How to Embrace the Freelance Revolution

Tips for finding, and managing, the skilled workers you need

Millions of people have been transformed into virtual workers this year, but another monumental shift for the future of work has also been accelerated—the world of the freelancer. More and more highly talented individuals are choosing to freelance, and big brands, advertisers and marketers are following suit. 

Businesses have been using major freelance platforms to find skilled freelancers for quite some time, but now almost 90 percent of businesses say finding high-skill freelancers on major freelance platforms will be an integral part of their talent strategy going forward.

The reality is video production has always been outsourced. The production model for companies, ad agencies, brands and broadcasters has been to bring in outside help from project to project for years. This helps them meet their high content production demands and also helps them work with different teams who specialize in different styles of production. From docu-style to stop motion, it's always best to find a creative team who excels in that style rather than have the same person work on everything.

What's different now is that society's perception of freelancing has changed. It's become more accepted and "mainstream" because of the work conditions and nuances we've had to face over the last 10 months. 

For business leaders who are just starting to think about outsourcing for creative talent, whether it be for production, animation, cinematographers, designers, editors, I have some tips on how you can authentically embrace this "revolution." Which, as I mentioned, is one that's been happening behind the scenes all along, but now the curtain has been pulled back.

How to Find Freelancers

The first step to hiring outsourced talent is to determine what your needs are from them. What skills do you need for the project? Of course, there are the baseline needs—you need someone to produce a video, design a website, or write ad copy. And it goes without saying that you want someone who is organized, self-motivated, communicative, ability to join a team, problem solver, leadership, etc. But where do you find them?

Leaning on your existing network is the most common way of finding talent. If your friends have worked with them and have given great reviews, one would hope they will also be great working with you.

Not everyone has the right network to do this. So, they often turn to hiring platforms to try to find talent. The issue with these platforms often is that they have so many different types of talent, from engineers to writers to publicists. You need to find a place that specializes in what you are hiring for. You also will want to find a place that doesn't accept everyone to their site. You want to be sure they highly curate their talent. Creative Humans was built to alleviate just this problem.

What to Look For

When you're working against a deadline or an upcoming project is understaffed, it's hard not to jump the gun and settle on a freelancer who seems like they'll meet your needs. However, as the founder of a freelance hiring platform, I'm here to tell you not to settle. Those small quirks or red flags you notice right off the bat typically tend to magnify or multiply over time. And most of the time, it's at the worst possible moment.

Think of it like this. If you hire someone who requires a bit of handholding, they're going to require extra attention when you're out of time to allocate to them. The moral of the story is, it's more than OK to be picky when looking for freelancers. You should 100 percent be holding out for the person who perfectly fits the bill, even if it's a longer process. There's an endless pool of talent out there, but the ones who will fit your exact needs and have the right experience will take some time to find. 

Getting the ROI 

So, how can you ensure the ROI of hiring freelancers? 

Decide on performance benchmarks to establish with the freelancer ahead of time. This will help set realistic expectations for both yourself and the talent. 

Contracts that spell out the expectations of both parties are always a safe bet. List out the responsibilities, benchmarks and performance indicators, and agree to the terms ahead of starting any relationship. This helps keep the freelancer, and yourself, accountable.

Communicate often to make sure things are moving in the right direction at the pace you'd like. Remember that these people can't read your mind and that these freelancers are typically juggling a few projects, and while they can do so successfully, the more you can talk to them, the better your project will be.

Takeaway

The burst in demand for freelancers isn't going to halt anytime soon. The ongoing pandemic and restrictions that go with it will play a role in this, but it really comes down to the fact that perceptions surrounding freelance work have changed immensely. Younger, highly skilled professionals are seeking flexible alternatives to traditional employment, and companies of all sizes are jumping on the opportunity for the economic benefits. If there were ever a time to embrace the freelance revolution, it's now. 

Profile picture for user Darlene Liebman
Darlene Liebman
Darlene Liebman is founder and CEO of Creative Humans.

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