The Art of Hiring Freelancers as a Freelancer

As a freelance worker, you’re probably accustomed to being the last link in the chain, the person who ultimately executes the work that needs to be done. What many savvy freelancers have realized, however, is that the chain doesn’t have to end with you.

The discovery that freelance work, essentially outsourced to you in the first place, can be outsourced to yet another third party, comes as a “light bulb moment” to many online content writers. The fact is that plenty of other writers are out there, willing to effectively complete your work for you for a lower rate than what you’ve agreed upon with your client.

But is hiring a freelancer to do your freelance work really worth the effort, or is it true that “if you want a job done right, you have to do it yourself”? The answer is that it can work, so long as you know the pitfalls ahead of time and keep your expectations reasonable and have your marketing and business cards in place.

Pitfall #1 – Communication


Anyone who’s ever played the telephone game knows that when you add more links to a chain of communication, it becomes increasingly likely that at least some of the information will be distorted or lost along the way. This same concept applies to outsourcing to a freelancer.

All sorts of things can get lost in translation, whether you’re outsourcing link building, content writing, web development, SEO – the list goes on.

Let’s say that your client has tasked you with writing a series of articles for her web development blog. You’ve worked with this client before, and you know what she likes and doesn’t like in a piece of content. She might even give you nothing more than a list of article titles, expecting you to fill in the proverbial blanks and complete the work successfully with little to no further instruction.

If you think you can deliver the exact same instructions to a freelancer-for-hire about which you know nothing, and expect to magically receive the same quality product that you would’ve created yourself, you may be setting yourself up to be sorely disappointed.

How to avoid the communication pitfall: The key is to be clear and thorough, even to an apparent excess. This means discussing a number of items with your potential new hire, ranging from the expected tone and target audience to specific info points on which to touch. You might even create an outline for each article, or at least a basic template to provide some structure.

Of course, the downside here is that all of this explaining and training will require time, the very thing you’re trying to save on in the first place by hiring freelancers to complete your freelance work – which brings us to our next pitfall…

Pitfall #2 – Time


Many people imagine an unrealistic scenario when they consider the possibility of outsourcing freelance work. The typical line of thinking goes something like this – “If I can manage to hire others to do all of my work for me, it’ll free up my entire day for fun and leisure. I’ll get paid to do absolutely nothing!”

This mentality is the direct equivalent of selling yourself very, very short. Your client has entrusted you with your responsibilities because he believes that you have what it takes to complete the work satisfactorily, based on your qualifications and skill sets, your body of work, your resume and/or your references. As such, you owe it to your client to apply the same kind of scrutiny to those who you’re considering hiring as freelancers.

If you’re meeting any reasonable definition of due diligence, you better believe that this will take some serious time. Obviously, the solution to avoiding the communication pitfall will take plenty of time in itself, every time you outsource a project to a freelancer with whom you have little experience. Even if you do have a history with your hired freelancer, new and unique forms of work will call for additional time-consuming instruction, passed on and probably modified and expanded upon for clarity from your client, to you, to the outsourcee. See how this time is adding up?

How to avoid the time pitfall: Streamline your workflow, starting with a standardized email that you’ll send to each of your prospective hires whenever you’re offering work. Keep the questions simple and nonspecific to minimize the amount of modifications you’ll need to make each time you hit the “send” button:

  • How much experience do you have with the subject matter?
  • How quickly can you complete the job?
  • Are you comfortable with a trial period before taking on the full project?
  • Would you be willing to participate in a Skype interview should you be selected as a candidate for the job?
  • Can you send me links to any of your work that’s been published online?
  • Can you refer me to some of your past employers who would be willing to vouch for your performance?

Of course, one of the keys to actually making this whole process profitable is discussing the terms of payment with your potential freelancer, something that needs to be set in stone before you ask for a single piece of work.

Pitfall #3 – Money


Negotiating payment with a potential freelance hire can create some real headaches, especially when you’re new to this sort of business. Pay too much, and you’ll end up leaving money on the table while over-endowing your outsourced workers. Pay too little, and your best workers will quickly start to look for greener pastures.

Beyond that, there’s the question of how to pay the people you hire. PayPal is convenient, but comes with fees. Check by mail allows you to avoid fees, but is subject to the inherent delays of the postal service. Direct deposit can be a hassle, despite fast transfer times and low fees. This is ultimately something you need to discuss with the freelancer.

How to avoid the money pitfall: Compared to the two aforementioned pitfalls, the topic of money should actually be a pretty easy hurdle to cross. Take whatever compensation you’re expecting from your client and compare it to the sum you wish to pocket off of each project. The difference will be how much you pay your hired freelancer. Of course, it’s good to know the average salaries of various online positions, which should give some indication as to whether your own salary is big enough to allow you to outsource. Remember, if your margins are too small, hiring a freelance writer to complete your freelance work will never be worth the considerable time commitment it requires, both in the short term and long term.

Mitch O’Conner is an online marketer and writer. When he’s not busy testing sites, generating traffic or writing content, he enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, watching TV, playing games or going camping.

10 Comments
  1. Reply Puya Turkiyan December 15, 2011 at 11:30 PM

    I was a freelancer for almost a year and let me tell you that it was the best year of my working life. The money was good, I spent more time with my wife, I was relaxed. But I hit a rough patch and got a really good paying job. Again, the money is good but I miss those days and hope to be back at it again soon.

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  3. Reply Mohammad Parvez December 20, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    Great article! I am a new community management / marketing media and trying to figure out how to do it well – resources like this article incredibly useful. Our company is based in the United States, is it? All a bit new to us. The example above is my opinion also concerns about how to show your own genuine enthusiasm and share the fact that the product is useful in this case.
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  4. Reply Ajeva December 21, 2011 at 8:44 AM

    I believe that communication and trust are essential, especially when you’re hiring another freelancer or even outsourcing offshore.  Solid communication is the key and I agree with what you wrote here on being more clear and thorough.  Many are making the mistake of passing on the problem and not the ways on solving that problem.  Overall, whoever you hire must help free up your time.. so you can focus on growing your business.  I love the title of your post, by the way.

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  9. Reply Carl Morrisson May 24, 2012 at 8:17 AM

    Great post Mitch, thanks for sharing these pitfall you will encounter and their solutions when hiring a freelance worker. Consistent communication is the key to effectively work with a freelance worker and online tools like Skype can help you improve communication. Another mistake when hiring freelance worker is they just stay focus on one area just like hiring only on job sites such as Monster.com, which could be a mistake for your business because it can miss you a great chance of hiring the right person for the job. A quick tip when hiring freelance workers try them first before hiring to prevent the risk of hiring a freelance who does not know the job, which will save you time and money. Take a look this interesting https://www.staff.com/blog/hiring-on-monster-is-it-a-mistake article regarding hiring mistakes that you don’t want to do in your business.

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