In the ever-competitive world of ecommerce, you’ve got to stay one step ahead. As tempting as it is, you simply can’t do it all yourself. From digital marketing to copywriting, CRO, web design to UX, you’ll need specialists in each area to keep you at the top of your game. Hiring freelancers is the optimum way to get the very best talent whilst remaining agile and within budget – but with over 2 million freelancers in the UK market, how do you choose the right one and, more importantly, how do you make sure the partnership works for you?
Hiring a full team of freelancers complicates things further. Firstly, you have to find the right specialists with the right skill sets – no easy task. Secondly, you have to then manage these freelancers and give them the right tasks to help you accomplish what you mean to. Finally, you need to ensure there is an excellent communication flow occurring between you and your freelancers (and often, between your freelancers themselves).
So, how do you manage all of that? In this article, we’re sharing our top tips to drive success when working with ecommerce freelancers.
Choose trustworthy freelancers
The UK’s freelance talent pool is expansive and has increased by 46% from 2008 to 2017. This leads to market saturation – making it difficult to know which specialist is right for you. As in any industry, for every expert, you’ll find a ‘cowboy’ who overcharges and underdelivers. This is complicated by the fact that most freelancers are recommended through referrals – which can be an issue when it’s someone recommending a friend or someone they’ve not actually worked with.
At Flow, we’ve developed a platform that matches you with fully-vetted and trustworthy freelancers who we’ve already formed a strong relationship with. These specialists are industry professionals with experience across a wide range of sectors. Each individual is handpicked based on a longstanding working relationship.
Use a collaborative work platform
As soon as you get to a point where you’re working with more than one freelancer, you need a way to unify and track work. Otherwise, the time saved by outsourcing work will soon be sucked into managing your network of freelancers.
Even working with just one external resource can become hard to manage, so investing in some form of collaborative project management tool early is a good idea. Tools such as Asana, Monday and Basecamp all have free trials or versions.
Define what success looks like
When you set out to hire a freelancer, you’ll want to define early what it is you’re aiming to achieve. Success metrics can be anything from total revenue and ROI to UX-based habits such as bounce rate and basket abandonment.
Your freelancers must know what it is they’re expected to do and what they’ll be tracked on. Without these defined metrics, you run the risk of paying for work that isn’t driving the results you need. Of course, it’s always a bonus if your freelancer is driving growth across multiple areas, for example, ROI and total visitors to a page – but if it’s ROI you hired them for, that’s what they’re accountable to.
Maintain open communication throughout the project
Communication is a must in any project, but when it comes to relationships between you and a freelancer, communication issues can quickly lead to real problems. You need to be clear and transparent in your goals (see the point above) – but you also need an open line of communication that allows the freelancer to ask questions and for you to check on the work. However, this should be a managed system as otherwise you or the freelancer may end up overwhelmed by the demands of communication.
Without a platform to manage this for you, you should set an agreement whereby you only use emails to communicate unless something requires an urgent phone call. Limit your email comms to work hours and respect the freelancer’s time. You should also consider where your freelancer is located, as geographic differences can lead to vastly different time zones which may be a problem.
Flow’s platform makes communication easier – we’ll manage the relationship to ensure the freelancer is held accountable to your goals without bogging you down with questions. We’ll also help make your briefs clearer to them and prevent them from feeling like they have their client ‘on their back’.
Select the right skill set for your project
If you’re already a good marketer, don’t bother with the expense of hiring a freelancer. Instead, hire to complement your skills and to bolster your weaknesses. For example, if you’re not great at paid advertisements, hire a PPC expert and watch as your ROI soars. Conversely, appoint a project manager if you have the skills but lack the structure required to make it a success.
You need to choose a freelancer whose skills make sense for your project. Some freelancers have a wide skill set that allows them to handle a lot more, whereas specialists who focus on specific areas may be perfect for your project if you have a specific need or problem such as poor return on ad spend (RoAS).
Choose freelancers who know your market
Sometimes, choosing a freelancer who is an expert in a key field such as PPC is not the best choice. If you were, for example, an e-commerce retailer in a very niche field such as martial arts apparel or tabletop gaming, a freelancer who is more generalist but knows your field inside and out may be the better choice.
Take this with a pinch of salt, many freelancers can bring their skill sets to any field and drive results – but if it’s a choice of a few freelancers who share similar skills but one of them lives and breathes your market, it’s sensible to choose them.
To finish things up, let’s recap on what’s most important when working with e-commerce freelancers.
- Choose a trusted freelancer whose reputation isn’t based solely on hearsay or who gave them the most tags on LinkedIn.
- Establish clear communications that make briefs transparent.
- Set metrics or goals that will be used to measure success and agree on them with your freelancer. This can be as simple as ‘produce X piece of work’ through to ‘Improve ROI by %’.
- Use a project management tool or a project manager to keep the entire project on track and to avoid you or the freelancer becoming bogged down in communications.
Popular eCommerce Freelance Roles
Content Marketers and Copywriters
From your products to your category pages, your site needs descriptions which hook people in and entice them to become customers. A copywriter or content marketer can help form a content strategy that enhances your site’s SEO and gives your customers more context.
Need something to look better? A graphic designer can work wizardry with existing imagery, web pages and social media imagery to create a better visual presence. They can also build your brand from the ground-up to make it instantly recognisable to your customers.
Email Marketing Manager
Email newsletters allow you to advertise new products, promote sales and discounts or keep your customers in the know. Managing them, however, is easier said than done. A dedicated email marketing manager can get your campaigns converting quickly and effectively.
Social Media Manager
If you want to stand out, you have to be on social media. A social manager can take care of all of your social media activity. Try to find a social media expert who is skilled in both paid and organic social so that you can get more for your investment.
Ad Campaign Manager
Google shopping and pay per click advertising require a real specialist to generate effective ROI – otherwise, you risk pouring your money into ads that don’t actually win you any sales. eComm Specialists: Inventory Managers, Order Fulfillment & Customer Service Managers
We’re lumping three distinct roles into one heading here – but all three of these specialists serve niche requirements for your business that you will choose based on your own situation. If you find yourself dealing with lots of customers, hire a customer service manager. If you’re struggling to fulfil orders, hire a freelancer. These roles are all great at fixing your own flaws or bolstering areas you’re not great at.
As an eCommerce business, your website is your living. You cannot afford for it to go down, for orders to fail or for any issues to prevent customers from accessing products. For that reason, a website manager is always a good idea: whether that’s to provide ongoing maintenance or updates and upgrades – you need a specialist who you can trust.
Find the right freelancer
Whichever type of freelancer you’re looking for to help you deliver your goals and support your business growth, you’ve come to the right place. Click here to meet our ecommerce freelancers today.