By Fey, Lynn
Art Business News , Vol. 30, No. 10
Whether looking to establish a strategic marketing plan, build a Web site, design a seasonal direct-mail piece, spark a public relations program or create other marketing initiatives, using freelance talent may be a frame shop's best way to get the job done.
For established businesses, using freelance talent translates into cutting-edge skills and fresh perspectives to help get jobs done faster and better. Using freelancers gives frame store owners a chance to focus on other aspects of their business. And for new businesses, freelance talent provides the expertise needed to grow quickly without diverting scarce resources from daily tasks.
Freelancers can help complete projects quickly, without the cost of additional overhead that full-time employees require. And they provide flexibility so, as business goals change and new projects arise, you can tap the specific talent needed to get the job done.
Freelance talent can be a valuable, cost-effective resource for your business when ...
* Your activities would benefit from an outsider's perspective.
* Your vision is fuzzy as to what needs to be done and in what order of priority.
* Your needs are seasonal or you need help with a one-time project
* Your talents can be more effectively used in other parts of the business.
Find the Talent
Finding the right person begins with understanding exactly what you need. When hiring a freelancer or independent contractor, you're hiring a specialist with unique skills and expertise, so ask these questions as a starting point:
* What isn't getting done now that needs to be done?
* What role will the freelancer play?
* What is the deadline?
* What is the budget?
* How much interaction will they have with other people?
* How much guidance will they receive?
* How much technical expertise is required?
* Is this an ongoing or a one-time project?
After developing a thorough understanding of your needs, create a detailed job description that specifically addresses your requirements.
The optimal situation is to hire someone based on a referral from another business s owner, client, vendor or industry contact. If this isn't possible, ask local associations r and/or schools for referrals. The Internet is also a good source for freelance talent; however, go there only after exhausting your referral network.
Once you have a candidate, how do you know if he or she is the right person? Here are a few tips from Microsoft's bCentral (www.bcentral.com):
Request work samples and/or a resume. Look for experience in the field. It doesn't necessarily have to be in custom framing; however, depending on the talent needed, retail, home accessory, art or small business experience could be beneficial. Ask detailed questions about work samples or resume accomplishments. The goal is to understand how this person thinks and what his or her role was in previous successes.
For example, if you're looking at a direct-mail sample, figure out how the person was involved. Did he or she create the strategy, write the copy, design the look, coordinate printing or oversee mailing?
Ask to see a client list. You want to be similar in size to his or her other customers. If you're the smallest on the block, you won't get the attention you deserve. If you're the largest, the freelancer will most likely not have the experience needed for your business.
Conduct an interview. Look for evidence that your professional styles are a good fit. Ask for concrete examples of past performance.
A recent article titled, "Tips on Hiring Contractors" from the International Association of Business Communication's Web site, suggests asking the following questions:
* What makes you ideal for this project?
* Is the time allotted for this project reasonable? …