How to take the risk out of hiring freelancers for new projects

By Rob Williams

When a project costs less than the profit it will generate, it’s a good investment. But this is impossible to determine until price is established.

That’s why deciding to hire a freelancer for a project is a weird proposition. How can you know exactly how profitable a freelancer’s work will be to your project? That’s tough.

As someone who’s hired a handful of freelancers in the past year, I no longer look to work on projects this way. I now look to pay for projects the way people have been buying stuff for thousands of years.

I look to buy products.

Why? Because I understand how products work. I get to see what I’m getting before I purchase.

In fact, I bought Draft Revise Express, and more recently, Draft Dashboard, this way. I loved that I was able to see exactly what I was getting before I decided to purchase. Logical, right?

It made saying ‘yes this is the right investment’ easy because I was no longer confronted with a black box of value. Instead of buying someone that said “I’ll make all of your wildest dreams come true!” I hired a product that said, “I do this one very specific thing for you, guaranteed.”

Sure, another freelancer might be able to do more for me than this product for less money, but there’s no way for me to know that and it’s simply not worth my time to figure it out.

My business is about making me money. It’s about mitigating risk in investments that will make me more money. Just like yours.

That’s why spec work, delivering products before getting paid, or signing blank checks aren’t wise decisions. So why hire a freelancer when you have no guaratee about what you’re getting or when you’re getting it either?

If you’re a freelancer you might be thinking, “Well proposing a custom solution for every client takes time and there’s no guarantee I’ll get paid. That means I’m taking all of the risk.” And you’re right.

Freelancers shouldn’t do this either. Instead there’s another way of selling that’s been used for thousands of years: creating packages within your service offering that can be applied to any of your customers.

This hasn’t only been popular in the past, it’s also a wave of the future. Freelancers are increasingly giving businesses the information they need to make a sound investment. Namely: a price, a set scope of work, and an outcome.

The freelancer gets to propose these options to their client, instead of creating them from scratch every time they send a proposal. They get to take hold of the value of their work and how they deliver it.
As a client, I truly prefer working this way.

In fact, when I needed help on a recent project, I actively seeked out one of these offerings. That’s how I found Drip Concierge by Philip Morgan.

The only problem was finding this service was hard. I know I’m a lot better connected with freelancers than the average business so I can imagine that it’s nearly impossible for everyone else.

Here’s a list of some really great ones on Quora that might help.

About Rob Williams...

I run Folyo which helps freelance designers find the work they were meant to do. I also host Freelance a podcast about how to be more effective at independent work featuring remote companies like Disney, Basecamp, YNAB, ConvertKit and more.


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