Freelancers: What you need to know about the future of this workforce.
Updated: Nov 22, 2020
For those who are not aware, this year I'd taken a brief hiatus from developing films and instead taken on a new challenge of software development. This cloud based tool will empower filmmakers' collaboration in the early stage of their film's journey. Apart from my day job as a Customer Success Manager for a tech company, I've no formal education in software development. As such I have to rely on others to help me bring my startup vision to life. Cue in the freelancers! One thing that COVID has increased the demand for is, freelancer workers! As stated in this article by CNBC: With the unemployment rate at 13.5% and a rapidly changing labor market, hiring managers are accelerating the use of freelancers (1*) Freelancers are the lifeblood for startups trying to get up and running and there is a lot you need to know about the future of this workforce
Even a well-established company has issues finding the right hire, and for a startup, it can get even more complicated. Working from home requires a high degree of self-motivation, resourcefulness, and self-discipline as such we should not conduct the same process as we would for a full-time employee in a mature company. The freelancer should be self-motivated and share your vision in the project. The reason why sharing your vision is important because once you have posted, you will get bombarded with lots of freelancers who want the job. However, most freelancers would not have read the job requirements, they want to reply quicker to you so you would choose them. This will be very obvious with their very generic message response. You will end up spending more time re-explaining to them the entire job requirement even though it may have been clearly stated in the initial job post.
Communication is key for a successful project completion. In my earlier blog, I had written about my experience with a freelancer who wasn't very communicative. I found this worker from the website Freelancer, (which already has their own share of red flags (2*)) I wasn't receiving any updates on the status of the work and was kept in the dark for a long period of time. And when he was ready to demo his progress, it was totally different from my expectation. Freelancers are not like regular employees. Naturally, this means that the payment process is going to be different than that of regular employees. This freelancer that I hired was from another country and was very concerned that I wasn't able to pay in time, even though I had reassured him many times that, him getting his money will not be an issue. Furthermore, he is outside of the country, and I had to pay an additional fee every time when transferred money to him. This further intensified my frustrations when the freelancer wasn't meeting the basic requirements and my feedback to him seems to be falling on deaf ears, even though my notes to him were detailed and shared consistently.
We spoke in English but his level of English wasn't very strong so I tried to simplify our conversations to make sure he understands what I was trying to say. I made a mistake during our voice calls not enabling him to read back to me what the next steps were. If I had done that, I would have caught any discrepancies immediately instead of later on. But missing deadlines cant be because of the language barrier. Dates are a universal language. This freelancer would completely miss the deadline even when I had given him decent buffers. I understand that life events sometimes may interfere, like weddings, a relative getting sick, funerals but for this freelancer, it seems to be happening at a more frequent rate. This freelancer was probably taking on multiple projects from different clients and wasn't able to fully commit to my project. I understand as that is the nature of the freelancing world a freelancer would prioritize another project which is more challenging, exciting, or more financially rewarding. But this was extremely frustrating as I had made this project very appealing in terms of financial incentive and potential future growth to ensure that he remains engaged. On top of that, clients should avoid paying below market-rates for freelancers because that can work as an open invitation for the freelancer to find new clients.
In conclusion, hiring freelancers will always be a challenge. This is where referrals matter as you don't have the budget or the time to make a wrong hire. It isn't the ideal situation but you may have to kiss some frogs before you get your prince. Since my negative experience, I've hired a gem of a freelancer who has managed to not only bring The Martini to life but also enhanced it. Looking forward to working with him and also getting more freelancers on board to bring this important tool to my fellow filmmakers.