Like any deadline-driven business, the workflow at in-house agencies tends to be feast or famine. It can be difficult to predict what creative project will come through the door next. Most in-house teams rely on full-time staff to cover the majority of work for their team. However, a flexible staffing model is essential for managing workload peaks, valleys and specialized service requests. That's why understanding how to hire freelancers expeditiously is so critical.
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Some of the many benefits of hiring freelancers through a flexible staffing model include:
- Increased cost savings. When you hire freelancers, you are only paying for creative talent when you truly need the extra help or expertise – and not when you don’t.
- Improved retention. There’s no need to overstaff with full-time employees during peak periods, only to be faced with the grueling task of initiating painful layoffs later. Hiring freelancers provides a buffer to full-time staff if work slows down. This allows you to offer more stability to your core employees, which can boost job satisfaction and retention levels.
- More focused employees. Hiring freelancers protects your team from burnout. Your full-time staff can focus on what they do (and like) best, while the consultants or creative freelancers you bring on board can handle the more specialized or routine work as needed.
- Identification of potential hires. While hiring freelancers, you’re able to establish relationships with a pool of talent who could be great candidates for future full-time openings.
- Improved quality (and fresh ideas). Freelancers bring in new creative concepts and innovative ways of doing things that can add a refreshing spark to your in-house agency.
Hiring freelancers is a proven strategy for helping produce the creative deliverables your company needs in a cost-effective manner. In fact, according to the 2021 In-House Creative Industry Report, 90% of in-house agencies plan to utilize contingent staff to support their growing body of creative work this year.
The key to success when it comes to a flexible staffing model is to build a solid, broad and deep bench of freelancers and consultants. But where to start? Here are some savvy tips for hiring freelancers:
1. TRULY UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS
When you’re starting to establish your freelance talent bench, it’s critical to evaluate your business and potential upcoming projects to determine where help will be needed most. Is it overflow assistance for a large initiative or a highly specialized skill that is not currently found among your current full-time staff? Answer these questions prior to hiring a freelancer:
- What technical skills does the creative freelancer need to possess?
- What soft skills are necessary?
- How many hours of work are expected per week or month?
- Can the work be handled remotely? (We strongly recommend utilizing off-site freelancers whenever possible. It will greatly expand the available talent pool.)
- Can the work be handled after hours or must the individuals be available during the standard business day?
2. PARTNER WITH THE PROS WHEN HIRING FREELANCERS
Contingent team members are critical to the success of projects and departments, and therefore the recruitment process must be treated accordingly. Look to partner with a staffing agency that specializes in creative services such as Cella. Because our recruiters truly understand the industry and have robust, carefully cultivated networks, we can swiftly source top-notch creative, marketing and digital talent. We can quickly identify skilled freelancers who can start immediately and who are open to developing an ongoing relationship that will be beneficial to both parties.
3. Engage in interviews
As an in-house agency leader, your time is tight. But being involved in the interview process can be hugely beneficial. You want to fully understand what freelance candidates are capable of from a skill set standpoint, but also what commitment they’re able to make. For example: Do they currently support other clients? Are they able to join key brainstorming meetings? Are there any days or times when they are unavailable to work?
4. Set up your creative freelancers for success
After hiring freelancers, use an abbreviated version of your current onboarding process to ensure they have all the equipment, tools and passwords they need to execute their responsibilities (whether it’s company-issued devices or their own equipment). Either you or a designated point person should spend time training freelancers on job-specific and operational details, along with your studio’s goals, mission and values. Complete all onboarding prior to assigning them work so they’re fully prepared to hit the ground running. Put simply, make your creative freelancers feel as if they’re part of the overall team.
5. Maintain solid relationships
Hiring freelancers will be easier next time around if you cultivate and maintain good relationships with the contingent staff you bring aboard. So, after a freelancer engagement wraps up, keep in touch, set up a communication plan and provide the freelancer with updates on projects in the pipeline. If there’s no foreseeable work for an individual, be transparent and, if necessary, formally offboard him or her from your freelancer bench. Do not completely cut all communication with little notice, as this can hurt your brand and your ability to hire in-demand freelance staff in the future.
The bottom line: Establishing a reliable talent bench gives you the flexibility to expand and contract your workforce as business fluctuates. When you hire freelancers and partner with a specialized creative staffing agency such as Cella, you take the stress out of aligning the right resources with the right project work. In addition to hitting deadlines with ease, your entire organization will benefit from an elevated level of creativity innovation. It’s a true win-win!