The freelance economy is more than healthy with people freelancing that are also gainfully employed. The extra money available and freedom that freelancing allows makes it an attractive option for millions of people. Companies can benefit through the utilization of freelancers in a variety of areas of business. The misconception that freelancers do not produce the same class of work couldn’t be more untrue. Freelancers have experience at the highest levels with some individuals wanting to set their own schedule. Working from around the world can lead people with great job titles to freelance due to a desire to travel. Managing freelancers can be tricky as communication barriers, cultural differences, and working styles differ. Below are tips to help manage large pools of freelancers at a small company.
Do Not Pay Late or Change the Scope of Projects
The unfortunate truth is that freelancers are taken advantage of daily by certain companies. The lack of attorney on retainer or assumption the freelancers will not complain due to needing the work is common. Changing the scope of a fixed price project should come with price modification. The scope of projects often changes with the freelancer being required to do more that do not speak up. Avoid these practices as freelancers make it well-known in their immediate freelance circles which businesses treat contractors poorly. “If not paying through a platform then making sure checks can be seen marked ‘Payment Enclosed’ is essential. Junk mail is a daily occurrence so a freelancer could overlook a check”, says EnvelopeSuperstore.com. Be honest if payment will be late though as a few days is manageable for many freelancers. Saying the check or payment will go through with no intention of paying can lose freelancers permanently.
In-House Management of Writers or Virtual Assistants
Virtual assistants can allow a manager to do more managing than that of setting appointments. These assistants can also set meetings, answer emails, and be assisted with other tasks. A virtual assistant can be of help for everyone in the office if they are overloaded with administrative work. Each assistant will be asked to complete different tasks depending on who they assist. Training will have to be custom for each type of employee rather than an all-inclusive training.
To improve productivity and results, it’s best to hire multiple assistants for your work. Of course, every situation is different, however, it’s important to remember that just because you’re a jack of all trades doesn’t necessarily mean your assistant will be. If your virtual assistant specializes in data entry, don’t make their job more difficult by throwing in cold calling or graphic design work—even with a simple tool like Canva. They’ll produce better quality work if they stay within their range of expertise.
Writers for the blog or for content marketing campaigns need to be managed in-house. The manager can help ensure the quality of the work as well as help maintain the brand’s tone/voice. Stick with freelancers that have native English skills for these roles. If you do not, there is a chance that you spend more time editing the content than anything else. Make sure to check Copyscape each time a piece is submitted as content plagiarism is rampant in some circles of freelancers.
Have a Native Freelancer Direct Those From Their Country
Freelancing is immensely popular in countries like that of Bulgaria or India. The ability to earn wages from countries like that US allow for much higher income levels than working a job domestically. The reason for using freelancers is avoiding increasing the number of in-house staff. The hiring of a project manager for the freelancers from their native country can be extremely wise. Other cultures are far harder on workers and this will ensure nothing is lost in translation. Teams of freelancers are also available for hire so this can be an easy way to work with a team that has their workflow perfected.
Time Tracking Platform
Companies that are utilizing a freelancer platform can view what the freelancers are doing when logging hourly work. The option to do this is not available for fixed price projects time wasted on the freelancer’s dime. Time tracking software is a great way to hold employees as well as freelancers accountable for the time they should be working. The ability to look at where top performers are spending time can help with training employees and freelancers in the future. Asking current employees/freelancers to contribute training tips can yield an extensive training guide. These types of training guides are sure to minimize mistakes and maximize productivity.
If you hire your freelancers from a platform like Upwork, you can benefit from their proprietary time tracking software, which secures your working relationship and ensures they are only always paid for the work they complete. Otherwise, you can use tools like TimeDoctor to manage different projects. On the same token, always take advantage of project management tools like Asana, Trello, and Basecamp. Each of these tools allow you to track progression of different tasks, collaborate with your team, and gain a high-level overview of what’s happening across your entire team of freelancers.
Continually Look for Better and Better Freelancers
Freelancers that hit deadlines at an affordable price are often scooped up for full-time projects. Losing a freelancer like this will take time to replace so consistently try to onboard quality freelancers. The ability to scale various projects with freelancers allows for a business to keep the budget in mind. Upwork is a great platform to find freelancers and also ask for referrals from your current freelancer pool. Finding quality freelancers can improve the quality of work done while saving money. For any small business this is an ideal scenario as cash flow at small businesses can be a concern.
Managing freelancers will be perfected over time as each freelancer will have individual needs as an employee. Do not settle for average freelancers as there are so many top of the line freelance workers available!