How hiring a freelancer helped me get my life back

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Owning your own business is rewarding, but it can easily take over your life. Can hiring a freelancer make your job as a business-owner easier? Or, more difficult?

For me, running a successful e-commerce store while working a full-time job meant I had little time to actually enjoy life—I was always on the clock.

After coming home from work, it was suddenly time to reply to all the emails I missed during the day and strategize for the upcoming days. After a couple of months, the routine of work, sleep, repeat, became too much—I needed to change something.

How could I free myself from some of these responsibilities in order to focus on the things I was really passionate about?

For me, the solution was hiring a freelancer. This allowed me to give up many of the administrative duties to have more free time to focus on the direction I wanted to take my business, but more importantly, I got free time for myself.

By allowing me to invest in my early retirement, pursue my passions and focus on new business ideas, hiring a freelancer quickly became one of the best business decisions I have ever made.

If you are hesitant to pass on some of your duties to an independent contractor, hopefully, my experiences can convince you that hiring a freelancer can pay for itself.

Why Hire a Freelancer?

Running a Business is Time-Consuming

Despite all the advantages, owning my own business had one distinct disadvantage: I was always working.

The reality of running a business is that you always have to be available to deal with anything that could affect the future of your company. One survey from The New York Enterprise Report found that 25% of small-business owners work more than 60 hours per week.

For me, this wasn’t such a bad thing, at first. When I started my business, I knew what I was getting into. I was aware of all the different responsibilities that I would have. What I didn’t realize is that this would be an indefinite issue.

Finding Time to Focus on Other Things

The primary disadvantage of running an online business was that I could never find time to focus on anything else. I could access my shop wherever there was Wi-Fi.

This put my personal passions, my family or even my office job on the back burner.

My duties as a business owner made it impossible for me to find time for simple things like cleaning the house and kept me distracted at important events like my friends’ weddings.

Oftentimes, small businesses don’t have large staffs—I ran my shop largely by myself. As a result, you and your employees may be overworked, especially on tasks that don’t fit their job descriptions.

The Reason I Decided to Hire a Freelancer

While I was always dedicated to the success of growing my site’s traffic, I quickly realized how significant of an effect my never-ending work hours were having on my personal life.

While running my online store, my sense of worth was tied to its success, but it shouldn’t have been the most important thing in my life. It’s important to create a reasonable work-life balance so that you can find the time to focus on the things you love.

Hiring a new employee is time-consuming and expensive. Taking out a loan for the costs of a new employee didn’t make sense for me. That’s why I decided to hire a freelancer, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

After I found the right freelancer, I was able to pass on many of my mundane administrative duties—freeing up my schedule to focus on other things.

How Hiring a Freelancer Helped My Business in the Gig Economy

Hiring a freelancer single-handedly gave me the opportunity to focus on my passions and find my purpose in life, and it’s largely been made possible by the advent of what’s known as the “gig economy”, or professions who work on a non-permanent basis.

The Gig Economy | Source: Statista

If you’re struggling to balance your work and personal lives, the gig economy makes hiring a freelancer a solution that might work best for you.

Why?

Fewer Responsibilities

First and foremost, hiring a freelancer immediately reduced my workload.

There are a number of different duties that can’t be assigned to employees simply because they don’t fit their skills or can’t be squeezed into their schedules.

For example, things like:

  • scheduling meetings,
  • improving your business plan
  • re-evaluating your business’s mission
  • making a critical advertising and marketing decision

…can’t be assigned to your accountant. Most of the time, these tasks become the responsibility of the business owner.

Freelancers are the solution to this problem. You likely won’t find one person that can fulfill all of your needs, but you just have to find the right freelancer for the specific task at hand.

The benefits of hiring a freelancer are incredibly profound. For example:

  • freelancers are more flexible,
  • freelancers free up your time for important things
  • freelancers often don’t require expensive benefits packages

We’ll talk about each of these below.

Freelancers Are Flexible

Perhaps the biggest advantage of hiring a freelancer is that they are more flexible than employees.

I mentioned one of the biggest disadvantages of being a business owner is that I was always on the clock. Oftentimes, I needed to deal with customer complaints at night, after my employees clocked out for the day, and there was no one I could call to help me.

It’s unprofessional to expect my employees to work if they’re not on the clock.

Freelancers, though, are often available at flexible hours. In my experience, freelancers are often responsive no matter what time of night I had to contact them. Whenever an unexpected problem came up, I was almost always able to defer to one of my freelancers to take care of it.

In exchange, I was able to sleep more, exercise in the morning and lead a healthier lifestyle, rather than having to work through the night.

Freelancers Are Cost-Effective

For smaller or more specialized tasks, I found that freelancers are far more cost-effective than hiring another employee.

If all I need is some extra help with simple clerical tasks, then hiring a new full-time (or even part-time) employee wouldn’t make much practical or financial sense.

Since freelancers rely on multiple clients for their income, they are often willing to take on smaller jobs to add to their workload.

Even if you’re not currently overwhelmed by work, you can have a freelancer on the sidelines to step in and handle the occasional assignment that you don’t have time for.

The bottom line is, for certain things, freelancers are more cost-effective than employees.

Fewer Responsibilities, More Free Time

So, what did I do with all of this free time I suddenly gained?

From pursuing new business initiatives to focusing on my passions, hiring a freelancer gave me the time I needed to improve other aspects of my life.

Pursuing My Passions
Deciding what to do with my spare time was actually quite difficult. I wasn’t used to not having anything to do. There was an adjustment period, where I was simply overwhelmed by the number of things I could do.

Eventually, I decided to dedicate a lot of my free time to three of the things I love to do the most: traveling, reading and exercising.

Almost everybody loves to travel, but most people don’t get to do it as much as they’d like.

Having an extra hour or two every day allowed me to plan the trip I’ve been dreaming about since graduating from college. Not only did hiring a freelancer free up some time, but having someone on deck to tackle unexpected issues made my schedule much less unpredictable.

This made me more confident I could take some time for a much-needed break.

It’s hard to imagine being so busy that you can’t find time to read at least a couple of pages per day, but that was my reality. I was such a workaholic that most of my spare time was reserved for eating or sleeping.

Hiring a freelancer gave me time to start working my way through my bookshelf.

Last but not least, I had plenty of time to focus on improving my health. Everybody should dedicate more time to fitness, but not everybody can. Finding time to exercise and plan a healthy diet is a luxury that not everyone has.

Hiring a freelancer allowed me to dedicate my time to get into the best shape I have ever been in.

Focus on Other Business Ventures

Not only did I have plenty of time for self-improvement, but I also had more time to focus on what was next for me professionally.

Being free from many of my responsibilities gave me the time to develop new business ideas. I could now focus on the growth of my company rather than maintaining the status quo.

I also had ambitions to start a completely new business—something I would have never had time to do before. However, since hiring a freelancer, I have been able to explore these new ideas and work toward the inception of a new company.

I’ve been able to build my wealth and continue to work toward my goal of financial independence.

Invest in Retirement

Planning an early retirement takes a lot of work, but is well worth it. Why work until you’re 65 if you don’t have to?

Retiring in your 40s or 50s does require wealth, but, more importantly, you have to take the time to plan your finances well into the future.

I had the general idea in mind, but no concrete plan to actually retire early. My new-found free time gave me the opportunity to research and develop my own plan to retire decades before most people do.

Financial independence is the ultimate goal.

Whereas hiring a freelancer gave me more time to focus on the things I live, retiring early would allow me to dedicate all of my time to the things I love.

As it stands, I’m much more aware of how far away retirement is and what I should be doing to get there sooner.

Should You Hire a Freelancer?
The short answer is yes. You should hire a freelancer.

For all of the reasons I mentioned earlier, my experience working with freelancers has been nothing short of amazing.

However, you must consider your situation.

Are you trying to scale your business in the future? The extra work and expense of hiring a full-time employee that is dedicated to you may make more sense. For me, I was content in keeping my business as a side-hustle, generating a bit of income as I worked my main 9-5 job.

Freelancers are reliable, flexible, productive and qualified to handle virtually anything that you need. As long as you can afford the additional expense, hiring a freelancer will likely offer a great return on investment.

There are two important lessons though:

  1. It’s incredibly important that you put in the time to find a qualified, experienced freelancer.
  2. You should have an idea of what you are going to do with your new-found time.

These should be given, but both can be more difficult than they sound. It can be challenging to find a dedicated, competent freelancer as they are in high demand and charge similarly high prices.

However, once you do find the perfect fit, a freelancer can have a significantly positive impact on your work and personal lives.

How to Find Great Freelancers

If my experiences are enough to convince you to hire a freelancer, it’s important to understand what steps you need to take to find the right person for the job.

This does not have to be a difficult process. You just have to do your due diligence to find an experienced and committed candidate.

Where do you start your search?

There are plenty of websites you can use to find qualified freelancers. You can start with your basic job boards, like:

  • Indeed
  • Glassdoor
  • Monster

If you want to expand your search, there are a number of websites dedicated specifically to helping employers find freelancers, including:

  • Upwork
  • Freelancer
  • PeoplePerHour
  • Fiverr

No matter which platform you choose, you will be able to find a number of candidates. The most important factor is how you approach the recruitment process.

There are three critical components to finding the best freelancer for you:

  • Communicate your needs using clear and simple English
  • Decide what you are willing to spend on the work
  • Take special care to communicate well with your freelancer, and
  • Treat your freelancer with respect

Convey Your Needs

It is particularly important to effectively convey your needs when hiring a freelancer.

When hiring a full-time employee, you’re able to skim over some of the job details. Once you hire someone, you can explain the rest of their duties and train them accordingly. Freelancers, though, tend to have specific skills that are only fit for certain jobs.

For example, a freelance writer who specializes in finance won’t be able to suddenly create a website for you.

If you are too vague in your job description, it will make it immensely difficult to find a qualified and interested freelancer.

Determine the Cost

This doesn’t have to be the last step before you choose a freelancer, as you probably want to decide the amount you’re willing to pay first.

However, I found many freelancers willing to discuss their hourly rate.

It can make more sense to pay per task instead of an hourly rate. There have been awkward situations where I lost a good freelancer simply because we disagreed over the amount of time a task should take to be completed. As a result, I prefer to discuss and set a price for the task at hand before I hire the freelancer.

Communication is Key

Once you hire a freelancer, communication is the key to a successful relationship.

Your freelancer isn’t your employee, but if you expect your freelancer to be responsive and flexible, you need to demonstrate the same qualities.

When assigning a task, always be specific about the details and requirements. Don’t get into the habit of ignoring emails or assigning jobs at the very last minute.

If you want to get the most out of your freelancer, you need to be responsive and stay in constant communication.

Treat your Freelancer with Respect

Remember that although your freelancer isn’t your “employee”, treating him or her with respect means that you’ll get their best work. They are people too, just like you, trying their best to earn money. And because most freelancers accept more than one gig, they may not be completely dedicated to your project.

Be respectful and clear on when you expect them to be available, but resist the urge to demand their attention 24-hours a day just because you think they’ll respond.

Final Thoughts

I know first-hand the difficulties of running your own business, especially if you’re trying to balance it with a 9-to-5 job. Responsibilities pile up and make it difficult to find time for anything else. Hiring a freelancer gave me the free time I needed to focus on the things I love, and it can do the same for you.

Ultimately, the free time may seem overwhelming at first, as you may not be used to it. Just do the first thing that pops in your mind not related to work. Once you are accustomed to the idea that you can treat yourself, you’ll be able to prioritize things you actually want to do without feeling guilty.

This article first appeared on ThinkSaveRetire.com.