How to work with Freelancers securely

Guide to working safely and securely with freelancers

The advantages of working with freelancers are clear. It's often quicker, cheaper and easier than hiring a full-time member of staff. There are no notice periods, national insurance contributions, sick pay, or equipment costs to worry about.

But can you trust a freelancer to work on your project? How do you know it's safe to give them access to your data and your systems?

In this guide, we've compiled our years of experience working with (and as) freelancers to show you how to work with freelancers safely and securely.

working securely with freelancers

Create confidence with a process

It is important that you feel confident in handing over work, passwords or even client interactions to someone you have perhaps never met in person. Having a simple, repeatable process is the key. Being able to rely on some simple checks will make you feel confident that you're working safely and securely with your freelancers.

Here is the simple process we work to:

Define the role of the freelancer

First things first, it is important to define what role your freelancer will be playing in your business. The role of the freelancer will strongly indicate what data and systems they need access to in order to complete the project.

The level of access or freedom you give a freelancer will depend on a few things:

define the role of a freelancer

Length of your project

As you start to engage a freelancer for a longer period of time, you are more likely to need to give them access to more of your systems. For example, hiring a writer to create one sales email can probably be done quickly and efficiently without sharing any sensitive data, but let's say you engage a freelancer to create you an ongoing bi-weekly email newsletter. It may be quicker and more efficient for you to grant the freelancer access to your email system so they can create the newsletters for you.

Type of project

Some projects will require access to more systems and information than others. Some projects will need little, if any, access to anything sensitive, for example, designing a brochure. Other projects will require much more access. Asking a freelancer developer to build you an ecommerce website that connects to your stock/ordering system will obviously require access to a great deal more.

New or repeat project

Just like with the length of a project, the more frequently you ask a freelancer to repeat a task, the easier it'll be for them to work if they have direct access to necessary information or systems. Of course, here it is beneficial to work with freelancers you've worked with before on the same task.

Do your research

  • Taking the time to check out your freelancers profile, their reviews and to chat with them either online, over the phone or even in person is key. This also give you a chance to get an idea of their personality and how your relationship might work going forwards.
  • Take a look at the information they have given you, you may be able to visit their website, their LinkedIn profile or ask them to send over some examples of their work.
  • Finding out about applicants' past experiences and capabilities will allow you to make an informed decision when choosing the best freelancer to deliver your project.
researching freelancers

using technology to work with freelancers securely

Take advantage of technology

For the sorts of projects that need you to grant access to sensitive information or systems, there will be existing access control methods that you can take advantage of. For example:

  • Google Analytics, AdWords and Google Tag Manager allow you to give freelancers access to your accounts (with control on what they can see and edit) so they can sign in using their own credentials.
  • Facebook and other social platforms also allow you to grant access to other users, and limit what permissions they have.
  • Wordpress, Drupal, Episerver and other popular content management systems, again, allow you create user accounts with very specific access rights.

Set ground rules early

In addition to limiting a freelancer's access to your information and systems using technology, you should also consider putting in place some simple ground rules.

Approvals and feedback

The beauty of hiring a freelancer is you're getting access to expert skills and experience. But you will still want to set some clear rules around what the freelancer is able to work on freely versus what you want to approve. For example, you may decide that any change that impacts your customers directly needs approval.

Communication and Escalation

Of course, there'll be regular day-to-day communication with your freelancer(s) during your project, but there will be things that happen where you need informing immediately.

Let's use social media as an example:

Trial freelancers with small projects first

Even with the best process, there will be some projects where you want to be super confident before you hand over complete control to a freelancer.

A good way to approach these projects is to take a very small component of the overall project and treat it as a trial. As you begin to work with your chosen freelancer on the small trial project, you'll be able to get to know them and how they work, which will make you feel more confident about asking them to take on the bigger, overall project.

trial a project with a freelancer

If you're still unsure, ask this one last question

If you've done the following...

...And you're still unsure of how to work with the freelancer safely and securely, there is one more question to ask.

How would you ask a full-time employee to complete this project?

Keeping your business and its data safe is something that is not only a concern when dealing with freelancers. It is also a very real issue for working with full-time or part-time employees. After all, regardless of employment status, you're still working with people.

Other Resources

How to write effective briefs for freelancers

It's an undisputed fact in freelancing and project working, the quality of the output is only as good as the quality of the input. In other words, if you want a great piece of work back, you need to provide a great brief.

When is hiring a freelancer not the right decision?

A freelance marketplace recommending not to hire a freelancer might seem a bit strange. But it's true, there are instances where hiring a freelancer through a marketplace won't make sense.

You've found a freelancer you like, should you hire direct?

A guide to the benefits of hiring freelancers through marketplaces instead of going direct.

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