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As your business grows, so does your need to hire help. But investing all the time, money and other resources it takes to properly find, vet, hire and train a new employee can be challenging. In fact, it can seem almost counterproductive, especially when you’re busy trying to move your business forward. As such, many business owners choose instead to work with short-term contractors to help alleviate some of the burden they’re experiencing.

Freelancers are a great option because they are cost-effective, experienced in whatever specialty you’re looking for and they’re expendable. Whether you need someone to build your website, write your blog, design your marketing materials or help with accounting, there are a few important things to consider that can help you hire more effectively. Here are a few of our top tips below.

Define and document the role you’re looking to fill.

Before you set out to hire a freelancer, it’s important that you clearly understand the role that individual will be filling. These days you can find independent contractors in almost any niche, from digital marketing and web development to sales, office management and more. But in order for the arrangement to work for both of you, a clearly defined and documented job description is needed. Likewise, you’ll want to determine other criteria in advance, such as:

  • What is your budget?
  • Who will be in charge of managing and directing the freelancer?
  • What KPIs will they be measured by?
  • What, if any, training will be necessary?
  • How long will the contract last?
  • How will the freelancer communicate with your team and vice versa?

Jot down any other expectations. The more detailed you get, the better.

Define your ideal candidate.

Just as with a traditional employee, you’ll want to have a clear picture in your head of what the ideal freelancer would be like. Think about what experience, skills and characteristics you believe are necessary to perform the job best. Does the role require a college degree? Does the person you’re considering need a background in a certain niche or to be fluent in another language? What are the minimum qualifications?

This blueprint will help you weed through the applicants and find the perfect person for the job. And don’t forget to include this information in your job description. Otherwise you risk wasting time for both yourself and prospective freelancers. The more information you can provide upfront, the more likely you’ll end up with a pool of candidates that match what you are looking for.

Know where to look.

Thankfully, there are a growing number of resources available today where businesses can locate, evaluate and hire qualified freelancers in almost any skillset. Now that you have your job description and ideal candidate clearly defined, the next step is figuring out which of those resources you should use to fill your open positions. Some of the more commonly used resources include:

Take a few moments to browse each of these websites (or Google a few more if you’d like). Determine which one is the best fit for you and which has the best candidates for what you are looking to fill.

Set expectations and define measurables.

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, you’ll want to be able to communicate exactly what you expect from your working relationship. Be upfront and abundantly clear with your freelancer about what you want, when you want it done and any other details surrounding the job. It’s best to document these things so that everyone is on the same page.

Breaking down a project by milestones is a great way to gauge the quality of the work and determine if you both work well together. Remember to make yourself available to questions. Good communication is critical to establishing a working relationship with an independent contractor.

Start with a test project.

If you’re not completely sold on a particular freelancer, or you can’t decide between a few that you’ve narrowed down, starting with a small test project can help. This is especially important if your goal is to work on a long-term basis together. Let’s say you’re looking for a blog writer. Hiring one or more individuals to write a sample post can help you determine which writing style works best and whether it’s worth moving forward on a more permanent basis.

And remember, the beauty of working with freelancers is that you don’t have the headaches that are associated with in-house employees. As your needs change and your business grows, you’ll enjoy the flexibility and freedom to scale your workforce on-demand to better reach your long-term goals.

What about you? Have you had success hiring freelancers to power your business? What tips or advice might you give so someone else who is just starting out? Please share in the comments section below.