In the world of PR and communications, there’s an ever-growing need for outside help.
The “gig economy” is taking over, as businesses scale up—and down—at what seems like a moment’s notice.
Three-quarters of companies will increase their freelancer headcount, according to the Future Workplace/Field Nation survey. Nearly half of HR respondents expect to ramp up their freelance hiring by 30 percent or more.
Content creation, social media and PR are areas where outsourcing is increasingly popular. They can use freelancers as needed, saving money and allowing them to find the best fit.
This is good news for freelancers who specialize in those areas; the number of freelancers is also growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of self-employed people is expected to grow steadily by about 1 million every year. In 2016, it was estimated that 34 percent of the U.S. workforce were freelancers, and that number is projected to grow to 43 percent in 2020.
This means that although the pool of freelancers may be larger, not all freelancers are created equal. You must sift out the best free agents from those who might not be as reputable or adept.
So, what’s the best way to find high-quality freelancers for your business? Here are a few ideas:
1. Ask your peers. Talk with other business owners or marketing managers about whom they would recommend. A word-of-mouth endorsement is highly valuable, so pay attention to colleagues you trust.
2. Go online. Sites like WorkMarket offer freelance resources that they’ve vetted for you. They make it easy to set up electronic payment, too. WorkMarket automates labor-law compliance, so businesses can confidently work with a freelance workforce without worrying about those risks at the state and/or federal level. Similar sites include Freelancer, which is geared toward small businesses.
3. Check LinkedIn . Its new professional-services marketplace ProFinder is free for employers to use. Fill out a request, and ProFinder sends it out to independent pros in that category, who in turn can submit proposals for review.
4. Ask agencies. They’ll vet them and bring you the best they find for short- or long-term gigs.
5. Advertise on CraigsList. You might receive a lot of responses, so set up a system to winnow candidates into a pool of potential interviewees.
6. Look into university career centers. Student freelancers might be available at a rate that’s more competitive as they try to build their experience and portfolio.
However you go about finding freelancers, set expectations and communicate with them on a regular basis. As with any employee, there should be basic agreements in place about what they’re expected to deliver and when.