Thinking about hiring freelance employees to help with your startup? Freelancers offer several great opportunities to startups. They allow you to test out a position or an employee without the process and overhead of hiring someone. This is great when you’re in the startup phase, and you don’t have spare time or money.
So, say you were considering adding a new position but weren’t sure you could afford it, or hiring for a position for the first time, and were nervous about making a bad hire.
Hiring a freelancer allows you to test someone out in the position for a short time and see how it goes. You can then figure out if the position is profitable for your startup or if the employee is the right fit. Depending on how it goes, you can bring the person on full time, keep them as a freelancer, or end the contract.
It’s a great way for small companies to test new positions and employees with less risk.
Ready to try it? I’ll show you how do you track down great freelancers, and how can you make your first freelance hires successful.
I’ve been hired as a freelancer for many startups, and have also hired hundreds of them for my own. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years.
How to Find Great Freelancers
The first step is finding good people.
There are a couple places on the internet that are great for this. One of my first recommendations is Upwork. If you’re not familiar, Upwork is a platform where freelancers can go to post information about their skills, abilities, and service rates, and companies and individuals can go to hire them.
Some of the best features is being able to see the number of hours worked, ratings and examples of past work from freelancers before you hire them. You can find people that have had thousands of hours doing the job you need done, or you can save some money by giving a newer Upworker a try.
This is especially great if the job can be done from anywhere in the world from a computer. I’ve used it for having display ads created, fliers designed, slide presentations prepared and online research done. It’s a great tool.
The other place I’d recommend is Craigslist. Post to your local Craigslist if you need to find someone to do a freelance job in-person.
Craigslist can also be great if you want to hire someone for a remote job. This is, in fact, how I got my first remote job. I answered a Craigslist posting in Buenos Aires when I was living there as an expat.
Hiring expats by posting to Craigslist in cities outside the U.S. is a great way to find freelance talent at discount rates. In places like Buenos Aires, Ecuador, and Peru there’s usually a population of expats looking for remote work, and with a much lower cost of living, they’re willing to work a bit cheaper.
One of the keys here is to write a great Craigslist job posting. When I applied for my first job via Craigslist, I was nervous about getting scammed. I read each ad carefully looking for basic typos, or any other signs that there was something amiss. I didn’t apply to any that were vague about the job or the compensation.
Mainly, you’ll need to write an ad that avoids serious grammatical errors or typos, and is specific as possible about what the freelancer will be doing and how they will be compensated. You should also give some information about your company to add to your legitimacy.
Hiring and Working with Freelancers for Best Results
One of the first things I’d say to anyone hiring a freelancer is start small. Don’t just hand a full project to a potential freelancer. Instead, break it into pieces and have them complete a quick, inexpensive task that won’t have any major consequences if it’s not done perfectly the first time.
From there, move them to projects of longer duration and with greater responsibility as they prove themselves.
Want to up your game and be sure you hire the best?
Create a mini contest by hiring several freelancers and having them work individually to complete the same small task. Then compare the results and hire the best one to complete the rest of the project.
I really can’t stress the importance of starting small enough. Testing your freelancers on small projects is absolutely essential in making sure you get the right ones for your projects.
The other essential is clearly defining your tasks. The first few times I hired freelancers, I’d quickly write out a summary of what the job was supposed to be, and then get results back that weren’t anything like what I’d asked for. When I reviewed my job description, I could see that there was more room for interpretation in the job than I realized.
This is part of the reason for starting with small tasks. You don’t want to have someone do several days worth of work only to find out that they’d misinterpreted your instructions.
Carefully read your job description and make sure it’s as clear as possible. If you can, meet with freelancers via Skype before the job kicks off and ask them to describe what they’re supposed to do, and talk about what examples of the completed work will look like. Often times you’ll be surprised at how broadly something you thought was clear can be interpreted.
Ok, good luck on you search for great freelancers! Freelance help is a great way to reduce financial risk and test new employees and positions for your company. These quick tips should help you get started off right.