According to a study by the Freelancers’ Union, there are more than 54 million freelancers in the US – and as the millennial generation starts to reach the full-adult working age, we will see more remote workers than ever. And, after all, it is only natural to see this happen in a world where you can connect with people thousands and thousands of miles away in the blink of an eye.
Freelancing has tremendous benefits for those who practice it – but it can be advantageous for a business owner as well. In the right context, and for the right projects, a freelancer can bring real value into a company, be it small-sized or a mega-corporation.
Just like hiring an employee, though, contracting a freelancer for specific tasks comes with its own sets of rules – some of which are actually dictated by the law. What are the absolute basics entrepreneurs should know about employing freelance contractors for their business’ needs? Read on to find out.
As mentioned above, freelancers can definitely benefit your business. However, before you hire a freelance professional, you should first make sure to really understand this special category of employees.
- Freelancers are not full-time employees. They will work for your project, and, depending on the tasks, they might work up to 8 (or even more!) hours every day. However, be aware of the fact that they are not there to help you full-time, for an extended period of time.
- Freelancers will work at their own schedules. Typically, freelancers have their own schedules– it’s part of why they’re in the business on their own, after all. Some of them might work at odd hours during the night, others will maintain a 9-5ish schedule. You should be understanding of this.
- Freelancers may sometimes have higher hourly rates than employees. Remember, they have to survive on these hourly rates even when they don’t have work to do, they have to pay their taxes, and they are generally employed for short-to-medium periods. As a consequence, a freelancer’s hourly rate may be higher than an employee’s hourly rate doing the same thing.
- Freelancers move around. This is why it is really important to always specify the time zone in which you’re setting your deadline.
- Freelancers are worth what you pay them. It may seem that you are doing your business a service by opting for the least expensive freelancers, but chances are their services are not as great as you may expect them to be. As mentioned before, most of the excellent freelancers charge more–and they can do much more in the same amount of time too.
Why Hire a Freelancer, Anyway?
There are a lot of reasons that make freelancers a much better choice than actual employees—however, freelancers aren’t necessarily the best choice for every business.
Do hire a freelancer if:
- You have a short-term project and you do not want to/cannot hire a full-time employee for it. For example, if you simply want to upgrade your business’ website design, you might want to hire a freelance designer for 20-30 hours (or however much is needed).
- You have recurrent tasks, but they are not regular enough to hire a part-time employee, or they can be done in fewer than 8 hours per day. For example, if you want someone to write regular blog posts, and one blog post takes only 1-4 hours to write, you might want to hire a freelance content writer for the task.
- You have a very specific task, and you want someone who is a real expert in that field. For example, if you are running a financial business, and you need content written for this niche, you might want to consider hiring a freelance writer specializing in writing about the financial industry.
- You run a company that works exclusively online. It doesn’t make sense for online companies to hire people on a full-time basis at a specific location, as you yourself may be moving around a lot too.
Do NOT hire a freelancer if:
- You actually need someone to run more than just one task. For example, if you need someone to run your digital marketing campaign, you will most likely need to hire a full-time specialist.
- You need someone who will always have things ready on time. Good freelancers can do that, but finding the right person may require some time (and the willingness to fail at least once or twice).
- You need someone for more than one year. While there may be a lot of freelancers who are more than happy to stay with one client for a longer period of time, they may not want to do this nearly full-time.
What Should Your Contract Look Like?
Hiring a freelancer shouldn’t happen without a thorough analysis of what legislation might affect you and your freelancer. This becomes especially complicated when freelancers and their clients live in completely different parts of the country, or even completely different sides of the world. However, there are a few basic elements to consider:
- Your contract will have to include the law that governs it, called the “law clause.” In most cases, business owners will choose as law clause legislation from their home state – but, depending on your situation, you might want to base your contract on federal laws.
- A severability clause is also very important. This particular clause will ensure that, if any of the clauses of the contract are deemed invalid, all of the other clauses will stand in a court of law. It is a precautionary measure, but it can make a huge difference.
- You should also pay attention to injunctive relief of breach. According to this clause, any breach of contract on the side of the freelancer will mean irreparable damage for you. As the client, you will be entitled to injunctive relief, which may or may not be monetary.
- Be sure to create a contract that’s very specific about all the details, including milestones, the fee you have agreed on, project deliverables, quality standards, how many revisions are included, and if research time is included in price or not. Any small omission could lead to a major misunderstanding at the end of the project.
- Pay attention to copyright infringement legislation. If the services you are buying are subject to this kind of laws, make sure to include a Non-Disclosure Agreement with your contract. Do the same if you are about to provide the freelancer with important company passwords or data.
- If you choose to hire a freelancer via a website (e.g. UpWork), and the freelancer is from the US, make sure they have signed a W9 form. In general, these sites will automatically require US freelancers to submit this form – and while it may not have repercussions for you, it is still better to be in complete legality with your work.
The world is more mobile than ever – and as a result, businesses will have to learn to be more mobile too. The freelance movement suits the millennial generation more than anything.
What happens next? How mobile and free will we be from now on?
Only time will tell. What is certain, though, is that freelancing is here to stay–and you should not be afraid to adopt it if it works for your particular business needs.