How to Grow and Manage Your Freelance Workforce

Working with freelancers brings advantages to every organization: You can increase or decrease your freelancer workload based on your budget; you save big on extra costs associated with hiring; you work on a low-risk, project-by-project basis.

As collaborations with freelancers become a more popular choice, companies need clarity about approaching this new labor pool — 1099 workers. Here’s the gist on growing, retaining, and managing your freelancers in 2016:

Ask for Referrals

Referrals are the most reliable way to secure talented freelancers with a proven track record. Ask both your employees and peers in the field for recommendations. Don’t leave out acquaintances who live in different cities — remote work is the norm with freelance relationships, so go global! Also consider former employees who excelled in their roles and enjoy collaborating with old colleagues. The ideal freelance candidate has worked in your field, is clear about compensation, and has a portfolio that aligns with your company’s vision.

Complete an Informal Interview

Just as you interview a job candidate, schedule some time to connect with prospective freelancers. Your conversation doesn’t need the formality as an interview, but it should touch on the following questions:

  1. How would you describe your work style as a freelancer?
  2. Are you interested in taking on new work?
  3. What’s your bandwidth?
  4. Do you like collaborating in this field?

Building transparency around shared goals sets a positive foundation and incentivizes freelancers to work with your company.

Always Honor Contracts

One of the biggest dangers to freelancer relationships is scope creep. When clients don’t respect the terms of original agreements, they’re running the risk of losing one of their key relationships. Freelance relationships require an approach that always honors the autonomy of outside workers while clarifying expectations around deliverables. For example, you don’t have a say about how or when freelancers work, but you can and should require that freelancers meet the terms of deliverables within reason.

Build A Tried-and-True Communication Method

With a wide range of cloud-based collaboration tools at your fingertips, it’s easier than ever to communicate with outside workers. Talk to your freelancers about their favorite ways to touch base about projects. Do they prefer working through email or with a project management application like Trello, Asana, or Basecamp? One of my clients assigns me articles through Trello. He tracks my progress as each note card — one for each article — moves through four columns: Assigned, In Progress, Sent for Approval, and Published. There’s no wrong method, as long as it creates transparency for both parties.

Make Payment a Cinch!

Nothing is a bigger pain for freelancers than waiting for a check to clear or moving through the arduous invoice process. Payment should be an easy process on both ends — for you and your 1099 workers. If you want to develop productive relationships with freelancers, Payable enables quick and easy payments that wire directly into your freelancer’s bank account.

Elizabeth Wellington is a freelance writer, editor, and content strategist who lives to tell stories. You can find her with a cup of tea in hand, scratching away in her favorite notebook.

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