When Working with New Freelancers
The first time you work with a new freelancer, it’s best to start with a small non-critical project. Think of this as a sort of try-out. You’re testing the freelancer’s skills. You’re also going to discover how good a communicator the freelancer is, how well he or she meets deadlines, and how many rounds of revisions a project is likely to take to get to a result you love. You will be taking less of a business risk on a new freelancer if you allow extra time and if it’s not a critical project the first time.
7. Treat Freelancers as Partners
Freelancers are partners in your success. Treat freelancers with respect not only for their time, but for their expertise. Rather than just telling them what to do, ask what they think or recommend. Treat them as experts in whatever field or endeavor they are in. Respect is a two way street — they will value you more if you value them as experts you rely on.
At the same time, don’t hesitate to give constructive (yet respectful) feedback if you’re not getting the results you expected. The freelancer simply may not understand your expectations. By giving constructive criticism, you may actually help that person successfully conclude the project.
Remember also that paying promptly and fully for expected results is a way of showing your respect for the freelancer. Consider milestone payments for lengthy projects. Or break the project down into several smaller projects that each can be priced, delivered and paid quickly.
Don’t hesitate to give positive reinforcement, as well. Freelancers are people and in the end, they like hearing “job well done” just like the rest of us.
The good news of working with freelancers is, if you do it well the results can be stunningly effective for your business. Freelancers can enable your business to grow faster and achieve success with lower business risk. The effort you put into working with freelancers can pay off in business success.
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You can learn more about the makeover: