The SECRET to Successful Freeland and Remote Teams: Hiring and Managing with Dave Nevogt | Ep #113

By Jason Swenk on May 4, 2016

Are you considering hiring freelancers but don’t know the best way to successfully manage remote teams for your digital agency?

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • Creative ways to find top talent.
  • Freelancer onboarding… or not?
  • Managing freelance and remote teams.

Today’s guest is the co-founder of Hubstaff, a technology solution for managing a remote staff with everything from time tracking and progress monitoring to payables and financials. Dave Nevogt shares with us some great tips on sourcing, hiring and managing freelancers.

Out-of-the-box talent searching ideas:

Often times agency owners don’t know where to look for the right candidates. Most end up relying on referrals or freelance marketplaces. Very few agencies experiment with other sources, such as:

  • Check out LinkedIn or AngelList. Create a LinkedIn search filtered by your criteria. You never know who’s looking, who might be employed but unhappy. Reach out in a personalized private message and include a link to the job description. If they’re interested, they’ll reply.
  • Use your website to continuously recruit. You should always be scouting for good talent, whether your need extra help or not. Advertise “now hiring” on your website. This portray growth and attracts talent. Post job descriptions, too.
  • Run targeted Facebook ads to enlist talent from a specific source, such as a specific company, geographic location, etc.

How to handle freelancer onboarding

Hubstaff has a small team stretched around the globe. Here’s how Dave onboards (… or rather, how he doesn’t onboard) new team members:

  • Have a candid conversation about the position and the potential growth. You might see the potential for full-time but don’t start out that way. Get settled in first and see if the person is the right fit. (Note: the U.S. IRS frowns on full-time freelancers. Check out this interview “How to Avoid an Audit” with an agency-focused tax accountant.)
  • Don’t fully onboard immediately. Start slow and make sure it’s going to work on a surface level first before you using time and resources to train.
  • Spend the first 30-days testing the waters. Learn each other’s personalities traits and work ethic. Get a feel for the freelancer’s effort and response time.
  • Start slow with lots of involvement by the manager. But remember, there’s a fine line between “involved” and “micromanaging.”
  • Communicate a ton and understand their workload. Make sure requests are filtered through you for now.

Managing freelance and remote teams

How can you ever be totally sure a contractor is working on the project you’re paying for and not watching cat videos online? Truth is, you can’t. What you can do is have an upfront conversation about expectations and your vision for the position.

Tips for managing freelancers:

  • Use a collaboration software such as Trello or Slack. This gets everyone OUT of their INBOX. It also allows the manager to see what everyone is working on and upholds a culture built on transparency.
  • Hold live, weekly status meetings to see who’s working on what. Even with PM software, private messages and direct requests can hijack a freelancer’s time without your knowledge.
  • Communicate goals and priorities. Know what your team is working on and keep it minimal (like, 5 things instead of 25). Often, when someone is overwhelmed they’ll just shut down.
  • Use a tool like Hubstaff for tracking progress on projects, budgeting, time tracking and random screenshotting in real-time.

Working with freelancers or a remote team can be SUPER beneficial to both parties. It works for me, it’s working for Dave at Hubstaff and it’s been working for another agency owner I interviewed who has a $3 Million Agency With No Employees.

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Build Your Agency

Growing your agency team through freelancers and remote teams can provide many benefits and many businesses in the future will move toward remote working, especially in the digital field. Are there other areas of your business you want to improve? By evaluating other areas of weakness within your agency, you can create a better business and improve as an agency owner. And the best thing about it is, I can help you get through all of it.

I can give you support and advice on many topics from what to do when you want to speed up sales processes, ways to increase your business profit margins or how you can build an authority for your agency.

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