By the year 2028, 90.1 million people will be freelancing in the U.S. Use these tips to help prepare your business to work with freelancers.
Here's what you need to know:
- Independent contractors need to know the full scope and timeline of what is needed and required from their clients
- It’s important to keep in mind that freelancers choose when and where they work and may have multiple clients
- Keep communication clear and open
- Give contractors the tools and information they need to complete their tasks successfully
Independent contractors are self-employed individuals who are hired for taking on various types of projects. Also known as freelancers, this population of the workforce is usually hired on a contractual basis.
When a client or company is on a small budget, considering the implications of a new project for their employees, or needs to complete a project outside of the skill scope of their existing team, they’ll usually hire a freelancer.
Freelancers fit the bill for various tasks. They are graphic and website designers, photographers, data analysts, writers, voice actors, marketers, babysitters, house cleaners, handy people, and the list goes on.
By the year 2028, 90.1 million people will be freelancing in the U.S. Since independent contractors sell their services, they can take on as many clients as they can handle and make more money as a result. Clients will benefit from not having the headache of hiring traditional workers. Additionally, it often saves clients money.
The increased population of independent contractors creates benefits for both the worker and the client in many ways. With the rise in more freelancers, there is a learning curve involved. Once a contractor gets their fair share of clients, they start to notice patterns in client behavior.
To minimize the instance of continued annoyances, there are a few things contractors wish their clients knew.
1. Doing part of the work won’t save time or money
It’s common for a client or small business to assume some of the responsibility of the job needed. Contrarily, this extra step is not as much of a security measure as it seems.
Contractors are hired for their expertise in the matter at hand. The installment of shoddy work will only waste time and money for the client when the contractor has to erase everything to work with a clean slate.
It’s likely that a client has some knowledge of the work performed and assumes they’re helping by creating a template. While sharing what is expected is a great way to communicate and brainstorm ideas, doing part of the work is a poor way to collaborate.
Share pictures or other examples from previous work performed and express how you would want the new project to be different. Allow the paid professionals to demonstrate their expertise without creatively stifling them.
2. Know the full scope of what is needed and required
Changes are bound to occur during a complex project, and that’s perfectly normal. A good freelancer has the time and capability to adjust to sudden requirement changes. The problem arises when a contractor is not told about the possibility of changes as far in advance as possible.
A client usually knows when the grand scheme has room for error, and that should always be communicated on the 1st day. In certain cases where changes are unforeseen, a client needs to know the sudden adjustment carries the potential for additional work and wait times.
For example, a photographer will likely need extra time to process film in black and white when the original scope called for color. If a data analyst uses a certain visualization tool and the client realizes after the fact that they prefer a different tool, the contractor will need to pivot using the preferred method.
Thinking about everything that’s expected of the job beforehand is a great way to diminish the amount of reconstruction needed throughout the project. It can be frustrating for both parties to scramble to meet demands and wait for the ultimate finished product.
3. Working hours don’t exist
Unless otherwise specified in the contract, a freelancer works whenever they like. Employees are different in this way since they have pre-set scheduled days and hours and may or may not have grace periods for tardiness. Paid employees take timed breaks and lunch hours, but a freelancer does not.
Independent contractors work as many hours as they want. This is the case if it aligns with their ability to do the job on time. They may choose to work weekends, holidays, 2 days a week, 7 days a week, or at 4:00 in the morning.
If certain working hours are needed, it should be mentioned and lined out explicitly in their contract. In the same sense, a contractor should express their working hours to the client. That way, they aren’t left wondering where they are or if their job is being worked on throughout the project.
4. Don’t rush your contractors
A multi-faceted project that is accepted by a good contractor will be done when it is due. It is realistic to assume that a crew of employees with tasks spread out amongst them can finish a task before a deadline. The same can’t be said for a single freelancer in charge of a broad list of assignments, especially from multiple clients.
A check-in every once in a while isn’t too much to ask for in terms of seeing how things are going. When it gets to be too much too often, it hinders the worker’s ability to perform their tasks without distractions. With excellent contractors, a project will be done on time, but rushing a contractor is not in good taste.
5. Make open communication easy
Most of the issues mentioned here are remedied beforehand with simple, honest, and open communication. A client must ask questions and relay concerns when the situation calls for it. Contractors deal with clients regularly. With experience, they know what kinds of concerns are typical and will usually answer those before they can be asked.
Everything should be communicated about the job and the expectations.
Everything should be communicated about the job and the expectations. This includes expectations about time limits, specifics, templates, designs, and everything in between. In the meantime, a client should feel free to talk about their thoughts along the way.
6. How and where a contractor works is up to them
Unless otherwise specified in the agreed-upon contract, an independent contractor can work from wherever they want. Many freelancers are remote workers on the go or holed up in their home offices. This is one of the many benefits that makes individuals flock to freelancing.
It is sensible to understand that a client in Montana’s sudden need for on-site work may not be negotiable for a freelancer working from Tokyo. If the off-chance of in-office presence is needed, that needs to be expressed with the contractor before they’re hired on as a freelance worker.
It’s also important to remember that contractors are professionals in their trade. How they perform their tasks shouldn’t be monitored like the work of an employee is.
7. Contractors usually have other clients
A small business should remember that they may not be the only ones on the independent contractor’s roster. Independent contractors sometimes have several other clients that they are working with, various deadlines to meet, many personalities in play, and numerous projects due.
Contractors also reserve the right to engage with other teams and freelancers to assist with the project demands. Typically, if other resources are going to be used, a contractor will pay their way and provide the client with information about their plans.
8. Marketing is a part of the job
Freelancers reserve the right to advertise themselves and their services through web ads, business cards, and other means of marketing. If it is preferred not to use any indication of a contractor’s independent business in a project, that needs to be discussed upfront.
Luckily for a client, marketing works the other way as well. A contractor will have worked closely with a business’s mission and vision. Depending on how they are treated, they will be likely to recommend their client’s services when the situation arises.
9. Contractors are still paid workers
Employers should not view contractors as lesser employees. While they are legally and definitively not the same, an independent contractor is still just a person juggling life and other means of income and success. Clients are paying for their time and services, and it’s important to respect freelancers.
10. Knowledge about the company is helpful
The company may need to keep their inner workings private for legal reasons. This is understandable. A good contractor will still be able to work with the information that is available to them.
In the case of a designer, some intricate and specific information about a business will be important to know for a more inclusive and relevant website or logo. Freelance writers, for example, thrive when a writing brief, style guide, and other relevant information is provided.
What’s your biggest 2022 HR challenge that you’d like to resolve
Answer to see the results
There’s a learning curve to working with contractors
There are a lot of things to keep in mind with the employment of an independent contractor. Discovering things along the way and finding ways to assuage differences in the future is a part of the learning curve.