Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur the contributors are theirs.
Running a small business or startup involves many different responsibilities. Often, you have limited resources and budget to complete every task in-house and hire full-time employees.
Hiring freelancers and virtual assistants is a great way to get extra hands on your business without having to commit full-time. You can use freelancers whenever you need their services, so you pay as you go. According to research, freelancers make up 36% of the total workforce in the United States. In 2021 alone, they contributed $1.3 trillion to the economy, up $100 million from 2020.
Despite the growing prevalence of freelancing activities, many entrepreneurs still struggle to find qualified freelancers to help them. While it’s relatively easy to recruit for entry-level positions like data entry or customer service roles, where there’s an abundance of candidates willing to accept extremely low rates, one cannot The same cannot be said for experienced freelancers with specialized niche skills, as it is more difficult to attract this category.
In this article, I’ll share some tips that have helped me attract the most qualified of the bunch through online freelancing platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and PeoplePerHour.
Create a great customer profile
One thing I’ve found while researching freelancers is that freelancers also research client profiles to see if they’d like to work with them. If you want to attract quality freelancers, leave 5-star reviews for freelancers you’ve worked with in the past. These positive reviews will tell other candidates that you are not difficult to work with. If your profile is loaded with negative comments and low ratings, most reputable freelancers will avoid your jobs. No one would feel comfortable working for a client who has a history of issues with other freelancers. And if things don’t work out with a freelancer, it’s better not to leave any comments than to ruin your own profile.
Related: What I Learned After Paying Freelancers Over $1 Million
Simplify your recruitment process
Some freelancers avoid certain clients because of their hiring processes. They need extensive testing and interviews, or they post jobs weeks before they start interviews. So, freelancers apply for the jobs and have to wait long and indefinitely before they can get an update on their applications. Keep in mind that large freelancers, especially those with certain specialized skills, most likely already have clients. They will not be bothered to go through a long application process or to participate in tests.
Freelancers aren’t available forever either. Just because they’re available now doesn’t mean they’ll have time to work on your project later. Therefore, post jobs only when you are ready to hire. Upwork reports that, on average, it takes clients three days to hire a freelancer. This “three-day recruiting” standard is what you need to target if you want to be taken seriously.
Get real with the scope of work
Be sure to specify the scope of the job details and what you expect from the freelancer when you post the job posting. Be realistic and ask yourself if the job can actually be done by a part-time candidate. One of my startup clients was once looking for a freelance digital marketer, and her position stated, “a digital marketer with at least 8 years of experience in social media marketing, Google ads, SEO, content marketing and public relations”. Excuse me, but this position requires a whole department! The job is doomed because it’s just not reasonable to expect someone to have all of these skills and then perform all of these tasks on a freelance basis, which would yield great results in all the domains.
In these cases, it’s best to hire multiple freelancers, each focusing on a different area of expertise.
Related: Why Freelancers Are Key to Achieving On-Demand Talent Scalability
Avoid dictating the “how”
When hiring an independent expert in a particular area, try not to dictate how you want them to do their job. Instead, let them know what your business is struggling with and what your outcome expectations are. Be open to their ideas and give them space to do their job, especially if you don’t have any expertise in the area yourself. An experienced talent will be able to take you from A to B by reviewing a few parameters.
Make up your mind
Following the terms and agreements will ensure that freelancers give the best of their work. Once a contract is in place for the job, try to stick to the agreed terms. If it becomes necessary to change job specifications, ask the freelancer first or offer to adjust rates as compensation for breach of contract. Freelancers will appreciate this and it will encourage them to continue working for you in the long run.
Related: 3 Ways to Set Freelancers Up for Success
Hiring expert freelancers is a level playing field. While it may seem like you get to choose who to hire, the best freelance talent actually has the final say. So if you’re a small business owner on a budget and struggling to find top talent, you should take a moment to reflect. Ask yourself “Would I work for myself as a freelancer?” If you can’t immediately answer “yes” to this question, it’s probably time to make the necessary changes.