If you’re reading this, you’re either a freelancer who’s somehow stumbled upon our little blog or someone who’s either hired or is contemplating taking on a remote worker or two. (Or you’re my mum. Hi, Mum!)
Now, if you happen to be the latter (the remote employer, not my mum, just to be clear) and are just starting to discover the benefits of hiring freelancers, this article is for you. Sure, working with the sellswords of the virtual workplace gives you significant cost savings and access to a bigger pool of talent, among other advantages, but that’s ONLY IF YOU DO THINGS RIGHT.
Freelancers are essentially specialists who seek to fill a niche in the virtual workplace. You have your graphic designers, content writers, SEO optimizers, social media managers, and so on. Sure, you can probably announce on social media that you’re looking to fill a certain position on your team, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to that.
Now, there are various agencies online that were specifically established to help you find the right freelancer. Be sure to look for those that come with the right credentials and certifications, and don’t be afraid to request samples or links to a remote worker’s portfolio to see if they have the skills you need.
The operative word here is realistic. If you want, say, top-notch graphics, be ready to shell out some serious cash. Not all freelancers are made equal, and the ones who have made it to the top of the heap will charge significantly higher rates than someone who is starting out simply because they have more skill and/or experience.
And please, please, please (!) don’t even think about trying to pay a remote worker with “exposure.” We need to eat too, you know.
What sort of tasks will you assign to your freelancer? Can they work remotely throughout the project or will you need them to come in to the office from time to time? What’s your timeline for finishing the project?
Ideally, you should be able to provide information prompted by the aforementioned questions in your preliminary inquiry. This way, the freelancers you approach will have a good idea of what you need and thus be able to determine if they will be able to provide you with the appropriate service or not, saving you both time.
Still a little wary of enlisting a freelancer’s service? Have them do a small task and evaluate the result to decide if you’d like to take the working relationship further. This way, you only need to pay for the initial task in case you aren’t satisfied with their output and thus keep looking for your required talent elsewhere.
Once you do hire a remote worker, go over the key points of their employment before they begin working on your project. Talk about your expectations, your deadlines, and how many drafts you need them to come up with.
Allow your chosen freelancer to jump right in with questions about their tasks as well as some suggestions of their own.
This strategy enables you to lay down the cards from the get-go and also ensures that everyone is at the same page once the work begins.
Two or three is too many and could lead to conflicting instructions and/or needlessly long lead times for approval across the board, both of which could result in costly mistakes, production delays, and general frustration for both you and your remote worker.
Keep things simple. The best scenario would be for the direct employer and the contact person to be one and the same.
Those of us who chose to work remotely often did so because this allows us to accomplish tasks our way, and without a supervisor’s unnerving presence breathing down our necks as we do so.
You should still reach out to your freelancer about any changes in the project schedule or requirements because s/he will usually work better with proper direction, but try not to micromanage him/her either. The occasional project updates should suffice.
On the other hand, do come up with a schedule for checking in. Once a week is pretty reasonable. You can use this time to see how far along your remote worker is on their assigned tasks while they can grab the opportunity to clarify things or to suggest any additional tweaks to the existing output.
Don’t hesitate to tell your remote worker what you like or what you don’t like about their output. Most freelancers genuinely want to meet their clients’ needs to the best of their abilities, and constructive praise and/or criticism is crucial to that process.
Be quite specific in giving feedback too. Don’t just say you love what your specialist did with your website’s SEO, for instance. Mention how you appreciate them getting your website on the first page of the search results a lot sooner than your agreed-upon deadline instead. Similarly, don’t bash or dismiss someone’s output out of hand. Rather, discuss what you would like them to improve (e.g., bigger fonts, a more user-friendly interface, a more concise message, etc).
This should go without saying, but make it easy for your freelancers to receive their pay. Remember, most of them pay for work expenses out of pocket, so timely and proper compensation is very important to their enterprise. Bear that in mind when you select a payment channel for your remote team.
With PayStaff, for example, the remittance platform not only makes sure the money arrives on time, but it also charges fewer processing fees, allowing you to pay your workers more without spending an additional penny.
The rise of remote work has been quite exciting, not just for us freelancers, but also for those who avail of our services. Never has there been a set-up with such potential to facilitate a win-win scenario for both employers and employees. Telecommuting has in many ways leveled the playing field.
So, in the same way that we remote workers have to keep developing our skills to remain competitive, remote employers who wish to attract only the best talent can do so by cultivating a good reputation as straightforward clients that are easy to work with.