This post is a bit different from the rest on this blog – I was a guest on Ashley Faulkes’ latest podcast on his blog Mad Lemmings where we discussed how a small business owner can start working with freelancers to free up time and focus on their business. Read on to see what key points Ashley and I discussed in this audio.
Deciding whether to hire a freelancer or an employee
Before starting to work with freelancers, you need to decide if that is what you want to do indeed. Ask yourself if you need a freelancer or an employee. The answer depends on many factors. To name a few:
- whether you need someone for a long term or short term
- whether you have a quick job or a large scale project
- how much control you want to have over the daily activities
- are you able to trust someone else completely with this side of the business for which you need help.
It very much depends on what type of person you are; who you as client are and what you as a client want. More details, specifics and examples you can find in the podcast.
Writing the job post and finding suitable candidates
Once you make up your mind to go with a freelancer vs employee, your next step is to decide if you want to train them or you want an experienced freelancer who can work on their own. The answer to that question will determine the whole process of job post writing and filtering candidates afterwards.
While the details of each scenario are different, the same principles apply in both cases. You can read a couple of blog posts on the topic:
I urge you to listen to the podcast though as in the conversation with Ashley, I gave examples and also discussed briefly some new features on oDesk about clients’ questions and “code words” which are not touched upon in the above blog posts.
A very important point we make in the podcast is the conclusion that value beats price every time. The saying “you get what you pay for” is especially true when working with freelancers. Setting up your budget right is crucial for the success of your recruitment process. In the podcast, I give a couple of examples to help you decide how to budget your freelance project.
Trial assignments – to do or not to do? Free or paid? Why or why not?
From comments on my blog and some group discussions on LinkedIn I learned trial assignments are a bit controversial among freelancers. Not everyone sees the benefits of trials the way I do.
In my experience though, both as a freelancer and as a client, I would definitely prefer starting a trial or at least, having a one-time gig, before I commit to a long-term relationship with a client or freelancer, respectively.
You can read in my blog details about my views on trial assignments. In the podcast on Ashley’s blog, you can hear more on the topic – e.g. why I recommend trials, why they should be paid and why asking potential candidates to work for free isn’t a good tactic.
And finally, we discuss in the podcast some tactics for rewarding your freelancers.
When you find a freelancer with whom you want to work for years to come, you need to develop a system for showing them your appreciation for their work. Freelancers like feeling valuable and appreciated. You can read my blog posts about tactics to keep a freelancer in the long run.
But I urge you to listen to the podcast as well not only to hear my tips on rewarding your freelancers; Ashley shares a story as well about an Australian guy who runs an online company, employing 20 virtual assistants and how he keeps them happy.
As you can tell from the audio, this is the first time I am on a podcast. I am not experienced in “public speaking” so at times I am all over the place 😀 On the bright side, it’s an honest, not-rehearsed in any way conversation among friends and you can pretend you are sitting right there on our virtual table while we talk.
Feel free to leave your comment and questions here or on Ashley’s post – I will see then on both places and they are equally important to me!
Give it a try – listen to the podcast on MadLemmings now.
My son had a suggestion to hire someone as an intern. You basically do not pay them and it gives them the opportunity to learn the business. I am still not sure about this as I don’t know if I would work without pay. Although it would give that person something to put on the resume.
Diana Marinova says
Oh, no, i am strongly against working without pay. Even if you hire someone as an internet (as you say – for something to put on their resume), you still need to pay them some money. Otherwise, you risk attracting the wrong candidates, i think. I
always urge fellow freelancers who are just starting to never ever take on non-paid work (even if it’s a trial assignment or a sample request) – we may be freelancers but this doesn’t mean we work for free 😀
How did your intern-hiring go, Arleen? Did you end up taking up someone without pay? Were you happy with them?
Debra Yearwood says
I work with freelancers all the time, in fact one of the biggest projects I’m working on right now is made up of freelancers, but here’s the hard part, I work with them because I know them or someone I trust has recommended them. I’d be hesitant to hire a complete unknown without a paid trial period (not to mention references). If you want volunteers, then ask for volunteers, if you want an experienced worker, then pay them. I would definitely have some suspicions about hiring anyone who put their skills out there way below market value.
Diana Marinova says
Spot on comment, Debra – thanks for capturing so well a fundamental problem that a lot of starting freelancers have. Many struggle to understand the concept of value vs price and think working for free and/or underbidding the competition is a good tactic to securing contracts; which it isn’t…
Jeannette Paladino says
Unless the freelancer is being hired for a project where s/he has no experience, then the person’s portfolio of work and references should be enough to demonstrate competency. A “trial period” has a negative connotation, as if there is an expectation that the freelancer might fail.
In the U.S., you must be very careful about hiring freelancers. The government takes a dim view of that if it suspects an employer is trying to bypass payroll and other taxes by calling people freelancers when they are, in effect, full time employees. Also, even if they are not full time employees, if the employer plays a substantial role in controlling the work output of the freelancer and requires them to be on premise that is another red flag.
Diana Marinova says
Hi, Jeannette – i remember you left a similar comment about trial assignments on another post of mine. Did you see my reply there?
I cannot understand why you see a negative connotation in trial assignments.
Yes, portfolio and references would be enough to show the freelancer’s competency and skills. However, portfolio and references would not tell you how well YOU will work with that person; or how well that person will work with you – that’s why the trial is a good practice.
For example, let’s say you need a marketing consultant. He or she has great recommendations and portfolio. But that person isn’t flexible with their time and you, as a client, have the habit of giving last-minute tasks. Now, although the freelancer has extraordinary skills, he or she most probably will not be a good fit for you because he or she doesn’t have a lot of time on their hands and will not b able to cater to every single last-minute assignment you send their way.
Or another example, that very same marketing consultant who has great skills, portfolio and references. They work very well but you, as a client, fail to give quality feedback on time. After a trial, the freelancer can drop you as a client because you make it hard for them to do their job (by not providing prompt feedback).
As you can see, in both examples, one party or the other decides to not enter into a long-term relationship because of inter-personal mismatch, NOT because of the qualities and skills a freelancer possesses or doesn’t posses.
Bottom line – the trial assignment is not for the client to see how skillful the freelancer is. The trial assignment is for both the freelancer and the client to decide if they work well with the other person or not.
Hope this helps you see my point and why i disagree a trial assignment is not undermining the trust in a possible collaboration 😀
Diana, I loved the podcast! I think in terms of freelance consulting a paid trial period is a wonderful idea. Particularly if you do not know them personally. I completely agree with the value beats price. I sold products for years that had a higher price point than my competition, yet I was able to highlight the value.
Diana Marinova says
Thanks for the positive feedback about the podcast, Jacquie – i can only improve from now on 😉
You are right value beats price in every aspect of business. Figuring out your value proposition is especially important for freelancers because many don’t even know there’s such thing as a “value propositn” and how it can help them land better projects and clients. i see a new blog post topic emerging from this – thanks! 😀