With businesses taking to the digital realm, there are more opportunities to outsource parts of your business. And you should. In most cases, it’s cost-effective, you can make use of the best talent, and you limit your overheads and costs in the process.
But there’s a problem.
Whilst it’s become easier than ever to find freelancers, thanks to platforms like UpWork and Freelancer. If you’ve ever actually tried to go through the process you’ll know it’s a lot more complicated than it seems.
Our team has a combined experience of over 20 years in marketing and in our in-house and agency roles we have gone through our fair share of terrible (and excellent) hires in our careers. We wanted to share why it’s not as easy as it seems.
#1 The ‘Expert’
Social media marketing, being in such high demand right now, means there are plenty of people throwing the word ‘specialist’ or ‘expert’ around without any substance to back it up. And if you don’t know how to ask the right questions, chances are they can blag their way into a contract.
Yes, most of them will know the basics, perhaps from some online research or a job or two. But their knowledge will have large gaps and mostly came from self-taught skills from managing their personal accounts, and they often will use one basic strategy for all of their clients. Without tailoring it to your industry, changing trends, or research about your competitors.
But, you won’t find this out about your ‘expert’ until you’re down the rabbit hole and already onboarded them!
#2 The ‘Ghost’
With freelancers, you rarely get the chance of a face-to-face interview or in many cases even a video interview. And a lot of freelancers won’t have a traditional portfolio or authored work as it will be protected by NDA’s.
If you’re not careful you’ll end up working with someone that you don’t know anything about, handing over company information to them without vetting them properly.
Whilst not knowing about your freelancer doesn’t necessarily mean they will do bad work. It does cause an issue with a lack of accountability and trust. It makes it very easy for them to walk away mid-project, and difficult to trust if you’re handing over your account or company details.
#3 The ‘Overcharger’
Expenses for full-time employees run high: payroll, employment taxes, annual leave, sick leave, and workers’ compensation benefits. With freelancers, you only pay for the task at hand, such as a single campaign or project, or in the long-term, by retainer. This is great, but often you’ll come across an ‘overcharger’. Someone who charges by the hour and takes 3-4 times as long as you think they will on a project in order to earn more. You shouldn’t be paying for their lack of time management or skill. So if a freelancer wants to be paid by the hour, but can’t even give you an estimation on how long a task will take. Run!
#4 The ‘Flake’
A very common type of freelancer if you’re not looking for the signs are those who are full of excuses and can’t meet a deadline. As a social media marketing agency, we have to meet our client expectations to provide the high-quality service we do. We can’t do that if we don’t get work in on time.
Particularly hard to spot, the flake is someone who seems good at first but often has many family or pet deaths, issues with illness, and their laptop stolen once a week. It’s best to avoid, no matter how good their work is.
Is freelance even a good option then?
Quality of work, reliability, and communication issues are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to challenges you might encounter with hiring freelancers on your own. It may even be something as simple as an operational issue. On several occasions, we’ve had business contacts ask me for freelancer information and when we’ve given them the information they’ve had problems.
With things like how to brief them properly to get the results they want, or even just checking in and managing them. We ended up starting to project manage those tasks and that’s how Virtually Social was born.
When businesses start looking for experts, it’s a pretty good indication they won’t be able to manage that specific project in-house. So my recommendation is that instead of trying to outsource individual tasks, outsource the department which includes the project management side of things too!
Virtually Social is launching as a full-fledged virtual social media marketing service that offers the best in-house team of social media specialists for this exact reason. We couple our team with awesome project management capabilities, specifically tailored to every client to take the headache out of hiring to run their social media.