There are plenty of advantages of working with freelancers that small businesses enjoy. You get valuable expertise without the expense of full-time contracts. You can work with people from around the world, and aren’t tied into the local talent pool. And, it brings in vital skills to your company that you can use to attract more clients.
However, it’s not always as simple as that. You have to choose the right freelancers to work with, or things can quickly turn sour. In today’s guide, we’ve put together a seven-point plan that will help you choose the right people. And, with a bit of luck, develop better relationships with them.
Let’s get started right away:
First of all, freelancers are, in effect, business owners just like you. So, make sure you treat them with respect. While there will be an element of management on your behalf, there needs to be a good balance. You are buying a service, sure – but they are the experts that are doing the work. If you want to develop stronger and better relationships with your freelancers, treat them as you would any other business owner. Be a coach or mentor instead – your job is to encourage productivity not just control everything.
Freelancers love clear and consistent directions. It makes their jobs easier and enables the to do a better job each and every time. If you start muddying the waters or changing your expectations, how do you think it’s going to play out? The chances are you will lose good people and start getting a reputation for being a difficult client. Freelancers often talk to one another, and will avoid clients with bad reputations. Ending up on a list like this is going to restrict your chances of hiring excellence – so be aware!
Definite work schedules
Part of making your directions clear should involve proper scheduling. Freelancers can be working with three and four – maybe more – clients at a time. They need to make time for you, as well as plan for any unexpected issues that always crop up. It’s vital to understand that freelancers aren’t just there to do your bidding, either. They are people with private lives, too, and you aren’t paying them to be an employee.
Make sure you have a robust working system in place – it can make such a difference to freelancers. If they are working remotely, ensure they have access to all the documents and files they need to complete their jobs. Branded File Sharing can help, as can products like Google Docs and Evernote. The more info they have, the less of their time they will waste when it comes to working on your project.
Encouragement and feedback
Freelancers have to know when they are going down the right – and wrong – paths. Make sure you are giving feedback at regular intervals, whether it’s positive or a push in the right direction. Failure to do so will slow down your project and create unnecessary tension and anxiety. As long as you have regular meetings and keep things on track, you will be giving the freelancer a fair crack of the whip. If they are good enough, they will deliver the goods.
It is likely that you will criticize the work your freelancer does at some point. After all, you want the best. However, it is also likely that you might be criticized yourself. If a freelancer is good at what they do, they will point out problem areas in an effort to do their jobs better. Bear in mind they are only trying to help you, and in many cases, their solutions that might be of use to you and your business. Don’t get the hump.
Get to know people
Freelancers often have skills in other areas that you may not know about. And, when you find a good freelancer, they are worth holding onto. It’s worth getting to know them and developing a deeper relationship as they are likely to have much more to offer. It can save you a lot of money in the long run, and working with people that already know your business has so many benefits.
As you can see, working with freelancers isn’t a one-sided relationship. Yes, you are paying money, but you are buying a service from a professional person. Treat them with respect and they will do the same to you – and deliver the goods. Be prepared to let go of the ‘big boss’ aura you might want to cling onto and your relationships will be in a much better state.