Do you know any freelance workers?
If you don’t yet, you will soon.
According to a recent study by Freelancers Union, a nonprofit advocacy group for freelancers, there are already 57.3 million of them in the U.S. with the figure forecasted to exceed half the labor force in 10 years!
As small business owners struggle to build their online presence and market themselves effectively across several online channels, they in particular, stand to benefit from leveraging this vast pool of labor.
But how can small business owners use freelance workers to help build and market their online presence? And what are the steps they can take to connect with the right freelancers? Let’s find out.
To better understand the views and activities of small and medium business owners over time, we’ve partnered with CNBC to poll them directly. On one of our studies, we learned of the most important channels they use to communicate news with prospects and customers:
For a small business owner, any missed or poorly executed communication in any of these channels can have drastic consequences on both the reputation and health of their business.
Unfortunately, this consequence is a distinct possibility. Small businesses are more likely to be resource constrained, leading to certain areas of their customer experience to become neglected. Furthermore, they may lack employees who have the skills and expertise to execute on crucial projects.
As a result, we’ve found that only 55% of small business owners say they have a business website, 50% say they have a business Facebook page, and only 21% say they have a business Twitter account.
But how can freelancers help?
In today’s day and age, freelancers can be exceptionally talented individuals who vary in their areas of specialization.
Finding freelancers who specialize in online marketing services is easy. With a simple search—more to come on this shortly— you can easily find freelance workers who are experts in fields like web design, writing, search engine optimization, and social media strategy. In addition, the ability to leverage their expertise on an as-needed basis, gives small businesses the ability to save on hiring full-time employees while receiving support in areas they wouldn’t be able to execute on otherwise.
So what can a small business owner do to find the right freelance worker? Here are some best practices to consider:
1) Prioritizing the top projects that need to be completed. Is the small business owner hoping to make their site mobile-friendly? Do they need help writing content for their website? The small business employees should align on the areas they need to address first.
2) Setting a budget. As a first step, the small business owner can spend some time on sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com. These sites allow them to find freelancers in various fields, and get a feel for how much the different services cost.
It’s worth noting that several variables, including the freelance workers’ area of specialization, level of experience and satisfaction rating from previous customers, may influence the rates they charge.
3) Checking out freelancers’ reviews and projects in depth through the sites mentioned in step 2. The small business owner can filter reviews by most recent, allowing them to see if a freelance worker has improved or worsened over time. They can also check out a freelancer’s overall rating and read the individual comments to see if they can spot any red flags.
Have any freelancers completed similar projects to what the small business owner is looking to assign? If yes, how’d they do? Seeing how they’ve performed on relevant projects can help give the owner peace of mind that they’re the right fit.
4) Interviewing prospective freelancers either in person or by video conference before committing. The small business owner wants to make sure that the freelancer is work compatible with their team and use the opportunity to either spot issues or identify strengths they hadn’t previously found from their profile.
An area that’s absolutely essential to align on beforehand is the timeline for completing the project. Making sure that the prospective freelancer is comfortable with the date/s the small business owner requests is crucial. Otherwise, the owner may have to look elsewhere.
5) Perfecting the pitch of the small business and the project they’d assign. Assuming the freelance worker is talented and in-demand, the small business owner’s ability to persuade them to work with their business is crucial.
Before reaching out, the small business owner should think through what makes working with them exciting and different, especially in the context of the project they’d assign the freelancer. He or she should then make a point of articulating this message right from the onset.
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With the digital marketplace constantly evolving, small business owners may rely on particular freelance services frequently.
As small business owners build up experience in working with different freelance workers, they’ll discover the ones they enjoy working with the most in different capacities. This allows them to feel comfortable in tackling whatever digital marketing issues they face, as they can skip the process of finding a new freelancer, and instead, assign the work to a freelancer they trust and know will complete the job well.
Now take a step back. Are there any areas at your business that you’d like to improve on but don’t have the time or expertise to solve? Consider using a freelancer.