The rise of the freelance workforce is old news now. For more than a decade, the freelance marketplace has thrived as more professionals have taken employment into their own hands, and more businesses have switched on to the potential that ad hoc access to niche professionals can bring.

But while the theory of a freelance or mixed workforce is immensely appealing, it’s not always easy to know how to bring that potential fully to bear. So, what can you do to make sure that your business is benefitting from the freelance marketplace as much as it could be?

How can businesses make the most of freelancers?

Attract the right freelance talent

With freelance talent, you usually get what you pay for. Sure, there are graduates fresh to the market and willing to provide their services at a lower cost. And sure, there are hacks who inflate their prices simply because they’ve been doing the job for so long. But in most instances a freelancer’s fee reflects their skill level. So, while you will always find someone who will do the same work for less, you must be prepared to accept that the less you pay the lower the standard of work you will receive.

You also need to look beyond the skill and the price point to find the right personal fit. Can their schedule accommodate your needs? Have they worked within your sector? Do they have an understanding of your business’ requirements? Are they in the same time-zone? (This isn’t always a deal-breaker, but can be an issue if you’re working to deadlines). Take time to assess all aspects that may be important to your company culture.

Focus on onboarding

The obvious beauty of working with freelancers is that they need little handholding. With most, you can just drop the brief and go. However, by taking time to onboard, explaining your business’ aims, the project’s purpose, your preferred way of working, and providing a detailed brief, you will achieve better results. You’ll also have a happier freelancer, who may be more willing to work with you again.

Communicate

Communication is key in all areas of business. Setting clear timescales and deliverables is imperative. But it’s also vital to check in on a regular basis. This means that you can catch any problems before they impact your deadlines, make sure that the work is moving in the right direction, and that no miscommunication has occurred. And, for the same reasons, you should ensure that any freelancers who work with you know who they should reach out to for more information.

Build long-term relationships with freelancers

One of the great attractions of working with freelancers is that they have the ability to bring a fresh perspective to your business. However, best results are usually gained through the building of long-term relationships. When you work with the same freelancer for a period of time, they become part of your team – albeit at a remove. So, they know your style of working. They understand your expectations. And you can rely upon their standard of work. But this ability to hold on to freelancers depends on a number of factors. And most of them relate to your attitude.

The demand for freelancers is so strong right now, that most have the ability to pick and choose their clients. This means that if you’re looking for loyalty, you need to earn it. So, invoices need to be cleared promptly. An escrow-based system, such as WondaPay, can help with that. If you respect someone enough to wish to retain their services, you need to show that respect, through common courtesy, professionalism, and an appreciation of the work delivered. And you need to make it as easy as possible for freelancers to work with you, through clear briefs, the provision of essential information, and a willingness to provide support where it’s needed.

Freelancers can be hugely beneficial to any business, regardless of sector. But to make that relationship work, and to get the best from it, you need to understand what they need, and how to build a working relationship.

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.