According to estimates, there are roughly 57.3 million freelance workers in the US today. At the current rate of growth, nearly half of the entire workforce will be freelancing within a decade. This is great news if you own a small business, as hiring freelance or contract workers is an excellent way to supplement your staff and support your growth. If you are considering bringing in some assistance, keep reading to find out how to hire a freelance workforce.
What Is a Freelancer?
A freelancer is essentially a small business owner in their own right. They pay self-employment taxes and set their own rates. Typically, according to Microsoft, a freelancer works with multiple clients and gets to pick and choose which projects they want to take on. Hiring someone in this capacity means that if you are not happy with their work, you are not obligated to outsource future projects. Further, it gives you time to evaluate their strengths, weaknesses, and work style before offering them a full-time position within your organization.
Before you begin your search for the perfect freelancer, you should know that the rules of employment are different for contract workers versus employees. There are many laws that deal with federal and state privacy, employment, taxes, and labor standards. You must be familiar with these before planning to hire someone for short- or long-term jobs. Many of these laws do not apply to freelance partnerships, however, so it’s crucial that you understand your responsibilities before moving forward.
How to Hire a Freelance Worker
There are many ways to hire freelance workers. Start by consulting with your professional network. You may have colleagues or business associates that have utilized freelance talent in the past and can point you in the right direction. You may also look on professional sites like LinkedIn or check out trade networking groups and events.
Job boards like Upwork help connect freelancers with business owners looking for specific skills, whether you’re looking for help in sales, web development, content creation, or marketing. With a bit of research, you may be able to find these niche job posting sites that can help you procure everything from a web developer to clothing designer.
Usually, you do not pay a freelance worker the same type of salary you would offer a full-time employee. Instead, you negotiate a rate for an entire project or piece of a project. A freelancer has the right to request payments in a specific form. For example, they may require PayPal or other digital forms of payment instead of a paper check. You may find that a freelance worker will actually charge more per hour or project than a similarly experienced on-site employee. This is because self-employed individuals are required to pay more in taxes and must purchase their own equipment to properly complete each task. However, assembling a freelance workforce is often more cost-effective in the long term because you will have less overhead, likely will not need to dedicate time to training, and do not pay insurance or match retirement funds.
Overall, putting together a team of freelancers is an excellent way to grow your business. However, if you do want to turn your part-time help into a full-time employee, it’s also a wonderful opportunity to identify the type of people you want on your side for the long haul. Just remember that as you transition your freelancers to a different employment structure, it is your responsibility to know the difference between a contract worker and an employee.