It’s likely you’re asking this question because you’ve heard two things about outsourcing:
- Outsourcing is a wonderful, beautiful thing that frees you up to work on high-value tasks.
- Outsourcing is an absolute time-sucking, money-wasting nightmare.
So guess what?
The first one IS true. And the second one CAN be true if you don’t do your due diligence. But fortunately you don’t have to worry about that, because below you’ll find a step-by-step guide for finding competent freelancers who produce great work for you. Check it out…
Step 1: Create a Big List
A lot of business owners make the mistake of hiring the first freelancer they find. Instead, what you want to do is first create a big list of potential freelancers, and then whittle that down to a short list later.
So here’s how to create that big list:
- Post on freelancing sites. This includes the most popular sites like Elance.com and UpWork.com.
- Ask your colleagues for recommendations. You can ask individuals for a referral directly, or you can post on business forums and groups.
- Post want ads. You can post these on sites such as CraigsList.org, or you can even post them in your local newspaper.
- Search Google. For example, if you’re looking for a writer, then search for terms such as “freelance writer” and “hire a ghostwriter.” Be sure to check both the organic search results as well as the sponsored listings.
Step 2: Check The Freelancer’s History
This is the step where you do your due diligence. This step takes a little time upfront, but it will save you time, money and stress in the long run. Here’s what you need to do:
- Review the portfolio. Make sure the freelancer produces good work, and that he or she has experience with your specific type of project. If you don’t see specific experience, ask the freelancer if they’ve done a project similar to yours.
- Follow up on references. Ideally, check references that are easy to verify, such as people who own well-known websites and businesses.
- Check ratings. If you found a freelancer on a freelancing site, then check their onsite ratings and reviews.
- Do research. For this step, you need to go to Google and research both the freelancer’s name as well as their website and business name, where applicable.
- Compare pricing. This is one of the last things you do, as you don’t want to shop around for a freelancer based primarily on price. Remember, you often get what you pay for. If you find a freelancer whose pricing is almost too good to be true, it probably is.
Overall, what you’re looking for is someone who has a long, established history providing good work to small business owners for many years. If you see any red flags as you walk through the steps above, forget about that particular freelancer and find one with a clean history.
Step 3: Cultivate a Good Relationship
At this point, your long list of freelancer should be whittled down to a short list of the most qualified candidates. Now here’s what you can do next: hire three or four of the top candidates to do small projects for you.
Even if a freelancer looks really good on paper, sometimes the two of you just don’t communicate well. So if you hire a few of your top picks for small projects, then you’ll be able to see firsthand who is best for the job. You may even end up hiring more than one for the long term.
Once you’ve hired someone, you need to start cultivating a good relationship. Here’s how:
- Create detailed briefs. Your freelancer isn’t a mind reader, so create briefs with plenty of exact details and examples.
- Encourage your freelancer to ask questions. And always answer those questions cheerfully.
- Make your expectations known upfront. For example, if you expect your freelancer to hop on a weekly conference call with your team, then make this known upfront to your freelancer (and expect to pay for their time).
- Motivate your freelancer. You do this with a combination of kind words and cash bonuses when they’re deserved.
- Pay promptly. Always review work and pay promptly – ideally the same day you receive the invoice.
Now let’s wrap things up…
As mentioned, it does take time to go through the initial steps of finding a freelancer and doing your due diligence. However, in the long run you’ll save yourself a lot of time. And once you have a good freelancer on board, your business will grow by leaps and bounds.