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How to Hire and Work With Freelancers and Remote Workers(as a Small Business)

how to hire and work with freelancers and remote workers

As a small business owner, you’ll probably need to hire a freelancer or virtual assistant at some point to help with a project or on an ongoing basis.

Hiring freelancers is a cost-effective way to find specialized talent or carry out project-based work, and it’s getting much easier to find skilled workers as more and more people move towards a remote work lifestyle. In fact, over 59 million Americans have performed freelance work in the past 12 months, and that number is only growing.

So how do you go about finding the right person for the job? Where do you hire freelancers? And once you’ve found them, how do you work with them most effectively?

Here are some tips on hiring and working with freelancers and retaining them long-term from someone who has spent years as a freelancer and also hired and worked with freelancers. Let’s jump in.

How to hire freelancers online — things to consider

There are so many great websites where freelancers can find work online, but where are the best places for employers to find contract workers? It’s easier than you might think, but finding someone you want to work with long-term and who is the perfect fit for you can take time.

One of the easiest ways to find freelancers online is on Fivver, a website where people will list their skills and packages. This can be especially good if you want to hire multiple people for multiple roles or want to try a few people out first.

You can also look at freelancer or virtual assistant Facebook groups online, where people often advertise their services, or on LinkedIn, where you can post your job description and have people email you. Make sure to be specific with what you are looking for from your freelancer and how many hours you expect the task to take a week.

Posting your pay rate can also save time for both you and the freelancer since people above your budget need not apply. It’s not unusual to carry out some kind of interview or other appropriate test to ensure you get the ideal person, but do consider paying them for their time.

Did you know that a freelancer doesn’t need to live in the same country as you or even operate in the same time zone as you? Having someone working on a project while you are asleep can even be beneficial. Taking advantage of a larger talent pool across borders can be ideal as long you consider language and time differences.

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Five tips for retaining your freelancers, how to be a good manager of remote workers

working with a remote team

So you’ve found your ideal freelancer, enjoy their vibe and work ethic, and see yourself working with them long-term. So how do you retain them?

It’s not like having a full-time employee; your freelancer will work for their other clients and have to manage their time effectively. They can easily decide to swap you out for a different client, so how can you be the kind of manager that freelancers want to stick with despite that?

Here is an answer from Polly, who has been a freelancer for many years and has long-standing relationships with a number of clients:

“I enjoy working long-term with clients who treat me like a person and professional. Having positive relationships with my clients is essential. My favorite clients are those I feel I’m on a team with. We work well together, treat each other professionally and with kindness, and respect each other’s boundaries and expectations. “

– Polly Clover

So how do you go about achieving that? Here are a few tips from my experience as a freelancer and why there are some clients freelancers hang on to.

1) Offer job progression or training to your freelancers

One of the first things to do when you are freelance is the expectation of any personal development or training. You are expected to know everything you need to know or shape up pretty quickly.

By offering training, or even being willing to pay for a training course, as one of my freelancer managers offered me, you show that you want to work with the freelancer long term and make sure they are as highly skilled as you need them to be.

Should I have been surprised when a manager wanted to help me develop my skills? I wish I weren’t, but it’s a pretty rare thing in the industry and a great way to stand out as someone who hires contract workers.

2) Take an interest in your freelancers as people

Whether they are a long-term freelancer or have transitioned to remote work recently, one of the main differences is the lack of personal connection with their boss and colleagues.

Though this benefits me, as I find working in an office distracting, not being in an office feeds into a cycle that views freelancers/remote workers as disposable to some extent. If you don’t take time to get to know the people you work with, they won’t necessarily go out of their way for you, and vice versa.

Managers who have taken time to have casual conversations over Slack and Zoom on everything from foraging for mushrooms to my side projects, expectations in terms of workload, and hobbies have made me more comfortable. Even integrating your freelancer as part of the team where appropriate can make a huge difference.

I’ve always carried this forward when working with freelancers myself. It makes it easier to chat if there’s an issue, and they are more likely to take the initiative with projects or go out of their way for you.

3) Discuss salary reviews and increases with your freelancers

I have discussed setting your rates in other articles, but, in short, freelancers should increase their rates annually in line with inflation and job experience.

Many freelancers haven’t seen rates change in years. They can find it particularly difficult to raise these conversations with people they have worked with long term. Starting these conversations can be incredibly awkward, with the underlying fear of losing the work altogether.

Though this is something that freelancers should be putting in their contracts and taking the initiative with themselves, if you can offer rate reviews annually with your contract workers, it will certainly build goodwill and loyalty.

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4) Respect the time of your freelancer

This can be something that’s a problem for most employees, but as a freelancer, it can get so much worse as they are likely working for multiple people. If they have one client who sends over tasks with short and unreasonable deadlines, it can send their entire week into a spin.

While deadlines need to be met, being reasonable if they need an extra day to complete something, particularly due to illness or emergency, can truly set you apart as a good freelance manager. Most remote workers struggle with maintaining a work-life balance as it is since the lines are so blurred, and they will often not take time off when they are sick.

If you would like them to help you with something outside the typical scope of the job or something extra, just asking them first and being prepared if they don’t have time can go a long way. Usually, it’s not a problem!

5) Have a freelance contract and stick to it

Many freelancers will come to you with their own contract, but if they don’t, or if you want one specifically for the project you are working on, you will need to write one.

It should cover things like payment terms, including amount, cancellation terms, and payment period, as well as the scope of the project with a start date. It should also clarify intellectual property rights.

Ensuring you and your freelancer are both covered legally is important and indicates to the freelancer that you know what you are doing as a manager and are trustworthy to work with.

I hope these points will give you some food for thought whether you are a freelancer or a manager of freelancers who wants to offer a better work environment overall and retain those contract workers!

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