The Age of the Freelancer – Why to Hire One and How to Find the Right One


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The concept of hiring freelancers to handle projects or certain responsibilities is nothing new, however, it’s become very popular over the past decade. There are a few factors that have made the freelancer worker more popular – one major factor –  fewer Americans are embracing the traditional 9-5 job career path.

In 2014, there were 53 million freelancers in American – in 2020, it’s estimated to be 57 million or about 35% of American workers. Freelancers love the freedom of making their own hours, working where they want (no cubicles for them), and being able to pick and choose their own projects.

So why hire a freelancer?

From the employer perspective, there are several draws:

Quality of Work and Service: Freelancers are typically experts in their field – you hire them for specialized tasks, and you get specialized results. Typical employees wear multiple hats and don’t specialize in just one area.

Save Money: Full-time employees cost more than just their salary, there are costs associated with the hiring process, health insurance, payroll taxes, paid time off, office supplies, etc. A freelancer is just paid for the task they perform.

Efficiency: Freelancers are typically focused on just one project or task so they are able to complete it in a quicker time frame. Once the project is done, there are no costs until you have another project. An employee is paid regardless of how much work they complete, but typically for the hours they are in the building.

Of course, there are some cons to using a freelancer:

As an independent worker, you typically don’t have the same relationship as you would with an employee. You don’t have the oversight to monitor them and you have to put contracts and billing in place. You are relying on the freelancer to have the training and prep needed for your projects.

How to find the right freelancer.

Just like with hiring employees, you have to do some research and due diligence to make sure you hire the right freelancer for your project. There is a wealth of talented professionals out there who can help your business, but there are also plenty who are unqualified. Here are some tips to find the best fit for your needs:

  1. Define the project. If you want an expert, you need to know exactly what your goals, budget, timeline and required tasks are.
  2. Create a freelancer profile. Define the qualifications that your freelancer needs to have along with experience, rate, and when they need to be available.
  3. Post your job. There are plenty of places to post your project, but you’ll need to research which makes the most sense. Post clear details of what the project entails.
  4. Review applicants. Just like with hiring employees, you need to vet your applicants.
  5. Interview. Yes, you still have to interview freelancers to make sure it’s a fit. Plan to talk to at least 3-4 before making a decision.
  6. Consider a smaller test project. Once you find a fit, consider giving them a smaller test project to work on before hiring them for the whole project – just to make sure it will work out.

It’s always important to do your due diligence. Hiring a freelancer is just another aspect of doing business – the more time you spend on the process – planning and execution – the fewer issues down the road. Make sure you have a signed contract in place that outlines responsibilities for both sides and understand your compensation and tax requirements. For more information on tax forms for independent contractors, see these IRS resources and forms.

Laura Berendsohn

Laura Berendsohn
Washington Branch Manager, Assistant Vice President