Why I should be hired instead - a freelancer's checklist

It’s often said that businesses turn to freelancers when the economy isn’t great, writes Victoria McDonnell, a manager at Brookson, an accountancy firm serving freelancers.

But when the economy improves, as it appears to be doing at present, the market may be more competitive than ever, and freelancers could find themselves working extra hard to sell the service they provide.

So as a freelancer, how do you convince a business to use you, instead of doing the work in-house or paying another bigger supplier?

1. Priorities

Freelancers tend to have several projects at a time, but you’re always likely to have fewer projects on your hands than a big agency with more resources and workers. In a larger company, some projects will get pushed to the bottom of the pile when a bigger client walks in, but you can devote more attention and focus to the task in hand.

2. Flexibility

You control your own work schedule, so you’re not bound by office times or a contract of employment to keep specific hours. So when clients suddenly have an urgent project that needs to be completed at very short notice, you’re the natural choice – if necessary, you can be more flexible with your time to make sure that work gets done.

Of course, this also means you have the freedom to say no – you’re under no obligation to labour long into the night.

3. Communication

If businesses bring in an external company, they also invite their procedures and structure. Often this means that they find themselves communicating through account managers and other intermediaries, so information can easily get lost along the way and it takes longer to get a response. When they hire freelancers, businesses can speak directly to the individual carrying out their project, saving everyone time and resources.

4. Networking

Businesses often think that by going to another company, they are gaining access to an array of other expertise that a freelancer doesn’t have. But that isn’t true – freelancers are usually well connected and because of the variety of projects they work on, they can sometimes draw upon a deeper pool of knowledge than the average company.

5. The perfect fit

On the other side of the coin, hiring a freelancer is an opportunity to find one person who has all of the skills a business needs. If they don’t want any of the added extras that another company might try to sell them, it makes sense to contact an independent worker whose talents exactly match what they’re looking for.

6. Other companies hire freelancers

This is possibly more common in the creative industries, but can hold true in other disciplines such as IT as well. Not all companies that offer services for other firms will always carry out their work in-house. When demand is high or staffing is low, they often turn to freelancers themselves, so it’s easier to cut out the middleman – and their extra fees.

7. Time

Hiring permanent staff takes time – advertising, interviewing and then arranging a start date can take months. Similarly, agreeing a contract with a third party company can take considerable time, especially with bigger firms. On the other hand, they can contact you quickly and directly and get projects underway much sooner.

8. Experience

Maybe you were an employee for several years before you chose to go freelance, or perhaps you’re fairly new to the industry. Either way, every project you work on adds to a breadth of experience that most employees don’t share and that’s a big advantage.

9. Independence

Obviously, taking on permanent staff involves a financial investment, but just as crucial for many businesses is the time spent on training, supervising and appraising new staff. Whereas new employees will need time to get up to speed, freelancers come ready-made with the right skills and industry knowledge. Crucially, you’re used to working on your own, which means that your client can get on with their own work while you take care of your project.

10. Cost

Freelancers can command good rates for their specialised skills, but ultimately hiring you is much more economical than going through the process of recruiting, training and then maintaining a permanent employee. Similarly, larger companies will have overheads such as office rents that freelancers, often home-based or in a small office, don’t share. Hiring an independent, flexible worker can be a very cost-effective option, especially for smaller businesses.

Editor's Note: Further Reading -

How to find clients in a recession

What NOT to say to clients

 

 

30th July 2013

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