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Hiring A Freelancer

Contracting and working with a run-of-the-mill freelancer is more often than not an unwanted rollercoaster ride. It might end up being a game of Message and email tags, you might spend countless hours seeking the right freelancer with the right combination of skills and experience, and rates to suit your business.

The freelance market has, however, realized that great freelancers who can do their jobs reliably are one on a million. Importantly, they are worth every penny they charge.

So, where and how can you find the one in a million freelancer? And after finding the freelancer, how can you direct them to create fantastic content that is also scalable?

Herein, we will explore where and how you can find the best freelancer for your company. Thereafter, we delve into the management side of your freelancers after you have hired them.

Free Download: How To Hire And Work with Freelancers

Where Do You Find Freelancers

Many marketing teams are looking to ease the strain of enormous workload on their team hire freelancers. To this end, you might decide to work with a freelance graphic designer, freelance writer, or app developer. Either way, getting started can be a daunting task.

More often than not, the first question is, “Where do I start? Which is the best to look for a freelancer?”

And in actuality, it’s not a very complicated process. You can begin your search in several places:

The best place to start looking for your freelancer include:

#1. Freelance Job Sites

Begin your search on freelance websites. There are numerous general freelancing sites. The best of the bunch are UpWork and CloudPeeps. There are also industry/ niche specific website you can try out as well.

For instance, companies looking for designers, software developers, engineers, project managers, or product managers will find qualified freelancers on Hired and Toptal. Using either of these two websites increases your chances of finding the right freelancer as they vet their freelancers. Freelancers have to apply to both freelancing platforms, and Toptal only accepts about 3% of all applicants.

Other common freelance sites to try out include:

99Designs
ProBlogger
Guru
SimplyHired

Freelancers also upload their work on some of the popular portfolio sites such as Behance and Dribbble. You can explore the listings on these sites, and when you find a profile and portfolio you like, you can reach out to the freelancer.

#2. Freelance Communities

You can take your search for the right freelancer to freelancing communities. There are freelancing communities you can join to meet with freelancers. The communities provide an excellent opportunity to find freelancers and create a list of individuals you would like to work with.

For example, you can join some of the popular freelance Facebook groups and engage with the freelancers directly in social media. I’ve received several freelance jobs through career and networking groups on Facebook.

Another platform you can use to search for your freelancers is Slack. There are numerous Freelance Slack communities to try out.

While exploring the freelance communities, you should know that every freelance community is different in the type of skills and expertise front. As such, explore a freelance writing Slack community or software development Facebook group depending on your needs.

#3. Colleges

Colleges offer an excellent opportunity to reach out to top talent. You should consider reaching out to professors at your local colleges and find out if they know any students who are looking for freelance work.

Reach out to the various department professors and departments, depending on the type of freelancer you are looking for.

You could reach out to the computer science department or professors in that department if you are looking for a developer. If you are interested in written content, you could reach out to the creative writing and journalism departments.

#4. Your Network

Do not forget to use your own network as there might be top-notch talents waiting for you to discover. Ask your colleagues whether they know someone with the right experience and skills that might be interested in your projects.

Having explored where you can find talented freelancers, it is time to explore the process of finding the right freelancers.

How To Find Talented Freelancers

Step 1. Research
Step2. Ask other credible marketers for recommendations
Step 3. Look to publications and writers you love
Step 4. Consider their experience
Step 5. Build rapport
Step 6. Establish a set of criteria to judge the various types of freelancers

#1. Research

Once you have signed up on freelancers’ job sites, and you have been accepted to freelancing communities on social media sites, you might wonder, “What do I do next?” The next step is to begin researching all your potential freelancers based on the job that needs to get done.

As such, if you are looking for an app developer or a writer, you should have a clear understanding of the specific tasks you want your freelancer to handle. What is the scope of the task and project at hand? How often do you need the freelancer to work for you?

With a clear understanding of the responsibilities your freelancers will have, you can refine your search for a freelancer in the communities and on freelance websites.

For example, on Elance and Behance, you can narrow down your search based on area of interest and or place.

#2. Ask Other Credible Marketers For Recommendations

While we mentioned this consideration above, it is nonetheless essential to repeat it.

Many businesses get their freelancers via personal recommendations. On a personal experience, I once received an email from a colleague I had previously worked with on our college newspaper. Having worked together for a while in our college days, she knew I was responsible, reliable, and a good writer. As such, she reached out to me.

And like you cannot hire just anyone to babysit your children or walk your dog, you should not hire just any freelancer to fill the position. Ask around among your industry colleagues. There is a chance they know freelancers and their work as they have worked together previously.

Testimonials and referrals are great in ensuring you get a great freelancer who can deliver consistent quality and work.

#3. Look To Publications And Writers You Love

Typically, freelancers can handle more than one opportunity at a time. As such, there is nothing wrong with reaching out to the best freelancers, even if they are writing for other publications. After all, it’s a free-market capitalism.

When creating content, you should make reading great content part of your daily routine. If you keep seeing a particular name pop up regularly or find one publication consistently putting out great content, contact them via LinkedIn and/or Twitter. Chances are they take on your project. Almost every freelancer I have come across could use more work – you can make the work yours.

#4. Consider Their Experience

When looking for a freelancer, the experience of the individual is an essential qualification to consider.

Make finding someone with an established reputation in their niche a priority. Ensure the freelancer has previous testimonials and work to back their experience up.

There are too many companies that were burned due to freelancers talking the talk during interviews but not walking the walk once contracted on projects.

#5. Build Rapport

Clear communication is essential in building a successful freelancing relationship. However, to establish clear communication between you and the freelancer, you should first create a rapport. Additionally, you ought to form a connection with your freelancers if you want to retain them for future projects.

HubSpot’s SEO strategist, Aja Frost, is also a freelance writer and advises companies to communicate early and often with their freelancers. Many freelancers always appreciate proactive and transparent communication.

#6. Establish A Set Criteria To Judge The Various Types brand filter checklists Of Freelancers

Naturally, your criteria for judging freelancers changes depending on the different roles you seek to fill.

For example, if you want a writer, you will prioritize their writing skills. If you are interested in a developer, you will look for a technically gifted programmer with a keen focus on the programing language you are interested in.

However, when hiring any freelancer, you should consider the following qualities:

Experience
Reviews and references
Communication
Project management

Crucially, you will want to discuss all these above considerations on your first meeting. To this end, ask plenty of questions, including:

Do you have references and reviews of current and past and customers I could reach out to and or/read?
How much experience have you accrued in this field? Can I have some samples of your previous work?
What are your fees?
Will you agree to sign a contract and an NDA?
What is your project management process?
How is the communication process during the project?

Managing Freelancers

You might have already found your preferred freelancer or not, but you might wonder how best to you manage a freelancer once you have hired one. Below are a few tips on how to go about this sensitive issue.

#1. Prioritize Clear Communicate

I cannot stress the need for clear communications enough. It is better to over-communicate than risk receiving shoddy quality work or work that does not meet your needs.

For example, when dealing with a freelance writer and you want the writer to use a specific inspiration or source when writing your content, include these instructions from the beginning. It will save both of you time and negate any grief arising. Share as much industry and brand information and knowledge with the writer as possible and as early as possible. If you want your content to steer away from a specific competitor or topic, tell them from the beginning.

For the best experience, make a Google Doc and keep all your requirements organized and easily shareable. Getting your freelancer on the same page as early as possible, the faster you develop a seamless process.

#2. Create Brand Filter Checklists And A Style Guide

Related to the need for clear communication, you should state clear brand objectives. This helps your freelancers get on the same page. Create a brand filter checklist and style guide.

A proper style guide should cover everything from brand tone and voice to your content strategy and editorial idiosyncrasies. For instance, does your brand use & or + in place of and to signify “and”? Additionally, you can include text samples of what you consider as a great brand voice and the not great brand voice. (Here is an example of Hubspot’s style guide.)

After creating your style guide, you can distill it into an easy to understand and follow 5-points list, thereby creating a “brand filter checklist” for your freelancers to check and follow while writing your content. The checklist should cover content objectives. It should also ensure the eventual content feel and sound on-brand.

#3. Stay Organized

Create documents wherein you organize the pricing models, beats, assignments, invoice templates, and upcoming projects you should request content for. This creates a reliable infrastructure that saves you a lot of time, as you will simply fill as you go.

If you have the budget for it, a content management software (such as HubSpot’s) will help you manage your freelancers, content calendar, and workflows. Importantly, sharing this information with your freelancers will make them feel like part of the team and get everyone on the same page. (You can use this free template for a blog editorial calendar if you do not have funds for a content management software.)

#4. Value Your Freelancers And Ensure They Feel Valued

I’ve heard of companies that have annual freelancer on-site programs where they take their freelancers over brand style guide, vision, what content excelled, and what content could have been re-drafted. During such consultative meetings, the company provides its freelancers with lunch and dinner and drinks. Such gestures create real-life bonds between the company, company employee, and the freelancers (who play a great role for the company virtually and whose contribution plays a part in the success of the business).

You could also gamify the process of content creation by establishing a system where freelancers with the highest performing pieces (traffic-wise) each month gets a bonus. Such incentives encourage the writers to care about their work and how it eventually performs.

Additionally, you should write recommendations for your freelancers, especially on LinkedIn. Recommend your freelancers for other jobs and where praise is warranted, praise them as much as possible. For instance, you could tag them on social media posts and give them a byline linking to their portfolios and social media pages.

A great freelancer will always be on-demand. Create an environment and situation where they would love to work for you over and over again above anyone else.

Every marketer knows (or will soon find out) that a competent freelancer is worth every penny they spend on him or her. Treat them as part of your core tea, pay them well, and, importantly, on time, and they will return the favor by working for you diligently. You will also receive referrals from your network of freelancers.


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