Freelancers are an increasingly popular resource for businesses, helping to plug skills-gaps, bolster the in-house team, and provide specialist expertise.
Working flexibly and on short-term projects, freelancers differ considerably to full-time employees, choosing their own hours, often working remotely, and having much greater autonomy over how they get the job done. But, while freelancers are experts at getting stuck in quickly and with minimum oversight, that doesn’t mean they don’t need any support.
In fact, when working with freelancers, the right level of contact and management is essential, to ensure full engagement with the project, the highest quality of work and the best results. Plus, when you find a good freelancer, you’re likely to come back to them again and again, so it’s in your best interests to foster a productive and mutually beneficial relationship, so it will be easier to work with them again in the future.
So, how do you make sure you get the most out of the relationship?
- Find the right fit: While you might not have time to go through numerous interview and selection stages with freelancers, it is still important that you hire for cultural fit as well as skills and experience. Face-to-face interviews – or at least video calls - are essential to get an idea for personality fit with you and your team, as well as asking freelancers for references from previous projects. That’s one of the beauties of working with freelancers through The Work Crowd, as you can quickly see their references on their profile, helping with the decision-making process. Also, be clear upfront about what the project involves, so the freelancer can ensure it is right for them, aligning expectations, deliverables and timescales. For a full outline of what your brief should include, check out our recent blog on the subject.
- Onboarding: Freelancers are great at hitting the ground running, but they need your help to do that effectively. A well-planned onboarding process makes a huge difference to the speed that an individual will reach peak productivity and performance, by minimising downtime and maximising engagement in your business and the project at hand. If your freelancer hasn’t already suggested an ‘introductory phase’ for the project, ask them what they need to get their head into your brand and project, including meeting all the relevant people, digesting all important materials, or perhaps having a trial of the product or service.
- Set clear deliverables and timescales – and catch up regularly: Freelancers want to prove themselves quickly and start delivering for the business. That means clear deliverables and timescales are critical from the word ‘go’, to be reassessed regularly against progress made. Regular catch ups are also a good opportunity to provide feedback on how things are going, any areas you think need work, and also ask the freelancer for feedback on how things could be done better or differently to improve outcomes. Remember, they are specialists and have worked on numerous similar projects elsewhere (perhaps even with your competitors) so are likely to have plenty of valuable insights to share.
- Involve them in the culture: They might not be permanent team members, but the more a freelancer feels part of the team, the better their work is likely to be. So, it makes sense to embrace them into the culture as much as possible. Invite them to team socials, involve them in company-wide communications and add them to the company intranet for the period that they’re working for you. It will only increase their engagement with and understanding of the business, and ability to get the job done.
- Respect their time: Freelancers are often so efficient that it’s tempting to ask them for extra work or accommodate last minute requests. But before you hit ‘send’, be aware that, in many cases, freelancers are working on a number of projects at once, so don’t expect them to be able to drop everything for an unexpected task. Furthermore, if something wasn’t agreed in the brief, be upfront about it and ask how much the additional work will cost. Even if it’s just a small thing, it all adds up, and your freelancer will thank you for raising the issue before they have to.
- Keep in touch: Finally, bringing in freelancers is always infinitely easier once you know them and they have experience in the business. So stay in touch and ensure those contacts are retained and nurtured for future projects.
The Work Crowd gives clients a head-start when looking for marketing and communications freelancers, thanks to our community of fully vetted professionals, spanning a range of skills and expertise. To find out more, or post a project, then drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 020 3828 8440, and we can chat through how it works.