markusspiske / Pixabay

Building a professional relationship with anyone—let alone a freelancer you’ve never met in person—takes a high degree of trust. Do they have the skills they claim? Will they deliver the work you need?

Just as eBay revolutionized the way we shop and Airbnb is reshaping the way we look at travel, online freelancing platforms, such as Upwork, are changing the way people work. With the right tools to help you search, contract, and process payments efficiently, it becomes easier for you to connect and work with talent anywhere in the world.

“One of the most important success factors for any online marketplace is trust. Clients need to be confident they’ll get the work they want, and freelancers need to know they’re going to get paid for the work they do.”
— Elizabeth Tse, Upwork’s SVP of operations

According to Greetje Corporaal, a postdoctoral researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, as much as 80 percent of large corporations will increase their use of freelancers in the coming years; Oxford’s Online Labour Index (OLI) has already indicated a 30 percent rise in the amount of work being done through online platforms.

Want to source and hire freelancers to get your project done? Learn more here.

Access to a global talent pool

In any given week, thousands of freelancers around the world connect with their clients through the Upwork site alone — there’s a good chance you can connect with someone with the talent you need online.

Attracting great freelancers starts with a job post that’s professional (i.e. well written and proofread), concise, and detailed. But to find the right freelancer for your project, you’ll need a way to effectively choose and interview freelancers who are most likely to be a good fit.

Create a shortlist by identifying the factors that are most important to you, then doing a quick scan of each freelancer to review their:

  • Skills
  • Related experience
  • Client feedback
  • Rate

Other factors may also be a consideration, such as language fluency and timezone.

TIP: Engaging top talent is a two-way street. The better an impression you make, the easier it is to attract stellar freelancers. Look at your online brand with a critical eye: Would you want to work with you? Learn more about how you can find great freelance talent on Upwork

The potential for less admin and paperwork

Finding a great freelancer for your project is just the first step. Before getting started, you should agree on contract terms. On Upwork, for example, the Service Contract terms within the User Agreement automatically cover you. However, you and your freelancer agree on the work to be done and pricing and are free to negotiate any contract terms you wish—just make sure they don’t change the obligations of, or add restrictions to, the online freelancing platform itself.

As your project moves forward, paying your freelancer and keeping your records up-to-date become important parts of your regular admin. On Upwork, essential parts of the process are simplified through automation and may qualify for payment protection within one of two pricing structures:

  • Fixed-price projects are invoiced and paid by each milestone. You make a deposit in advance that’s paid through escrow once you’ve approved the work that’s been done.
  • With hourly projects, time tracked using Upwork’s Work Diary is automatically invoiced on a weekly basis.

When it comes to tax time, check whether there are any tax forms you need to submit to report payments you’ve made to freelancers. If you use the Upwork platform, you shouldn’t be required to file U.S. tax forms.

TIP: Consider whether you’re hiring an independent contractor or an employee. Learn more about how you can tell the difference

Why not just hire freelancers on your own?

Two of the biggest benefits to engaging freelancers through an online freelance platform are security and peace-of-mind. A platform can help you:

  • Ensure a formal agreement is in place
  • Keep all your invoices and payment data, as well as your work history with individual freelancers, in one location
  • Have recourse, through detailed documentation and other benefits, if your working relationship runs into hurdles
  • Access a community of other freelancers and clients who can help with information and tips

Online freelancing platforms represent a thriving sector of the freelance economy, where you can find, hire, work with, and pay professionals from anywhere in the world.

Check out Upwork’s Hiring Guides to get more information about how to find and hire the right freelancer for your project.