Even if you've developed a well-rounded staff for your business, there might come a point when you need to outsource a task or two. And that's when hiring a freelancer could come in handy. The benefit of using a freelancer is paying for the expertise you need without having to take on a full-time employee. But not all freelancers are created equal, so before you choose one, be sure to ask the following questions:
1. How long have you been a freelancer?
Any freelancer you're considering will need to demonstrate that he or she has the skills necessary to complete the work at hand. But you don't just want to ask about that person's experience; rather, you want to know how long that person has been working independently. The reason? Being a freelancer requires a lot of self-discipline and time management, and you might not want to hire a complete newbie who's clueless in those regards -- especially if you're on a tight deadline. Rather, you might be better off going with someone who's been freelancing for a year or two and knows what it means to juggle multiple priorities.
2. What's your availability like?
Before agreeing to hire a freelancer, you'll need to make sure that that person has enough time to fit in your project and meet your deadlines. But that's not the only reason to ask this question. While there are always exceptions, good freelancers tend to be relatively busy, so if you find someone who's remarkably available without much notice, it could be a red flag of sorts. If that's the case, you should at least ask why that person is so available. It could be that he or she just wrapped up a major project and was enjoying a break, and that's fine -- but do yourself a favor and pose the question.
3. How will you keep me updated?
When you assign tasks to full-time employees, you have numerous opportunities to keep tabs on their progress. But when you hire a freelancer, you'll need to accept the fact that he or she might not be available to communicate every day. Prior to hiring someone, ask how he or she plans to update you on the project at hand, and decide whether that works for you. For example, you might have a freelancer tell you that he or she sends weekly client updates every Friday. Another professional, meanwhile, might update clients every day. Figure out what sort of communication schedule you're most comfortable with, and let that help guide your hiring decision.
4. How did you establish your rate?
Your goal in hiring a freelancer should be to find talent at a competitive rate. But as tends to be the case with life in general, when working with freelancers, you generally get what you pay for, so it doesn't necessarily make sense to choose the person with the lowest rate out there. On the other hand, you should understand how the freelancer you're looking to hire went about establishing his or her rate. Maybe that person did a bunch of research and landed on an average. Or maybe that person has such an impressive history of satisfied clients that he or she is able to charge a premium. None of these things should deter you from hiring someone, but it's important to understand what it is you're paying for.
It's not so easy to put your trust in an outside professional. Ask these key questions when hiring a freelancer, and you're apt to feel more comfortable in your decision.