Most people now know someone that either makes their living as a freelancer or uses different platforms to earn some extra cash. The Gig Economy has soared over the past several years, and there are no signs of it slowing down.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.5 million people are considered freelancers in the U.S. alone. And a Future Workforce Report 2018 from Upwork indicates that nearly half (48%) of U.S. companies are currently using freelancers, up 43% from 2017.
Globally, the average hourly rate for a freelancer is $19. This must be attractive enough because more than half (51%) of freelancers say that no amount of money would entice them to take a traditional job again.
This brings us to our latest question: Do people who “blog” hire freelancers? To answer this, we created a survey and came away with some interesting results.
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We reached out to a group of 22 bloggers to learn if they use freelancers, how they use them, and their attitudes towards outsourcing work or keeping it in-house. The 5 main takeaways from our survey were eye-opening.
When asked if they hire freelancers, a majority (66.7%) said that they do. The remainder (33.3%) keep all of the work that they do in-house.
Of the respondents that don't hire freelancers, some of the most common reasons that they gave for their decision were:
Half (50%) of the survey respondents say that they spend under $500 per month on freelancers. 25% spend between $1,001-$3,000, 18.8% spend between $501-$1,000, and the remaining 6.2% spend over $5,000 monthly.
Majority of the bloggers we interviewed use Upwork (31.3%) to scout and hire suitable freelancers. The second most popular platform is Fiverr (18.8%), followed by Freelancer.com and Peopleperhour (both with 12.5% respectively).
Both Upwork and Fiverr combined have taken more than 50% of the shares.
While there are online platforms designed to connect freelancers with clients, these aren't the only places that these two groups find each other. According to the survey, the other ways that bloggers located freelancers are:
Just because we're surveying bloggers, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are outsourcing content creation (some do). Blogs are online properties that require graphics, SEO, and other specialized skills to outperform their peers.
Some of the most common tasks that bloggers outsource include:
At times, it can be more beneficial to hire a freelancer than to have in-house staff or do a task yourself. Freelancers can work where they're at (generally at home), which cuts down on your overhead, and many have some specialized skills that they bring to the table.
But someone calling themselves a “freelancer” doesn't necessarily mean that they are going to give you what you want and need. Remember – there are millions of freelancers working in the gig economy, so there's a good chance that some of those workers are much better than others.
So, how do you find that top talent? Here are some tips that we collected from the survey respondents.
It's going to be tough to get quality work if you can't communicate what you need to a freelancer. Before hiring, it's crucial to have a clear outline of the task you want to outsource. Write down your scope clearly and set deadlines for completion. The reason behind is to avoid any confusions between you and the freelancers.
Another reason for having a clearly defined scope is to avoid yourself from being a scope creep. You might not be aware that most projects are abandoned due to the uncontrollable demand and changes in the scope. As such, here are the tips from our respondent:
Be as detailed as you can in your requirements as this will help make the project go smoother and stay on track. It also helps to set expectations of what the final deliverable(s) should be. – Chris Makara
Be very clear about what you're looking for, what it's like to work for you, and what you expect in terms of an ongoing relationship. The more specific you can get, the better. I also make it a point to state the rate of pay in my initial communications to make sure we're in the same ballpark so as not to waste each other's time. – Maddy Osman
Ensure a good fit by setting expectations and ensuring they respond quickly to communication. – Vinay Koshy
As you can see from the survey results, there are many different places to find a freelancer. When hiring on freelance sites, one of the most valuable tips is to read samples and reviews. Reviews are the best indicator of performance because they come from prior paying customers like yourself.
Here are some of the popular hiring platforms where you can start looking for talents:
If you want to dig deeper the difference between both platforms, read our article Upwork vs Fiverr. Though, you might need the freelancers to work with the specific platform like one of our respondents here:
Besides the platforms, what our respondents have to say when searching for freelance candidates?
1) Research first about VA. How they work? How they want to get paid? How much time they are going to invest? How much involvement they ask from you? 2) If you looking for VA then I will say don't go for cheap one. Always remember quality does not come with less. You get what you pay for. It is my biggest learning so far. 3) Check reviews if you hire an exp VA. But don't hesitate to work with a new one. New VA works so hard to make you happy. 4. No bargaining with new VA. – Bhawana
The first thing to any outsource web development is to choose the right outsourcing partner. Then ask them for past references, for example, the clients and previous products. Don't forget to evaluate the communication flow as going through the process of complaining is painful and time-consuming. – Jerry Low
Quality of work done and timeliness – Enstine Muki
Experience and pricing – Azlinas Miswan
If you need someone to re-code your website, you might want to hire a coder instead of a graphic designer. You might want someone who can handle your financial accounting with BigCommerce instead of traditional book-keeping.
In other words, match the job with the freelancer's skills and experience. If you have a clear requirement written, like what I've mentioned at the first point, you can browse through the freelancer profiles to find the suitable candidates.
If you are looking for freelancers with specific skillsets, here's an example of niche freelancing platform:
In addition to that, here is what a few of the bloggers have to say about this:
First, do your research. Check out their portfolio and have a conversation to make sure the freelancers can do what you're hiring them for. Second, have a clear brief and clear deadlines. Always set the deadline a couple of days before you need content to give some wiggle room. – Sharon Hurley Hall
Look for an experienced freelancer who has the right skills for your Job. – Bill Acholla
Don't forget to interview them. – Joe Kok
That's right, don't forget to interview the shortlisted candidate!
Since you will likely get plenty of interest in your positions or projects, you'll want to interview your final candidates before hiring anyone. Here are a few questions you can ask before deciding:
Pay attention to their answers and don't assume the candidates have the same work culture with you. With these basic questions, you can learn more about the candidates and set the groundwork for better outsourcing relationships.
Additional tips from our respondent on this matter include:
Take the time to thoroughly vet people. When hiring on freelance sites – and especially when hiring writers – you will often run into situations where the samples shared aren't actually things that the applicant has written. You'll also run into scenarios where applicants share samples of things that they have actually written, but that they have been so heavily edited by someone else that the final drafts are night and day different from the original articles. – Tabitha Naylor
I prefer hiring a few and then giving all of them the same task to find the best among those shortlisted ones. Also, make sure that you have something weird in your job description to filter out those who don't read the whole thing (ex: start your cover letter with the capital of Ireland) – Khalid Farhan
Hiring a freelancer is a bit of work, so it's not something you want to repeat each time you need some task done. There's value in establishing long term relationships with these workers.
If you want to build a long-term relationship with freelancers, here are some stats you need to be aware of. According to MBO Partners, the freelancers are expecting more from their client, other than monetary, for example:
In short, you need to trust their expertise.
Here are some additional thoughts from one of the respondents:
When hiring anyone, think long term. Don't take anyone for just 1 or 2 months (or for 1 or 2 projects). Train them, learn from them, and try to keep them as long as possible. Not only it builds a healthier relationship, but they'll take your work really seriously. – Anil Agarwal
Using a freelancer can be an affordable way to get work done on your blog, but that doesn't mean you choose the cheapest option. Instead, you want the experienced freelancers that able to fit your needs.
You may find a random freelancer who can solve your problem for half the price of an experienced person. But, chances are the outcome of the solution will also be clearly less professional.
This is what one of the survey respondents says on the matter:
Same as ‘buy nice so you don't buy twice' – hire good freelancers, so you don't spend more to fix bad work. – Suraya
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Not all businesses (blogging is a business) are keen on hiring freelancers, but you can't do everything yourself and expect to have a spare minute in your day. Fortunately, technology has created a fundamental shift in the way we approach work, meaning you can get quality help for your blog at an affordable price.
However, let's see what are some of the reasons that bloggers don't hire freelancers:
Writing is so easy and fun for me that I do it myself. I have written over 10,000 articles during my online career so I write for free and easily – Ryan Biddulp
I believe that authenticity is the key to success, especially when we talk about content marketing. I always recommend that bloggers publish posts that speak of their experiences, opinions, and knowledge. And that’s why I don’t favor hiring random freelancers for my content needs. – Shane Barker
The audience is intelligent. They will notice even the slightest shift in tone and the seemingly lack of authenticity. It is important for me to communicate my truth and it’s something attainable by hiring freelancers. – Rhode InStyle
I don't need one at the moment. I will in the future and I'm concerned that it will take too much time to train them for what I need. – Ileane B. Smith
Budget constraint and quality of writing – Yan Jian
Because I could do it myself. – Wong Zhi Xin
Even if you've been one of the ones that are most resistant to hiring a freelancer, these results should be food for thought. Your peers are increasingly using online platforms and other resources to connect with professionals to increase the quality of their websites and improve the overall experience for their site's visitors.