Freelancers are practically everywhere nowadays. According to freelance website UpWork, there are 55 million freelancers in the United States, 35% of the country’s total workforce. Between 2000 and 2014, this segment has grown by 500%. In fact, ask around the circles of millennials and some of their younger counterparts, and you’ll find that many are open to the opportunity. Whether you like the idea or not, the freelancer/gig economy is here to stay.
With a trend like this, it becomes inevitable that you will be working with at least a few freelancers when you’re in an industry that relies on digital in some form or the other (and let’s face it, almost everyone needs some kind of digital in their businesses nowadays).
This whole system of using a network of freelancers isn’t a new concept but it’s certainly not a practice mentioned often in management classes. At least not yet. I’ve been on two sides of the spectrum in the gig economy, being a freelancer myself for a couple of websites, and now handling freelancers to produce content for our clients. And I can tell you that even companies who explicitly pride themselves on having a network of freelancers don’t always manage them as efficiently as they could.
Taking all this into account, I’d like to offer the following suggestions to those of you looking to utilize this freelance ecosystem effectively for your own business goals or are currently finding yourselves having a difficulty managing your company’s freelancers.