Best Practices for Working with Independents

  • Tips for Hiring
Zoë Colivas
· 6 min read

Startups often work with full plates and minimal resources and can’t always justify hiring on full-time roles to support their evolving needs. Luckily, an Independent (a.k.a. freelancer)’s flexibility and expertise can help growing businesses alleviate some of that pressure. The advantage of working with freelancers is that when done with synergy and mutual respect, the results can truly help take your business to the next level with less business commitment or risk. For our Clients who may still be new to working with Independents, we're sharing some tips on how to maximize your partnership 🤝

The difference between freelance v.s. full-time 💭

Independents are people who work for themselves while they carve their own career paths, and are often experts in their industry or niche. They primarily work on a series of different projects with different Clients, whereas a full-time employee dedicates themselves and represents a greater business, company, or brand.

Independents have autonomy and flexibility on how and when they conduct their work, while full-time employees must follow the requirements set by their employer.

Is hiring one or the other a better option for your business as a whole? Not necessarily! There are pros and cons to taking either approach — it ultimately depends on what you’re trying to achieve in the short- or long-term.

Ways you can benefit from hiring flexible support 💫

You can hire one (or more) Independents at any stage of your business, but here are a few common situations where you might want to consider a freelancer:

  • You’re working on something that requires specialized skills 🧠
  • Your in-house team has a lack of bandwidth at the moment⌛
  • You could use a fresh pair of eyes to provide an unbiased perspective 🧼
  • To expand your global footprint or get support in different timezones 🌎
  • A member of your team is going on extended personal leave 👪
  • A time-sensitive or totally secret project 👀

An Independent can help you fill a talent or expertise gap if you’re in the process of recruiting for a dedicated in-house role; or if you simply need someone to deliver timely and high-quality work, as it’s in their best interest to exceed your expectations, grow their portfolio, and get those referrals 🙌

The most in-demand roles to outsource 💥

Based on our top hiring categories on Contra, here are some of the popular roles startups and Clients are outsourcing to Independents:

Preparing to work with a freelancer 🪜

Before starting your independent talent search, it’s important to ensure you have a firm understanding of what your needs are so you can find the best person for the job 💪

  • Be crystal clear about your expectations ✨ — Independents are most successful when they have a clear picture of project scope, deadlines, and overall expectations, and you’re more likely to find your perfect match with this clarity.
  • Look beyond their resume 📄 — Today’s generation of savvy digital workers learn things fast and have access to endless education and tools. Check out their Profiles (or portfolios) instead, where you’ll find more concrete examples of the types of projects they’ve worked on, and can determine whether or not it’s exactly what you’re looking for.
  • Send them an Inquiry 📞 — Before moving forward with a hire, fill them in on everything they should know, and give them the opportunity to answer any questions they might have as well.
  • Take them for a test drive 🚗 — One of the most foolproof ways to hire the best Independent for you is to put their skills to the test with a temporary project. This allows both parties to gauge whether you’re the right match for each other. For example, if you’re planning to hire a freelance copywriter, have them write a 500-word blog post about a topic you’re passionate about; or hire a web designer and have them create a mock landing page for one of your services or offers.

Once you’ve found your perfect match, put everything in writing and sign it!🖊️

💡 Don’t have a contract template or invoicing software ready? We’ve got you covered. Check out our Guide to Bringing Projects to Contra to learn how we can automate this process for you.

Let’s get to work! 💪

After you’ve officially hired an Independent, get ready for some strong collaboration. Here are a few ways you can help your new flexible partner succeed ⤵️

  • Share files and assets for inspiration — Share any decks, visual assets, relevant documents, and/or a moodboard of projects you like that could potentially be implemented into their work.
  • Stick to the contract — Avoid biting off more than you can chew and stick to the script. If something comes up behind the agreed scope of work, be prepared to put this in writing and compensate the Independent accordingly.
  • Set and respect each others’ boundaries — Align on a communication method and response time that’s best for both of you. Always remember when working with freelancers, it's a two-way street.
  • Bonus: Pay them upfront — Freelancers occasionally experience getting ghosted on payments after a project is complete. Paying them a 50% deposit is a great way to show good intent.

💡 Contra offers custom upfront payments on our platform too.

How to wrap up a project with a freelancer 🤝

What you do after you complete a project is just as important as starting it ⤵️

  • Pay them on time — Follow the payment schedule outlined in your contract.
  • Write a Recommendation — Take a moment to write a review about your experience working together, and ask for their feedback too. It’s a great way to pay it forward and learn how to become a rockstar Client.
  • Keep your virtual door open and refer — Keep them in mind for any upcoming projects or refer them to someone in your network that might have similar needs.

If you’re considering hiring a freelancer, you’re not alone. Independent work is on the rise and is definitely here to stay 🚀

Ready to hire your next Independent?

Post an Opportunity on Contra
Start now

✨ ✨

Contra is the Independent-first community and commission-free hiring platform shaping the future of work. We match Independents with flexible opportunities, and Clients with the perfect Independent for any project — from content creation to coding and more.

Zoë Colivas
Building Products, Teams & Communities @ Contra ✨
Hi 👋 I am Zoë! Head of Operations here at Contra. If you have any questions or feedback about Contra, send me a message!

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