Part 1: Building & Running an Upwork Freelance Team Effectively
Upwork and other freelance marketplaces can be an invaluable source of help, especially if you are a small team or have projects that require a ton of manual repetitive work. They allow you to outsource smaller and more mundane tasks so that you can spend your time where it is most effective.
These platforms also allow you to turn your employees into managers, giving them added resources to get projects done faster. When you add in the ability to hire workers in different time zones, you can essentially add an extra 12 hours into the workday. It feels amazing to hand off work at the end of the day and show up the next morning with an inbox full of completed tasks.
In the past, I’ve used freelancers from Upwork for all different types of research projects, sales and marketing campaign work, report building, calendar work, billing, and even more personal tasks like sending out invites to events and thank you notes to event participants.
Throughout all of this, I’ve identified some ways to make working with “Upworkers” a breeze. Keep in mind these projects are typically easy and repetitive with clearly defined directions, milestones, and completion expectations.
It doesn’t matter what your project is, there has been someone else hiring a freelancer for basically the same thing before. There are two ways to hire someone. Either you find their profile and ask them to work on the project, or you submit a job description to solicit responses. In reality both work, but having a job post up will allow you to constantly receive new freelancer submissions.
The Job Post
Before making a job post, take a look at similar postings on Upwork to understand what other companies are putting out, what the going rate might be, and how much time the average freelancer is willing to spend on similar projects in a day/week.
The description is VERY important. It is not only what candidates are reading to decide if they want to bid on your project, but it is also the first step in setting expectations, describing their EXACT role, and defining what success for the project looks like.
It is important to be as explicit as possible here. Write out every step of the project like you are explaining it to a three-year-old. There can’t be any confusion related to what the project is, the steps to completion, and what is expected of the freelancer. While we want every hire to be a success, if there is an issue with the work being done this is the first place to reference if there is a dispute.
After the project’s description there a few fields you can define like project length, type, etc. We would typically look to hire people long term for various research projects so our projects would look like the following:
You are then able to define skills, experience, and qualifications. Some of this will obviously depend on your specific project but we typically required conversational English and at least 100 hours booked previously on Upwork.
You can also list a few questions that are required to be answered in any submittal. For example, if you are looking to build lists from LinkedIn and Angel List searches your questions might look like the following:
You will be asked to answer the following questions when submitting a proposal:
- Do you have experience building lists from LinkedIn and Angel List?
- Please name one method you use for finding people’s information if not entirely available on LinkedIn or Angel List?
- Why do you think you are a good fit for this particular project?
- What questions do you have about the project?
So this is really it. You are now ready to start building your remote freelance project team. You should start receiving applicants pretty quickly, but also do your research into potential candidates. For relatively simple research tasks you should be able to find tons of well-reviewed candidates you can contact and invite to apply.
Once you hire your candidate you will want to set them up for success. We’ll go through what I consider best practices for this next week, along with tracking, scaling the team, and other tips for building an efficient freelance team.
Before we move further into those next steps, here are some more tips and reminders for both this part of the process and beyond:
- You will hire more than one Upwork Freelancer — Even if your first project only calls for one freelancer, you will end up hiring more than one. This is because you will need multiple on call for time-sensitive projects, late requests, freelancers that might quit, etc.
- The goal is to have long-term relationships with each freelancer — We want this person to become a consistent and reliable part of our team. As they work with you more often and learn your process, their capabilities will increase. You’ll end up having an awesome long-term resource at your disposal moving forward.
- The work will never be perfect — This is something to keep in mind for all employees but especially the lower pay scale Upwork freelancers. You get what you pay for so make sure that your expectations are in line with what you are going to be receiving as a final product. Make sure you review everything and keep in mind there are always ways to improve over time.
- You will end up firing an Upworker — If you are tracking work correctly, you should always be letting go of the underperformers and hiring in new talent. You will end up with a better team in the long run, but also a freelancers work can deteriorate over time. Make sure you are always keeping a fresh set of hands on deck.
- Freelancing is a two-way street — You need to be a good employer. You are going to be reviewed by those you hire, and the better your rating and reviews, the better talent you will attract over time.
- Freelancers ARE a part of your team-Just like any other team member all of your other best practices as well as office culture should transfer over.
- Document everything-Not just for disputes but for adapting process over time.
- Share your tools-If you have tools at your disposal make sure your freelancers have access as well!
That’s it for today’s post, but make sure to check back as we’ll be going through onboarding, managing projects to success, and scaling out the team is efficient as possible.
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