Surrounded by sheep? 4 tips to find the perfect freelancing mercenary!

mercenaries freelancers

Is your company trying to raise sheep or are you trying to take the castle?


In medieval times, if you wanted to take a castle, you hired mercenaries. And these weren’t your typical cannon-fodder, that’s a misconception. Most of your feudal armies consisted primarily of conscripted sheep herders and wheat farmers, and whichever side brought mercenaries to the party who ate, drank, and breathed war, tore through their opponents like butter.


Today's freelancers are your modern mercenaries. They're the true professionals with their nose to the grindstone sharpening their skills. That's is a pretty big change from even ten years ago when in the that term seemed synonymous with being lazy or against the corporate “man.” Today, its the smartest and brightest individuals out there that are realizing that technology and quality co-working space makes it possible for them to ditch their boss and take their show on the road to do something that they’re actually passionate about.


I applaud this, and as our economy moves in this direction, the quality of freelance work will continue to skytocket.


According to Forbes there are 53 Million freelancers in the United States right now. By 2020 that’s supposed to rise to 50% of the workforce. That’s one in every two people gainfully employing themselves. And according to FastCompany, they’re increasingly experienced professionals who allow the businesses that hire them to get much more focused and targeted about who they select for a particular project. 


Keyboards for hire anyone?


I’ll put it right out there, I’ve taken the plunge and hired several. My experience has convinced me that the game has changed forever. Far from being lazy, the group who put together my website and helped my clients design their logos were nothing less than an elite band of mouse wielding keyboards-for-hire who took no prisoners.


And sure, with a growing half of the population also going this route, there’s a also ballooning paunch of mediocre pancho-villa-like players, but this simply means that if you want access to this increasingly high quality work, you simply need a system for threshing the wheat from the chaff. Here’s my quick guide on how to do it.


Here are 4 tips for sifting through the armies of applications to identify the truly professional freelancers: 


  1. They have a good profile picture. This one almost goes without saying, only it doesn’t, because people still don’t do it. In the old days, it was a good sign if someone showed up showered and shaven to an interview. Today, it’s whether they cleaned up and took a presentable profile picture. Seriously, when everything is as easy as the touch of a button and they best they could muster is a grainy picture of them squinting desperately into their laptop camera like it owes them money, you have to ask yourself how seriously they’re going to take your project. Never have I hired a freelancer with a grainy photo that exceeded expectations. 
  2. They’re not a one-platform pony. By this I mean is your freelancer looking to attract new clients through multiple channels, or are they sitting back and waiting to be spoon-fed by one? Truly professional freelancers that are hungry and driven and want to earn your business will outperform their peers by doing better work faster. They’re out there thinking about how to retain you as a customer, and you’ll get great quality out of them. The tell-tale sign of this is that they’re on, UpWork, LinkedIn, and their own website, all of which display calls to action and testimonials. Beware the one-platform pony.
  3. They have an agenda when you hop on the phone with them. How many of us have chatted with potential new-hires or freelancers and gotten the sense that neither of us knew why we were on the call? It happens all the time, but it shouldn't. If the freelancer is just hanging out and doesn’t guide things, you’ve got yourself a lame duck who won’t be self-motivated about solving problems if they run into any on your project. Steer yourself towards the freelancers who are busy and whose time is valuable. These folks will provide an agenda on your first introductory call and they’ll be vetting you out to make sure that you’re serious just as they are . 
  4. They challenge you with questions about your project. Malcolm Gladwell taught us that disagreeable people are the most successful in the long run because they’re willing to handle issues before they become full-blown crises. And if you’ve ever outsourced a project, be that for coding a website or for putting in new flooring, you know that no project ever comes in under budget and on time. They just don’t. And freelancers who just want your business and are afraid to challenge you won’t set proper expectations, and will say yes to things they can’t deliver on. True professionals on the other hand have no problem digging deeper and suggesting other ways you could do what you’re doing. They are professionals, after all, and if they’re good, they’ll know how to do what you’re asking them to do better than you do. Beware the freelancer who just says “yes” while praying fervently for the call to end.


There you have it, a quick four-item checklist that will hopefully save you thousands of hours pointlessly talking to people who were ever only half-serious. This is your method for getting straight to the good stuff, going right into contact with those truly professional freelancers who are out there being their own entrepreneurs and who can deliver some really stellar results for your business. You deserve it. After all, your business isn’t out there trying to raise any sheep is it? We didn’t think so. You’re trying to take the castle and to do it, you'll need mercenaries.


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