Many organizations rely on freelancers to get the job done.
In many ways, freelance writers, designers and marketers can help you cross more marketing off of your list and reach more of your marketing goals. That said, many people who’ve never worked with freelancers before aren’t sure where to start and may need to approach the process of making their first few hires carefully.
Not sure what to do as you look for a freelancer?
Here are some suggestions and ideas to help you get started.
The basics of freelancers
Independent freelance workers offer a variety of services that may be useful for your business. This can be particularly true if you have work you need done that doesn’t justify hiring new staff.
Freelancers can help you get odd tasks done without having to go broke paying benefits or hiring someone when you don’t have enough work to go around.
Although freelancing does have a few similarities
to being an employee, there are key areas where freelancers are different and
must be treated differently. For instance:
- Freelancers aren’t true employees: Even if they work directly for your business, freelancers aren’t employees in the strict sense of the word. They’re independent contractors classified differently by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the US and are essentially small business owners. This means you don’t withhold taxes for them and you can’t manage the way they do their work in the same fashion as you would with employees—for instance, you probably shouldn’t try to ask for specific schedule availability, such as from 9 to 5 on weekdays. Freelancers set their own schedules, work hours, and rules. As long as they deliver a product that meets your standards and pricing, there’s not much else you should really do. Freelancers are professionals—as long as you treat them with respect, you shouldn’t have too many problems working together.
- Freelancers aren’t usually onsite: Since you can’t manage them in the same way, expect them to want to do their work primarily offsite. They probably won’t set up a full-time desk in your office and work under supervision.
- They’re hired differently: When you look for freelancers, you’re not usually interviewing large numbers of candidates or combing-through big piles of resumes in response to an ad. Freelancers aren’t going to be full-time, so it doesn’t make sense to spend tons of hours looking. Instead, try searching online, looking at freelancer listings, or asking colleagues for recommendations. You can also check local writers’ groups.
Now that you have a few of the basics down, it’s
time to consider a few ways freelancers can help.
Working with freelancers
Getting help from a freelance workforce can
enable you to get more accomplished in your marketing.
Here are a few areas you can use freelancers:
- Social media: Setting social media strategy and writing posts for your social media profiles, updating your online information and responding to posts are just a few of the social media tasks freelancers can help with.
- Website: If it’s too much to keep your website updated and looking sharp, freelance writers, designers and developers are a great option.
- Email marketing: Planning, writing and managing email campaigns.
- E-news and podcasts: If you have your own publications and shows (or want to start), then freelancers can make it possible even if you’re insanely busy.
Ready to get started? Just be careful—there are
a few cautions we should warn you about.
What NOT to do with freelancers and freelancing cautions
Plenty of people who are new to hiring
freelancers make mistakes in hiring, managing and communicating with them.
Here’s how to avoid making a mistake.
Freelancing cautions to watch out for:
- Don’t forget the contract: Spell out any
agreement between you and your freelancer in writing. Even if it’s just an
email, clearly state any due dates, pricing, and expectations. Don’t make
assumptions. This helps both you and your freelancer.
- Don’t break your word: If you sign a contract,
keep it. You can always ask for changes to the contract later or negotiate a
new one, but it’s important to recognize that contracts with freelancers are
business agreements. It’s best to start with a small contract for a single
project to test the waters, then move on to bigger agreements later.
- You get what you pay for: Keep in mind that,
although there are plenty of cheap content sources out there, you usually get
exactly what you pay for. Freelancers are no different. Cheap probably won’t
get the best results. Have expectations that are in line with what you’re
willing to budget.
- Screen candidates: Look for signs of
professionalism and indications that the freelancer takes their work seriously.
Ask to see sample work and take the opportunity to talk to each person you’re
considering before making the hire.
- Don’t treat them like employees: If you treat
them the same way you do employees, the IRS might see your use of freelancers
as just a way to avoid paying benefits. Asking freelancers to wear a uniform,
employing them full-time but calling them freelance, and giving them a set
schedule is possibly going to convince the government that you’re actually
- Treat them professionally: Respect should go
both ways. Do what you can to treat freelancers with respect and
By working with freelancers the right way, you
can leverage their help and their unique knowledge to help you meet your
Hering, B. “The Difference Between Freelancing and Being an Employee.” Flexjobs. https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/difference-freelancing-employee/. Published: September 2017. Accessed: January 2019.