Whether you’re ramping up for a big project, behind on a deadline or fast approaching your regular busy season, sometimes your creative team needs some help. But what do you do when the budget or timeline doesn’t allow you to bring in new full-time talent? If you’re like many agencies or departments, you consider hiring freelancers for support.
According to our Creative Workplace survey, 37 percent of creative teams will rely more heavily on freelancers in the next three years.
Here’s some information on the benefits of hiring freelancers, along with tips on finding freelancers and then making the most of their skills.
4 advantages of hiring freelancers
1. You gain flexibility
Your organization’s workflow varies according to busy periods and peak seasons, and so should the size of your staff. Freelancers help on an as-needed basis. When a particular project is over, they’re off on other assignments until, perhaps, you need their skills again. You always have the right-size team at the right time. It’s an efficient and cost-effective approach to staffing.
2. You fill skills gaps
Most agencies and departments don’t have all the niche creative specialists they require for a particular project. When you need a video producer, content strategist or other highly skilled professionals to handle one-off tasks, it makes sense to hire for those duties on an as-needed basis.
Our Creative Workplace survey found that the top reasons creative teams are hiring freelancers are to help with heavy workloads and to access skills that don’t exist internally.
3. You have greater access to top talent
In the era of the gig economy, talented professionals are happily striking out on their own. This means you can feel comfortable hiring the right freelancers for your toughest clients and most challenging projects.
Project professionals can help you on a variety of fronts. Our Creative Workplace survey shows the top areas for hiring freelancers are:
- Graphic and web design (51%)
- Video production and photography (44%)
- Production design (23%)
- Interactive and multimedia design (21%)
- User experience research and design (17%)
4. You benefit from outside perspectives
Because of their exposure to a variety of industries and technologies, freelancers often bring with them fresh viewpoints and ideas. Your projects and employees both benefit from these new perspectives.
Hiring freelancers? We can help!
How to find freelancers and onboard them
Here are some tips for hiring, paying and working with creative freelancers:
Outsource the legwork. Should you advertise open positions on the web? Take your chances with a Google search? An easier, faster way to find freelancers is partnering with a specialized staffing agency. A recruiter will learn your specific needs, send you pre-screened candidates and even negotiate rates on your behalf — saving you significant time and effort.
Speed up the hiring process. In a competitive job market, it’s vital to move swiftly to land the top talent you seek. Freelancers can be called upon by other clients at any moment, so be sure to vet top candidates thoroughly but quickly for the best chance to get them on your gig. Because working with project professionals isn’t like hiring full-time employees, you can try out freelancers with a couple small jobs before offering them a bigger assignment.
Mind the fit. Even though they’re not full-time employees, freelancers work closely with your in-house team — and possibly your clients, too. That’s why it pays to keep in mind their potential fit with your corporate culture. For example, if your staff is known for bouncing ideas off of each other regularly, a soft-spoken copywriter may have a tough time collaborating with them.
Establish pay beforehand. Have you ever spent hours wooing job candidates only to have them walk away because you couldn’t give them the rate they desired? It could be a good idea to list the range you can offer in your job posting when finding freelancers. That way you don’t waste time interviewing project professionals outside your budget and they don’t waste time pursing assignments below their pay expectations.
Treat freelancers like equal members of the team. Even if project professionals are on an assignment for only a few weeks, make them feel like valuable team members. Make sure they have access to all the necessary equipment, supplies and communication tools — such as email and intranet access — before they begin. Introduce them around the office as you would any new employee. Give client-facing freelancers a company email address. Include them in regular staff meetings and company events. The more they’re tuned in to the organization, the better work they can produce.
Finally, you never know when one of your full-timers may decide to leave — and one of your regular freelancers may be able to step into the role seamlessly.
Diane Domeyer is executive director of The Creative Group and a 25-year veteran in the staffing industry.