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How to Tap into the Freelance Market

By Andrew Storrier

2 min read

Some 3.7 million Australians carved out their own slice of the $51 billion freelance market in 2014. You need look no further than the plethora of freelance websites cropping up such as Upwork (formerly Elance-oDesk), Freelancer, 99designs, Expert360 and OneShift to see the insatiable demand for on-the-go work.

These types of flexible working arrangements are extremely beneficial to small businesses, allowing you to take on a transient workforce if and when you need it. But how do you make sure you’re finding the right freelancers for your business?

Why Freelancers?

Freelancers afford small businesses several benefits, including flexibility, immediacy and affordability, plus they add immediate expertise to any business. Successful freelancers secure new work based off their prior performances, meaning small businesses gain access to a pool of proven and experienced workers without the need for endless screening and interviews.

People need a certain kind of determination to work without a net – freelancers are happy to work with no guaranteed income or benefits and zero job security. While small businesses will pay a premium for their services, those companies aren’t tied to any contracts and can exit a relationship when they need.

With an army of freelancers out there waiting to be employed by you, you’ll need a little more intel on who they are and where they come from.

So who are your typical freelancers?

  • Independent contractors: They work on a project-to-project basis and shun the nine-to-five lifestyle
  • Moonlighters: They have a traditional full-time job but do freelance work on the side
  • The diversified: People with multiple income streams such as part-time work and freelance projects
  • Freelance business owners: People who run their own business but use freelance projects to supplement their income

And what can they do for you?

  • One-off projects
  • Highly skilled, short-term work
  • Creative work such as graphic design
  • Commission-only work such as business development
  • Content creation such as writing

Before hiring any freelancer, small business owners should conduct normal recruiting procedures such as asking for referrals, cross-referencing candidates via social media and potentially testing their skills before employing them. Most online platforms have a review system in place, so read through their feedback online before you take the plunge.

Legal Issues

It’s not all roses and calm seas when bringing a hired gun into the fold. While freelancers don’t have to be paid entitlements, it’s best if you make them sign some kind of document that establishes the basic expectations from the employer to the employee. Oral agreements only open you up to costly misunderstandings.

Having work goals, rates and expectations down in writing before any work begins protects you from disappointment. Make sure to include things like expected deadlines, expenses, turnaround times and what you want from the relationship in order to protect your interests.

Quality freelancers are out there just begging to take your business to the next level. Been struggling with logo ideas, or need some fresh legs to drive sales? You can hire someone today.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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