10 Tools To Help You Collaborate With Freelancers
Hiring a freelancer can be a challenging, but exciting process for companies and entrepreneurs. Freelancers can help your company in a variety of ways. Your freelancers may help with content creation, social media management, data entry, et cetera. I want to help you improve the entire process of hiring and working with freelancers by introducing you to a few tools. I have tools in the following categories:
Hiring and Scouting Freelancers
Freelancer Communication and Productivity
Delivering Freelancer Work
Paying Your Freelancers
Hopefully, the tools I share with you today will help you create a better relationship with the freelancers who will help guide your company onward and upward.
Hiring And Scouting Freelancers
The first step to collaborating with freelancers is hiring the perfect freelancer for your project. There are a variety of ways to find the best freelancer including doing a quick Google search for freelancers in your niche. I have found that LinkedIn and Upwork are great places to sleuth out freelancers if you are looking to speed up the search process.
Related Reading: Seven Signs You're Ready To Hire A Freelancer
LinkedIn is a professional communication website that is also a great place for scouting potential freelancer talent. Many freelancers use the platform to showcase their talents, blog posts, projects, and more. LinkedIn provides many paid tools for connecting with potential employees and freelancers, but you can do a ton without paying for a costly LinkedIn Recruiter account. Of course, those accounts exist for a reason, and you get added tools with those accounts. You can do a ton of sleuthing on your own, though, to find freelancers to hire. Here are some places you may want to check:
Groups: Freelancers are quite active in LinkedIn Groups. You may be able to find a freelancer that meets your standards by seeing who posts in groups.
Hashtags: Hashtags are becoming increasingly popular on LinkedIn. The pound sign has become a great way to categorize information on the internet. Look for people using hashtags like #FreelanceWriter or #GraphicDesigner.
Search: It may take some time, but you can search for freelancers in specific niches. Since you don’t have a ton of information about these people other than the fact that the word “freelancer” is in their profile, you’ll have to dig deeper to see how they can help you.
Another great way to sleuth freelancers is by using a freelancing platform like Upwork. Upwork was built for companies and entrepreneurs to hire freelancers quickly and easily. There a ton of freelancers to cycle through on the platform. There are a few different ways to hire on Upwork:
Post a job on Upwork. If you post a job on Upwork, you will receive various applications from Upworkers across the platform. It will be your job after you receive these applications to go through them, categorize them, and decide who is the best fit for your open position.
Use the freelancer search tool to reach out to freelancers directly. You will still have to post a job on Upwork to invite that freelancer personally to your position. When you invite the freelancer you potentially want to work with, create a more personal invitation. Let them know that you have checked out their profile and you are incredibly interested in working with them. Freelancers get many invitations to random jobs, and it's always better when potential employers make more of an effort on those invitations.
Note: If you use Upwork to hire a freelancer, you cannot pay them outside of the Upwork platform. It’s against the rules and can get you, and the freelancer, banned from the website.
Related Reading: 10 Important Lessons I Have Learned Freelancing On Upwork
Freelance Communication And Productivity
So, you’ve found the perfect freelancer, and you are working on the project. Once you are in this stage, communication and productivity are essential. Your freelancers should always know what the next step in your plan is. Tools like Asana, Slack, and, Trello help you communicate effectively and get things checked off your to-do list!
With Asana it is supremely simple to keep track of your workflow and assign tasks to various freelancers and employees. The best part of Asana? This tool is entirely free for teams of up to 15 people. This means that your small, scrappy team can use Asana to become more productive, without spending a dime.
Now, there are specific tools that may make you want to start paying for Asana sooner. If you need to buy Asana, you need to buy it for at least five people. Most small businesses will probably only need to use Asana's free plan though.
Asana is a great tool to use because you can take it on the go with the Asana mobile app or connect with your to-do list on any computer. Your freelancers will always be able to see the content that you assign to them, and you can give them access to the calendars they need while removing them from calendars that don’t pertain to them.
Slack’s slogan is “Where Work Happens,” and this is the case for thousands of companies across the world. Slack is a communication tool that you can use to chat with your freelancers and employees. You can create relevant rooms so teams can work together, and you can message with people privately to get tasks done more efficiently.
The best part about Slack is its robust app library. You can add apps like Google Calendar, Zoom, and Dropbox which brings sites you already know into your team’s Slack. Alternatively, you can explore a bunch of smaller bots and apps that help with things like employee engagement and company culture such as AttendanceBot, Ally, or Disco. Slack has apps across a ton of categories.
Overall, Slack is an innovative application that will change the way your employees and freelancers communicate. Plus, you can access it on desktop and mobile!
I personally love Asana and use it to manage my freelance life, but I know that not everyone likes Asana's style. Some people thrive when their work is managed more visually, and that's where Trello comes in handy.
Trello is a card-based system of productivity. It’s highly customizable to fit the needs of your company. This flexibility is why so many people gravitate toward using Trello as their calendar management system. With Trello, you can create boards that are as simple as a few sections with your to-dos and dones, or you can build more complex work systems.
Trello lets you be very creative in how things look and run within the boards, which may be daunting for some people who want to spill stuff into a system and start being productive right away. For those who love the freedom, though, Trello can be a fantastic system.
Delivering Freelance Work
Once the work is complete and you need to see the finished project, it’s time to get the work delivered. There are so many tools for delivering work, and it depends on the relationship you’ve built with your freelancer.
Some freelancers will want to send you a preview of the work while not giving you the complete project until you’ve paid. Other freelancers may give you the work and bill you later or come up with a deposit that you need to pay before work is delivered.
Either way, they need to get the work from their computer to your computer. Tools like Dropbox, Google Drive, and LastPass can help your freelancer deliver work to you when necessary.
One of the simplest ways to get your freelance work delivered is via Dropbox. Here is how that system might work:
Your freelancer can upload the file to their Dropbox and give you a link to the file from there, although, that may be just the same as them attaching the content in an email.
You can create a shared folder that will give them the opportunity to upload documents for you to view. This is a much better solution, and this will allow you to collaborate on and organize freelancer work quickly and easily.
Overall, Dropbox is a simple way to transfer files without making emails too bulky or hard to manage. Dropbox handles a ton of different file types which makes it ideal, even if you are getting more than a blog post from a freelancer.
When it comes to delivering freelancer projects, Google Drive is definitely the best tool you can use. Plus, Google Drive is a free tool that so many people already have access to if they use GSuite or have a regular Google account.
I create Google Drive folders for all of my clients. Sometimes I share a folder with them, while sometimes I share the links to individual posts depending on the relationship we’ve built together.
Overall, Google Drive is a great space to create and share documents, slides, spreadsheets, and so much more. Even if you aren't sharing Google Docs, you can also upload other file types for easy sharing to Google Drive just in case you need to share different file types or videos. If you are sharing documents, slides, spreadsheets, et cetera, you can usually download those documents in other formats like Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoints.
Depending on the freelancer relationship that you have built, you may be doing more than just sharing documents. Some freelancers log in to the backend of your websites or into your social media platforms. If this is the case, you need to share passwords with them discreetly and safely. A great way to do this is by using the website and mobile application LastPass.
LastPass makes it easy to share a variety of passwords with freelancers. You can give them access to specific passwords, and they can quickly use the website, browser extension, or mobile app to log in to your sites.
There will be no more shuffling through emails or being asked for the millionth time to resend that password over to your freelancer. They can access the passwords from wherever, and when the relationship is over, you can revoke their access to your passwords so you can change them. Simple as that! I love this blog from LastPass which gives you more information on safely sharing passwords.
Related Reading: 8 Ways To Improve Online Security In Your Company
Paying Your Freelancers
Last, but certainly not least, you need to pay freelancers for their hard work. There are many tools for handling and sending invoices to clients. I’ve found that Freshbooks and PayPal are some of the easiest to use tools for your freelancers to set up and get paid. Work with your freelancer to find a solution that works for both of you.
There are so many ways that your freelancer can bill you. One way that's a bit more robust is by using Freshbooks. Freshbooks can sync with your bank so your freelancers can charge you for any expenses. It also makes sending invoices incredibly easy. You can pay Freshbooks invoices with a credit card or PayPal depending on how your freelancer has these payments set up.
One thing I love about Freshbooks is the ability for your freelancer to track their time using the Freshbooks website, app, and browser extension. No more wondering where the time went because your freelancer can track their time with confidence.
One downside that your freelancer may not like is that Freshbooks starts at $15 a month for just five clients. While it has some positives with it’s tracking abilities, most freelancers work with many clients, so five wouldn’t be enough. Luckily, the next plan up is just $25, and it allows your freelancer to work with 50 clients!
For a more straightforward approach to billing, you can see if your freelancers would like to use Paypal. Paypal has a ton of excellent features that help you use it as a business tool.
Ask your freelancer to send you an invoice using Paypal. They can quickly create an invoice that they can send to you via the Paypal interface OR they can grab the link and email it to you personally.
Paypal does take a small fee from your freelancer, but that can be written off as a business expense for them. This tool should help you better understand Paypal fees and how they affect your freelancers.
Overall, you can expect that most tools will take a fee from your freelancer, but most freelancers will likely be willing to take a chance because these tools are more easily trackable over a paper check sent to them in the mail.
My clients love how easy it is to pay PayPal invoices. I mostly use PayPal to send invoices to my clients.
Technology has changed the way that we work together. There are many fantastic tools that I didn't even get to touch on during this blog post. I know that you will continue to find amazing and helpful tools. I am excited to see what you find! Please don't hesitate to reach out to show me the latest, greatest tools. My inbox is always open via my contact page!
I cannot wait to see how these tools transform the relationships you build with freelancers.