What is a Freelancer?
Curious about what a freelancer is? Interested in hiring one? In this article, we’ll explain how a freelancer is different than a regular employee. We’ll then explain how you can use the unique advantages of freelancers to help your business grow.
A Freelancer is someone who works on a contract basis for a company, rather than working as a full-time employee. Typically, freelancers work for more than one company at the same time. They work independently, often setting their own hours and managing their own work lives.
This may seem foreign if you’ve lived the 9-5 routine your whole life, but it’s actually surprisingly common. Freelance work has been growing and growing over the last 15 years, Forbes Magazine estimates that a whopping 35% of the US workforce is now working on a freelance basis. Collectively, they have earned over 1 trillion dollars in the past year. And that’s not even getting into freelancers from other countries, such as in India, where it is a widespread trend.
Why are there so many freelancers?
If you have heard of freelancing before, you might think of it as something more common to writers or graphic designers. While these fields are indeed popular for freelancers, so are many others, like statistics, web development, and accounting. The truth is, if you have a business interest, there is likely a freelancer who does work in that area.
Why do so many people work as freelancers now? The answers vary. Many cite the flexibility as a huge draw, particularly those who have family situations they need to work around. Others like being their own boss or not having to deal with a painful commute. Still others enjoy the variety of working with different companies on diverse projects.
However, one of the biggest factors is that they can. Freelancers are now in popular demand, rather than being regarded with suspicion. None of the previous factors would be enough of a draw if freelancers weren’t getting hired in the first place. In many ways, freelancing is a win-win situation. It provides advantages to the workers, but also to the businesses they choose to work for. If you are interested in saving on costs and growing quickly, using well-placed freelancers may become a key part of your strategy.
Below, we’ve outlined several ways using a freelancer can help your business grow and flourish.
1. You can gain new expertise
If you need someone who is an expert in social media strategy, you may need to shell out around $50,000 to have them at your company. But let’s say you need an expert to advise you, but not their daily attention. Maybe you only need them once a week? Maybe you only need them to get you started on a strategy that you can finish implementing with existing workers?
If you hire them on as a freelancer instead, than you only need to pay for what you need most. You can put their expertise to good use, without having to break the bank.
Attracting expert talent isn’t just expensive either, it’s also difficult on the recruiting end. If you are small company, you are far more likely to find an expert freelancer who will give you an hour or two here or there, rather than an in-house expert who is willing to leave their existing job.
2. You can free up time on mundane tasks
On the opposite side of the spectrum, it’s possible that what your business needs to grow isn’t expertise. Maybe it’s just a reliable worker to help you with mundane tasks, so you have time to focus on growth yourself. In that case, there are many freelancers available all around the world to help you out. Quite a few come at more affordable rates than you could find for full-time employees, and some come with direct experience in the task you are trying to avoid doing on your own.
For example, let’s say you are sick and tired of doing your own inventory management for your Amazon seller account. Using sites like Upwork or our own FreeeUp, you are likely to find someone who already knows inventory management, and can do it more quickly than you can.
3. You can lower your overall risk
In most cases, freelancers can’t collect unemployment insurance, since they are not actual employees of the company. If things aren’t working out, you can let a freelancer go with pretty much no restrictions or regulations. This makes them less risky than taking on new full-time employees.
4. You can cut down on costs
Typically, you aren’t required to cover benefits like health insurance for freelance workers. This alone can save you big, especially under current company regulations and requirements, like the stipulations of the Affordable Care Act.
You also don’t have to deal with overhead issues like having another person that needs to be managed by your HR department. And, you only need to hire a freelancer as long as you actually need them, whether that’s six days or six years. When combined together, these factors mean you can save significantly on costs by choosing freelancers to round out the workforce.
5. Cover unusual working times and needs
Let’s say you want to offer your customers a better service experience. You’ve ran the numbers, and you are confident that this will help your retainment, which has been a problem in the past. One thing you want to do is offer 24 hour responses. The problem is, you don’t have anyone who can do the work. No one in your office wants to stay up all night answering customer phone calls. Luckily, the internet can quickly help you find a freelancer or two who is happy to cover unusual working times. In fact, in their timezone, it might even be the middle of the day rather than the dead of night.
6. You can expand to new markets
If you are interested opening up new markets, a freelancer can help you do that. Let’s say you want to start doing sales in London, for example. Why not first hire a great contractor from London in your field, who can help you get a layout for the land. If they have the right expertise, they can let you know more about the business climate in the area, who your points of contact should be, etc. You can then get a better idea of what it would be like to have a remote office abroad and whether it would be worth it in the long run.
At FreeeUp, we’ve seen the difference great freelancers have made for our own business. We’ve been grateful to experience the rapid growth we’ve seen in just the past few years. We encourage you to try it out and see if it’s right for you.
Emily Bell has worked in digital marketing for seven years, tackling projects for a wide variety of tech and PR companies, as well as a few of Amazon’s top third-party sellers. Her work has appeared in Entrepreneur, Influencive, Addicted2Success, Forbes, and around the web.