Riding the Booming Freelance Economy Wave

By Yu Liu

The saying goes that good help is hard to find, but we think it’s actually getting easier thanks to the growing community of freelancers — 55 million freelancers strong in the U.S. — that can handle everything from bookkeeping to marketing to sales and beyond.

Freelancers love to take on new work with new people — that’s why they’re freelancing! Small business owners have a great opportunity to hire passionate, flexible experts for project-based work, provided they follow a few tips for hiring independent workers. The partnership between small business owners and freelancers can be a wonderful one that benefits both sides, providing owners with much needed help and freelancers with valuable experience. Here are some insider tips.

  • Call in experts for work outside your core business. A small business owner who embraces the freelance community can bring an expert aboard to accomplish virtually any task, saving time and easing the strain of juggling multiple roles and responsibilities, but it’s important to know what skills freelancers typically offer. Freelancers hired by small businesses typically fall into one of three categories: Marketing & Branding, Design, or Software services, according to LinkedIn ProFinder If you know the services that are most readily available, you can make better, more informed decisions about which tasks to hire a freelancer for, which to manage yourself, and when to consider hiring someone full-time. A freelance marketing guru could be just the ticket for raising your company’s profile and profits within a discrete time frame, while retail positions are typically best handled by full- or part-time employees.
  • Keep up your records, contracts and paperwork. Always have a contract, even for simple jobs, and pay freelancers on time. By having a written agreement, you’ll make sure you’re both on the same page about the scope of the job, timing, and pay, thereby laying the groundwork for a smooth working experience. It’s a good practice regardless of your location, but it’s required for freelancers in New York City.
  • Harness freelancers’ passions and desire for flexibility. Three-quarters of freelancers choose to become part of the freelance economy for the increased flexibility, 35 percent freelance so they can pursue their passions, and 11 percent are interested in the career change possibilities that freelancing offers, according to a recent survey of freelancers by LinkedIn. Get the most out of your freelancers by tapping into these motivations. Try to accommodate non-traditional working hours, and be open to unexpected, creative ideas stemming from the passion your freelancers have for their areas of expertise. Whether thinking about freelancers individually or as a group, taking into account how their motivations can help you achieve your goals can make all the difference.

When you’re running a business, time is a precious resource. Many small business owners play the roles of CEO, CFO, head of customer service, VP of sales, and head of tech support, depending on the moment. Tapping freelance talent can be your secret weapon to grow while staying focused on doing what you love.

Yu Liu is a LinkedIn ProFinder Product Manager.