You’re in the process of recreating your business’ image. After working hard on your revised mission, values, brand, and core offering, you’re ready to re-introduce the new and improved business to the market.
But to do that, you need a new website that reflects who you are and clear messaging to communicate what you do.
Stressed, knowing you have only a few weeks to pull this together by the scheduled date, you do a frantic search online for businesses offering the services you need to make it happen.
You scroll through the websites of large organisations known for their complete re-branding offerings, including brand tone of voice, website design and development, and copywriting. They look great, but you know their fees will be beyond your budget and behind the shiny words is probably a lengthy process from initial enquiry to project kick-off.
Then, you remember a conversation you had with a friend who recently started freelancing as a graphic designer and has worked with well established businesses, producing great results.
So, you expand your search to freelancers – web designers and developers, brand managers, social media managers, copywriters – say hello to the gig economy!
If you’ve never worked with the freelancer before or this is a new concept for you, here are some tips to help you work successfully with any type of freelancer.
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1. Define your expectations
Like any service-based business, freelancers need you to communicate what you need and your expectations for delivery. Be clear about what you want from the beginning of the relationship.
What you communicate from your first interaction will influence the fees you’re quoted. So, avoid scope creep happening later down the line (and the additional fees that come with it) by setting those expectations early.
Also, aligned expectations make for a positive working relationship through which both sides benefit.
2. Give a degree of control
For freelancers, there are many variables that change from month to month – income, clients, projects – each month holds the unexpected. This can create a feeling of vulnerability at times. That’s why we’ll grab opportunities to gain a level of control.
This includes contracts. Not all freelancers work with contracts but those of us who do, do it for a degree of certainty and control in the client relationship or project.
If the freelancer you want to work with has a contract with their standard terms, let them send the contract and consider allowing the contract to govern the terms of your working relationship.
3. Respect their time
Let’s face it, most people with 9 to 5 jobs work beyond those hours to meet the demands of their role. But at some point, you can switch off for the day or week without fear of being contacted outside of work hours. You determine the extent to which the line between work life and personal life blurs.
Freelancers don’t have this luxury. Though we set own hours, we have a life too! Respect your freelancer’s time and boundaries. That means no unscheduled late night phone calls or urgent weekend requests unless it’s been agreed ahead of time.
You might be a workaholic who enjoys working overtime to get things done sooner, but that doesn’t mean your freelance designer/developer/writer is the same. Don’t be afraid to ask about their ways of working (e.g. work hours, preferred mode of contact, turnaround times) to create the optimal working relationship.
4. Recognise their value
Freelancers generally go out on their own because they have something of value to offer the market. That value is reflected in the fees set for the services offered. In many cases, the value exceeds the quoted fees.
Like retailers, banks and other service providers, freelancers set prices or fees for a reason. Fees consider time, work effort, skills, experience, and buffers for the unexpected. A freelancer needs to earn a living too. Remember, we don’t get paid sick days or annual leave!
If the fees quoted by the freelancer are outside your budget, don’t negotiate a lower fee for the same amount of work – you’re only second guessing the value they deliver. Instead, be willing to let go of some of your scope for a reduction in fees.
5. Work with them
Freelancers are not an extension of your employees. You don’t offer them the benefits of permanent employment that are given to employees. You’re not merely paying for their labour, you’re paying for the results they help you achieve.
Freelancers are business owners who support your business through offering their skills. So, treat them as service providers or partners with equal footing who share both the risk and the reward.
That means they work with you and not for you.
6. Give your feedback
Some freelancers will ask for feedback, others won’t. It depends on our client servicing process, preferences, and priorities at the time we work with you.
If formal feedback isn’t requested, give constructive feedback throughout the process of working together. Avoid waiting until the end of the project to tell them if they haven’t delivered to your expectations. This will save rework and any additional fees charged for multiple revisions.
If formal feedback is requested, respond sooner rather than later – we appreciate it! Just like you might ask for customer reviews or client surveys to help you improve your products or services, freelancers seek improvement too.
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There you have it, a few tips on how to work successfully with freelancers. Have you worked with a freelancer before? How was it? Leave a comment if you have any other tips you’d add to the ones mentioned.
Oyelola is a freelance writer based in Sydney, Australia. She works closely with entrepreneurs and businesses in financial services, consulting and education, writing quality-rich content to engage their readers and motivate action. When not writing for clients, Oyelola provides insights on writing, wealth and work on her Phrased with Purpose blog and shares her faith journey on her personal blog, He Speaks, I Write.