I've found the biggest deterrents for many companies in deciding whether to take the ever-freeing, always-smart fashion freelance plunge are the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions.
I think I've already made an excellent case in my previous Freelance|Works post, if I must say so myself;), for the "why" and "what" but wanted to provide a quick, easy guide to address the other 4 questions.
"Hard work spotlights the character of people; some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all." Sam Ewing
- The Who: Determining The Right Person For The Job
You should ask yourself questions such as:
- Does the resume/portfolio demonstrate the ability to handle similar situations as the available work?
- Does the resume/portfolio demonstrate flexibility in handling a variety of tasks as related to the available work?
- Does the freelancer have the experience to understand company goals and match their output to achieve these goals?
Once you've asked these basic questions and are satisfied the freelancer's resume/portfolio indicates a good fit for the available work, then time to set up an interview. Be sure you are best prepared for the interview by reviewing their Linkedin profile or website provided. These sites should give you a better idea of candidate's work by highlighting skills or experience not listed on the resume, as well as, providing recommendations or testimonials from colleagues and previous clients.
When calling the prospective freelancer to set up an interview, be up-front about your budget; discussing how much you can allocate toward the available work and when the freelancer will be paid. I'll discuss a bit more about this in later steps, but remember "money talks...first" as you will need to negotiate an honest and fair pay rate and timeline for completion of your project. You and the freelancer should be aware before the scheduled interview the terms of payment and project budget.
One more quick note when In determining your pay rate, just remember, you get what you pay for. You want to insure the rate quoted is fair and representative of industry standards. Glassdoor is a great resource to visit when collecting information to help you determine a fair rate of pay for your freelancer.
Just know that "most"(not all) cheaper or less experienced freelancers are going to require more supervision, more communication, and may not be as quick to take full ownership of a project. All of which will cost you valuable time.
The freelancer hired should be an expert in their specific area either as a product manager, designer, merchandiser, researcher, sourcing manager, technical designer, etc. There will be some questions asked that are related to the nature of your particular business but in short, your freelancer should be able to accept your guidelines and hit the ground running.
When interviewing be sure to:
- Ask specific questions as they relate to the available work as well as situations that may come up while the freelancer is completing the work. You could ask the freelancer to discuss a time when they had to meet a tough deadline without supervision or to ask them to describe how they handle crisis situations taking you through each step of their process.
- Look for evidence of problem-solving, creativity, and self-discipline.
Once the interview is over, then be sure to check for three references asking each reference about the freelancer's attitude and quality of work. All satisfactory? Now you have the "who" for your fabulous fashion freelancer, now time for the how, when, and where!
A good freelance contract should include a set of guidelines for the work that needs to be done. These guidelines need to be clearly outlined in the contract. Be clear about the results you expect and at least include the details listed below in the contract:
- Deadline: Be sure to state how much time you are expecting the job to require and when you will consider the work complete. Be crystal clear on your expected timeline for the work or for each job completed by your fabulous fashion freelancer.
- Communication: How often do you want your freelancer to communicate with you on the progress of the work? Do you want daily, weekly, bi-weekly updates? Are you ok with verbal updates or should all updates be written and submitted according to the agreed upon communication schedule? Make sure each party is clear on the work schedule by including the number of hours per week you are expecting your freelancer to devote to the job. Make sure there is room for flexibility especially as the work load during a production season can be extremely variable with a definite ebb and flow in the cycle.
- Budget: This will include the agreed upon rate (hourly, weekly, monthly, per job, etc.) as well as maximum amount to be paid to the freelancer within a specified period of time. The contract should also outline maximum weekly hours, if relevant. In addition, when the freelancer will be paid (weekly, monthly, per assignment completion, etc.) as well as agreed upon terms of deposit should be included in the contract details.
You will also want to determine if the work should be done on-site or can be done completely off-site, level of confidentiality required, and if the freelancer can use any of the work that is completed in his or her portfolio. A good freelancer will go over expectations and deadlines with you carefully and provide feedback if the terms are reasonable or not. A happy client means increased or repeat business for your freelancer and so your fabulous fashion freelancer is going to make every effort that all expectations are positively met.
As I'm a proud member of Freelancers Union and am encouraging all serious freelancers to join this organization (free to join!), I've included a link to their automated contract creator. This contract creator is useful for those looking to freelance and those looking for a freelancer.
Final quick note: A freelancer's contract is fairly simple with no taxes withheld and reported on Form 1099.
As I've already mentioned, freelancers offer increased flexibility for your organization and have the ability to work at any and all times.
Specifically in the case of apparel companies, particularly those with a heavy or growing import business, freelancers can schedule their peak work hours at the same time as overseas merchandisers and factories. I don't have to tell the savvy apparel owner or vice president of merchandising how much more effective and efficient in terms of approvals, solving production issues, and increased turn-around this can be for a growing apparel business.
A freelancer's ability to work when and where he or she is most needed allows for a more productive output of labor and an increase in business profits. But before everyone gets all excited, there are a few things that have to be kept in mind.
A Freelancer Is Not An Employee--but as we've discussed, an independent contractor. When establishing the terms of employment, you need to know that if you hire a person to work regular hours at your office with your team, reporting to the same supervisors as your employees, the government may hold you liable for employment taxes. You nor your fabulous fashion freelancer wants this as the goal is to "save" you money. So just remember you, as the contractor, control the "results" of the freelancer's work, but not when or where they get it done.
You can definitely include within the contract terms expectations and guidelines for when your freelancer will work on-site, but you must also remember that the best times for your freelancer to work may not be during regular office hours and so this work may be done off-site, during flexible, peak hours.
So, those are your 4 easy tips to hiring a fabulous fashion freelancer. Please feel free to add comments and feedback. I would love to hear your thoughts whether you are planning to hire or are a fabulous fashion freelancer.
Fashion Freelance Works! Find out how I can work for you by submitting your contact information on this website or visit my Linkedin profile.