What are the benefits of hiring a freelancer? And how can businesses make the most out of their relationships with freelancers? In this article, I share my experiences of working as a freelancer and explain why I believe the benefits of hiring a freelancer far outweigh the disadvantages.
Did you know that almost half of Gen Z workers are freelancers? And it’s not because they can’t find work elsewhere. They WANT to freelance. What does this tell us about the traditional workforce when almost half of an entire generation of workers wants to escape the nine to five drag?
I’ve been freelancing on and off for the past 8 years. In that time, I’ve worked for companies full-time for about 3 years and I’ve been a freelancer for 5 years. I believe the benefits of hiring a freelancer far outweigh the costs, but let’s look at this in more detail.
Freelancers are passionate
Freelancers have the flexibility to pick and choose our clients and projects. This means that we pretty much only work on stuff that we’re passionate about. Now, I’m not saying that I adore every single thing I write about, but rather, it’s the writing that I’m passionate about.
If I didn’t enjoy it so much, I don’t know where I’d find the motivation to get out of bed every morning. After all, I don’t have a boss peering over my shoulder and questioning why I wasn’t at my desk dead on 9 am. As a business owner, finding people who are passionate about what they do is essential.
Freelancers are cheaper
This really depends on how you look at it. If you break down an average nine-to-fiver’s salary into an hourly rate, then, no, freelancers probably won’t be cheaper. However, you have to look at the bigger picture. You only pay freelancers when you need them. This means, you don’t have to pay the same amount every month, even if the work dries up. Second, you don’t pay them when they’re sick, on vacation or taking a personal day. It’s down to the freelancer to budget for these situations.
Freelancers deliver high-quality work
Full-time employees can generally get away with delivering substandard work for a lot longer than freelancers. I know. I’ve worked with these people. Freelancers, on the other hand, can’t get away with low-quality work. Their entire income rests on repeat work and recommendations, so they have to ensure every piece of work they hand over is high quality. The best freelancers treat their little gig like a fully-fledged business, so they take pride in the output.
Freelancers don’t need supervision
One of the biggest benefits of hiring a freelancer is the time you save. If you hire a reliable freelancer, you can guarantee that their work will always be on time and require little to no supervision. They are used to managing their workload and prioritising tasks as required.
Contrast this to a full-time employee. They need training, they need supervision and they need feedback and performance reviews. With a full-time employee, you’re supposed to be investing in a person and their career, but with a freelancer, the transaction is a lot more transparent. They do a job, you pay them.
Freelancers are everywhere
When you’re looking to fill a full-time position, your hiring pool is anywhere within a commutable distance to your office. With a freelancer, you can widen your search to just about anywhere. When I lived in Portugal, most of my clients were based in the US. They loved that they could send me tasks to do at the end of the day and these would be completed by the time they got to their desk the next day.
When you can hire a freelancer anywhere in the world, you can also save on hiring costs. My cost of living in Portugal was a lot lower than the cost of living for my NYC-based client. I could afford to charge a lower hourly rate and still make more than enough money to be able to live comfortably.
Freelancers are flexible
While flexibility can be expected to an extent, it’s important to understand that freelancers can’t always drop everything and help you out. That said, one of the perks of working with freelancers over full-time employees is that you can cut hours when required. And if you need a little more support one month, most freelancers are up for hustling to help you out.
I under-schedule my hours every week so that I have the flexibility to help a client at a moment’s notice. True, I could be earning a lot more if I were to fill my schedule every week, but this would mean I would no longer be able to offer a quick and flexible turnaround for my clients.
And what about the disadvantages?
I’m not going to pretend that working with freelancers is a walk in the park all the time. Things can go wrong. You might hire a dud who isn’t capable of delivering the work they promised. This is why it’s important to build a strong relationship with your freelancers and focus on building trust. For the business, this means being honest and transparent about expectations and paying invoices on time. And for the freelancer, this means being honest about availability and skills. Freelancers should always overdeliver.
Another disadvantage of working with freelancers is that it’s harder for them to become part of the team. However, there’s plenty of evidence to say that working with a distributed team can be just as beneficial for business. Being less attached to the office is surely a good thing?