The freelance market has grown enormously in the past two years. Statista projects 86.5 million people will be freelancing in the U.S. by 2027, making up 50% of the total U.S.workforce. 

This shift means that companies need to start effectively investing in freelancers to ensure that they are recruiting and retaining the highest quality talent.

Finding quality freelancers with exceptional talent is difficult. Keeping them interested, engaged, and committed to success can be even harder. Here are 7 ways to invest in and manage quality freelancers.

1. Vet them

No matter the specialty or profession, degrees of experience and quality of work can vary widely among freelance candidates. Thus the importance of having candidates complete skills tests to vet their experience and ability levels.

Investing in freelancers costs both time and money, allotting for mistakes along the way, and ensuring a diligent team is vetted. But being exclusive means the quality of your freelancers is top notch, and helps you attract talent. 

You will also need to manage your relationship with them and keep them engaged in working with you.

2. Keep them interested

The main reason you’ve recruited a freelancer is to find someone specialized in a specific genre of work. However, often freelancers can feel separate from the company as a whole.

To keep them engaged, include freelancers in more facets of the company and workforce. Bring them team building exercises, get their opinion on workplace culture, or offer communication channels with other freelance “coworkers”. 

3. Define projects

Freelancers do not come into a company knowing things like internal formatting, communication styles, company tools, and protocols. This means that when it comes to briefing them on a task, it’s worth investing time in outlining specific requirements they need to meet. 

The best place to start is with a list of specific requirements such as:

  • Tools needed
  • Availability and scheduling
  • What a completed task looks like
  • Metrics of success
  • When final approval will be given
  • Testing methodologies

4. Provide the big picture

Investing time to provide freelancers with information about the company, ideal outcomes, products and services etc. can save a lot of time and headaches. This information can be brand guidelines, research, previous projects.

Clear documentation will minimize confusion and ensure that the freelancer is on the right path from the get-go. 

5. Pay

From the start of the project, clarify precisely what you will be paying the freelancer, how payouts work, and pay schedules.  

You need to manage their expectations and be clear about when and how they can expect to be paid for work completed. Pay competitively and create aligned incentivized models.

For many freelancers, paying by the hour ensures quality, thoroughness, and attention to detail. If your freelancer is working at an hourly rate, have a clear and outlined time tracking program.

6. Communication 

Communication is the key to success. Ensuring that your freelancer can communicate with team leaders and other project members easily will also help foster a sense of community – something that keeps freelancers at a company long-term.

Test leads and project managers should foster open and honest communication, consistent response time, and be open to questions.

7. Feedback

Providing constructive feedback means that your relationship with your freelancer remains dynamic and ensures a long relationship.

Project feedback provides better work, better communication, and continuous improvement.

After a few sessions, you should start to notice that there are more minor opportunities for feedback, but continue to create opportunities to respond and offer paths for growth.