Whether you are a running a one-man (or one-woman) business or you have a company that has multiple teams, you will likely at some point need to hire the services of a freelancer.
Hiring a freelancer can be a great alternative to taking on permanent employees. They can save on costs and free up staff to concentrate on more important tasks.
But what exactly are freelances and how do they benefit small and medium sized businesses in the UK?
Read on to find the answers to these questions and many more.
What is a freelancer?
Freelancers are independent labourers. Rather than being employed by a company, they are hired on a per-task or per-job basis. Freelance jobs are almost always short-term work. Because they are not hired on a full-time basis, they are normally asked to sign contracts with each contract job negotiated independently.
What are some common freelance jobs?
There are some positions that lend themselves to freelancing more than others. These freelance projects are easy to find and are always in need. They include:
- Independent freelance journalist
- Online content creators
- Web designers or app developers
- Graphic artists
- Virtual assistants
All of these positions are typically in high demand, and because they are normally one-time projects they are done on a freelance basis.
What are the pros of hiring a freelancer?
Here are some of the main benefits of hiring a freelancer:
Greater experience and skill
Freelancers will be experienced in their field and have a good amount of knowledge and expertise in what they do.
Less benefits to account for
Employers are not obliged to offer holiday entitlement, holiday pay or sick pay. They also won’t have to offer pension contributions or any other benefit that an in-house staff member may be entitled to.
Freelancers can be cheaper
As businesses only pay freelancers for the time they work and don’t have to pay any other benefits (see above), it can often be cheaper to use them for projects than hiring staff to work in-house.
What are the cons of hiring a freelancer?
With the positives, there will always be negatives. It’s important to consider both the pros and cons before making any business decision. Here are a few cons to consider:
Freelancers are generally inflexible
Freelancers will only do the job they are hired to do. This is often in contrast to in-house employees who may be able to help and work on various other tasks.
Good freelancers or those with specific skills can be expensive
Experienced freelancers or those with skills that are hard to come by may ask for a lot of money to complete a task.
Health and safety (as well as other laws) still apply
Businesses are still responsible for freelancers’ health and safety (and any other statutory requirements) if they are working on the business’s premises.
Freelancers may not always be available
A freelancer will likely be working on multiple jobs; therefore, they might not always be available to work on a task for a business. This can be a real bind if their skills are required urgently and are difficult to source elsewhere.
Freelancers, more often than not, work on a remote basis. This means that business have to trust them to do the work and will have little in the way of oversight of what they are doing.
Where can I hire freelancers?
If you are considering hiring a freelancer, then you will need to source the right candidate. There are various marketplaces which feature hundreds of freelancers. Some of the biggest freelancer marketplaces include Fiverr, PeoplePerHour and Upwork.
These large marketplaces are a good place to start if you are new to hiring freelancers as they offer a broad range of tasks and skills. They are often also cheaper than going directly to an agency.
If you need experience or hard to come by skills, then there are plenty of agencies and individuals on the Internet who will provide their services for a fee.
How do I select a freelancer?
As with hiring any employee, a business should create a shortlist in order to find the right freelancer for their work. Don’t jump at the first one you find. Take the time to choose the right person for the job. The following tips may help with the selection process:
Don’t be afraid to interview
If you have a few candidates, it might be a good idea to interview each of them to see if they are what you are looking for. An interview can be a great opportunity to get to know the freelancers and get an accurate overview of their skills.
Some questions you should ask are:
- What is the time zone you work in?
- How long will you take to complete the project?
- What previous experience do you have?
- What are the rates and are you going to charge per project or per hour/day?
- When can you start working on this project?
- What is your availability?
- What is your preferred method of communication?
- Do you have certain work hours and when can I contact you?
Brief the freelancer
When you have chosen a freelancer task, you will need to put together a brief for them. A brief allows the freelancer to know your requirements and expectations and understand exactly what it is you expect of them. Here are some of the things to include in the brief:
- What is the nature of the work?
- The time frame that you expect everything to be completed by
- The budget that you have set for the project
What does the law say about hiring freelancers?
As with hiring any employee, there are certain legalities you need to be aware of when hiring a freelancer. These include:
- Confidential Information – If the freelancer is exposed to confidential or intellectual property information, then it’s important that this is made clear to them and what punishments they may face if they fail to protect it.
- Health and Safety – While most freelancers will work on a remote basis (meaning businesses will not be responsible for their health and safety), some may work on-site. If they do, the employer will be responsible for their safety.
- Contract – A contract is the most important document when it comes to working relationships and is still necessary when hiring freelancers.
Freelancers are a great alternative to hiring in-house staff in the modern workplace and can be a vital tool for many businesses.
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