As lucrative as e-commerce is as a business, it’s fair to say that taking it to the next level would require a lot of work. In fact, it requires so much work that getting additional help has probably crossed your mind dozens of times. This is perfectly normal considering your desire to help your business grow.
Outsourcing is one of the best ways to accomplish this. Over the past few years, e-commerce business owners have relied on freelancers and agencies to achieve their business goals.
It’s not that simple, though, because it requires proper planning, a sound strategy, and a lot of patience.
If you’re new to the game and contemplating going a similar route, this comprehensive guide will help you find your way through hiring freelancers.
Before you begin the hiring process, it’s important to understand why you need to do it in the first place. Your reason for outsourcing plays a huge role in the decision-making process.
- Is it because of time constraints?
- Have the tasks been overwhelming?
- Are you having a hard time performing your CEO tasks?
- Is it because of lack of knowledge or a need for experts?
These are just some of the common questions CEOs have to wrestle with. If you’re reading this, chances are, one of these questions has already crossed your mind.
Once you’ve established what your motivation is, hiring freelancers will make more sense.
To save time
While there may be a handful of reasons to consider hiring freelancers, the most common one would have to be because of time.
As your business grows, your responsibilities as a business owner multiply as well. It may be easy in the beginning to take care of your product listings and customer service, but as you begin to expand, these tasks can easily eat up a chunk of your time.
This wouldn’t be a problem if you did not have a business to oversee. If you’re a one-man show, however, modifying product listings, processing orders, looking after inventory, and promoting on social media will take all day (sometimes even longer).
If you have someone to take care of these tasks for you, the story will be totally different.
Another reason why CEOs consider hiring freelancers is for productivity. It goes without saying that you can accomplish more when you have extra hands to assist you.
More than sharing the load, what’s crucial is for you to be able to focus on the more important aspects of your business. You need to oversee your business’ daily operations, continuously formulate strategies for development, and review expansion plans to name a few.
You obviously can’t do all of these when you have to take care of tasks that should otherwise be delegated to someone else.
To add expertise
If you want to successfully knock down all your business goals, you need to have the best talent working alongside you. As knowledgeable as you are when it comes to e-commerce, there are parts of it that others can do better than you.
Graphic design, SEO, or blogging are just some of the very specific tasks that require specialized skills. As much as you would like to learn these things on your own, you’ll be better off passing them to someone who has the talent and experience.
It’s a worthy investment considering the time you will save, the things that can get done, and the money you have to spend.
How and Where to Begin?
The idea of hiring freelancers is exciting, to say the least, but the biggest question in everyone’s mind, especially for first timers is, “How and where do I begin?”
As with any huge undertaking, proper planning is essential for success. You need to keep in mind that hiring someone will cost you money, so you have to ensure that you’ve looked at everything that needs to be considered.
You need to at least have an idea of which tasks you will outsource, who your perfect freelancer is, and what kind of budget you’re looking at.
1. Identify the tasks you will outsource
One of the most important things to establish before you proceed is which tasks you will be passing off. This may sound pretty obvious but you have to be very specific when it comes to this part.
It’s easy to say that you want to hire a product sourcing specialist, for example, but:
- Which specific tasks will they be in charge of?
- Will they be required to research from scratch or will you be providing them with data as their basis?
- Do they have to be the one to negotiate deals or will you be taking care of that?
It’s important for all of these to be clear before you start hiring because most freelancers today work on an hourly basis. If these things don’t get clarified before the project begins, you’ll be wasting money on unnecessary work.
The best thing to do is to list all of the tasks down on a document or spreadsheet. Evaluate each task according to its importance and if you’d be better off handing them to a freelancer.
It would also be helpful to have an idea of how much time it takes to complete each task. Try to be realistic as much as possible because even though you’re working on a budget, you still want to get the best quality from a freelancer, don’t you?
Once you’ve finalized your list, the next step is to evaluate your budget. If you’re planning to hire more than one freelancer, just repeat the same steps for each of them.
Below are a couple of tasks you may consider outsourcing:
- Product photography
- Keyword research
- Listing optimization
- Inventory management
These are just examples, however. At any time, you can always choose to outsource any task you have in mind depending on which ones you need help with the most.
Know your budget
By the time you reach this point, you should have already decided on the budget you’ll be spending on hiring. What you need to do next is to find a way to fit all of your requirements within the budget you have allotted.
As mentioned earlier, freelancers today usually work on an hourly basis, though there’s always the option to work with them on a fixed price basis, depending on the marketplace you choose to hire talent from.
Try to determine the following if possible:
- How much are you willing to spend for each freelancer on a weekly or monthly basis?
- Do you have a set budget freelancers can work with for tools they need?
- How much are you willing to spend on Ads or subscriptions that are required for some of the tasks (social media, PPC, email marketing)?
Though you won’t get an idea of how much a freelancer charges per hour until you meet them, it would be ideal to set a limit so you can control your spending.
The price range you’ll be looking at depends on the experience and skill level of your ideal freelancer, which is another consideration you need to settle.
Identify your ideal candidate
Another important consideration that you need to establish before you start hiring is who your ideal candidate is. This will save you time filtering through countless resumes. It’s never a good idea to get into the action without a clear view of what it is you are looking for.
- How many years of experience must the freelancer have?
- Do they have to know how to use certain apps that you already use?
- Do they have a good track record based on the work they did for previous clients?
- Would they need to be available during your work hours (especially if they are in a different timezone)?
Try to be as specific as you possibly can when it comes to your requirements. This will give you a bigger shot at landing the candidate you want based on your requirements.
Once this has been established, you should be ready to hire a freelancer.
Once you have determined which tasks to outsource, the budget you have to work with, and your ideal freelancer, you can begin the hiring process. With dozens of freelance markets available online, it all comes down to choosing which one you should hire from.
Use online freelance marketplaces
While there are several options to choose from for hiring freelancers, picking the best one may be a little tough considering what each one has to offer.
Your choice will depend, for instance, on how involved you want to be in the hiring process. Do you want to personally interview and filter the candidates or would you prefer being sent pre-vetted ones? This decision is crucial considering your schedule and the urgency of the tasks.
Customer support is also a huge consideration when it comes to choosing a freelance market. You’d want to go with one that provides good and timely support which you will need should there be disputes in the future. Be wary of the costs of this premium support, however.
Your involvement in this entire process doesn’t end once you’ve hired a freelancer. You can’t simply tell freelancers that they’re hired then leave them to figure things out for themselves.
You need to make sure to properly onboard them by setting clear expectations before they start working on your project. This is the perfect time to inform them about your preferences both work-related and personal, such as:
- Do you need them to work in the same timezone?
- Do you need them on weekends and/or holidays?
- How do you want them to communicate and update you, and how often?
- Are there reports you’ll be expecting them to submit after a week or a month?
- Do you need reports sent in a certain format?
- Do you have an established process they need to comply with?
- Are there certain tools or apps they need to be able to use?
By establishing these things right from the get-go, you’ll be able to avoid any form of miscommunication as the project progresses. Knowing in advance what they need to do and what you are expecting from them will also help them become more proficient and productive.
This is also a good opportunity to get to know them on a more personal level. Do they have a family? What are their normal days like? Do they work in the day or at night? What are their hobbies?
This is equally important so you can establish a good rapport and be more comfortable working together. Once these are all settled, don’t forget to remind them how their work contributes to the growth and success of the business.
This will give them the motivation to always be at their best instead of doing it solely for the money.
Hiring freelancers is a smart way of giving your business the expertise and attention it needs to grow.
You may have all the skills and the tools you need to run your e-commerce business initially, but these won’t be enough when it begins to expand and attract more buyers. Moreover, there’s simply not enough time to enhance your product listings, manage your inventory, and process orders at the same time without compromising your tasks as the owner.
By hiring a dedicated freelancer for some of your business’ key tasks, you’ll be getting help from someone who has the experience and skills to produce better results. It’s all about proper planning and strategy, and this guide should be more than enough to give you a head start.
Are you an e-commerce startup looking to hire freelancers for the first time? If you are, we suggest you follow the steps in this guide. Them make sure to sign up as a client so you can begin hiring freelancers once you’ve accomplished all the steps.
Noel Rosos is a personal development writer, motivational speaker, entrepreneur and founder of Life’s How You Live It, a personal development blog dedicated to helping people live the life they’ve always dreamed of. He is also a writer/contributor for Arianna Huffington’s wellness site, Thrive Global. He is an affiliate marketer, a full-time husband and father, and a self-proclaimed FAILUROLOGIST.