The internet has changed the face of business forever. Most companies will now require the services of writers, developers, designers and marketers – regardless of their industry. Business owners have two options – either employ their own skilled staff, or collaborate with freelancers. Choosing between these options can be tricky, and ultimately the answer lies within the company’s budget and needs.
Should you hire an in-house expert, or work with freelancers?
Generally, hiring your own permanent staff is the most expensive option. However, if your company has large needs, it can be the most cost-effective way to achieve top-quality work.
If the service you require is going to become a core, integral part of your business – such as a trademark piece of software, for example – it’s usually best to hire your own in-house team. That way, you’ll always have experts on-hand to deal with problems, queries, and updates. Similarly, edits and revisions are much easier and cheaper to commission – freelancers often charge extra to make changes.
Hiring permanent skilled workers is often the best choice for companies who place great importance on deadlines. Work is far more likely to be completed on schedule by an in-house team – whereas freelancers may be balancing several different projects, your workers will be dedicated solely to your tasks.
You should also think about hiring your own developers and writers if maintaining a particular brand voice and ‘look’ is important to your business – it’s difficult to achieve a universal tone when working with a variety of different freelancers.
In-house teams often create high quality work. However, hiring your own staff is undeniably expensive. Not only do they require a salary, but there are also numerous other employee benefits – such as holiday pay and sick pay – which must be taken into account.
Also, hiring an in-house skilled worker is a time-consuming process – and mistakes can be costly. If a freelancer’s work doesn’t come up to scratch, you don’t have to work with them again. However, it can be far more challenging to part with a permanent staff member.
Hiring freelancers is generally far cheaper than hiring permanent staff, especially if you only have relatively small needs. Freelancers don’t require sick pay or other employee benefits, so you’re only paying for the work you’ve commissioned.
Hiring one or two in-house staff members can be a mistake, particularly if you require expertise in a variety of disciplines. Working with freelancers gives you the freedom to work with experts at all times – you can hire different people for specific projects, based entirely on their experience and expertise.
If you don’t like the work a freelancer has done for you, you’re not stuck with them – it’s very simple to stop working with one freelancer, and start working with another.
Although there are plenty of benefits to working with freelancers, there are also several potential issues. For example, portfolios and references can be forged – particularly if you don’t meet the freelancer in person.
Deadlines can be an issue when working with freelancers. They may have many different projects at once – and yours might not be their top priority.
Similarly, if something goes wrong with the work they’ve provided, it can be difficult to get in touch with them for help – and many freelancers will charge for edits.
For businesses which need a large amount of work, in-house staff could be the best option. However, smaller businesses may find that working with freelancers is more practical. Regardless of the option you choose, there are certain things to bear in mind when hiring skilled staff.
Freelance databases such as ODesk and Elance might seem good at first glance. However, these so-called ‘content mills’ generally reflect the quality of the work on offer, and are best avoided – the low prices are pushing top-quality designers and writers out of the market.
It’s always best to hire someone who’s worked with someone you know personally. Failing that, references should always be checked. Plagiarism is a common occurrence – before you make a hire, be sure that your candidate is actually capable of the work they’ve shown you.
Alexa Garthwaite is the Head of Marketing at *ExecutiveOffices.co.uk, who provides serviced offices, virtual offices and meeting room hires in prestigious locations across London. She has a deep interest in marketing, SMEs, business, property and travel. You can follow her on Twitter @alexagarthwaite.*