The top 8 things advertising agencies should be doing to build their business models around freelancers

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Not too long ago, agencies hid freelancers behind the curtain as they quietly pumped out work. Today, success requires you to view freelancers as strategic assets. With the growing gig economy and technology making it so easy to work remotely, it is becoming irrelevant whether
a worker is a freelancer or belongs to permanent staff. Clients do not care who does the job — they want to know you have the experts available to produce quality work on time and within budget.

Here's why you need to create a freelancer strategy

Many agencies look to freelancers to provide cost-effective, quick labour. However, if you do not manage freelancers appropriately, they can cost more time and money than you realise. It takes time to find them, manage them, and to fix their work if something goes wrong. These hours add up and take away from your margins.

When you hire freelancers correctly, i.e. build them into your business model, your bottom line will benefit from the consistently superb quality work they produce. Freelancers add value. Most projects need a team of experts, and few (if any) agencies can have them all on their staff. Additionally, the best talent for the project may not be available locally.

Freelancers help you reduce overheads, increase specialisation and improve service levels. Providing higher-quality output and lower costs to clients is why you should be gearing your agency towards operating via freelance talent.

Developing an arsenal of trusted freelancers, who are well-coached in your company culture, and creating systems for scaling, can help your agency grow without straining your budget or sacrificing quality. Here are the top 8 things your agency should do to build your business model around freelancers:

1. Have a wide bench of talent

Instead of the same teams hiring the same freelancers, ensure you have a wide choice of freelancers on the bench which any team can access when they need specific talent.

 2. Consider their rates, as well as their ratings & reputation

 Thoroughly vet talent until you can trust their work is up to scratch and that they know how to deliver what you expect. Contact your peers to chat to them about their experiences with some of the freelancers you are considering adding to your bench of talent, or use online freelance resources where they are rated by the companies who have hired them before.

 3. Develop relationships with them

 To improve work consistency, shorten ramp-up time and minimise costs, build relationships with your go-to freelancers and ensure you always have a reliable pool of talent on hand.

4. Let freelancers know they are assets

You are hiring freelancers to add value, so treat them like they are valuable. To benefit from cost-effective, high-quality results, your freelancers must feel that their talent and experience are beneficial to your team.

5. Give them all the information they need

When a freelancer is empowered with all the information they need for a project, they become more dedicated and willing to collaborate on making said project successful. You can further assist them to develop a deeper understanding of the client and project by including them in relevant meetings and connecting them to the right people to answer their questions.

6. Communicate expectations clearly

 Be upfront about what the work entails, what the deliverables are, and what success looks like for you. On the other side of the coin, invite the freelancer to express their expectations too, so that you know what they will be billing, have an idea of their availability, and any other essential details which may affect the project.

7. Bring contractors onboard earlier

 Before your pitch to a new client / for a new project, bring your freelancers onboard to help shape the project scope with their specific expertise and assist in defining what success looks like, as well as to better estimate the rate your agency will charge for the work you are pitching.

8. Give them access to your tools

From day one, give your freelancers access to your collaboration tools, such as Asana or Slack. This promotes open communication, which helps them resolve issues efficiently and hold each other accountable.

The bottom line for agencies hiring freelancers is to find the best possible talent and use them wisely. By building a contingent workforce into your business model, you can increase your agency's immediate margins and ensure that the value of what you are offering grows over time.

 

 

 

 

How Businesses Can Leverage the Gig Economy

spillly what the freelance

The gig economy is growing and by 2020, one in five workers will be freelance or on contract — this according to the EY Global Contingent Workforce Study. A fancy new name for freelancing in the digital era, the gig economy refers to the growing workforce of freelancers working ‘gigs’ — tasks performed as once-off jobs.

The acceleration of the gig economy has primed the market for opportunities — for both freelancers and businesses. So how do you leverage this trend for your company?

Embrace the blended workforce

While Africa’s digital maturity is not on par globally, the gig economy is gaining momentum thanks to technology, collaboration tools, video conferencing and virtual offices, creating much-needed opportunities and new revenue streams. 

For businesses, the main benefit is the ability to source talent instantly from anywhere in the world at competitive rates. Additionally, hiring freelancers on-demand on a project-by-project basis means you do not need to fork out on pension plans and medical aids.

Permanent employees are working side by side with freelancers in coworking spaces, whether online or in person. However, with a blended workforce comes the challenge of project managing teams working from different locations.

Work better, smarter and faster

By including freelancers in your workflow management system, you can actively improve collaboration between your contractors and your core company team, resulting in better understanding between the relevant parties, improved workflow and increased profitability.

It does not matter whether you are using Asana, Meistertask or Trello, just make sure you have visibility across your teams to get a bird’s-eye view of who is doing what, who has capacity on which day and to whom you can allocate work according to their skillsets.

Hire the right fit

 While you have access to a fast-growing, highly-skilled economy of freelancers, it takes
a particular kind of person to be successful — hardworking, organised, experienced, intelligent and highly-skilled are some of the attributes to look out for when hiring freelancers.

A freelancer's hourly or daily rate will be higher than you would pay your permanent employees. However, there's usually no need to provide any employee benefits, healthcare, insurance or perks to your contingent staff. In most cases, you will not even need to supply a desk, chair or computer. This saves you money.

Freelancers can do anything employees can do, but it makes financial sense to only hire freelancers for specific types of work:
●      Once-off projects: hiring a new employee for a single project makes no sense if you know you cannot keep them on after completion. Paying a freelancer to do the work is much more practical.

●      Highly-skilled, short-term work: training staff members in new skills can be expensive, which is why it makes sense to bring in the skills you need as and when you need them.

●      Creative work: freelancers typically rule creative industries such as the media, design, writing, production and audiovisual because there are defined briefs, clear specifications and measurable end-products.

●      Commission-based work: freelancers are accustomed to being paid for the work they produce and have the skills required to meet goals efficiently.

Hiring freelancers is like installing a revolving door — there’s a higher rate of personnel turnover compared to that of permanent employees, but the trade-off is you gain access to a flexible and innovative group of workers who are highly-skilled and cost-effective.

Here are some of the ways your business can save money by hiring freelancers:

●      Real estate and equipment: with most freelancers working remotely, you don’t need to supply physical office space or equipment such as computers, telephones, desks, and chairs.

●      Training for specialised skills: instead of spending money on training, hire a freelancer who already has the skills that you need and knows how to do the job well, shaving thousands off your budget and delivering higher-quality work.

●      Save on benefits: most freelancers charge more per hour than full-time employees, but you’ll still save a significant amount as you are not required to contribute towards their medical aid or pension funds.

●      You only pay freelancers for the work they deliver: your full-time employees get paid even when they don’t have a lot of work to do, which means that your business spends a lot of money on compensation even when you don’t have much revenue coming in. When you hire freelancers, you pay them only for the work they do.

 Keep the bigger picture in mind

According to PayPal’s new Global Freelancer Insights Report, the most significant challenge for freelancers in South Africa is irregular income. On the plus side, gig-economy work can improve work-life balance, often blurring the lines between personal and professional life. Freelancers can pick up kids from school and then switch back to their roles with little interruption. However, while the gig economy is creating new opportunities and unleashing innovation, it is also raising thorny questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.

Although the broader socioeconomic effects of the gig economy are as yet unclear, businesses that embrace the agility of the gig economy have the opportunity to redefine the workplaces of the future

The pleasure of being on Radio 2000 with a fellow Freelancer

 Mr Ernest Pillay and Spillly

Mr Ernest Pillay and Spillly

On Monday the 19th February 2018, I once again had the honour of chatting to Ernest Pillay on the Drive Time Experience on Radio 2000. Ernest is a gentleman and a fellow freelancer who took a keen interest in the WTF [What The Freelance] book and course that is running now at Vega Schools.

I have to say, they also play the coolest chilled drive time music - check them out!

For more info on the Mini MBA course at Vega clickety click.

 

The Speed of Feed - Insights into Facebook and Instagram

Aviv weil brent spilkin

On the 1st of February, Vega School and Growing Pains Business Coaching hosted a very insightful talk by Mr Aviv Weil, the head of creative workshop at Facebook Africa. Some of the human insights and stats are stagering!

Aviv shared global trends to several digital agency heads and about 150 team members that currently are involved with Growing Pains. We also had the pleasure of Francois, the campus navigator at Vega Jo'burg, telling us a little about the school and its alumni.

Vega hosted the event as Growing Pains along with What The Freelance have developed a Freelance Mini-MBA that starts in March 2018, across all four of the Vega SA campuses.

 Aviv Weil [Facebook], Shevon Lurie [MD Vega School] and Brent Spilkin [WTF + Growing Pains]

Aviv Weil [Facebook], Shevon Lurie [MD Vega School] and Brent Spilkin [WTF + Growing Pains]

For more info email us here or check out the Vega School site