How To Hire the Best Freelance Developers in the Gig Economy

Over the last two decades in my career in the technology industry, I’ve experienced both sides of the gig economy — as a freelancer, and as a technology leader hiring freelance developers. Back in my developer days, I worked as a freelance developer to expand my skillset and knowledge, and since becoming an engineering manager, I’ve hired freelance developers for the companies I worked for.

In this article, I want to share my insights around hiring freelance developers, and best practices to finding and hiring the best freelance developers in the gig economy. As engineering leaders, it’s important to understand and take advantage of the gig economy, as it has emerged as one of the most significant developments in the way we work. The outsourced workforce is going to be part of the future of work, whether you like it or not.

Hiring a Freelance Developer

When should you hire a freelance developer? If you haven’t hired freelance developers before, you might be asking why you need them. These are some common reasons companies hire freelancers:

  • Access to a variety of skills, across different tech stacks and niche — such as iOS mobile development, ecommerce website development, and so on.
  • Freelance developers are more readily available. Developers who are freelancers are usually available within weeks.
  • Freelance developers are more affordable. Even if their hourly rate may be higher in some cases, compared to having a permanent developer, it’s going to end up more affordable, as there won’t be extra spending like insurance, 401k or superannuation.
  • You may not need a long-term, permanent developer. A company may decide that there’s a project that can be done once and won’t require continuous maintenance or work. Or there might be a project that requires a specific skill for a specific milestone — such as setting up DevOps infrastructure, refactoring an old tech stack to a new one, redesigning a UI for a web application, small bug fixes, and so on.
  • You have a distributed team. This has grown in relevance over the past year, with a large rise in remote work.

Importantly, evidence suggests that affordability is at the top of the list for smaller companies, even if they’re not a fully distributed team.

When Not to Hire a Freelance Developer

Hiring freelance developers may not be the right move, for the following reasons:

  • You may prefer to work with people in the same office/timezone. Data shows that there’s a large population of freelance developers in Eastern Europe and North America, followed by Asia and Middle East.
  • You may not have confidence in the skills and/or quality of freelancers.
  • There may be intellectual property and security issues.
  • Using freelancers may have a negative impact on the potential value of the company for startups trying to get funding.
  • For startups trying to get funding, using freelancers may have a negative impact on the perceived value of the company.

Important Factors to Take into Consideration when Hiring Freelance Developers

There are multiple important factors to take into consideration when hiring freelance developers. Understanding and applying these best practices is crucial to producing successful outcomes for a company employing a freelance workforce. Therefore, to be successful, engineering leaders need to think holistically to bring the organization and technology together as closely as possible in decision making.

Continue reading How To Hire the Best Freelance Developers in the Gig Economy on SitePoint.

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