The Complete Guide to Hiring Freelance Staff When Self-Employed

Being self-employed doesn’t necessarily mean doing everything yourself. As your small business starts to grow, you may need an extra pair of hands to help you with your increasing workload. Alternatively, you may need help with a particular task like filing your tax return or designing a new logo. In any case, there will surely come a time when you can’t just handle everything on your own. In this helpful guide, you’ll discover the pros and cons of hiring freelance staff as a self-employed business owner.

If you’re a self-employed small business owner, you might be wondering what are your options when it comes to hiring staff? You can become an employer by hiring a full-time employee or two, but this may not be the best option financially. Instead, hiring freelance staff could be a better choice for you. However, there are many factors you need to consider first.

So, here’s all about the step-by-step process of hiring a freelancer, helping you to avoid common hiring mistakes.

Step 1: Decide if you want to hire a freelancer

Naturally, before you get started with the hiring process, you need to decide if hiring freelance staff is really the best choice for your small business. To help you choose between hiring a freelancer and hiring a full-time employee, here are the pros and cons of each.

Pros:

  • You only have to pay a freelancer for the time that they’re working on a particular project for you. This is great if you don’t have enough work available for a full-time employee. For example, if you need some help with your taxes when the tax deadline approaches, it makes more sense to hire a freelance accountant. Alternatively, you could even just consider using software for accounting rather than hire a full-time employee.
  • Hiring freelance staff when self-employed can help you save money. This is because you won’t have to cover things like sick pay, annual leave and pension contributions.
  • Freelancers are highly specialised and experienced in their fields. Therefore, if you have a project but you don’t have the skills to do it yourself, you can find someone to do the job professionally.
  • If you hire a freelancer instead of a full-time employee, you won’t have to follow certain legal responsibilities. This could include getting employers’ liability insurance.

Cons:

  • You’ll only hire a freelancer for a specific project and time period. Consequently, if you have lots of extra work you can’t handle on your own, a full-time employee may be better.
  • Freelancers often have higher rates compared to full-time employees, although you don’t need to take things like sick pay and annual leave into consideration.
  • Freelancers will often be working on multiple projects at the same time, so they may not always be available.
  • Since they don’t stay with your company long-term, freelancers can be less committed to your business and less knowledgeable about it.

Overall, if you’re looking for help with a specific short-term project, you should probably hire a freelancer. However, if you want your business to grow in the long term, you might start thinking about hiring some employees.

Step 2: Find freelancers

Once you’ve decided to hire freelance staff when self-employed, you need to start looking for the right one for your small business. The best places to find a freelancer are online freelancer platforms like Upwork, PeoplePerHour and Fiverr. There are thousands of highly experienced freelancers on these websites that you can contact.

However, if you prefer to get recommendations from people you trust, then you can ask other business owners in your network or post about your search for a freelancer on social media. Your network is a fantastic resource when you’re trying to find skilled and trustworthy freelancers.

Step 3: Decide on a budget

Before contacting freelancers, you should already be clear on a few details. Most importantly, you should have already decided on a budget for your project.

Deciding on your budget beforehand will make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for and communicate clearly with potential freelance staff. In addition, being clear on your budget will help you stay on track with your finances from the start. This is essential if you own a small business with limited capital.

To set a budget, you need to be realistic about what a freelancer may charge. A freelancer’s rates will often be higher compared to a full-time employee. Plus, if you want someone well qualified and very experienced, their rates will be even higher. If you don’t know what’s reasonable for the type of work you’re asking for, check out the typical rates of freelancers on sites like Upwork and PeoplePerHour.

Step 4: Write a project brief

Another thing you’ll have to finalise before looking for a freelancer is your brief. This is both for your benefit and your freelancer’s benefit. A clear project brief will give you guidance on what kind of person to look for, and at the same time, a detailed brief will help freelancers decide if your project is right for them.

Here are the main things you’ll need to discuss in your project brief:

  • The aims of the project.
  • What’s expected of the freelancer.
  • The skills and qualifications required.
  • Deadlines.
  • The budget and payment terms. 

By setting clear expectations, you’ll be much less likely to hire the wrong freelancer or encounter lots of mistakes along the way.

Step 5: Interview candidates

Once you’ve uploaded your project brief to a freelancer platform or social media site, you’ll start to receive proposals from freelancers. You may be lucky enough to immediately find the right person. However, you could also struggle to find someone or find it difficult to choose between a few promising candidates.

If you can’t choose between several freelancers, then it’s a good idea to interview them to help you reach a decision. In a video interview, you can learn more about the candidates’ skills, qualifications, experience, availability and working hours. And, since freelancers often work remotely, this may be your only opportunity to meet them virtually during the project. Actually meeting someone – even if it’s just on a Zoom call – can help you get a much better idea of whether they’d be a good fit for your project and your business.

Step 6: Write a contract

Congratulations! You’ve found the perfect freelancer for your project and have decided to hire them. However, the hiring process doesn’t end here. If you want to protect your small business legally, then you should always write a contract when hiring freelance staff. A verbal agreement won’t be good enough if disagreements arise.

In your written contract, there are a few areas you should always cover. Here are the main elements you should include:

  • The timeframe of the contract. You need to clearly set out how long the freelancer will be working for you and what deadlines they need to meet.
  • Payment terms. Your contract should always include your agreed rate of pay and when payments should be made. For example, are you paying the freelancer at the end of the project or in instalments?
  • Expectations. What do you expect the freelancer to deliver?
  • Confidential information. Throughout the project, the freelancer may encounter confidential information about your business. Therefore, if you want to ensure that this information is protected, you need to include a confidentiality clause in your contract to prevent the freelancer from discussing business secrets with competitors. 
  • Intellectual property. If you employ someone, this means that whatever they produce is the intellectual property of your business. However, this isn’t the case for freelancers. So, if you want ownership over the work they produce for you, then you need to specify this in the contract.

Step 7: Maintain good relationships

Finally, don’t forget to establish strong relationships with your freelance staff. Having a good relationship with a freelancer can help you work with them again in the future. This means you won’t have to spend a lot of time searching for someone else. In addition, working with the same freelancer provides much-needed continuity for your business.

Most importantly, you must always pay your freelancers on time to maintain a good relationship. All freelancers have stories about nightmare clients who took forever to pay them, so don’t be one of the bad guys! Furthermore, you should always communicate clearly your expectations and stick to the brief. Your freelance staff won’t appreciate it if you start asking for different things halfway through a project.

Final Thoughts: Hiring Freelance Staff

As a self-employed business owner, hiring freelance staff may be a much better financial decision than hiring full-time employees. However, the process of hiring freelancers isn’t always straightforward.

If you’re hoping to hire a freelancer to complete projects for your small business, don’t forget the seven key steps in this helpful guide. By looking on freelancer platforms, creating a brief, interviewing candidates, writing a contract and maintaining strong relationships with your freelance staff, you can ensure that you always find the right person for each project.

Guest Post Author: Lucy is the founder and editor of benefitsguide.co.uk – a free to use resource detailing what financial support is available through the UK benefits system.

About Anita Forrest

Anita Forrest is a Chartered Accountant, spreadsheet geek and money nerd helping financial DIY-ers organise their money so they can hit their goals quicker.