Attracting freelancers for project work

Attracting freelancers for project work

Often, especially for small companies, you have to solve temporary local tasks that require certain specialists. There is no point in hiring them on a permanent basis. It is easier and more profitable to form a temporary team from the same freelancers, which will certainly be cheaper than working with a specialized agency.

But there are pitfalls. The selection, management and control of such a temporary team is a special area of management (project administration). It is advisable either to figure it out yourself, or involve an experienced specialist in the field of project management.

Start with yourself

  • You should clearly understand what tasks you are ready to delegate to a third-party specialist or a group of freelancers. When the customer has only vague "wants" in mind, the performer will come across the appropriate one. Formulate a problem that requires a solution, break it down into blocks according to the specialization of the necessary performers. Decide on the final result, it should be clearly measurable and understandable.
  • Calculate the budget. Yes, freelancing is more profitable than working with an outside company. But that doesn't mean that a real professional will work for pennies. In the pursuit of dumping, you're more likely to get irresponsible, inexperienced performers who will blow deadlines and produce substandard results.
  • Assign one contact person to interact with freelancers. The employee must have competencies and authority, or have direct access to the LPR (manager, owner).

Draw up the terms of reference in advance

When you decide which specialists you need to implement the project, make up a detailed ToR for each of them. Copywriter, designer, programmer, marketer. Do not limit yourself to a simple, vague formulation of the task and let matters drift on their own. This will lead to conflicts, failure of deadlines, and many other nuisances.

Again, when the project is complex, it is best to enlist the help of professionals. This can be a separate specialist who will develop terms of reference for each external contractor. Or do this work together with a freelancer whom you have chosen as your contractor. The terms of reference should be objective, clear, and take into account the interests of both parties equally.

The freelancer's attitude to the terms of reference is a kind of "litmus test" of his integrity and professionalism. When a candidate for remote work agrees to everything at once and does not ask any clarifying questions, it means that either he is a bad specialist, or your project is not a priority for him at all. In both cases, there is a risk of failure to meet deadlines or even a complete refusal to execute the order at the most inopportune moment.

Do not look for where it is more convenient, but for the right people

Popular sites for finding freelancers are well known:

  •     specialized and universal exchanges;
  •     Social networks, where there are thematic groups of specialists or recruiting communities;
  •     friends and acquaintances;
  •     Other services;
  •     HR-websites.

Each service has its own pros and cons. You should register at the exchangers and pay a percentage to the site itself. But you immediately receive access to a large number of candidates, a rating and a guarantee of reliability from the administration.

In VK, FB and TG you need to register, and most often you have to pay for the publication of the vacancy. Or you have to spend quite a lot of time searching for a suitable specialist, correspondence, and finding out the level of his/her preparedness, reputation, and reliability. It's the same with Yandex.Services and Avito. Although the Yandex platform gives you the opportunity to evaluate the candidate by rating, reviews, verification, and secure payment.

Selecting a performer by recommendation is considered the most reliable way to establish a long-term relationship with a proven freelancer. But this option drastically reduces the choice.

It's better to use several sites, especially if you're looking for specialists to join your team on an urgent basis. When implementing a one-time project, again, use the services of a third-party assistant who is well versed in the specifics of freelancing. This way you will save time and minimize risks. Draw up and control the work schedule

An important point of interaction with a freelancer is establishing communication and adhering to the work plan. After agreeing on the TOR, the next step should be to draw up a schedule of work and payment. A complex, lengthy project should be broken down into phases and be sure to follow them.

Not only the contractor, but also the customer should be in constant communication to solve non-emergency urgent problems. This is also a safety issue when the interaction is for the first time. Even being in different time zones can create difficulties in operational interaction.

The risks of bad faith, including by coincidence, are shared equally by the customer and the contractor. Therefore, the breakdown into stages minimizes possible force majeure for both parties.

Partial payment for intermediate results is convenient for the freelancer. Checking the quality and timeliness of the work delivered at reference points leaves the client room for maneuvering in case there is a threat of project failure.

Whether or not to formalize the relationship legally

Many freelancers try to work without legal formalization, especially for short-term projects. For the client, this option can also be beneficial for a number of reasons. But this economy and simplicity increases the risks for both parties.

Therefore, when first interacting, carefully check the bona fides of the candidate. . Although a high rating does not guarantee that the performer at some point simply will not "bail" due to various circumstances.

And the presence of a legally documented contract with a physical person, including the self-employed, does not guarantee the conscientiousness of the contractor. Sometimes the cost of litigation exceeds the amount lost by the client due to the unscrupulous conduct of the contractor.

Do not forget about the psychological aspect of building relationships with "freelancers. A freelancer is not an employee. He is more of a contractor, sometimes even a partner. It will be strange if you start handing out commands to the management and employees of an advertising agency with which you have a service contract. Because of psychological pressure, imposing your vision of how a professional should work, a professional freelancer can break off relations with you. You will lose not only time, but also a good performer.

Keep backups on hand

The unreliability of freelancers, the lack of direct control over them is the main obstacle that many companies refuse this type of relationship with performers. This is especially true of large businesses. At the same time, the proper administration of project activities minimizes risks. The benefits of temporary teams are obvious:

  • Quickly finding diversified specialists with high qualifications and experience;
  • flexibility of relationship and management;
  • cost saving;
  • clear motivation for the result on the part of the freelancer;
  • opportunity to focus on the strategic competencies of the business.

One way to minimize the risk of a freelancer suddenly leaving a project is to create insurance in the form of alternative candidates. When selecting a performer, several candidates who have passed the initial selection process will be considered in any case. Try to maintain a good relationship with them, even by sending "Sorry, we've chosen another performer" letters.

Most freelancers are very adequate people and put the benefits of cooperation above personal grudges and ambitions. And you still have the possibility to quickly replace the volunteer who has suddenly lost contact, or the results of his work are not satisfied at all.

Again, in order to quickly resolve issues on replacing performers, I recommend using the services of so-called "intermediaries. Such specialists-administrators, being themselves freelancers, are very well versed in the specifics of the market, know the psychology and requirements of customers and performers.

More often than not, they have lists of bona fide freelancers structured by specialization and level of competence. Many form permanent teams that are sure not to fail at a critical moment. A third-party project manager also minimizes financial risks.

Personal example of forming and managing a team of freelancers

I was approached by the owner of several businesses, one of which was the sale of seasonal goods. It was necessary to organize and conduct a one-time advertising campaign. In the project I acted as a marketer, copywriter and manager. Additionally required subcontractors: designer, video editor.

Stages of work:

  • I drafted and coordinated terms of reference for each of the specialists.
  • Create slogans, prototype mock-ups of printed promotional materials, script video.
  • I searched for co-executors, first of all, the designer.

Here the first difficulties began.  Paid test assignment completed ... five. The rest just fell through the cracks. Although the agreed upon rates for this work were higher than the market average, there was a 50% prepayment.

In the process of executing the order the following problems arose:

  • The performer, being in Germany, could not communicate with us promptly;
  • the client had a partner whose opinion sometimes did not coincide with his companion's, which hindered the coordination process;
  • the client was frequently and for a long time out of touch, then demanded to solve intermediate tasks in fire mode;
  • the designer took on video editing of the video clip even though she did not have enough competence.

As a result the deadline for the project was broken. I had to urgently look for a new artist to create a video clip (it succeeded). Also for further work I refused the services of this designer.

Subsequently we continued to work with the customer. I changed three more designers, and one of them did not return the prepayment. The video recording studio that helped us out with the first project remains the main performer of video orders. The last designer is behaving quite adequately and professionally. If there are no breakdowns, this freelancer will secure a steady, reasonably well-paying job.

Agree that in the absence of such an intermediate performer as a project manager, the client would have much more serious problems. In this case, my experience as a customer and freelancer enabled me to promptly resolve the problems that are inevitable in projects like this. The results were used to correct mistakes and develop technologies to avoid them. The next similar campaign went almost without a hitch.