The online publishing and digital media industries rely heavily on freelance talent. Our digital publishing customers at Worksuite manage anywhere from 100 to 4,500 freelancers in their contingent talent pools.
If you run one of these businesses, we’re sharing our best tips on how to create a better work experience for freelancers and ensure long term relationships with your top contractors.
Sourcing specific talent can take up a lot of time and resources in your business. Each new hire needs to be able to hit the ground running to give you the best ROI, on what is often a tight turnaround. This means they need to be experienced professionals who are able to create top-level content for your company with speed and consistency.
For this reason, it’s critical that when you find top talent, you go the extra lengths to keep them.
How to work effectively with freelance talent
Digital publishers work with a diverse range of skill sets—from writers and editors, to designers, photographers, videographers, and developers.
If you’re a fast moving company in the online publishing world, it makes a lot of sense to hire contractors.
Rather than going through a lengthy process to hire an employee, you can easily hire a new freelancer in a matter of days who has the experience, portfolio, and subject matter expertise to get up to speed quickly with your projects. This can boost your output, improve time to market, and increase innovation for your company.
The cost of making a bad hire
Freelancers are more cost effective to work with than employees in most cases. You won’t have any ongoing costs relating to benefits, health insurance, training costs, payroll tax, or paid leave to think about—which enables you to reduce internal costs without sacrificing the quality of work.
But while the gig economy is booming around the world, there has also been an influx of, well…let’s just say “ordinary” talent.
People looking to work remotely and leave the 9 to 5 life have flocked to job boards and recruiting agencies seeking online roles, making it even harder to decide who to hire. And if you get it wrong, it can be an expensive mistake.
When you factor in all the costs of a bad hire, such as:
- Performance management
- Ongoing stress for managers and teams
— you can expect to lose around 30% of that person’s first year earnings. For example, if you were paying a new hire $80,000 in salary, you could expect to lose $24,000 in “false start” costs.
This is a significant amount of money for any company—but these types of losses can be avoided if you have solid systems in place for finding new contractors.
Implement a robust freelance management system (FMS)
As well as being time consuming and challenging sifting through hundreds of potential candidates for your digital media company, you might have noticed freelancer rates rising over the last year.
Inflation, a declining economy and a high demand for all types of contractors is steadily pushing hourly rates up.
This means you need to have a robust process for sourcing, hiring, and keeping talent that you’ve identified as doing the best work for your company.
With a modern freelance management system in place, you can build out a fantastic team of top contractors, keep all their details and rates in one place, and track your best performing external talent over time.
This will help you quickly surface the best possible people for every upcoming project, and enable you to build great long-term relationships with them.
Simplify your onboarding process
Creating a great experience for your freelancers starts right from the moment of onboarding.
Manual onboarding systems and compliance checks can be agonizingly slow for both your teams and your talent. The back and forth emails, numerous documents that need to be signed, and background checks can take weeks—leaving your eager new freelancers feeling frustrated before they’ve even begun.
Not to mention that important documents can be overlooked during this time, leaving your business open to non-compliance issues.
Worksuite’s automated onboarding workflows are customized for your specific business, eliminating lost messages, enabling necessary documents to be easily signed online, and ensuring your new hires can get to work fast.
Before using Worksuite’s automated freelancer onboarding, The Daily Dot’s parent company wasted a solid five hours a week with constant onboarding admin, chasing down payment details, and sending agreements. Since implementing Worksuite, they can now spend their time on the bigger picture strategy.
You should consider automating these onboarding steps:
- Getting NDAs signed
- Signing contractor agreements
- Collecting bank & tax details
- Asking for freelancers’ rates & availability
- Collecting links to relevant work samples
- Sharing your editorial guidelines
This reduces your admin time and overheads, and the automatic notifications give your team peace of mind that each onboarding step has been completed.
Create a freelancer handbook for your company
Developing a freelancer handbook for your new hires can help start them off on the right foot, and manage expectations about their work, behavior, and anything else that’s important for them to know before work begins.
Worksuite’s customer Hugo Mentors created a comprehensive freelancer handbook that has saved them answering around 30 emails a day with basic admin questions.
Handbooks can ensure your contractors instantly feel like part of your team instead of a lone outsider. It can also give them the necessary information they need for points of contact in your company if they need to ask questions or get feedback at any time.
Some key sections you might include in your handbook are:
- Welcome section
- Company mission & values
- Brand story
- Brand promise
- Company leaders
- Voice, tone, style, and visual guidelines
- Nature of employment
- Tax obligations
- Internal policies
- Acknowledgment of receipt
What’s more, you can add this freelancer handbook as an automated step in your onboarding process, saving yet another email exchange.
Identify and capitalize on key quality metrics for your talent
At Worksuite, we’ve made it simple to collect and analyze data about your freelancers and the quality of their work.
In your dashboard, you can quickly set up key talent quality metrics to generate reports about your talent pool. These filters are designed to align with what’s important to your online publishing business.
Depending on your business, the metrics you collect might include:
- Freelancers with the highest internal ratings from your team
- Projects with the highest ratings from your freelancers
- Volume of vendors assigned to tasks and projects
- Your most engaged vendors
- Freelancers that haven’t been assigned any projects in the last 12 months
All of these custom metrics can help you pinpoint issues in your talent pool, and develop strategies to maximize the potential of your top freelancers.
Build a culture of humanity in your workplace
Promoting the human aspect of your company can help you both attract and retain great talent.
This means making it a priority to:
- Listen to your freelancers – ensure you create feedback loops that make your freelancers feel valued. A good way is to send out satisfaction surveys to gauge how freelancers like working with your team, and how you can improve.
- Develop and reward your best talent – many companies offer rewards or training incentives to create opportunities for career growth. For example, The Motley Fool is working on creating a “freelance to full time” program for strategic organic recruitment of freelancers within their existing network.
- Ensure your talent keeps a good life balance – your freelancers probably have several other clients outside of working for your business. It’s sensible to have systems in place to ensure you’re not overloading them with work, or expecting them to work weekends to get tasks completed on time.
All workers want to be part of a company that treats people thoughtfully and responsibly, so focusing on building a people-centric culture is important to improve motivation, performance, and retention.
Creating a personable brand can help word of mouth circulate about your business, attracting more top talent for your network.
Pay your talent on time!
We can’t stress this enough. Your freelancers know they have a world of job opportunities out there (literally). So even the smallest inconveniences in their workflow and income will make them think twice about whether to keep working for you, or move on.
Getting paid on time is important to your contractors, as they usually rely on several sources of income to forecast their monthly earnings and plan payments for rent, bills, and other expenses.
Once a project is completed, it’s important to pay your talent as soon as possible. Nobody likes having to constantly wonder when they’re getting paid—or even worse, having to chase up late payments for months.
If your company consistently pays late, or has ongoing payment issues, this is a surefire way to lose good freelance talent.
Many of our current customers switched from other platforms because of payment inconsistencies with their existing providers. With our Worksuite Pay system, we ensure that all your payments go out on time without fail.
Our customer FloSports automated payments for 20,000 freelancers, and The Motley Fool scaled their talent pool from 450 to 600+ freelancers after ditching archaic manual payroll processes and implementing Worksuite’s automated pay runs.
Whether you’re paying a few dozen freelancers or thousands, you’ll get peace of mind that your invoicing and payment processes run like clockwork with Worksuite.
Plus, you’ll be a huge step ahead of other competing digital media and publishing companies who don’t have good payment systems in place for their external talent.