Solopreneurs and small companies: “Freelancers are the key to success”
When Lucie Robazza set out to self-publish her first book, she took the utmost care in writing and reviewing her manuscript. As a Certified Health Coach, it represented an important asset for her business. It was a tangible way to offer value to her clients and demonstrate her approach and knowledge to health and nutrition.
She was confident in the quality of her writing, but needed a professional proofreader to make it “market-ready.” She also needed a book cover that looked professional while also respecting her style. The key was finding the right talent, so Robazza looked beyond her own professional network.
“Very specific skills are involved with proofreading and design, and I didn’t have experience in either of them. So I jumped on an online freelance marketplace to find people who could help me,” Robazza explained.
Finding the perfect freelancer
“My book puts an ironic spin on health and nutrition trends gone wrong, so I needed freelancers who could really get my style. Because I use lots of slang, pop culture references and ‘social media speak,' I wanted someone who could not only get the tone that I was going for, but could also help me strengthen it,” Robazza said.
“Regarding the cover, I had a specific style in mind, and having a fresh and fun illustration was very important to me,” she continued.
“I went through different profiles and made a few enquiries. To be honest, I got clearer on what I wanted as I was going through the process: looking at the different portfolios helped me understand what I did and didn’t want. By the time I found the freelancers I wanted to work with, I had a stronger brief to give them,” Robazza explained.
“At first, I was a bit worried about the language barrier with overseas freelancers, but that proved to be unfounded. My proofreader was from the States, and I chose an illustrator from Morocco because her style was exactly what I was going for.
Working with the proofreader was obviously super easy, but I had no communication issues with my designer either. I took the time to explain what I had in mind in a very detailed manner, and it paid off,” Robazza explained.
As with most people using an online freelance platform, the cost was one of the major factors in Robazza’s choice.
“As I grow my business, every cent counts. For this project, I set a clear budget and my designer was able to stick to it.
Luckily I didn’t have to compromise on quality. The cover designer initially gave me five illustration options to choose from. Then we went through a few rounds of refinement, until I got an illustration I was really proud to put on my cover and share on social media. Now my book looks amazing!”
Photo by Francesco Solfrini
A survey by LinkedIn confirms freelancers are effective. 83% of small businesses who frequently hire freelancers agree that freelancers and contractors greatly help get the job done.
Small companies employ freelancers on a regular basis
The same research from LinkedIn found that:
- 51% of sole proprietors have used freelancers and intend to hire more
- 58% of companies with 2-20 employees
- 66% of companies with 21-200 employees plan to hire more freelancers in the future.
Salvador Klein is the Founder and Chairman of Global Rev Gen, an International Digital Media Agency.
Klein explains: “We have a core team of twenty full-time employees to cover 90% of our duties. The remaining tasks require specific skills we don’t need daily. For those tasks, we rely on freelancers."
"The other reason why we hire freelancers is to have the resource elasticity necessary to deal with the frequent changes in scope and timelines which are typical of our industry,” Klein continues.
“At first, we thought that finding the right people would be time consuming. We were also concerned about a freelancer becoming used to our ways of working and our clients, and then having to do it all over again with the next freelancer.
What we soon found out was that the best talent tend to build long-term relationships. It helps them minimize the admin and the briefing process - the good ones are also savvy business people.
Today we have a group of preferred freelancers ‘on the bench’. They are trusted and ready to go whenever we start a new project.” Klein says.
Outsourcing also contributes to more dynamic company culture. Teams who are in frequent contact with freelancers are exposed to new ideas and ways of working, and become more proficient at working remotely.
Opportunity cost is the determining factor when hiring a freelancer
Multiple factors come into play when a business evaluates the option of hiring a freelancer:
Is the skill available within the business? If not, can the need be satisfied in another way?
Is hiring a freelancer more cost-effective than hiring a full-time or part-time resource?
Is the employee who can perform the task available? If not, can the project be deferred?
Can the competence that is missing be gained quickly and cost-effectively?
But probably the most important criteria of all is the opportunity cost.
In microeconomic theory, the opportunity cost is the loss or the benefit that could have been enjoyed if the alternative choice was chosen.
The simple question businesses ask is: would the time dedicated to performing a duty generate higher returns if spent on another task?
Often the core competencies of a business are the most profitable ones - most time and experience have been invested in gaining them and clients are willing to pay higher fees for them. It will cost clients too much to acquire those skills, so they choose to delegate to others.
In the same way, solopreneurs and business owners use freelancers for highly specialized tasks. The business cost involved in learning or performing the task exceeds the savings made by finding someone else to do it.
To reduce the time required in finding, briefing and communicating with freelancers, many businesses rely on online marketplaces such as Freelancer.com.
"I am amazed by the number of quality freelancers we found on the site. It took us very little time to find the right people that we are looking for. I am also very impressed by the professionalism expressed in communication and project planning. This will be my go-to place for any outsourcing needs." - Dafeng Guo, Strikingly (Y-Combinator Alum)
The Bottom Line
It’s a common misconception that only big companies outsource to freelancers. In fact, several solopreneurs and small businesses use freelancers - and that number is increasingly growing.
To recap, here are the 10 primary reasons for sole traders and small businesses to hire a freelancer:
No overhead (recruitment, interviewing, onboarding, training, benefits, etc.)
Reducing operational costs
Protecting the bottom line
Finding highly specialized skills for specific tasks
Accessing talent on-demand
A higher level of service offered by freelancers (to gain reputation and repeat business)
Taking advantage of the time difference with overseas resources
Outsourcing specialized tasks so they can focus on their core competencies
Increased wellbeing (as they can spend more time on what they love doing)
Choosing between a large pool of talent - thanks to online marketplaces
Are you looking to start or improve how you work with freelancers?
Read the tips from an ex Ad manager now turned content creator on how to choose and get the best out of freelancers.
Ready to hire a freelancer? Jump here.