Expanding globally? Best practices for hiring freelancers

Melissa O'MalleyDirector, Global Initiatives, PayPal

Melissa O'Malley

Director, Global Initiatives, PayPal

January 02, 2019

Businesswoman shaking hands with a job applicant

If you’re looking to expand your business internationally, hiring freelancers may help accelerate your path.

The gig economy is growing1 and by 2020 almost twenty percent of the workforce will be freelance or contract workers. And as technology breaks down the barriers of location and helps businesses find the right person for the job, you can easily access this growing pool of experts from all over the globe. By using freelancers, businesses can access the skills they need, choose who to work with, and save on full-time employee overhead costs. Ease of access to international talent is not only good for the economy, but it also paves the way for homegrown businesses to become international success stories.

Most popular freelancing skills.

According to the PayPal Global Freelancer Insights Report2, on average the businesses surveyed have been using freelancers for over six years, and 77 percent use freelancers at least monthly. Fifty-five percent of businesses surveyed expect to be doing more work with freelancers, highlighting a shift in the traditional work structure as companies opt for staffing models which include a smaller number of core staff, with many other roles provided by the freelancer community.

While freelancers offer a range of unique and specialist skills, businesses are most likely to use freelancers for technical and creative projects. Here's the breakdown of the most popular freelancing skills.

  • Web design (36%)
  • Programming (31%)
  • Graphic design/illustration (30%)
  • Web/mobile development (26%)
  • Web marketing and sales (24%)
  • Accounting (24%)
  • Data entry/internet research (23%).

Best practices for hiring freelancers.

  1. Look beyond just cost

    There are important factors other than cost to consider when finding the right freelancer. In fact, we found less than half of the businesses surveyed prioritized cost. Most rated the right skillset and related project experience as most important, followed by a freelancer’s portfolio and years of experience. It’s important to choose the right candidate for the job to ensure you’re getting the most value out of your investment.

  2. Leverage freelance platforms

    59% of companies in our survey said they use a freelance platform to source talent. Freelancer platforms allow businesses to advertise employment opportunities, promote themselves and access international markets that otherwise would not be readily accessible. Check out sites such as freelancer.com, Fivver, Upwork and Guru for fresh talent.

  3. Optimize your payment process

    As jobs become increasingly agile, and freelancers expect more flexibility, it’s important your business matches this agility to ensure you can find the right talent. For businesses looking to tap into freelancers, considering how you’re going to manage payments is a key factor to attracting (and in some cases retaining) the right talent.

    When it comes to paying freelancers, the research found the following factors are most important to them:

    • Secure (47%)
    • Fast to receive payment (33%)
    • Easy to withdraw money when paid (31%)
    • Offers fraud protection (22%)
    • Not too expensive (22%)
  4. Pay freelancers on time

    A staggering 58% of freelancers surveyed reported they’ve experienced not being paid by their clients. Non-payment or even delayed payments not only impacts the quality of the freelancer's work, but can also damage your working relationship. Paying freelancers on time, just as you would a full-time employee, is a necessary foundation for growing your business with freelancers.

  5. Mobile compatibility is key

    Mobile payments, mobile apps and mobile communication continue to grow in importance and usage for freelancers. The freelancers surveyed cited having mobile tools, as well as the ability to invoice and receive payments via mobile devices as crucial in their on-the-go world.

    The advancement of technology is not only helping to open cross-border and e-commerce opportunities for businesses, but it is also opening up opportunities for businesses to source both local and international talent. At PayPal, we believe it’s critical for small businesses to integrate freelancers as core parts of its company’s processes to ensure they are consistently achieving business objectives, growing profits and remaining competitive in the global market.

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