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The Freelance Advantage:

Written by Maari Casey on July 14, 2019

Why tapping freelance talent can transform your business, save you money, and motivate your full-time staff.

In my career, I have split equal time between being a full-time employee and being a freelancer. I am not advocating for an either-or approach to staffing. There is an important place in a healthy company for both types of hires. Full-time hires are needed to steer culture, influence the strategic direction, and to provide continuity internally and externally as companies grow and adapt. Equally, having a strong network of freelancers at your disposal has big benefits. You have access to specialists to solve for specific talent gaps or projects, budget efficiencies, and the ability to infuse fresh DNA into day-to-day culture thus gaining valuable perspective across many fronts. Let’s dig in a bit, eh?  

How to staff for specialized skills. 

Your staff needs are constantly changing, as is everyones. You have to be ready to grow your capabilities to fulfill client requests for the latest technology, but you don’t need to keep a VR specialist in-house full-time. So what do you do? Outsourcing allows for fluid, flexible resourcing based on the needs of your business combined with the demands. Freelancers can be specialized and highly trained when it comes to their skills. This gives clients the ability to operate at a high-level and expand their capabilities without having to assume the cost of additional headcount. When a company is overstaffed both sides suffer. The staff gets bored and anxious. The client gets nervous about cost and staff retention. Utilizing freelancers for specialized skills as needed can ensure you are getting attention to detail and a high-caliber of work while still maintaining your flexibility. 

Full-Time Hires require significant investment, even when they leave.

The cost of hiring a new staff member can be equivalent to over 200% of their hiring salary. In other words, the cost to hire an engineer earning $135,000 could actually be $287,550. Then you can tack on the cost of benefits, temp labor when they are on leave, and general talent gaps when people take a summer vacation. When a full-time employee chooses to leave, the average cost of replacing that employee is 16% of their annual salary. So that same engineer just cost you another $20,250. On the flip side, tapping into a qualified freelancer to fill that role allows for savings: you aren’t paying for benefits, equipment, dedicated office space, or any other generous employee perks available these days. We are not against full-time staffing by any means, we simply see that rushing into full-time hiring can be costly in the long run. Spending time to clearly test the need for a role (perhaps with freelancers), prepare an onboarding program and monitor employee satisfaction will, in the long run, save you turnover. 

Content Marketing demands are no joke!

There are currently 120+ existing marketing channels that marketers need to manage today. 120+!  As channels continue to launch and capabilities expand, marketers need to keep up.The sheer volume of content can cause employee burnout, and likely demands the help of content creation & distribution experts. “Overwork” is one of the top 3 things that leads staffers to quit their job. (See above text for cost of losing employees) Freelance talent can alleviate stress for full-time staff by helping to manage large workloads, ensure all relevant content distribution channels are covered and covered optimally. 

Staff needs to be more accountable.

In an 8-hour full-time workday, workers typically work 3 hours. That means there are 5 hours a day that full-time workers aren’t actively focused on their jobs, but they are still getting paid. Freelance talent is accountable for their time. Scopes, hourly rates, weekly caps, and general expectations can be set in the upfront, and freelancers are accustomed to providing a brief explanation for how they have spent their time, down to 15-minute increments if requested. Payment cycles can be based on % completion of work, therefore if it takes a freelancer longer to complete a project than originally anticipated, it takes them longer to get paid. Freelancers benefit by being efficient and effective with their time. Personally, as I became a more seasoned and focused freelancer, I found myself completing 8 hours of work in about half the time, expediting my project delivery and reducing client costs. I had less distraction, fewer meetings, no inter-office politics, and no commute to slow me down.

In light of the growing demands required for companies to be successful and ever dimensioning budgets, I believe to thrive, healthy companies should aim for a 50/50 ratio of full-time employees to freelance talent with a clear procedure for how both groups can work together seamlessly. The flexibility of the freelancers will help companies be more nimble and navigate the unforeseen, while the stability of full-timers will ensure that the company remains strategically pointed in the right direction.