Why You Should Hire Freelance Workers for Your Startup

Those of you who have been reading my work know that I’m a freelancer, entrepreneur, and writer. But did you know that I’ve also hired over 20 freelancers on various platforms over the course of the last decade?

Hiring remote talent can be a daunting prospect. Many still shy away from it because a simple Google search can reveal a hundred hellish experiences suffered by other would-be freelance clients.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

I’ve had a few bad experiences myself when hiring freelancers, but I’ve predominantly had good outcomes. Here is what I’ve learned from my experiences, both good and bad.

Don’t worry about us

Hiring freelancers is clearly more cost-efficient than hiring salaried employees. It relieves you of the expenses inherent in having full-time employees. Benefits, healthcare, and an obligation to pay your workers even when there’s no work to do are just a few of the main issues.

In many countries, there are also regulatory complications like higher tax brackets, bookkeeping fees, and all manner of bureaucratic hurdles. If you can avoid it all in one fell swoop, you should.

And if you’re worried about the ethical side of all this, don’t. We freelancers love being responsible for our own lives. We chose this life, we weren’t forced into it. We appreciate freedom and we’re more than capable of taking care of our own legal and financial standing.

A freelancer I’m currently employing on a project has been traveling and working from various Mediterranean locations for a month. He couldn’t care less about a pension plan.

Low overhead is the name of the game

So, freelancers are generally less costly than salary-based employees. But, how do they stack up against agencies that provide the same services?

When you hire an agency, you generally have no idea who exactly is going to be doing the work. Particularly if you’re hiring a whole team.

Then you find yourself talking to managers, whose involvement not only vastly increases the cost of doing business, but insulates you from the people doing work on the ground.

Meanwhile, a freelancer is his own manager. There is no time wasted in dealing with middlemen, no internal meetings that the agency simply must have before they can respond to your simple question, no rigid company structure that dictates the tempo at which you can develop your own business.

As I wrote previously, a single freelancer can routinely outperform a team of 3–4 people if you hire smartly — and I promise you, you are more likely to hire the right person for your business than to hire the right agency to pick the right manager to pick the right team for you.

Plenty of fish in the sea

Plenty of seas, too.

There are hundreds of freelance platforms out there. Some, such as Upwork or Fiverr, are behemoths where you can find just about all sorts of workers, from artificial intelligence experts to origami consultants. Others are focused on some niche, such as Reedsy, where you can hire only book-related professionals, from proofreaders to cover designers. Yet others are focused on some level of expertise, such as Toptal that has a notoriously high entry bar for freelancers.

When I published my first book, I hired an editor on Reedsy. I was very happy with the freelancer’s professionalism, and the price wasn’t prohibitive either. You can hire editors just as well on Upwork, but niche-specific platforms make this task a lot easier to navigate.

On the other hand, my first Upwork hire was a resounding failure. I hired a cheap WordPress developer to set up a blog site for me, and it turned out cheap developers produce cheap websites. Who would have thought, right?

The lesson I learned? The global freelance market is a real meritocracy for the most part. You get what you pay for. There are over 17 million freelancers on Upwork alone and some are bound to be perfect for your project — but don’t expect to hire them for peanuts.

Scale? No problem

How big do you expect your business to get, and how fast? If you’re honest, the answer is most likely: I have no worldly idea.

This makes hiring full-time employees troublesome and risky. By signing contracts with full-time employees, you are building growth-related risk into your business model. If your business fails to scale as fast as you envision it (rather likely), you can easily end up with a negative bottom line, in need of more funding, and with more stress than you bargained for.

With freelance contractors, you can pay as you go — per project, per hour, or even per unit of value produced. This puts you firmly in charge of your risks and, thus, your finances.

When compared with agencies, freelancers make having a fluid team size a breeze.

Agencies often force contracts that involve a long-term commitment and a minimum number of workers on the project. If you hire freelancers, on the other hand, you can put together a flexible team that is easily expanded and just as easily trimmed down. You better make sure that your remote leadership skills are up to par though.

Tailor-made for periodic work

You might need a design once a month. Or a bookkeeper once a quarter. Or a beekeeper once a year.

Freelancers will line up for this sort of work. We love repeat clients. It takes away the overhead of searching for work, it is predictable, and it is pleasant. I have hired freelance researchers, designers, and video editors for similar arrangements and it worked out very well every time.

Why would you pay an employee to sit idly for 26 days a month so that they could do 4 days of work?


Freelance workers are resilient, reliable, and respectful — but only if you’re all those three things yourself.

Managing remote talent is a special skill, but it is one worth honing as it can make a tremendous impact on your bottom line — not to mention make your company more independent and stable.

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