Companies, startups, and entrepreneurs alike are moving to hire freelance talent to provide the service they need. In the new Gig economy, companies see the advantages in costs hiring talent for specific projects, either to provide expertise their teams lack or to temporarily increase their workforce to meet deadlines. This approach reduces ongoing costs and often makes it easier to employ talent, as more and more top talents are choosing the freedom and flexibility of the freelance lifestyle.
There are many job board sites such as UpWork, WeWorkRemotely, and others that provide access to freelance talent. Youtube can also be a valuable source of freelance talent. Search for those creating content related to your needs. However, not all experts are comfortable in front of a camera, so in addition you should search the web for those who post articles and blog on the subject of interest.
Finding the right freelance talent isn’t always easy. It’s as difficult (if not more so) as finding an employee who fits your team and knowledge requirements. Finding the right match may take a little time.
Many freelancers are self-taught. Don’t let this scare you away. Remember these individuals have gone out of their way to learn technologies and subject matter that is of great interest to them. Having a passion for something can go a long way. I’ve seen plenty of University graduates that lack the passion and drive to continue learning and expanding their talents.
Freelancers often have a wider breadth of knowledge but may lack depth in certain areas. This is because they often work on a variety of projects using different technologies. However, most (by necessity) are masters at quickly learning new technologies to complete the project at hand. They tend to be jacks of all trades and master of one or two. This is not a bad thing. First, having a wide variety of experiences can work in their (and your) favor as it gives them a wider perspective on the tasks at hand. Also, having experience with a wider toolset often allows the freelancer to choose more appropriate tools for the task at hand.
So with this all in mind, we can generate a list of do’s and don’t for hiring freelancers for your project:
- It is important to select the proper freelancer for your project. Match their skill set to your project’s needs.
- Also, their personality and demeanor should match your work style and company culture. This helps to ease communications and expectations.
- Ask for project samples, at the same time realize however that many freelancers, especially busy ones, may do a lot of proprietary projects that they cannot show you. I have worked on projects I am contractually obligated to deny I had any part in or that they even existed. Often these projects are for other developers who are sub-contracting the work out to other developers. However, it can also include Government and corporate work.
- If you are hiring the developer to augment your development team, bring them in at ground zero! This is important. First, it is important to clarify the details of the project at hand. The amount of knowledge that gets lost because it is general knowledge to team members (and therefore unspoken, and often undocumented) can be overwhelming for new hires.
- Don’t hire freelancers to bring a project that has fallen behind up to date. Adding new people to a failing project usually results in even more delays as the new additions require onboarding, which pools your current productive staff away from the project.
- Make communications regular and a priority. The most common mistake in working with freelancers if not communicating. If the freelancer works remotely (and most do), they need quick feedback and answers to questions. When a blocking issue arises, you can’t expect your freelancer to make progress if your delay responding to queries.
- Pick a freelancer in a time zone that you can work with. This means if you can’t be bothered to be available for phone calls at 2 AM, then don’t choose a freelancer halfway around the world.
- Some freelancers prefer video chats while others prefer phone calls and email. Ask about their preferences and make sure they meet your expectations.
The majority of freelance employers find their projects successful and the experience a delightful one. Once you find a freelancer you work well with, build an ongoing relationship with them. If they are not available for your next project, ask for their recommendations for their replacement. Freelancers often work in coffee shops with other developers and develop great working relationships and a good knowledge of someone’s talents and abilities. They are a great resource when it comes to finding more able talent.
I hope this article has helped to give you some insight into choosing a freelancer for your needs. While my experience in the software/hardware development world much of this information pertains to freelancers in any area.
Good luck and may your projects be successful!
Randall Morgan is currently a freelance developer focussing on IoT, Backend Web, and Embedded System development. He can be reached through our contact form or by phone: 406-853-5087. He is always happy to discuss your project with you.