Antonio Calabrese is the Founder at boonle.com. Follow him on Twitter @ACalabrese83.
Well, just as you wouldn't attempt to perform root canal surgery on yourself, you shouldn't attempt to tackle certain specialist areas in your own business. Sometimes you're simply much better off calling in the professionals - particularly with creative tasks such as graphic design (logos, business cards, flyers, and more), web design and development and writing blog articles.
Relying on expert assistance saves you both time and trouble straight out of the gate. Rather than flailing around looking for solutions, an external expert is able to get right down to business and start delivering results. Budget restraints will be a factor for many nonprofits and small businesses, but it doesn't need to be a concern. In my time as founder of Boonle, a platform for connecting people seeking digital services with freelancers, I've learned some simple steps for hiring high-quality creative freelancers without breaking the bank.
Define Your Tasks
It's important to define your needs before attempting to engage a freelancer. Getting the scope of work nailed down early will form the core of your eventual contract and make it substantially easier to source high-quality work at a reasonable price.
You have to analyze what you need in terms of inputs (both yours and the freelancer's) and outputs. For example, if you want blog content you should specify the topic area, writing style, number of words, SEO expectations, deadline, and so on. The more tightly defined the core set of tasks are at this stage, the easier the rest will be.
Set Your Personal Requirements
With the required tasks defined, think through your personal requirements carefully. For example, is it important to you that the freelancer is local or even in the same timezone? Will face-to-face meetings be necessary?
Many of the most affordable freelancers may well be in a different country, many hours ahead or behind your timezone. They may not have a perfect command of the English language. Depending on your personal requirements, these factors may or may not be deal-breakers. Establish what you're comfortable with early on.
Price Your Project
Freelance rates vary wildly. Experience and expertise are obvious considerations, but geographical location can also play a big role. You'll often be able to source extremely high-quality work from locations where costs of living are lower. Identify your maximum budget early and work backward from there. You want to arrive at a final project price that leaves some money in the bank to handle last-minute alterations or additional project phases, rather than end up bumping up against the edges of what is possible from the outset.
Different freelancers will also have different expectations in terms of payment methods and stages. Many will want a lump sum for a contract, some will want part-payment in advance, and others will be happy with an hourly rate. Make your preferred payment terms crystal clear from the beginning.
Create a Proposal
The traditional approach to the next step is to put this information (project scope, pricing and your requirements) into a formal proposal for freelance work with an attractive heading that's likely to drive responses. If you're not able to offer much money-wise, you'll have to offer something else. A freelancer who will work for little or nothing may well expect recognition of some sort: a testimonial or some other form of affirmation. If you can't pay much, you can be generous in other ways. Make the benefits of the project clear in your proposal.
Nonprofits may be able to attract freelancers with values that match their own for less money than they would normally charge. In your proposal, introduce your company, be very specific about what you want, and offer to answer questions in case anything is unclear.
Narrow Down Your List
If your budget is limited, you'll have to be creative. Freelancers who are just starting out may be prepared to be flexible if they can take a project on as a portfolio piece or a testimonial source.
On our platform, freelancers work their way up through different levels, each representing an increasing number of completed projects, quality of work and high average payment amounts. This method allows clients to choose whether they want to work with someone new to freelancing, whose expectations may well be modest, or opt for the security of a freelancer that has a number of similar projects under their belt.
Hiring high-quality creative freelancers is a process, but it's more than worth it. A reliable creative freelancer can help you scale work effectively and free up your time to concentrate on core tasks.