When working on a new project, there are two obvious choices on how to assign workload. The first is to have someone within your own company do the work, while the second is to bring in someone from outside and hire a freelancer. Regardless of which you pick, your work will get done – but when is it best to hire a freelancer?
Freelancers are likely to be more flexible than any employees in your company, meaning they will be able to work around busy schedules and do not need to be tied to the office. It’s possible to hire a freelancer from your city if you desire face-to-face communication, but equally you have a huge choice of who to hire: so long as you can communicate, you can hire a developer from anywhere in the world.
Hiring someone in-house requires a constant supply of work to keep them busy and justify their pay check, which can be problematic if you have only one project to work on. Instead, it is often more economical to hire freelancers for a few days of work, and carry on working with them on an ad-hoc basis if extra maintenance work is required without the requirements of pension, company healthcare, income tax contributions, etc.
The same amount of money used on one employee could instead be spent hiring several freelancers, each with their own specialities: a designer can create excellent visuals, a copywriter can produce the written content, a developer can write the code and a tester can ensure the product works as intended.
Hiring freelancers like this ensures each area is worked on by skilled professionals, who can perform their job better than one person trying to do everything. Why use someone who is a novice at Android (but a whiz at C++) when you could contract someone short-term who makes their career out of making Android apps?
It’s also possible to hire freelancers from an agency, which is particularly useful if you will be dealing with a lot of people with different tasks. An agency can manage and co-ordinate these freelancers on your behalf, or you can even hire a freelancer to be your own talent manager to ensure everyone is proceeding as expected.
With that said, sometimes it is worth employing someone in-house to work on a project. This is particularly true if the project will need constant development work and maintenance, frequent updates, and so forth. In-house employees are best if a new project will require constant attention, and there will be enough work to warrant an extra full-time person.
Hiring someone with a solid skill set means they can also work on future projects as they arise. For instance, if your projects regularly require fairly simple code but complicated graphical interfaces, hiring a full-time designer to give your products a consistent and appealing brand is a good idea, while the development can be contracted out to freelancers.
So, freelancers are best hired when you have a short project that won’t take much time; when you need to make use of a variety of skill sets; or when you need the flexibility an in-house employee can’t offer you. Very often, the ideal situation is to outsource to a freelancer to get a project kicked off. Then, once work has begun, you have less time constraints to go out make sure you hire the best staff member to work in-house for maintenance and improvements once your initial work is complete.