How to Hire Freelancers and Contractors in 10 Minutes a Day

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on October 15, 2010 in: Business - Plain & Simple, Delegation for Success, Tips in 10

Running a business requires a combination of your own talents and skills and the talents and skills of other people. I can’t think of a single person in the history of ever who could do it all with excellence. Almost all businesses do some form of outsourcing or subcontracting. In some cases (depending on budget and requirements), it might be something simple like outsourcing your bookkeeping. As circumstances get busier, you might also hire out administrative work. Later, you might take on some independent salespeople before you bring anyone in-house.

Some of this freelancing, contracting, and outsourcing (and I’ll use these words interchangeably throughout this issue) are ongoing requirements while some are short-term or one-off projects.

Typical ongoing requirements include:

  • Website management
  • Marketing
  • Bookkeeping and accounting
  • Blogging
  • Administration

Typical shorter term or one-off projects include:

  • Website design and development
  • Logo and graphic design
  • Content (i.e., for website, for advertising, scripts for the telephone, etc.)
  • Deliverables (i.e., if your deliverable is an information-based one)
  • Specific marketing initiatives (which might be above and beyond your regular marketing efforts, such as a free whitepaper)

… and, of course, there are plenty of others. I just wanted to give you a basic list to make sure we’re talking about the same things before I continue.

Hiring these contractors isn’t easy (although I’d suggest that it is easier and cheaper than bringing them on-staff). When you realize you need a contractor, here are the ten-minute steps I’d recommend. What you’ll read below is a basic ten-minutes-a-day process to create projects and hire professionals. However, in upcoming issues, I’ll be going into greater detail about certain aspects of these steps. This issue is a big picture overview.

1.    Take ten minutes to decide what you’re looking for. Spend ten minutes defining your needs by what you want AND by what you don’t want. When deciding what you want, you should include the outcomes you expect and what input you want to have during the process. But you should also decide what you DON’T want. For example, you might want to have a website created with some tie-ins to social media but you don’t want a blog. This will help you when it’s time to look for a contractor and this will also help your potential contractors give you an accurate price without accidentally adding in extras. (And, thinking about this stuff now instead of while you’re talking to contractors helps you to think through everything before instead of in the heat of the moment).

2.    Take ten minutes to figure out the details:
List the steps you need to take (as best as you can; you may not know everything and that’s okay). Rarely are projects quick to implement. A website design, for example, can be outsourced but what about hosting or a domain name or the content? These require investments of your time and resources elsewhere beyond the website designer you’re about to hire. As you think through this stuff, you’ll need to decide who will do it (and this might require you to hire another person or go back to step 1 and make revisions to your project description). You’ll need to set dates so that you can make sure the right things are done in the right order by the right people so that the project can maintain forward momentum. At this stage, people are often tempted to think about price, and you may want to give it a bit of consideration now but I’d only recommend that you th ink about price if you’ve hired contractors before. The reason is: If you lock a price into your mind too early in the game, without any frame of reference to guide you, you might use that as the ultimate deciding factor to the exclusion of other important elements like quality, timeliness, or value to your business. (I’ve seen this happen frequently with many of the people I coach who start looking to outsource their work!)

3.    Take ten minutes to post your project
. You could Google the kind of person you’re looking for (“bookkeeper” or “copywriting” or “web designer”) but, frequently, the sites that appear high on those lists are informational or very high end or too broad for your needs. Instead, I recommend visiting a site like Elance.com or Guru.com. On these sites, you can post your project within a specific category (there is a significant variety of categories so most of your business needs will be met) and you’ll have many freelancers and contractors submit proposals. Creating a project on these sites is free and fast, allowing you to take just ten minutes to do this part of the process. (In an upcoming issue, I’m going to give you more tips on how to write an excellent project request for these sites). Once your project is submitted, sit back and wait. The proposals will start coming in from freelancers.

4.    Take ten minutes a day to compare proposals.
Depending on your project and how you described it, you might end up with a lot of freelancers or only a few. My advice is that you don’t decide yet. I realize that you’re probably excited to get started on your project but patience is a virtue: By waiting, you”ll gather a slightly larger bank of freelancers from which to narrow the field. (If you find a freelancer right away and run with the project, you might get your project started faster but you might miss out on a superior freelancer who spend a couple of days thinking about your project before creating a proposal for you.) So, wait a few days until you have several proposals. Keep track of the top professionals who have bid on your project. Take ten minutes to sort the field down to about 25% to 50% of those who bid. Then wait a little longer. Again, take another ten minutes and sort the next ba tch down to 25% to 50% of those who bid. If you only have a few bidders, you may want to do one more round of waiting and sorting. Or, if you have several freelancers even though you’ve aggressively narrowed the field, it’s time to find the right one. I’ll be writing more about this in an upcoming issue.

5.    Take ten minutes to review the details.
At this point, you’ll have a much clearer view of what people are charging and what they are offering. Compare this against your initial project. Using a few guidelines that I’ll talk about in an upcoming issue, you can hire the right contractor to do your work. Select the professional via the site you used (Guru.com or Elance.com) and contact them to get started.

6.    Take ten minutes a day to manage the project.
Managing projects is something I’ve discussed in detail in previous Tips In Ten so go through your archived copies (you do archive them, don’t you?) and review them to get started.

Heather Recommends:

If you are a coach, freelancer, or entrepreneur who wants to succeed like a pro, I can help.

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