How to hire the right freelancer for your agency

out hiring freelancers for your agency, along with proven tips on how to turn them into useful and productive resources. 

When should I employ a freelancer?

Before jumping into hiring a freelancer, you should evaluate if this role fits your needs. Ask yourself these questions: 

  1. Is your internal team lacking the necessary level of knowledge or abilities?
  2. Is this a one-time small task, or a series of small tasks?
  3. Does your workload frequently change?
  4. Do you require assistance with administrative tasks that do not necessitate in-depth business knowledge?
  5. Do you need someone to fill in the gaps as your services grow?
  6. Will your business save a lot of time and money by outsourcing menial tasks to a freelancer?

If most of your answers are “yes”, hiring a freelancer is certainly the way to go.

Still, if you only have one “yes”, you can still consider the option of outsourcing. Consider your project’s scope, delivery schedule, and expected product quality. You may divide the project into two parts, one can be handled by in-house staff, and the other can be assigned to a freelancer. 

For example, your digital agency is looking to build a new website for your client, but your internal team is overwhelmed and cannot take on the development aspect. If you have enough bandwidth for your web designer and content writer, you can complete these scopes internally first. Then, you can hire a web developer to take care of the technical aspects of the website (remember to assign your project manager to monitor and evaluate the quality). Thus, your team members are still at the top of the client’s project which requires deeper business knowledge, while the freelancer becomes an extension of your team, ready to assist during peak project workload periods.  

How to hire the right freelancer for your agency

Follow the below steps to navigate the hiring process and select the best-fit freelancer for your agency.

Step 1: Define your project

Before beginning your search for freelance talent, take some time to think through your project’s details and clearly define the project based on these factors:

  • What kind of work do you require the freelancer to complete?
  • What are the responsibilities of the freelancer — conducting research, writing content, editing videos, or managing ad campaigns?
  • What is your project timeline, and what milestones do you require the freelancer to meet? What materials and resources will you provide the freelancer — such as brand guidelines or previous sample works? 
  • Who will collaborate with or monitor the freelancer on the project?
  • What is the estimated cost of your project? 

Tips:

When planning your freelance hiring strategy, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. If you want to hire a top talent who is excellent and quick, they will most likely be expensive. On the other hand, if you don’t need an expert or your project isn’t urgent, you can save some money. This is known as the unattainable triangle of Quality, Speed, and Price: most of the time, you can only have two of them. 

Here’s another piece of advice: If your budget is limited, you may look overseas for freelancers based in low-cost-of-living countries, where their hourly or project rate is low for you but a good deal for them. 

Step 2: Create a description of your project

After clearly mapping your project’s scope and how it should progress, you can create a description of this opportunity. In this step, make sure you communicate your needs from the start. This will help potential candidates understand your requirements and decide if they might be a good fit. The more detailed your job posting is, the higher the chance that you’ll receive more qualified applications with accurate responses. 

A good project post should include the following:

  • Your agency background and the client’s industry
  • Your work description with expected deliverables
  • Project commencement date and deadline
  • Requirement for skills, traits, education levels, and experience 
  • Your budget range
  • Payment terms (fixed price or hourly)

Tips:

In your description, ask candidates to submit their previous work for similar projects. For instance, if you’re in need of a video editor freelancer for your marketing efforts, you can ask them to submit work samples and ask them if they’re familiar with tools like Adobe Premiere or After Effects. Get a variety of project samples, so you understand their capabilities and what kind of work you can assign them.

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Personal recommendations are usually the best way to find the best freelancers, especially if they previously worked in the same field as you. Ask your professional networks if they have hired or would recommend anyone. Hence, you can be confident that the freelancer has been tried and tested by someone you know. This person can give you feedback on the freelancer’s work quality and whether they are easy to work with. 

Freelance marketplaces 

There are various freelance marketplaces that can cover your agency’s needs, anything from graphic design, SEO, branding, social media management, copywriting, data analysis, web development, etc. 

Here are the top marketplaces where you can post your opportunity description and search for freelancers:

  • Upwork
  • FlexJobs
  • Fiverr
  • Toptal 
  • Freelancer
  • Guru
  • PeoplePerHour
  • SimplyHired

Apart from aiding you in finding the ideal freelancers, these platforms can help you build a talent database for your agency and maintain visibility in the current workforce. They have a rating function, and some of them let you watch the freelancer’s computer screen as they work on billable tasks for you. All processes, from hiring, onboarding, contract signing, payments, and compliance, are supported by these platforms. 

Linkedin

Don’t forget LinkedIn when looking for freelancers. This is a powerful social media network to connect with freelancers in your industry. You can browse freelancers’ profiles by entering the keywords of the services you’re looking for. Furthermore, LinkedIn has a “Featured” section where users can upload examples of their work. This can help you determine the caliber of their work and whether they would be a good fit for your agency.

Step 4: Evaluate potential freelancers

It can be difficult to select the best applications from the multitude of proposals that you receive. In order to shortlist the qualified proposals, take into account these crucial elements:

  • Experience in the industry or the type of work you require
  • A strong portfolio of their work
  • Good testimonials
  • Familiarity with project management tools or specific computer programs

When assessing the freelancers, screen the submissions in accordance with the opportunity description and your requirements for the candidates’ experience and skills. Review their work samples and pick the best candidates for further interviews.

During the interviews, take the chance to talk about the working relationship and your expectations. Ask the freelancer to share their relevant experience and how they would handle the project. 

After ensuring they understand the scope of work, at this stage, you can negotiate the prices and rates. Let them propose their rates, or give them your budget and ask them if they are okay with it. Depending on the nature of the work, you may prefer a lump sum quote or an hourly rate, for example:

  • Lumpsum charge is suitable for definite deliverables, such as a 1000-word article, a 3-minute video, or a 20-slide presentation.
  • Hourly rate is best for ongoing tasks like data entry, web development, and advertising specialist.

Tips:

If the freelancer charges an hourly rate, you should try to learn about their working speed. Inquire about the estimated time needed to complete the project, or say, “Great, let us cap the work at 5 hours to begin with and see how far we have gotten after that.”

In addition, remember to check references, especially if you plan to let them take on a client-billable project immediately. 

Step 5: Create a small, paid, test-run assignment

When you work with a new freelancer for the first time, begin with a small test that has a determined completion date. It serves as a trial run and will let both parties understand the working styles of each other. This non-critical, paid assignment will help you decide whether you’d like to extend more work to this person or put them on client-billable contracts. 

Be willing to spend on the test-run assignments: this cost is small but will prevent the risk of choosing the wrong person for your project. Ask if the freelancers can reduce their rates for a trial assignment; some of them may be willing to. 

You can prepare a few standard tests in advance for different roles that your agency frequently needs. For instance, doing keyword research for a PPC account, designing a sales presentation and infographics, or creating a social media post with an image.

These standard assignments allow you to easily compare multiple freelancers at once or over time. You can see right away who’s work is of high quality and who isn’t, as well as the turnaround time and revision support. 

Step 6: Seal the deal

Once you have selected the best freelancer for the job, have them sign a contract. This agreement protects both your agency and the freelancer.  

Enlist the assistance of your legal team to draft a contract. It might cover items such as:

  • The agreed-upon scope of work 
  • The working conditions, including product ownership 
  • A confidentiality agreement
  • The project price and rates, whether it is a fixed rate, hourly rate, or retainer
  • Payment terms (i.e., biweekly, monthly, etc.)
  • Who is in charge of taxes?

Read more about the problems that agencies have with freelance contracts.

In addition, make sure to manage their expectations about the timeline. Inform them if you are hiring them for a specific, upcoming project or if you’re compiling a freelancer list for future work. Be open and honest with the freelancer to set the tone and maintain a positive working relationship.

To Wrap Up

The benefits of hiring freelancers are undeniable for agencies: not only do they help you increase productivity, but they also save you the expense of retaining full-time employees. With a team of outsourced experts, you can rely on them to deliver quality work, while focusing on other aspects of your agency. Follow the steps in this article to find the right freelancers for your next project!

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