Why Maybe Hiring a Freelancer Isn’t Right for You
Under the right circumstances, hiring a freelancer can go terribly for all parties.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a freelancer by trade. I want you to hire freelancers, because then there’s a chance that you might hire me and that puts dinner on my table. However, I also realize that hiring a freelancer isn’t exactly right for every editor, manager or overall business.
When those editors, managers and overall businesses go ahead and hire a freelancer anyway, things end badly. The one doing the hiring is upset because they’re not getting what they wanted from the client-freelancer relationship. The freelancer is upset because the client is upset.
So how can you know if hiring a freelancer just isn’t right for you? I’m glad you asked. Here are a few clues that maybe you should just do the work in-house or hire an extra employee.
1. You want instant access to the person working on your project.
Professional courtesy typically dictates that you expect a reply from your freelancer within 24 business hours. If you can’t wait that long for a reply to your emails, then a freelancer might not be right for your project.
Remember, successful freelancers are businesspeople. They have many, many clients and are working on many, many projects beyond yours. They can’t drop what they’re doing at a moment’s notice to get back to you on a question. They’re not beholden to your urgent requests.
2. You want the person working on your project to integrate seamlessly with all your company’s systems and processes.
This again goes back to freelancers being businesspeople and having multiple clients at once. If they integrated with every client’s processes and symptoms, they’d have no time to get any work done.
Additionally, forcing freelancers to work with different clients across an entire range of platforms can lead to more errors. While you think it’s no big deal to require your freelancer work within both your CMS and workflow software, just think if all 10–20 of the freelancer’s clients are asking them to do that. Suddenly, that’s 20–40 platforms a freelancer has to keep track of, learn and remember.
So keep your Trello boards, Asana and Basecamp projects and Slack channels to yourself. Email is always the most efficient and reliable way to reach your freelancer (and, for goodness sake — don’t assign them their own email address within your company).
3. You want someone who’s going to be “on the team.”
If you want someone “on the team,” then hire a team member. Remember, freelancers have to put their own interests at heart — they don’t have the security of traditional employment (if that can even be considered secure anymore).
This means that they’re not going to always be available when you contact them to work on a new project. They might have to turn down a project if you can’t reach a fee agreement. They may (and should) take a pitch to another publication if you turn it down.
While freelancers often love and enjoy working with their clients, at the end of the day, they have to put their own interests above those of the client, even if that means telling the client ‘no.’
But if you’re fine with letting go of these three demands…
…then you can find some pretty awesome freelancers who can really add value to your business. Yes, freelancers are not traditional employees, but that’s a good thing.
Hiring freelancers allows you to tap into talent and specialties that you wouldn’t or couldn’t find elsewhere. It’s cost-effective. Additionally, many freelancers are enjoyable to work with, because they’re choosing to work with you. They like you. They picked you over the other clients they could’ve had.
So, if you’re okay with waiting a few hours to hear back from your freelancer; you’re fine communicating with them via email; and you understand that they’re their own business, not an employee, then go ahead. Find a freelancer that fits your needs. You might just find it’s one of the best business decisions you ever made.