So you want to hire a freelancer?

I get it. Hiring a freelancer for the first time can be scary. There are a lot of people promising good work who don’t deliver, so how do you sort out the good from the awful? If you hang with me for a minute, I’ll share my tips for how to find the right freelancer for your business.

Navigating the freelance market

When it comes to finding freelance writers, there are two main buckets: online and local. For the purposes of this post, I’ll use “online” to refer to the type of freelancer you find on a freelance aggregation website, and “local” to describe a person you can interact with on a regular basis, whether you find them online or not.

Let’s talk about the online freelancers. These are the type you might find on eLance or Freelancer.com; people who are looking to add a bit of cash as a side hustle, but most likely aren’t dedicated to writing as a career. Sure, there are some good writers who use these types of websites to boost their traffic, but for the most part, these websites lend themselves to a negative bidding war of sorts, driving down rates but ultimately, quality too. Hiring freelancers on the cheap may seem like a good idea in the short-term, but these pay-by-the-word writers may not deliver the results you want. They’re content farmers, putting out a high quantity of work without much regard to quality.

The truth: Low-cost, low-quality freelancers can waste your time and your money.

Alternatively, local freelancers – who may not actually be local, but are writers you can find and chat with easily – likely consider freelancing their full-time job. In establishing their business, they spent time researching and setting livable rates that are competitive for the market. That means they work hard for the money they want to earn.

Paying someone $50/hour when you could find another person online for $15 may SOUND expensive, but there’s a simple math to this. Local freelancers want to do a good job in the hopes that you’ll pass their name along to another business owner, or perhaps someone in another department. They want to work efficiently, make you happy and make an honest living in the process. On the other hand, online freelancers aren’t counting on your referral; they’re counting on getting you what you ask for and getting on to the next customer. Often, these less-experienced freelancers can take longer to deliver, or require more rounds of edits. So while they charge less by the hour, the work costs the same in the long run.

Finding the right freelancer for your business

For starters, consider asking around in your industry. If your work is highly technical or requires a great deal of uncommon knowledge, finding an industry-specific freelancer may be of help. If your work is more general, ask other business owners you trust for a freelancer they’ve used and liked.

Then, decide what your freelancer needs to know. Do they need to become intimately acquainted with your business, or can focusing on a singular task be sufficient? You may want to consider keeping the freelancer slightly outside of the loop, too, as objectivity can be helpful. Acclimating your freelancer to your business can help them write accurate, engaging copy; however, an objective freelancer can help you find the benefits your customer needs to hear, not the list of features you want to sell them. Each business has its own delicate balance in this regard.

Hiring a freelancer doesn’t have to be difficult

If you take your time to hire for quality from the start, you’ll save yourself in the long run by being able to go back to the same person again and again.

To provide yourself with the best chance of success, set your expectations for your freelancer relationship early and often. Let the freelancer know what they can expect from you in terms of information, communication and wages; be sure to understand their scope, abilities and availability to meet deadlines. Working with freelancers can be a rewarding and efficient way to build up your content, when you hire the right person.

And finally, remember to embrace the objectivity of your freelancer, and take the opportunity to learn from them as they learn from you. Freelancers will often have a long and varied background across industries, and perhaps something they’ve learned from one of their clients can be used in your business effectively as well. Share information with your freelancer (as needed) to help build their understanding of your business and customer needs.

Have you hired a freelancer for your business? How did it go? Were you surprisingly pleased, or disappointed? What did you learn in the process and what would you do differently next time? Let me know in the comments below.

Better yet – if you’re ready to give bringing a freelancer onboard a chance, send me an email!

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