Hiring freelancers is a great way to get things done. Thanks to international marketplaces like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com, you can find talented professionals who are not only flexible, but are also cost-effective. According to statistics, freelancers who work remotely are 82% less likely to be stressed, which is why they are perfect for positions related to customer support.
However, hiring freelancers is not a magic bullet that can solve all your staffing problems. Utmost care must be observed, especially since communication and supervision can become major hindrances to productivity.
Without further ado, below are 5 things to remember when scouring international freelance marketplaces:
1. English Fluency is Important
Hiring freelancers who aren’t native English speakers can be tricky. For one, discussing project details with them can be time-consuming. And once you think they fully understand your expectations, they may suddenly ask questions that can hamper the project’s progress.
To ensure projects get kickstarted as smoothly as possible, schedule a live video interview through Skype to gauge their English fluency. Unless you’re looking for a freelance writer, you don’t need them to have perfect speech or grammar. But they must be able to hold an entire conversation without getting confused.
2. Check Their Internet Connection
Never forget that the productivity of freelancers is often tied to the stability of their internet connection. When posting urgent project requests on freelancing marketplaces, opt for bidders who have wired, high-speed ISPs. Otherwise, you may run into several unexpected delays and inconveniences while projects are ongoing.
As much as possible, freelancers must have their own internet connection at home. If they say they work from anywhere, be it a public library or coffee shop, the timely accomplishment of your projects is still at risk. After all, their connectivity still isn’t guaranteed if they depend on an external party.
A good strategy is to have them run speed tests with platforms like Speedtest.net. Since screenshots can be fabricated or copied from another source, require them to send you the link of completed tests.
To learn more about the state of internet connectivity across the globe, you can use the infographic below as reference:
Infographic courtesy: Ooma
3. Avoid the Low-Cost Freelancer
If there’s one thing you should learn about the freelancing industry, it’s to avoid freelancers who offer work at unreasonably low prices. Any self-respecting professional should know their true value, which means these low-cost freelancers are probably doing something else to get the job done. For instance, they may cut corners when developing a website or outsource your project requirements from other amateurs.
Take note that, in certain parts of the world, there are “professionals” who are forced to accept extremely low compensation due to even lower income rates in their country. Worse, there are people who take advantage of these individuals by acting as middlemen and pocketing the price difference.
As a rule of thumb, forget about the cost and focus on their commitment to quality. Check for references like testimonials, an online portfolio, or links to previous work done. Besides, you can always negotiate the rates, but you can’t talk them into being more skilled.
4. Avoid Recruitment Agencies
Never pay someone to do something you can do yourself. It’s significantly more efficient to find, interview, and hire freelancers yourself rather than pay a recruitment agency for their “convenience”. Usually, they will only complicate the communication between you and the prospective freelancer.
Remember that it is always better to keep things simple and streamlined. Adding an agency into the mix is simply unnecessary and will only increase the costs, not only for you but for freelancers as well. Of course, there are specific instances where recruitment agencies make sense – such as if you regularly receive tons of job applications or if you have a residual demand for contracted work.
5. Offer Your Support
Lastly, freelancers function best if they receive their client’s full support. This comes in many ways – from offering them guidance for urgent projects or helping them deal with excessive stress. The latter can be accomplished by granting them “grace periods” on deadlines whenever necessary. For example, let them take a day or two off in case of medical emergencies or if they experience technical issues.
If you are worried about giving freelancers times off, consider having more than one freelancer working on big projects. This can help you stay on schedule despite being temporarily shorthanded.
Remember that a company is only as good as the people running it behind the scenes. To sustain the growth of your business, hire freelancers who share the same level of commitment to quality, results, and progress. Good luck!