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One thing is clear: the future is freelance. By 2027, freelancers are expected to become the majority workforce in the U.S. This makes the present the perfect time to learn how to scale your freelance business, and the only way to do this is by hiring the right people.
Depending on your business model, you constantly need to attract new clients and promote yourself. This means taking extra time for emails, calls, negotiations, administrative tasks, etc.
As you grow, the time you put in for freelancing becomes scarce, so bringing new people on board is your best option. The unique challenge for freelance businesses is doing this while keeping the same quality of service and costs to a minimum.
The following article will show you how to start scaling your freelance business with the help of a remote workforce, why your remote collaborators play a crucial part in the process, and why the training process is just as important as the recruitment one.
Can a freelance business be successfully scaled, and under which conditions?
Wondering how to scale a freelance business? Any business can be scaled, provided you seize the right opportunities and make informed decisions. Hiring the best people for the job is only part of the process. This brings us to our most important questions:
- How will you hire?
- Can you provide a contract for people who reside outside your country?
- How about people from your country of residence?
Don’t panic. You don’t need to answer them right now, but there are a few things to clarify before you get started:
1. Determine the best form of collaboration
You can hire full-time, part-time, or on a project basis. Keep in mind that each country has different forms of legal organizations for freelancers, so it is best to do some research and look into the costs and obligations involved when hiring.
2. Set reasonable expectations and start small
Even if your business exploded overnight from that viral TikTok video, it doesn’t mean you need to hire 10+ people immediately. Start with one person, delegate, understand the responsibilities involved, and continue hiring when it makes sense. This brings us to our next point:
3. Take on a reasonable number of employees
A maximum of three extra people will take most of the workload off, so you can focus on better resource management and securing new projects. Consider how this will impact your business from a financial standpoint. Can you afford the extra costs? Is paying an extra hand worth the time you save in the process, and what would you use the extra time for?
4. Prepare for the nature of your work to change
You are not only working for yourself now, so you must also think about your team and their financial security. As you grow, you will probably spend more time marketing and finding clients while your team delivers results. You will also have more legal and fiscal obligations, which means spending less time doing what you used to.
5. Mind the scaling process
Scaling has a long line of benefits, and growth is one of them. Aside from benefits, responsibilities also play a significant part. You need to manage invoices, keep up with current legislation, pay salaries, etc. Everything that seems straightforward will get more complicated because as you scale your freelance business, you also scale the infrastructure that sustains it.
Pros of scaling
- More money
- More freedom
- More flexibility
- Less stress when you want to take time off
Cons of scaling
- More responsibility
- Your role will change
- Increasing competition
Strategies to scale your freelance business
The first and most important condition of scaling up your freelance business is finding people with the right skills, preferably skills that are complementary to yours. There are no “How to scale a freelance business” standard guidebooks, but there are strategies you can use to grow. Consider hiring a remote workforce if you find yourself in one of the following situations:
- You have high-demand skills but not enough time to grow or take on more projects;
- You own a small business selling handmade, natural, or limited edition products that are earning a steady income. Crafters and small businesses have been killing it on TikTok and other social platforms lately, and you could benefit from a pair of extra hands while you focus on your craft.
- You are a successful freelance artist, animator, or designer that wants to do more than sell prints or services (e.g. create courses, sell books, etc.)
- Your e-commerce businesses on eBay, Amazon, or other marketplaces are taking off, or you have a successful dropshipping business.
- You’re a content creator or streamer that commands a large audience and wants to grow on other platforms.
1. Zero in on your niche
If you put in the work and become an expert in a profitable niche, the sky’s the limit for where your freelancing business can go. People looking for specific products often turn to smaller stores or specialists where they can ask for expert advice, which works to your advantage.
Similarly, consumers are willing to pay insane amounts for limited edition or unique products. To offer high-value services, you must tailor them to match client needs. Focus on the services/products clients are most interested in and make sure the price reflects that.
2. Stop working so hard
A common mistake freelancers make is that they work to the point of burnout. Putting in longer hours might result in a larger payout at the end of the month, but what is the point if you have no energy to spend it?
Try to take a step back and objectively assess your business model.
- Do you really need to do everything yourself?
- Is there any way to automate or delegate your work?
- What projects brought you the best financial results with the least amount of headaches? Focus on those!
- Are you calculating your rates and prices correctly? There are several things to unpack here, so we recommend checking out this guide to determine your correct rate.
- If you are selling services: determine your real hourly rate with a timesheet calculator. Factor in your project costs (taxes, hardware, rent, bills, etc.) and add at least a 20-30% profit on top of that. A small price increase instills a sense of exclusivity, which, depending on your niche, will draw your target audience in.
- If you are selling products: keep in mind that pricing is not something you only do once. There are multiple strategies for pricing your product, but the simplest ones are adding up variable costs per product or pricing at a profit margin.
3. Set clear sales goals
Once you’ve decided on a niche and optimized your services, you need to set goals for yourself and your future employees. Both financial and sales goals are important when scaling your freelance business, so you need to answer the following questions before you take anyone else on board:
- How many clients can you accommodate at once?
- Is fast-paced growth sustainable for your freelance business?
- How much additional support will you need to handle the extra workload?
- Can you support a full-time employee even during slower months?
4. Delegate simple tasks and expand your skill set
People often find it hard to let go of tasks they could easily delegate. This becomes overwhelming for them and frustrating for their team members. People who are interested in how to scale a freelance business often lose sight of smaller things that can be done to get there, especially when these concern themselves.
Find that unique combination of skills that sets you apart from the competition and become more profitable by hiring and mentoring new people. As a copywriter, for example, it is fairly easy to hire more staff and stick to checking their work rather than create the copy yourself.
This will free up more time to develop additional skills and services your target audience is searching for. Be conscious of your decision to improve and follow courses to expand your skill set.
How to recruit your remote workforce
As a freelance business owner, you have the added advantage of being able to coordinate your team remotely. There’s no need to bring people into the office; after the training period, the same job can be performed just as thoroughly from their home office.
1. Create an unbeatable value proposition
EVP (Employee Value Propositions) consists of innovative benefits you offer when you hire someone. Include perks your collaborators are looking for rather than the norm (healthcare packages, private pensions, etc.).
The modern worker is more interested in flexible working hours, the chance to travel ‘round the clock and still do their job, seeing their kids grow up, etc. These are precisely the type of perks that you, as a freelance business owner, can provide.
Include recognition for the added value they bring to your business. Happy and productive employees focus more on the whole package instead of settling for an attractive salary and nothing more.
If you want to draw and keep employees in the long run, here are a few out-of-the-box benefits that might make you more attractive than a big company:
- A healthy remote work environment (online activities, compensation for remote work costs, result recognition);
- Flexible working hours;
- Mental health days;
- Incentives for meeting personal health goals;
- PTO on birthdays;
- Online training programs;
- Free access to expensive software and tools.
2. Create the perfect playground for fast growth
Freelance businesses offer more freedom to potential employees. The fact that you, as a freelancer, get to set your own rules is one of the first things that draw new talent in. Inexperienced candidates are offered a valid chance to showcase their talent and expand their potential while your business benefits from an infusion of innovation and creativity.
Freelance businesses are also considered a hub for career acceleration, as people who choose this type of job are more motivated to advance because they are given more space to innovate. You will learn how to scale your freelance business once you choose the right talent for your business profile.
3. Find experts on freelancing platforms
Exploring freelance platforms is the easiest way to find new talent while keeping costs minimum. These platforms cover top talent around the globe, but they also showcase niche experts that are hard to come by. The advantage of working with this type of platform is reduced risk. You can hire freelancers by the hour on a fixed contract where you set the duration.
You can find candidates for special projects, a rare opportunity that major recruiting platforms don’t offer. A major perk is the screening most platforms do before allowing candidates to be featured; this saves a lot of time from your recruitment process.
4. Post a killer JD
When a candidate decides if a job is a right fit for them, the first thing they look at is your job description. This is how you find people who are not only qualified for the job but share similar interests and values with your existing staff.
This is what you should include in your detailed job description:
- Clear, simple job title;
- What role the future employee will have in your organization;
- Main duties and responsibilities for the job;
- Required skillset (education, qualifications, courses);
- Remote working conditions outline.
To make things more appealing, it’s best that you go for a quirky, memorable description and set yourself apart from major corporations. Make your JD stand out, and it will appeal to candidates who appreciate out-of-the-box thinking.
5. Reach out to the right candidates directly
Take advantage of how interconnected freelancers are by reaching out directly via social media, freelancing platforms, or even their website. Many specialists create online portfolios to showcase their skills.
This innovative take on direct job applications will make your profile stand out and attract the right kind of talent. You can also target candidates who are actively looking for similar job profiles on platforms such as LinkedIn.
The follow-up process is just as important as the initial contact; you can easily send automated texts to candidates, which you can personalize according to their profile.
6. Hire people with no experience
Young people who are just starting out their careers are easier to train and more eager to put into practice what they learned in college or during the courses they took. The fact that they’re inexperienced doesn’t mean they can’t do their job well or exceed expectations.
Including them in your team would boost creativity and innovation, giving you a chance to connect with a younger audience. It would also offer insight into what is trending and how you could tweak your product to reach a new group of people.
How to effectively train remote employees for your freelance business
Once the employees are on board, you need to ensure they align with your vision and stay motivated. The dynamics of your freelance business are completely different from that of a corporation, so keeping everyone engaged and productive becomes a bit more complicated.
This is how you keep your remote staff focused and provide the right materials they need to get the job done on time:
While training your workforce, keep in mind that providing all project requirements at once and expecting them to take it all in won’t work. Start small and offer more digestible information.
This strategy is known as microlearning. Small-sized bites of information are more helpful for employees, especially when they have to manage multiple tasks simultaneously, and the training period is packed with those.
Become a mentor
A mentor is more than a trainer. They are the people employees turn to for guidance when it comes to career advancement and skill perfection. In order to become one, aside from knowledge in a specific field, you will need to perfect your counseling skills, offer constructive criticism, and practice empathy on a daily basis.
Create workflows and checklists
Streamline time-consuming tasks by keeping track of employee progress with dedicated workflows that are easy to implement. Checklists ensure you stay on top of everyone’s progress and that employees don’t skip important steps in their training schedule.
Provide time & frameworks
Give your colleagues a set of clear rules to go by and the necessary time to figure out how they fit into your business. This will create more cohesion in your newly-formed team and inspire people to grow at their own pace.
How to successfully manage & support your remote workforce
Track progress daily
First, you need to set clear expectations. Discuss online hours, set goals, and establish how meetings will be held and whose presence is compulsory. You can calibrate things along the way as you understand your team’s needs. Use tracking programs or productivity apps to monitor the activities of team members.
It is also equally important to avoid micromanaging; freelance business owners tend to take on too much responsibility in the hopes that this will help their team get things done more effectively. The only thing this accomplishes is confusing your colleagues and making them feel like they need an extra push to finish what they started.
Encourage personal and professional development
Remote mentoring programs have become a rising trend in the post-pandemic landscape. This is how managers or senior employees provide valuable advice and guidance to juniors, engaging them in conversations that have the potential to boost their careers and upgrade their skill sets.
Virtual mentoring relationships don’t exclude periodical face-to-face interactions: to bring team members closer together, you can organize interactive workshops where developmental growth is a top priority.
Focus on results, not screen time
According to a post-pandemic survey, most remote employees spend 13 hours a day staring at their screens. Despite that, they provide better results than their fellow office workers in less time. This means they are more productive working from home, have fewer distractions, take fewer breaks, and can begin work earlier since they don’t spend time commuting.
Create a clear remote work culture
Remote work culture is all about feeling connected to your fellow remote co-workers and being a part of a community, even in the absence of face-to-face daily interactions. You can easily create this type of community for your employees and strengthen both team bonds and communication using the following methods:
- Peer-to-peer recognition hubs and platforms (Kazoo, Awardco, Bonusly, Assembly, etc.)
- Virtual team building platforms (like Quizbreaker, etc.)
- Virtual game shows, happy hour, and conference providers like Go Game
- Actual team-building activities (escape room, improv class, karaoke, trivia, volunteering, intramural activities, etc.)
Optimize communication across every channel
Email is not enough when dealing with a team of remote workers. Yes, important information should be sent and archived via email, preferably in a way that grants access to other teammates. When learning how to scale a freelance business, it is important to stay in touch with your staff via email, SMS, video calls, messaging platforms, phone calls, and even social media. Delivering communication on time will:
- Increase productivity;
- Boost feedback and group discussions;
- Increase team interaction;
- Foster employee relationships;
- Ensure data consistency.
Ready to scale your freelance business?
Scaling your freelance business can be easily done when you hire the right talent. Remote workers are often more flexible and easier to train than office-based ones because they find innovative ways to acquire knowledge and don’t rely on micromanaging. Once you’ve taken on the right talent, you can focus on networking and starting new projects that will fuel growth.
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