A freelancer may be just what you need. Whether you need a single professional or an entire team, these folks give you extra capacity when you need it but don’t hang around to add long-term expense.
Benefits of Freelance Talent
Why call on a freelance writer rather than add to your staff? Here are some advantages:
- Keep your overhead low. With freelance talent you hire for the project only. You don't have to pay a salary or benefits like you would with a permanent staff member.
- Budget costs accurately. If you describe the project clearly, most freelancers can give you a time and cost estimate up front. That should help with budgeting and cash flow planning.
- Increase your staffing flexibility. Using freelancers means you can staff up for that emergency project and reduce staffing when the work load goes down without adding to or subtracting from your regular staff.
- Match the person to the task. If one project calls for social media marketing skills, you can hire that. If another project needs expertise in widgets, you can hire a widget expert.
- Hire experience. Maybe your regular staff is fresh out of college -- eager and talented but unseasoned. Or maybe they know ABC but not XYZ, and your new project really needs both. You can hire a freelancer with expertise that balances your team.
- Get a different perspective. A fresh set of eyes brings a new view. A freelancer can be fresh eyes.
Finding a freelancer
The next step is to find the right person or persons. This may take some trial and error so a long-term strategy is in order. It doesn’t hurt to have several options working at any given time since you don’t usually have warning about emergencies.
Build a relationship with a contract employment firm (or two). Most managers know about contract employment firms. There are specialized ones for creative talent.
If you've used these agencies before, you may have had mixed experience with them. Sometimes they’ve sent you a gem. Other times a dud. Often the difference between good and bad results is the agency’s understanding of your needs. It needs to go deep.
Between emergencies, talk to and experiment with several firms and consultants. Find one that you feel understands your needs thoroughly. They can be a resource for you when you need help fast.
Identify your own pool of freelancers. There’s an entire community of freelancers who work directly with companies – no middleman or agency involved. Especially creatives like writers and designers.
During non-emergency times, gather suggestions for freelance/contract folks. Get recommendations from current and former employees, friends, coworkers, colleagues in similar companies, professional associations. You're more likely to get on-point recommendations if you provide a clear idea of what you need when it comes to expertise, skills, budget and style.
Interview each one to review their experience and work samples. You can even give the best of the bunch a small project to complete so you can learn what it's like working together. Set up a file of those who pass the test with their contact information, general availability, hourly rate, work style and so on, so you’re prepared for the next unexpected project.
Freelance talent can save the day, handling last-minute assignments with skill and expertise. Be prepared for the inevitable by identifying resources before the need arises.