30th July 2020
The notion of hiring a freelancer is likely one that has entered the mind of just about all business owners at one time or another. Particularly for smaller businesses that are not yet ready to invest in a permanent workforce, freelancers can offer the ideal solution when an extra pair of hands is needed to complete a project.
Before taking the plunge and entering into a contract with a freelancer, make sure you’re aware of all the advantages and disadvantages, as well as the best ways to go about hiring freelancers.
Benefits of Hiring Freelancers
Less employer responsibility
One of the main reasons why business owners choose to use the services of a freelancer, instead of hiring an employee, is because of the lack of employer responsibility. When hiring a freelancer, you don’t need to worry about:
- Tax and national insurance contributions
- Employer liability insurance
- Holiday allowance
- Statutory leave (parental leave, sick leave, compassionate leave)
Plus, all the other responsibilities that come with hiring permanent staff, from considering their mental wellbeing to ensuring you meet all the legislation set out by the Equality Act.
Ideal for short-term projects
Another important factor is the duration of work. Many companies choose to hire freelancers for a project that may only last for a certain period of time, such as for an unexpected request from a client. It can be advantageous to hire a freelancer on a short-term basis, for specific work, rather than commit to hiring an employee whose skills may not always be useful to you.
Disadvantages of Hiring Freelancers
They are their own boss
One of the main disadvantages of hiring freelancers that many company owners comment on is that ultimately they are their own boss. While, of course, a freelancer commits to adhering to a contract, these do not allow the business owner as much control compared to an employment contract.
A freelancer can turn work down.
Where an employee is expected to carry out the work that’s asked of them, a freelancer is free to turn down the offer. This can be a particular problem if you’re looking to hire the services of the same person on a regular basis, and they are unavailable or unwilling.
A freelancer will work with other clients
…and this may include competitors. Another common complaint among those who procure freelancers is the fact that their attention is divided. While they are working on your project, they will likely be working on others simultaneously. Sometimes they may even be working for a competitor.
Hiring Freelancers Tips
To lower the chances of encountering these disadvantages of hiring freelancers, there are a number of tips to take into consideration. These relate not only to finding the right person for the job but also to managing expectations and relationships.
How to hire a freelancer
- Look for a freelancer in the right place
When you first start looking to hire a freelancer, you’ll likely find yourselves on agency websites like Fiver and Freelancer.com. These often offer up attractive-looking options in that they are low cost and easy to procure. A common problem with hiring freelancers via these methods, however, is that the cost is low because those advertising their services are inexperienced and even unskilled.
An often more reliable way to find a freelancer is to use networking sources, such as by asking other business-owners or advertising on LinkedIn. Using a freelancer that has been recommended by someone is one of the most ideal scenarios because it means you are more likely to be able to trust the quality of their work and work ethic.
- Put the right checks in place
Another important part of finding the right freelancer is putting the right checks in place. There are a number of ways to do this such as:
- Interviews – these give you the opportunity to ask questions and find out about the personality and principles of the freelancer.
- Work samples – ask to see examples of their previous work, so that you can see evidence of their skills and standards.
- Test assignment – a great way to find out if a freelancer’s work is right for your company is to ask them to complete a short assignment before entering into a contract. Note that most freelancers will expect this to be paid, and may turn it down if not.
Managing a relationship with a freelancer
- Make your expectations and preferences clear
After you have found a freelancer that you would like to hire, discussions must be had regarding the scope of the work involved. During this process, it’s important to give the freelancer as much detail as possible, so there is no ambiguity over what’s expected of them. If there are strict deadlines involved at any stage, make this clear and check they are feasible. If your company has guidelines concerning style and tone, clarify these with the freelancer. Without this information, they’ll be unable to provide exactly what your business needs.
- Consider what they will expect from the relationship
As well as setting out your own expectations, it’s also vital to consider those of the freelancer. Prior to the commencement of the project, find out if they have specific expectations relating to payment terms, communication with the business, their involvement with the business (will they be asked to come to the office at any point?), and credit for their work.
Creating a contract for a freelancer
- Know the line between employee and freelancer
As outlined above, many of the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a freelancer relate to them not being an employee. Whether this is seen as a positive or a negative for your company, it’s imperative that all the differences are considered. For example, you cannot expect to have as much control over a freelancer as you do an employee. Freelancers are their own boss, and as such, are free to turn down work, or even not complete work – although this will mean they are in breach of their contract with you.
While both parties will have a say in the terms of the contract, when business owners put too many restrictions in place, they are in danger of treating a freelancer as an employee. For example, if you specify that they cannot work elsewhere, or that they are expected to agree to company policies like dress codes, this would suggest they are being treated as an employee. This is unfair because they will not enjoy any of the legal rights and benefits that come with employment.
- Discuss the prospect of repeated work, or the length of the contract
When hiring freelancers, if you are pleased with their work, you might find that you wish to procure their services again, or on a regular basis. These are the kinds of things that you need to discuss with them clearly. The length of a freelancer contract can vary according to the duration of the project – it could be a case of months, weeks, or even just hours.
As time goes on, while working with a freelancer, if you like their work and decide you need more of it, consider offering them a longer contract or even full-time employment. Some freelancers may offer a discounted rate in return for a longer contract, which guarantees them regular work.
How to pay freelancers
- Agree on a fee at the start
To avoid any kind of confusion or conflict later on, one of the main tips when hiring freelancers is to agree on a fee before the project begins. The amount should be agreed upon by both parties, and defined in the contract. This will ensure that everyone is happy when payment is made, and there are no unexpected, nasty surprises.
- Decide on the best ways to pay your freelancer
You should also consider how your freelancer will be paid. Some freelancers will have their own terms, but others may be willing to negotiate on a payment schedule that suits both sides. Payment options include:
- Upfront payment for the project
- Half payment prior to the project, and the remainder upon completion
- Invoice payments – some freelancers will send an invoice (weekly, monthly, or at the end of the project), that will need paying according to the terms set out. This is often within 30 days from the date of invoice
- Weekly or monthly bank transfers
A discussion should be had regarding which of these is the best option for the business and the freelancer.
Hiring freelancers has a range of benefits and can provide an ideal solution for businesses that require work on a short-term basis. However, it might make more sense for your company to find permanent staff instead. Don’t let the payroll responsibilities of hiring employees be a barrier, if this is what would fit your business needs better. Instead, you can outsource the payroll responsibility to experts such as IRIS FMP.