Scaling Your Freelance Agency the Quick and Easy Way: Our full guide to a start on the right foot.
It’s Thursday afternoon. You’ve landed a large client, and your current team doesn’t have the manpower to keep up with the work. The project is scheduled to begin Monday, and you don’t have a clue where to start. Before you start biting off more than you can chew, here are some simple ways to quickly scale your freelance agency.
Define Your Brand, Values, and Project
Before you begin selecting contractors for your project, you should already have a fair idea about who you are, what you stand for, and what you need. Finding quality contractors will take a little work. Think about it, independent contractors are exactly like the name implies – independent. They are free to work with anyone, and they may not automatically want to work with you if your freelance agency does not seem well-organized and thought out.
Brand vs. Values
As a business, you will likely have already thought about your brand. It is the image that your company presents to the public. It is the embodiment of what your product or service is about - embraced throughout every part of your business. It is the standard you should hold everyone associated with your freelance agency to, including your independent contractors.
Defining your values is similar to defining your brand, except it can be a bit more personalized. Your values, in relationship to your freelancers, will dictate your style of freelance management. Do you value the highest quality, or is speed the highest priority? Clearly define these values before you search for help. Here are some company values from seven popular businesses to inspire you.
A Successful Project Begins in the Description
Defining the actual project is the most elementary step toward finding quality talent for your freelance agency. Write up a project summary that clearly states the project goals, expectations, and deliverables. Set a precise due date and have a budget prepared. These small considerations for the details make a huge difference when freelancers are deciding whether or not they want to work with you.
Create a Pool of Freelancers
Now that you’ve clearly defined who you are, what you are about and what you need help with, you are ready to start searching for your ideal freelancer.
This part of the process will take the longest, no matter what method you use. However, the good news is: you can create one or many pools that you pick from over a period of time. So, you could do this process once a quarter or even once a year, and always have a pre-screened list of freelancers to choose from.
Finding Your Perfect Freelancer
There are a few ways to create a pool of freelancers for your freelance agency. One way is to use freelancing sites such as Upwork, Freelancer or Fiverr to search for freelancers. These sites provide a convenient service for busy agency managers because you can search for freelancers based on a variety or search parameters, compare reviews, and see work samples. The drawback to these sites, however, are the high fees, large amounts of fraud, and sometimes awkward freelance management tools.
Another way to source freelancers is by placing freelance project listings on sites like Craigslist or Indeed. These sites are typically crawled by freelancing websites and those looking for freelance work. If you use this method to find new talent, be sure to create a clear job description that asks for samples and references. Many job sites provide no protection for freelancers or those hiring them.
Creating Your Team
Once you’ve selected the freelancers that you like, let them know you would like to include them in your personal talent pool. This doesn’t mean you have to hire them. It means shortlist them.
For example, you may find that some freelancers have the exact skillset you need but are not within your budget. Shortlist them – you may have a client in the future with the budget for their services. However, let that freelancer know you are interested in working with them and ask for their permission to stay in touch.
It sounds silly, perhaps, but there are some reasons for this strategy. By letting an independent contractor know you are interested in doing business with them, you become a lead. To get your business, they may lower their rates or otherwise make themselves available when you do call. Once you’ve created your pool, invite your freelancers to your Freelance Management System like Bonsai and keep track of them for free.
Bonsai not only provides a place to store your list of freelancers, but it also provides powerful freelance management tools that save you time in the long run. With your account, you can onboard new freelancers, save notes about their availability, invite them to projects and manage payments. You can also save them for when you are ready to work with them.
Simplify Your Project Management
If you’re already using Bonsai to keep track of your pool of freelancers, you’re well on your way to simplifying freelance management. This is because Bonsai provides everything necessary for managing both freelancers and individual projects.
With Bonsai, freelance management is broken down into 5 easy steps:
- Invite freelancers into talent pool
- Create your independent contractor agreement and have the freelancer sign it
- Create your project, set the due date and payment terms and assign it to selected freelancer
- Review project once completed
- Pay for their service and close the project
Bonsai manages these steps, making the process of freelance management nearly automated. Plus, you’ll have a record of every project (by every freelancer) stored on an easy-to-read timeline. This is handy for when you need to repeat a previous project with a different freelancer, but don’t need to rewrite the project description. Simply copy the description from that freelancers’ list of projects, and you’re good to go.
Streamline the Payment Process
Paying your freelance staff can be a huge headache for any freelance agency if not organized correctly. Depending on the size of your team, it can either take a few minutes or a couple of hours. The freelance payment process works best if you already have a freelance management workflow that connects deliverables with contractor, and projects with rates. Otherwise, you’re stuck reading numerous emails from people asking for money, and you don’t remember how much you owe them.
When using Bonsai, this problem is completely eliminated. From the moment a freelancer is invited into your talent pool, every part of their involvement in the project is tracked. It starts with the signing of the contract and ends with the freelancer submitting their finished work. When you receive an email from them asking for money, it will have their deliverables attached, and the method of payment already verified.
Bonsai does a few other things as well, such as:
- Send payments directly from your account
- Track payment timelines
- Pay freelancers in a variety of methods
- Create and manage project budgets
This only works, of course, if your independent contractors complete their projects through the Bonsai workflow. This is where proper freelance management is important – set your expectations for organization and simplicity at the beginning by inviting freelancers into your pool before you hire them. This gives them time to become familiar with the platform and makes them more likely to use it.
As a freelance agency working with independent contractors, reviewing invoices will be a regular part of your business processes. Make it easy on yourself by using Bonsai.
Create a Freelance Team in Under an Hour
If you’ve followed the above steps, it will be simple to put together a freelance team on the fly. For the best results, try and build a freelance pool with at least 5 candidates for every project you are looking to complete. That way, if your top choice is busy on other projects, you’ve got at least two other people that can help you out.
Once you’ve scrolled through your list of pre-screened candidates and reviewed the notes you left, simply choose the best one for your project, add the project details and invite them to start working. Word of advice: it’s typically a good idea to give the freelancer a ‘heads up’ by sending them an email first.
Bonsai makes it simple for any freelance agency to run their business like an enterprise. By using our online-based freelance management tools that focus on the HR, Operations, and Finance portions of your business, you are free to focus on whatever it is you do best.