gig economy

Smart management: Let the gig economy work for your business

We used to say the way of the future was freelancing. That’s no longer the case — the future is here now.

We’re in the middle of an industrial revolution. No longer are people clamoring for full-time jobs. Now they want to be their own bosses or “solopreneurs.”

The face of the workforce is rapidly changing. More than 30 percent of the U.S. population currently freelances full- or part-time. By 2020, that number is expected to rise to 40 percent.

With its current growth rate, it’s predicted that the majority of Americans will freelance by 2027.

The question is, are you ready? Are you prepared to embrace this outsourcing business model? With what’s coming (or already here!), it’s important to be aware of best practices and industry standards to ensure you’re well equipped for this new normal: the gig economy.

When to hire a freelancer

Outsourcing work can come in handy for a variety of reasons. Maybe an employee is out for vacation, maternity leave or an extended illness. Perhaps your current team is overloaded and could use an extra set of hands. Or maybe you could use a fresh perspective.

Need help but can’t afford a full-time employee? A freelancer or contractor can fill the shoes without you having to pay overhead, benefits or vacation. Struggling to fill a full-time position? This may be the wake-up call you weren’t expecting. It could be time to re-evaluate the way you think about the traditional work model.

For example, if your company isn’t big enough to sustain its own full-time marketing department, consider eliciting the talents of a freelancer — or form a virtual agency with a few freelancers — to fill that gap, whether for one project or as a year-round resource partner.

What to expect

Everyone’s different. Every self-employed individual has his or her own policies and procedures.

However, the following have become commonplace and industry standard:

  • Deposits // Often a third to a half of the estimate up front
  • Contracts // Working agreements that protect both parties
  • Payment terms of net 30 days // Not when you get paid by your client
  • Rush rates and late fees // Depending on the situation and relationship

The best client/vendor relationships are built upon communication and respect. Communicate well and often. Set deadlines and expectations. Be honest throughout the entire process. And be mindful of expectations, one’s time and payments.

The money question

Freelancers’ rates are going to vary. There is no “going rate” for, say, a graphic designer because there are so many variables involved, such as:

  • Years of experience
  • Training or schooling
  • Talent level
  • Awards won
  • Demand
  • Where they live (Cost of living makes a difference.)

You can save a lot of money by outsourcing to an independent contractor simply because they don’t have the overhead, so their rates will be cheaper.

As with anything, though, you get what you pay for. Comparing a $25/hour freelancer to a $125/hour freelancer is comparing apples to oranges. And, of course, not everyone charges by the hour.

Where to Find Freelance Talent

Ask friends and peers for a referral, do a Google search, scour an online job board or use an internet data pool. Locally, you could go through a headhunter or use a resource such as The Freelance Exchange ( a free, easy-to-use, searchable database of talented and savvy advertising/marketing freelancers in KC.

Set yourself up for success by doing some research ahead of time. View a candidate’s website and business social media pages. Interview them. View their work samples. Ensure the fit is right for you, not just with the work but with their personality as well. Ask questions so you know how they work and what to expect.

Entering the gig economy

The workforce as we know it is changing right before our eyes. The gig economy is taking over and quickly. Whether you’re charting new waters here or need a refresher on industry standards, it’s essential you’re ready.

A few tips:

  • Be open to new workflow strategies.
  • Be cognizant of freelance policies and procedures.
  • Be humble enough to welcome new ways of doing things.
  • Be communicative and respectful.

Following these strategies will get you far.