Hiring freelancers is still an unknown practice to many. But freelancers are here to stay and are looking to revolutionise the workforce. Covid-19, the lack of IT talent and the desire for more flexibility have accelerated the need and acceptance of working with freelancers and independent professionals.
Sometimes hiring a full-time employee doesn’t make sense and other times, it’s impossible to find one. This leaves businesses with no option but to hire freelancers who can take their projects further.
However, hiring a freelancer is not the same as hiring a full-time employee.
Hiring freelancers means learning new hiring processes, understanding and paying attention to new legal details, ensuring compliance, exploring new ways of communication and ultimately, new ways of working.
If it’s your first time considering hiring a freelancer you might have some questions such as:
- What changes for me and my business?
- How do I go about hiring freelancers?
- Where can I find the right talent?
- How much does it cost to hire a freelancer?
- Can I hire someone abroad?
- How do we start working together?
These questions all make perfect sense!
If you were forced to work remotely due to Covid-19, you might be familiar with some collaboration and communication tools already but the step of hiring a freelancer is one into the unknown!
Hiring freelancers is not only a challenge for SMEs. Large companies and their HR departments are also still figuring out how they can manage and add contractors and freelancers into their teams.
Freelancermap has been helping companies and freelancers connect since 2005, when we knew that freelancers were key players for companies, even back then. Now, in 2023, it’s no different and freelancers are even more necessary.
New things can be dizzying. But the benefits of working with freelancers and independent experts are too great to miss out on.
We believe that having a mix of freelancers and full-time employees (blended workforce) is the future and are here to help you understand how freelancers can be part of your company and how you can benefit from them!
In this article, we tell you how to hire freelancers, how to benefit from hiring them and their experience, how much it really costs to hire a freelancer and what the process is like!
- Benefits of hiring freelancers
- When to hire a freelancer
- Cost of hiring freelancers
- How to hire a freelancer
- How to onboard & manage freelancers
Benefits of hiring freelancers
Freelancers are people that often have common characteristics: They are used to working hard and are usually organised in their work.
Even today, freelancers need to sell themselves and explain to clients all the benefits of hiring freelancers like them. Freelancers have great negotiation skills and so they bring them in to convince clients to hire them over other freelancers or a full-time employee.
However, you don’t need to wait for a freelancer to tell you the benefits, here’s what you could get from them.
Benefits of working with freelancers:
- Flexibility as it gives companies the ability to hire fast when needed but also scale down if a recession hits.
- Fewer costs by being able to hire an expert on-demand only for a specific period of time.
- Despite the belief that hiring freelancers is more expensive than hiring an employee, this is a myth (we will discuss the costs of hiring a freelancer later).
- Freelancers have the experience of having worked on different projects and for different companies. They gain experience much more quickly than employees who stay with one company for several years.
- Freelancers take their training costs personally (you don’t have to worry about providing or paying for it as it is something they take very seriously in order to remain competent at what they do).
- The company has no tax liability. The freelancer owns their business and they are the ones who have to take care of all the red tape, taxes, etc.
- The company also does not pay for classic employee benefits such as holidays, sick days, pension, insurance, etc.
- Faster hiring: Instead of waiting months to attract, interview, select and hire an employee, hiring a freelancer can be a matter of weeks, days or even hours!
- Better performance by working with true subject matter experts that the company may not be able to afford to hire full-time.
- Commitment: freelancers care about their reputation and so they give their best in every single project.
- Access to more talent that no longer necessarily has to be living in your city or country. Global market, at competitive prices or access to very experienced talent.
- Fewer hierarchies offer faster work, the freelancer will be incorporated to work directly with the rest of the team responsible for the project. Onboarding freelancers take companies only a few days while it takes weeks to onboard a full-time employee.
- Innovation: Freelancers bring an objective point of view and bring fresh and innovative new ideas.
Hiring a freelancer actually comes with a number of benefits, so how do you know when the right time is? Let’s get into it!
When to hire a freelancer
Companies of any size can take advantage of working with freelancers. A freelancer can even hire another freelancer to support them with their projects.
How do you know it’s time to hire a freelancer? There are a number of situations that will tell you.
1. You are turning down interesting projects
The first and most frustrating sign that you might need outside help is when you start having to turn down projects that you would really like to take on.
This includes projects that are financially lucrative or projects that seem super exciting or are from companies you’ve always admired and dreamed of working with.
In these cases, getting external help from another freelancer would allow you to delegate other projects and be able to take on this new challenge that you would definitely want to accept.
2. You struggle to meet deadlines
Another warning sign that it might be a good idea to hire another professional is that you are having to spend more and more of your personal time on work because meeting deadlines is becoming more and more challenging. A freelancer could help you with that overload of work.
The solution to an increased workload doesn’t always have to be: ‘I just have to work more’. Remember that maintaining a work-life balance is key and that freelance burnout is also a reality!
Pushing yourself is fine but at some point, you’re going to realise that the work you’re taking on is too much for one person to handle. That’s when you start to seriously consider hiring another freelancer to give you a hand.
3. You’re no longer doing what you’re good at
Freelancers and entrepreneurs build their businesses to offer a product, service or concept that they are passionate about and that they know people need.
This passion is key to the success of the business. However, as businesses grow, many end up doing tasks that are not what they are passionate about.
If you are spending too much time on tasks that are not key to your business, you should probably consider outsourcing this work as well.
4. Your work-life balance is deteriorating.
One of the main reasons many people start their own businesses is because they want to achieve a better work-life balance.
As our freelancer survey shows, for most freelancers the main benefits of being a freelancer are independence, freedom of choice and control over their time.
However, the problem is that unless you start delegating some of your work, the balance you have worked so hard for will begin to deteriorate.
5. Your employees don’t have the necessary skills
Especially when a very specific task or project arises or requires a very specific technique, hiring a freelancer may be the best option.
It might be the case that you simply don’t have anyone internally who can do it. Or if you do, they’ll need some additional training to help them get through it.
In these situations, outsourcing to a freelancer is perfect. As we said above, freelancers have a lot of experience and will get the exact skills needed for the job.
You can hire a freelancer for the first time and keep their contact for future opportunities. Yes, the first contract will end but if you think they did a good job, your relationship won’t end there.
This way you will save time and money.
6. Your relationships with your clients are suffering
Maybe you missed a client meeting because you forgot or didn’t have time to prepare as much as you’d like. Perhaps you’ve got a list of jobs to do for various customers but can’t find the time because you’re snowed under with menial tasks.
It is these details that make the difference in building strong and lasting relationships with clients.
Never forget, clients are the key to your business and your relationship with them should never suffer because you’re spending too much time undertaking tasks that you could potentially delegate to a freelancer.
You may already recognise yourself in one of these scenarios. And if not, the list of benefits has probably encouraged you to decide to work with a freelancer.
Web developers, software engineers, systems analysts, UX/UI designers and other technical profiles can help you.
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But I’m sure the price is something you’re also worried about. How much does it cost for the company to work with a freelancer? Let’s take a look at that!
How much does hiring freelancers cost?
The cost of hiring a freelancer is an important factor for companies – especially when considering hiring a freelancer for the first time.
Freelancers generally charge companies by the hour, by the day or by the project. It really depends on the kind of tasks and projects at hand. But first, let’s take a look at the hourly rates of different freelancers.
Like traditional employee salaries, freelancer rates vary depending on the industry, speciality and experience of the freelancer.
According to our freelancer study 2022, in which more than 2,500 IT professionals told us their hourly rate, freelancers are paid $98/hour on average.
In fact, 56% of freelancers charge between $75 and $124 per hour.
For many people (and companies) these freelancer rates seem very high at first glance. Usually, the freelancer rate tends to be thought of as the net salary the professional would receive working as an employee divided by the hours the freelancer would work.
Of course, this is wrong and surely no freelancer will work under these conditions.
It should not be forgotten that the freelancer has to pay his or her own taxes, social security contributions, pension, and also allocate resources for possible illness, etc.
The company also has to understand the total cost of hiring an employee on its payroll and not only consider what the employee receives.
The company assumes: costs and delivery of equipment, holidays, training, Christmas bonus, car, travel, possible sick leave, social security, etc.
Cost of hiring freelancers vs. cost of hiring employees
|Cost of an employee||Cost of a freelancer|
|Salary + taxes + social contribution||Project fee or hourly rate x number of hours worked|
|Pension fund contributions|
|Equipment, internet and maintenance|
|Oficina and related costs (electricity, heating, etc.)|
|Car, fuel, car insurance|
|Food, snacks, fruits, etc.|
|Private health insurance|
|Trainings, events, etc.|
|Other benefits (shares, etc.)|
The exact cost of hiring an employee depends on the exact country the company is based.
For example, in Spain, if an IT specialist receives €1,500 gross per month, the company assumes additional social security costs of €450. In other words, the real salary with contributions would be €1,950 (30% more costs for the company).
In Germany, it’s no different.
The employer must pay, besides the employee salary, additional contributions for each employee that make up an average of 21% of the gross salary. The same applies in France, where companies must pay 40% of the gross salary.
Other countries in Europe also enforce additional contributions to an employee’s salary. For example, in the Netherlands, companies must pay an average of 30% over the gross salary whereas in Italy, they must contribute an average of 35% of gross earnings.
In the US, an employee usually costs 1.25-1.4 times the base salary whereas in the UK, costs can go almost double the base salary of an employee (considering factors like recruitment, training, pension contributions, liability insurance, etc.).
Thus, hiring a full-time employee is generally 20% – 40% more expensive as it seems.
However, the cost of the freelancer will be the cost of the project in question that the freelancer has contributed or the total number of hours x the freelancer’s rate / hour.
Also, it should not be forgotten that the onboarding of a new employee usually takes longer than that of a freelancer who is used to changing workplaces and is a specialist in his or her field.
Often, freelancers are able to help companies optimise their processes and in a way are improving the overall performance of the company.
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The challenge of hiring freelancers: HR vs. Procurement
Until now, it has often been the case that Human Resources (HR) is in charge of hiring employees and Procurement is in charge of hiring professionals and external projects.
Thus, the employees are labour costs borne by the HR department, but the payment to the freelancer is an operational costs of the department where the freelancer is hired.
HR recruiters have their frameworks and processes for hiring internal employees, but they do not have defined processes for hiring freelancers. Nor does the procurement department understand perfectly how to deal with these contractors, who are not a commodity but human beings.
That is why the ideal scenario would be that the HR department would be in charge of the process of hiring and onboarding freelancers as well.
This way they would better understand when external talent (freelancers) is required or when internal talent can be sourced.
How to hire freelancers: A step-by-step guide
If you are convinced of how your small (or large) business could benefit from hiring a freelancer and you know, it’s time to hire your first freelancer, follow the steps down below to make the process a smooth one.
1. Define the core skills, scope of work and specifications
Now that you’ve decided that your business needs new talent, it’s time to think about the type of professional you’re looking for.
“I need a freelancer to work with Shopify and our online shop”.
“I need a freelancer with WordPress experience to redesign my blog”.
According to our freelancer survey, the skills and expertise of the freelancer are one of the factors that guarantee the success of freelancers.
What skills and expertise does the freelancer need to complete the project you have in hand? For example, mastering a certain programming language, writing a certain type of content or any other knowledge.
The more specific those skills are, the better – that way you’ll be able to find someone with exactly that expertise.
And you won’t just have to think about skills but go a bit further.
For example, does the project have a fixed deadline, or is it possible to work on it 100% remotely?
You should also start thinking about the budget you will be able to afford as this will be crucial in future negotiations and you may also want to share it at the beginning.
As a freelancer, you may also consider hiring another freelancer for certain projects. In this case, you probably have two alternatives:
- Hire someone like you: This option would be ideal if you have a heavy workload and want someone to take care of part of those projects. In other words, you will be looking for someone with your knowledge and skills who can take the projects forward.
- Hire your compliment: This option would be interesting to sell more services to a client. You can learn from each other and offer a wider range of services. Some tandems that work well: Web Development + Web Design or Product Owner + Software Developer.
2. Where to hire freelancers? Talent search
Once you know what you need, you need to find those freelancers you could work with.
Where are you going to be able to find freelancers and hire them?
There are several options:
#1 Advertise the vacancy on freelance platforms
There are many options here and you should find the freelance platform that works best for you. You must know that there are portals that have no associated costs and where you can post offers and hire freelancers without commissions.
For example, if you are looking for technical profiles, you could post your job for free on freelancermap. Register, indicate that you are looking for freelancers and create your project detailing what you need in a few minutes.
💡 How to Write an Attractive Freelance Job Posting: Tips and Examples
With the project posted, freelancers will be the ones actively submitting their CVs and proposals.
The other option within the platform is to contact freelancers directly with the opportunity in question. For example, you can write to 100,000+ freelancers on freelancermap.
Unless you already have someone in mind, this is more time-consuming and can be done in parallel. We recommend that you post your advert on a freelancer platform as well.
#2 Search on social networks
Social networks also offer us a great showcase of freelancers. If freelancers are active on different channels, it might be easier for you to find them and contact them directly.
If not, you can take advantage of the groups that each network offers. For example, on Facebook, there are groups of freelancers by location or speciality. Here are some examples:
- Laravel & VueJs – Freelance & Remote Jobs
- Développeurs Web en freelance
- Flutter Developers Freelancing
LinkedIn also has these groups and by searching directly for profiles on LinkedIn, you can use LinkedIn’s recommendations to find out what others are saying about each person.
Another option is to use Twitter to find talent by entering keywords or hashtags.
This is another useful option. If you have contacts who have already hired freelancers and liked their work, ask them to connect you with them.
If you are one of those who wonder if it is safe to work with freelancers, client testimonials will give you peace of mind.
Direct contacts will give you access to talent that may not have their own website or profile on freelancer platforms.
Studies show that around 70% of freelancers do not have an online presence and do not need it to continue working.
3. How to choose a freelancer: Assessing candidates
When you have several candidates on the table, you will be faced with the following dilemma:
Which freelancer should I hire? How can I know which freelancer is the most suitable to do the job?
It’s time to filter through all the professionals to decide which ones would fit you and your project. Here you will have to look at experience, professionalism, demonstrable facts and experience, etc.
This is our checklist for shortlisting freelancers:
- Have they sent you all the information you asked for? If they haven’t, reject the proposal because they don’t pay attention to details. Sometimes it can be interesting to ask them to include a cover letter or a certain word to rule out those who go on automatic.
- Do they send you a personal message adapted to the project? Again, if you have left your contact and they don’t speak to you directly or don’t mention anything specific to your requirements, you can also rule out this candidate.
- Do they have impressive previous experience? Take a good look at their previous full-time experience or the last few clients they have worked with. Review their portfolio and samples of previous work done.
- Do they have references or testimonials? The best way to find out if other clients have been satisfied is to look for what they say about them, you can search their website or freelancer profile.
- How was the communication? If the freelancer has understood what you need and the communication has been fluid, this may be the perfect freelancer. Don’t underestimate this point, a bad communication can lead the whole project to disaster despite having an impressive previous experience.
- General feeling? Go with your instinct, that profile picture inspires confidence and you feel they will be a good asset to your company, go for it.
4. Conduct interviews with potential candidates
After the first filter, you should have a small group of candidates that you are still considering for your project. Depending on the project there may be more or less, but between 3 and 5 people would be more than enough.
All of them are motivated to take on the project and have the required skills. What we would recommend now to make the final decision would be a call of about 15 to 30 minutes.
Preferably a video call or virtual meeting via Skype or Google Meets, where you can ask them some questions and confirm their availability.
You can start with your favourite freelancers and if you see that with 3 interviews you already have the best one, you don’t need to invest more time interviewing the rest.
How to know which freelancer is the right one?
We believe that in the end, it will come down to a feeling. If all the candidates have the experience you need for the project, go for the professional with whom you have connected better on a personal level.
Having that connection will also help with the communication in the project and good communication can really help in the project’s success.
5. Check references (if you need to)
If you already have the finalists, but you are not able to decide which freelancer to hire, there is still one thing to do.
Ask former companies the freelancer worked for how it went with them. Good freelancers will always get recommendations from previous clients.
If the freelancer hasn’t sent those, ask them to send them over or write to someone in the company directly if you feel insecure and it’s a big project.
They probably won’t mind telling you how happy they were working with the freelancer in question.
6. Prepare the contract
Finally, when all is said and done, there is one final step: draw up the contract to legally hire the freelancer.
The freelancer may already have a contract prepared that you just need to sign. Nowadays, there are programs like Bonsai that allow freelancers to manage their entire business from this application, including contracts.
So don’t be surprised if you directly receive a digital copy of the freelancer contract that you just have to sign (also digitally).
If you are the one who wants to take care of the contract, you may need legal help for the drafting of the contract.
If you need help in drafting the contract to hire a freelancer, we suggest our article “5 must-have clauses in a freelance contract“.
There may be some professionals who don’t mind working without a contract but remember that unforeseen events may occur and the best protection against any eventuality is to have legal backing. That is, a contract.
Some points that need to be defined in the contract are copyrights, if there is a confidentiality agreement (NDA), or if there is an exclusivity or non-competition clause.
A few more tips for hiring freelancers
1. Start small
You don’t need to start with a big project. You can start in small steps to understand the way of working with external professionals.
That is, you could start with a small part of the total project to see if you understand each other and work together. Or allocate resources for a small (paid) test to see how the freelancer works.
2. How to hire a freelancer from another country?
This is precisely one of the advantages of working with professionals in a freelancer setting. By not having to hire the professional as an employee and register them as such in the company, any freelancer from another country will be able to work with you.
For example, in the software development field, developers in Argentina, Egypt or Germany have great reputations.
To hire these freelancers, you will have to follow the same steps we have mentioned to hire a freelancer and when you deliver the service, the freelancer will give you an invoice that you will have to pay abroad (we recommend Wise for international payments).
However, we also recommend that you check the exact legality in your country.
For example, American companies that work with contractors need them to fill out a form in order to report the expenses they made when paying their freelancers.
If the freelancer is American, they must fill out a W-8 form, and international freelancers (non-US persons) must fill out a W-8BEN form if they will be paid by an American client.
3. Retain the best talent
The same applies to freelancers as to traditional workers. The best ones will have no problem finding new clients. So, as a company, you’ll need to get it right to build mutually beneficial relationships.
How do you keep freelancers in your company?
- Understand your strategy for hiring freelancers
- Have a performance management system in place to work well with freelancers
- Treat them professionally and as colleagues, not subordinates
- Integrate them into the team
- Give them the work that they are passionate about and are entitled to
- Put in the work to help them succeed (Support to step into the company and be effective)
- Don’t seek to take advantage and treat them with respect and appreciation
- Ask them what they value from past engagements to understand how they prefer to collaborate and be managed
- Share your expectations (e.g. in in 30 day I expect XY for the project to succeed)
- Pay freelancers fairly and fast
How to work with freelancers: Tips to get started
You found the right freelancer and made the hire – but how do you get started?
This part of the article will walk you through the process of successfully onboarding a freelancer and managing them.
Let’s take a look at the steps you would need to take for a smooth start:
#1 Decide on the access you want to give them
Before you start working with a freelancer, it’s crucial that you review beforehand the kind of access and information you want them to be privy to. This is especially important for companies that deal with sensitive information.
Once you have decided, provide access and permission to the tools the freelancer will need for work.
#2 Plan an onboarding meeting
Once you’ve clarified access rights, you’ll need to onboard the freelancer smoothly onto your team. The best way to do this is:
1. Ground rules
First things first, you’ll want to establish some ground rules. This is the part where you explain to the freelancer exactly what is needed from them and let them know what to expect.
This will help you avoid misunderstandings from the start and foster a nice work environment. Also, if there are any legal precedents that are relevant, you should make sure that the freelancer is aware of it and that they comply before starting out.
2. Onboarding documentation
Next, make sure you have the proper documentation in place for onboarding freelancers. The purpose of these documents is to help freelancers understand the terms and responsibilities of their new role within the company.
A good and clear onboarding documentation process has the ability to:
- Enhance work efficiency
- Improve transparency between you and the freelancer and;
- Create a stronger company culture
3. Define communication
As stated above, communicating your expectations will benefit both you and the freelancer. And so, you’ll need to be clear about what kind of communication you want and expect. For example, if you want updates every other day or you’re good with a weekly check-in, make sure you clarify it.
You can also define your preferred method to be contacted: Is it directly a call? A WhatsApp message? A slack message? A simple email?
That way you will both be on the same page and if you ensure you will get back within 24 hours, for example, the other party will know what to expect.
If necessary, you can also explain the meeting policy or explain you value asynchronous work.
Another important part of the onboarding process is to conduct regular check-ins with the freelancer – especially if the project is going to take a long time.
Once the project has begun, ask them how it’s going and if they have any more questions.
This will ensure that you’re on the same page throughout the length of the project you’re working together on.
#3 Introduction to company and team members
Once you’ve had the onboarding meeting, it’s time to make your freelancer feel welcome to the company by helping them integrate into the employee workforce.
Make sure that your freelancer is introduced properly to members of staff that they need to work with. For example, you could host a meeting with the sole purpose of introducing them and defining their work over the course of the project.
Now is also a good time to let freelancers know about your company’s values. Most likely than not, your freelancer comes from a different environment – one more private, and this will help them get settled and more comfortable, both of which could help towards a more successful collaboration.
#4 Useful tools to work with freelancers
Technology plays a major role in remote team management and so you should consider using tools that can help both you and your freelancer more clarity into your work communications.
Examples of popular tools for all manner of tasks are as follows:
- Recruitment and HR tools: Bambee, Gusto, Zenefits, Xolo Teams
- Project management: JIRA, Trello, Monday, Status Hero, Zoho, TeamGantt
- Communication: Slack, Flock, Loom, Range
- Knowledge management: Google Docs, Slab, Guru, Notion
- Time management: Time doctor, WebWork Time Tracker, HubStaff
General tips for working with freelancers
- Don’t micromanage: Freelancers love freedom. They work to achieve your goals and deadlines but on their own terms. And so it’s important that you let them do their thing.
- Make sure you’re on the same page: For this, the onboarding meeting mentioned above will be key. Define what you can expect from each other, how often you will check in, how long feedback will take to be delivered, the exact timeline, etc.
- Communicate clearly: As stated above, communication is crucial to working with freelancers. Respect freelancers’ time and give clear instructions to avoid misunderstandings.
- Let people talk to each other: If you’re hiring multiple freelancers, let them talk to each other, discuss ideas and solve problems. This way, they’ll not only be more productive, but will also only have to escalate the issue to you if their combined expertise isn’t enough.
- Respect the freelancer’s work ethic: Freelancers work under a special set of conditions. You’re probably not their only client and they might have to prioritise other projects if deadlines are nearing. If everybody clearly communicates their deadlines, there will be nothing standing in the way of a successful project.
Your business can gain a lot from hiring freelancers who can jump into a project quickly while bringing a wealth of experience to your business.
Communicate with them, pay them on time and treat them as you would want to be treated.
Think of the long-term benefits and build a solid relationship with the professional who you enjoy working with.
Building a network of freelancers you can rely on is going to be the future of a successful business. Having your own network will save you a great amount of time as they will be available to start whenever you need anyone for the job.
If you are still not 100% sure if hiring a freelancer is for you or have any questions, leave us a comment or contact the freelancermap team.
We’ll be happy to help you with your freelance recruitment and connect you with the best tech freelancers!
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