When to Hire a Freelancer vs. an In-House Employee

There’s a time & place for hiring freelancers as opposed to in-house employees. Here’s how to find the balance for a flexible & cost-efficient workforce.
Leann Mango

Leann Mango

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The benefits of freelancing is two-fold: First, it gives people the flexibility to start their own business from the comfort of their own homes. Second, it has become a viable option for companies, big or small, looking for a quick hire.

But like a lot of things in business, there’s a time and place for everything. There’s a time when a company needs to expand a department or develop a new product. There’s also a time when freelancers are needed on the team, and a time when they aren’t.

In-house or outsource?

 

An important question that depends on multiple factors; what kind of expert do you need on your team? What’s stalling the current project? Is there too much work to be done? Do you need an employee who’s in it for the long haul or someone on a short-term contract?

Evaluating your current assets like available resources, your current budget, and your products and services are all things to be taken into account before making this decision.

Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a list of likely scenarios where you might need a freelancer, and scenarios where hiring an in-house employee would be preferable.

You should hire a freelancer if…

 

1. … your company is growing faster than expected

 

A gradual growth in business or increase in revenue doesn’t only happen to startups or small businesses. Even a well-established business might find itself needing to launch a new product or service, or even expand an existing department.

However, a company might find itself at a stage where it’s growing a little more rapidly than anticipated, and so there isn’t much time to go through the typical hiring process. They need someone now until they get someone long-term. That’s where freelancers step in.

They can take care of your current operations and what you need to expand your business in order to buy you more time to hire someone to fill in for them.

If there’s a task or project that can’t be delayed, and taking the necessary time off to hire an employee will hurt your company’s progress, then go ahead and take the outsourcing route.

2. … you’re in need of people with a special skill set

 

Have you ever looked at a bunch of impressive resumes and thought, “Yeah, sure, they’re great, but they don’t have <insert rare skill>”?

It can be discouraging to sift through a list of fifty or so potential candidates without finding that one person with that one specific skill. Online freelance marketplaces like Ureed.com, however, make this process a whole lot easier, and less painful. In fact, that’s what freelancers are here for; they’re there to provide the specific services you’re looking for.

Your chances of finding that one freelancer with that one specific skill are better than you think. All you need to do is search for the specialty you need and you’ll find lists upon lists of freelancers that match your criteria.

3. … you’re working on a one-time project

 

Let’s say you decided to write an e-book chronicling your experiences as a professional in a certain field. You know your writing skills are atrocious, and so you decide on hiring an e-book writer.

But wait! You only need a writer for that one project, and not a long-term addition to the team. There’s an easy fix for this; instead of hiring a full-time e-book writer, hire a freelance e-book writer.

If there’s a project or product that is in need of a professional, but you either don’t have the budget to hire a full-time employee or just need someone for the “short” run, hiring a freelancer would be your best bet in this case.

4. … you need an outsider’s perspective

 

Maybe you have a graphic design team that can’t make up their mind on a logo design, or perhaps a group of web developers who have conflicting views on how to deal with a pesky bug.

What do you do?

A great option would be to hire another expert or a consultant who would oversee the problem or project. But like we’ve mentioned before, you would probably want someone who is willing to do this short-term, or for an hourly wage.

Getting a freelancer to give you insight on a project’s progress can help improve workflow and provide you with a fresh, third-party perspective on how things are going.

And instead of paying a full salary, you could negotiate payment terms with your freelancer, who usually have this kind of flexibility that employees don’t.

It might be better to stick to hiring in-house if…

 

1. … you aren’t sure of the exact duration of a project

 

Two weeks? A month? Five years? Who knows when the product launch date might be.

Hiring a freelancer, in this case, could mean kissing your wallet goodbye. Can you imagine having to pay someone hourly, day after day, when you have no clue when you’ll need to end this professional relationship?

If you’re unsure how long a certain project might take, or for how long you’ll be needing the expert you’re looking for, play it safe by hiring an employee on a long-term contract.

2. … you’re short on (loyal) staff already

 

The freelance gig economy has brought a myriad of benefits with it, but one way to tarnish those benefits is to treat it as nothing more than a “quick fix.”

Hiring freelancers in-and-out will likely result in a bankrupt business if it’s not managed correctly. If you’re in no hurry and there’s a shortage of employees anyway, invest in hiring long-term, in-house employees instead. You can then put in the effort to train them to become the experts you need on your team, and if you’re handling the company right, then you’ll eventually have yourself a loyal team as well.

3. … you need someone onsite, for a long period of time

 

Do you need someone to supervise company operations in-person? Do you need an employee for face-to-face customer interactions? Then hiring in-house would be the way to go.

A freelancer can only do so much, and while there may be freelancers out there in your local area, it’s a hard and difficult process finding a freelancer who’s willing to do on-site work for you, especially if on a regular basis.

4. … you’re looking to expand your team

 

Freelancers are great at doing temporary work or picking up where your employees left off in a project, but don’t jump to conclusions and expect them to agree to be a part of your workforce or team down the line.

Keep in mind that freelancers have a business to keep up, with other clients also queuing up to make use of their services. If you want to hire someone who you want to eventually commit to your company long-term, then you would probably want to hire in-house.

It’s better to hire a full-timer on a long-term contract from the get-go than to hire a freelancer under the assumption that they’ll stick around when all is said and done.

At the end of the day…

 

It all comes down to what you need, for how long, and how much you’re willing to budget for it. It’s not about who’s better than the other, it has more to do with ‘when’ and ‘why.’ There’s a time and place for businesses to hire freelancers, and there’s also a time and place for them to take the in-house route.

Ureed.com is a freelance marketplace that connects employers with freelancers quickly and effortlessly. If you’re looking to hire a freelancer, sign up now on Ureed.com and browse through freelancers from over 150+ industries.