If you already know the pros and cons of hiring a freelancer, then you might be ready to set out and actually hire one.

The thought can even seem too good to be true: Low cost and talented individuals who need little management or guidance to do stellar work for your association.

But wait. Where do you find these rockstars?

It’s not as difficult as you may think, even if you’ve never worked with or hired a freelance worker in the past. Hiring your first freelance worker can seem scary because it’s an unfamiliar work dynamic. Often, freelancers don’t work in the office and you’ll scarcely (if ever) see them face-to-face.

So, where do you begin?

How to hire a freelancer

There are websites with freelancer listings and job postings, like Upwork and Freelancer,  and these are an OK place to start.

Both websites give reviews on frequently used freelancers, which is really useful. In my experience, services like Upwork are better for one-off gigs because the freelancers tend to juggle many clients at once. However, these freelancers are not necessarily committed to the any specific industry, so they can lack institutional knowledge.

A great freelancer will stick with your organization and add value to your association. The key is to find the right one.

Search local first

The first thing you should do as an association recruiter is go to another website you may be more familiar with: Linkedin.

Search for freelancers in your area. It’s as simple as typing “DC freelance” in the search box. It took me 5 seconds just now to perform that search, and I found results for freelance marketers and email copywriters right in my backyard.

Finding local freelancers is the best place to start. That is because you’ll likely get real face-time with them. Bear in mind that most freelancers enjoy remote work, so keep office visits minimal, if that’s the case.

Note: If your office is in an expensive area like Washington, D.C. or New York, it may be wise to look elsewhere for a freelancer. Freelancers tend to charge more in high cost areas.

Key questions to ask when interviewing a freelancer

Once you have candidates in your freelance job pool, it’s time to qualify them. The very first question to ask is if they have current clients. Find out if they have a portfolio and request sample writing and work.

Next, narrow your search based on quality and relative work. Once you do this, set up a phone interview and get a feel for how they communicate. Communication is the most important job quality in a professional freelancer.

If they have a great skill set but are crummy communicators, look elsewhere. Hire someone who has a proven track record of communication and accountability with other organizations.

Next, find out how much work they are willing to put into your organization.

Many freelancers have other clients and you need to find out how much time and energy they are willing to give you. Once you have narrowed your search based on the above criteria, it’s time to go live.

Well, not completely live. Yet.

Have your freelance candidates go through a trial run. Identify a task for each one and have them complete and submit the work. After the trial run, evaluate the quality and timeliness of their work. Also keep in mind how they communicated to you throughout the process.

Expect to pay for the work even if you don’t end up hiring them or using the work.

Post trial-run, you should have a pretty good idea if you have the right freelancer.

How to compensate a freelancer

Freelancers are contract workers, you can be creative with compensation.

I recommend compensating based on work completed. For example, if you’re hiring a freelance blogger, pay them per blog post or per word.

Another way is to set a monthly amount. For instance, if you hire a freelance marketer to manage email marketing, agree to pay them a flat fee per month. If you choose to pay a fixed monthly amount, make sure you have defined exactly what services you need from the freelancer. The more specific, the better. The last thing you want is to lose ROI on your freelance marketer because they are unsure of their responsibilities.

Pro-tip: Avoid paying an hourly rate. Hourly rates create distrust among employers and freelancers. Even if they produce great work, the following question will always linger: “Did they actually take X hours to complete Y task?” Paying a contract worker hourly creates a ton of completely avoidable problems.

Overall, freelancers can be instrumental to your team.

As the United States moves toward a remote work and freelance economy, your association will need to adapt. Freelance workers could be a game changer and even a necessity for your organization.

Do your diligence, and put forth the same effort into hiring a freelance worker as you would a regular employee. If you follow a few key steps throughout the process, it’ll result in a highly productive addition to your team.

owner/blogger | [email protected]

I am a dedicated association professional and the owner/blogger of AssociationWork.org.

My expertise includes digital marketing strategy, marketing automation and association technology. I am borderline obsessed with new technology and I’m constantly on the lookout for tech that will improve work/life.

When I’m not working on my blog or developing marketing tactics for NAIFA, you can find me running around the block, reading James Michener books, or fishing in a stream off the beaten path.

I am a dedicated association professional and the owner/blogger of AssociationWork.org. My expertise includes digital marketing strategy, marketing automation and association technology. I am borderline obsessed with new technology and I’m constantly on the lookout for tech that will improve work/life. When I’m not working on my blog or developing marketing tactics for NAIFA, you can find me running around the block, reading James Michener books, or fishing in a stream off the beaten path.

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