by Sherry Heyl
57.3 million people freelanced in 2017 according to the report Freelancing in America. At its current growth rate, the majority of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers by 2027.
I remember a time when the joke was that “consultant” or “freelancer” was another word for unemployed. Today freelancing has become a respected career choice that allows for freedom and flexibility which is now possible thanks to advancements in technology. Freelancers are able to work with multiple clients on projects small and large from their home office or really anywhere in the world that has an Internet connection. Freelancing is no longer about taking on contract assignments in between full-time jobs. In fact, more than half of the freelancers recently surveyed said they would not accept a full-time job no matter how much they were offered.
The virtual work arrangement also benefits companies hiring freelancers as they are able to seek out the best talent for the project without regard to location. As a freelancer, I have worked with a number of clients I have never met in person and a few outside of the United States. I build my team of freelancers based on skill set and personality fit without regard to location. Most of my projects are managed on secure cloud-based software and I conduct meetings through video chats. By not being restricted by location to who I can work with I am able to build teams that are the perfect fit for each project and work with clients all over the world.
With a growing amount of professional talent available there are several benefits that come with hiring freelancers to scale your marketing team.
Reasons to Hire Freelancers
Expertise and Experience
When you hire a freelancer you are hiring someone who has invested in their own expertise and has done so because they are passionate about what they are doing. You are hiring someone who has worked on a variety of projects and brings with them a wealth of experience and new ideas. Studies show time and again that the best work happens when people care about what they are creating. When a freelancer is doing the work they love with the knowledge that their personal brand and reputation and therefore their entire business model is on the line, they know that their success depends on your success.
Freelancers are meeting with dozens of prospects a month and working with several clients at a time. Whatever your project demands or challenges your organization is facing, there is a good chance that the freelancer you hire has faced similar demands and challenges and can offer your team with insights from that experience.
Your network of freelancers can serve as consultants and strategists for such situations.
Stay Up-To-Date on Trends and Best Practices
Few organizations need or can afford, a full-time graphic designer, a full-time content manager, a full-time SEO strategist, and a full-time social media manager. More often than not, one person will be in charge of at least half a dozen marketing tasks such as these. However, technologies and trends in each of these tasks change fast and it is unreasonable to expect any person to do each task well and stay up-to-date with all the changes and the evolving best practices.
Most freelancers have found success focusing in on one niche expertise, whether it is social media, digital ads, SEO, email marketing, and so on. Freelancers cannot afford to allow their skills get stale and clients expect them to know about emerging trends and technology. Freelancers are continuously updating their skills or evolving what they can offer to stay relevant in the rapidly changing world.
Your freelancers can provide ongoing feedback to your team about how they are performing compared to current trends and capabilities, offer training sessions when needed, and jump in on a project that requires on-demand expertise.
In the past, the most common reason to hire a freelancer was to fill a temporary need, whether it was from a vacated position, a newly created position, or a skill that is only needed for a short time.
Today, more and more businesses have freelancers that are a consistent member of their team. They provide the skills, expertise, and knowledge that complement the full-time staff and are able and willing to work a much or as little as needed on a month by month basis.
Having regular freelancers who know your team, your brand, and your processes allow your department to meet demands that change throughout the year without adding extra stress to your full-time employees.
Oftentimes there are projects or campaigns that are one-off or novel to your team. Your team may not have the skills, connections, or overall understanding of how to successfully complete the project.
Oftentimes businesses turn to agencies for such projects, but agencies can be quite costly. For the projects that are not large or ambitious enough to justify the cost of an agency, freelancers are quite valuable, especially freelancers who often work with a team of other freelancers.
Your freelancer can take on the project, working with and managing other freelancers in their network to run your project without the extra costs that agencies often have to support as part of their often bloated overhead.
Advantages of Hiring Freelancers
A freelancer’s rate is and should be higher than the hourly rate you are paying your full-time employees. This is because your freelancer is covering the cost of their own taxes, benefits, and resources. At the same time, you are not paying for any downtime for your freelancer. You are not covering the cost for the time to think about the project or the time it takes to learn a new skill or about a new update to complete the project. Your freelancers are an on-demand workforce that you only hire and pay for when you need them. On an accounting spreadsheet, they are not considered overhead, they are essentially the same line item as toilet paper, but they bring so much more value.
Throughout the year there are times when you need more hands and times when you need fewer hands. There are projects that require niche expertise and projects that are more run-of-the-mill.
Having a network of freelancers that your team has a relationship with allows you to increase your capacity by a little or a lot depending on your needs at the time.
Few things are more stressful than leaving a meeting with a new project that will take away time for your day to day activities and that you are not really sure you have the skills for. Too often team members are overworked, offered little or the wrong training, and are assigned goals that they are not prepared to reach.
Having a team of freelancers in your network provides your team with the safety net they need to feel confident they can meet the demands of the business objective, whether it is through consultation, training, or diving into the project with the team.
Faster Turnaround Times
When you work with a professional freelancer you are working with a person who is dedicated to providing you with exceptional service. Not only does your success equal their success, but they are also looking to you for referrals and ongoing business. This means that your freelancer will be focused on getting the work completed in a timely fashion.
You also are working with a freelancer who is an experienced expert in their field so they already know how to knock the task they have been assigned out of the park with little to no learning curve. Whereas your existing marketing team not only may have a learning curve, they are also trying to complete all the other tasks that have been assigned to them.
When you have a project that needs to be done in a timely fashion, there is no better resource than turning to your team of freelancers.
Whereas some people are taking on freelance jobs during a transition period or for extra income, the vast majority of freelancers do not see themselves going to work full time for a company ever again.
With more and more people freelancing as their full-time career choice, businesses have the ability to develop relationships with freelancers that will be available as needed to fulfill critical needs. Businesses can also find the talent they need and work with top experts in their field from all over the world.
Your freelance team not only can save your team time and money but will help your brand stay relevant in this ever-changing and increasingly competitive world.
Today, not only are freelancers benefiting from the freedom and flexibility that their choices offer, but so are the organizations they work with.
About Sherry Heyl
Sherry Heyl is an award-winning marketing manager with in-depth experience developing marketing plans and managing campaigns. Her expertise is in social media marketing, content marketing, and influencer marketing. She works primarily with start-ups, small businesses, and non-profits. She is also the founder of Amplified Concepts, LLC.
You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org