8 tips for working with freelancers

So you’ve found your perfect freelancer and you’re all set to get to work – high five! What now?

If you’ve never worked with freelancers before, you could find yourself in uncharted territory. How do you make sure you get the most out of the relationship? Should you bring them into the fold like a normal employee or keep them at arm’s length?

The freelance relationship can be an unusual one, due to its flexible and relatively transitory nature. You certainly can expect a freelancer to hit the ground running faster than a permanent employee, and they’ll usually be more project and target-orientated too.

But that doesn’t mean you should be completely hands-off, particularly with freelancers working remotely – whether at home, in another city, or even another country. The right level of contact and management is essential to ensure full engagement with the project and the highest quality of work, despite the distance.

When you find a good freelancer, you’re likely to come back to them again and again, so it’s in your best interest to foster a productive and mutually beneficial relationship. Plus, with more and more work happening on a freelance basis, it makes sense to build a strong and loyal network of support that you know you can call on, now and in the future.

Whether you’re working with freelancers for the first time or wondering how you can do it better, here are some tips on how to manage freelancers with aplomb!

Getting off on the right foot

Freelancers work best when they have a clear brief and expectations, enabling them to get stuck in as quickly as possible without too much background knowledge. Many clients choose to give freelancers distinct projects, with a clear beginning and end, as this makes it easier to manage their time and responsibilities.

While a formal contract isn’t usually necessary, it can help to write down somewhere – if only over email – what has been agreed. This ensures both parties are clear on deliverables and there's a record for future reference. Our sister company, The Work Crowd, makes this easy with built-in milestones on the platform.

One of the team 

Freelancers usually miss out on the office camaraderie that comes with being a full-time employee, so it's nice if you make them feel like they're part of the team. If appropriate, Keep them updated with what’s going on with the company and invite them to work drinks. By taking an inclusive approach, you’ll create a stronger, more enjoyable and ultimately more productive relationship.

Get to know them 

Make the effort to get to know your freelancer on a personal as well as professional level. If they’re working remotely, try to meet face-to-face at the beginning of the relationship at least, and talk on the phone regularly after that, making an effort to ask how they are, about their family or any weekend plans. The freelance workday can be lonely at times, so chances are they’ll be glad to have a quick chat.

Don’t micromanage 

Freelancers are expert self-managers and unlikely to need much input from you on a day-to-day basis, so give them space and flexibility to get on with the job. Where you can best add value is by giving them the context of the project, the ultimate goals, and any company or client updates that could affect what they’re working on. They will appreciate being kept in the loop, and might even be able to offer some useful insight and ideas.

Continuous feedback

Don’t panic, you don’t need to worry about performance reviews with freelancers! But that doesn’t mean you shouldn't provide feedback. The best way to do this is to let them know how they're doing as and when appropriate, whether that’s after they’ve submitted some copy, lined up journalist interviews, or sent through coverage. Whether you’re happy or unhappy, your freelancer wants to know your views, so they can either keep up the good work or try a different approach. 

Avoid brief creep 

It’s normal that sometimes your needs will evolve and expand over the course of a project. But be aware that there will be a cost involved in any extra work that wasn’t agreed in the brief. If this happens, be upfront about it and ask how much the additional work will cost. Even if it’s a small task, it all adds up, and your freelancer will thank you for raising the issue before they have to.

Avoid last minute requests 

In many cases, freelancers are juggling a number of projects at once, so don’t expect them to be able to drop everything for an unexpected task. If you think you’re likely to need some support in the future, give them the heads up in advance, so they can assess their hours and schedule the work in. That goes for near and longer-term projects – the best freelancers are likely to be booked up a few weeks or even months in advance.

Pay them well… and promptly!

Last but not least, make sure you pay the going rate and don’t negotiate down to peanuts. While it might make sense to budget in the short-term, paying that bit more will ensure better expertise, results, and quality of service. Meanwhile, paying promptly will ensure your freelancer can continue with their fantastic service – and pay their bills!

Want to know more? 

We're hosting a workshop on how to tap into the freelance marketplace in London on 2 May. If you want to find out more about how freelancers can be an asset to your business, register for the workshop today: Tap Into the Freelance Marketplace

This blog was originally published on The Work Crowd

Posted on 16.03.2018

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