3 best practices for working with freelancers
“Welcome to X Corp! The name’s Bob. I’m the manager of our graphic design division. I’ll be conducting your initial interview.”

“Great. My name’s Roger. Here’s my resume for reference.”

“Oh wow…” Bob says. “This is quite the long list of web sites you’ve been involved in.”

“I knew you would be happy with it.” Roger asserts. “Before we go any further, I’d like to specify that my rate is fifteen dollars an hour, and I need my first three paychecks in advance.”

“That’s pretty blunt of you.” Bob responds. “But, you do have quite the list of accomplishments here. I guess you know what you’re doing.”

“You can trust me.” says Roger.

Dramatic dialogue aside, it seems like an unorthodox way to conduct an interview, right?

We see scenarios like this play out quite frequently on Guru.com. But by following a few best practices, you can avoid many of the common pitfalls of working with freelancers.

1. Make the hiring process personal.

Hiring a freelancer remotely doesn’t mean your interaction has to be impersonal. Remember that, behind every screen icon, there is a real person. You want to find someone who is a good fit for your project, your budget and the way you like to work.

While a freelancer’s rate is important, try to see the bigger picture and take other things into consideration. Picture that freelancer in a job interview. Most businesses don’t hire someone based solely off of their resume (or in our case, their proposal) and asking salary. Many other things round out the perfect freelancer, and it can take some time to identify them. Don’t be afraid to emphasize the vetting process. For example, invite freelancers to chat with you on Skype, get a feel for them and then make the decision on whom to hire. Also, be sure to take a look at their feedback and portfolio to see the kind and quality of work they’ve completed in the past.

2. Don’t know them? Then use SafePay!

At Guru, we offer two great payment options for employers – invoicing and SafePay. There is a large distinction between the two. With invoicing, you pay a freelancer in one step. Once paid, that money is in control of the freelancer and cannot be recovered. This makes the timing of payment tricky. It is best used when you have worked with the freelancer in the past. When an employer chooses to use invoicing with a new freelancer, there are two scenarios we often see:

  • A freelancer gets paid too early and you’re not happy with the finished project.
  • A freelancer finishes a project for an employer only to have that employer drop off the face of the Earth without paying their invoice.

SafePay, on the other hand, was built to keep your money safe until your project is complete. But even with SafePay in place, we see a lot of employers release SafePay funds too early. We suggest releasing SafePay funds only if a significant, tangible milestone has been reached or if the entire project is complete, in your hands and you are satisfied with it. If you have reservations about releasing payment to a freelancer, it’s best to discuss with them openly and honestly before you take any action. Once released, SafePay funds are in the control of the freelancer.

3. Hold everyone accountable (including yourself) for the end result.

Give ample time to all aspects of your project. Vetting your freelancers, taking precautions with payment and holding everyone accountable for their various roles will lead to success more often than not. If status updates are few and far between, hold your freelancer accountable and let them know. If your freelancer is struggling to meet eye-to-eye with you, hold yourself accountable and try to be a better communicator. If the project is simply not working, hold everyone accountable and be willing to accept some of the blame. In the end, practice good judgment and expect the same from your freelancers.

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