Working with talented freelancers is a great way to expand the offerings of your digital agency, particularly for occasional projects rather than monthly, ongoing work, without having to manage the overhead costs of hiring a full-time member of staff.
But if your freelancers work remotely, it can sometimes be difficult to align the work they’re doing with what your agency is doing. So today I’m looking at 5 ways to make sure you get the best out of the freelancers you’re working with, so you can maintain a positive, productive and profitable working relationship.
1) Set Expectations
To help your freelancers do their best work, it’s important to define the scope of their work, set deadlines, and have a process in place for handling revisions. This will need to be a much more formalised process compared with your employees’ work, as your freelancers will have other clients and other demands on their time, so they need to anticipate the workload and requirements.
It could be helpful when working with a freelancer for the first time to work through a kind of onboarding process with them, to set expectations for how your working relationship will function, introduce any tools or technical requirements you may have, and introduce the project they will be working on.
2) Respect Their Way of Working
Chances are, your freelancer’s work schedule nowhere near resembles the work schedule of your in-house team. While your employees clock in five days a week, your freelancer’s schedule will be much more varied and flexible. From a communication perspective, it will be hugely beneficial if your schedules overlap by a few hours each day, but as long as they’re getting the work done, does it matter when they’re doing it?
It’s vital that you respect your freelancer’s way of working, and give them the autonomy that enables them to do their best work, rather than forcing them to fit in with your agency’s way of working which will disrupt their schedule and their work.
3) Value Their Skills and Experience
It’s important that you respect the skills and experience of your freelancers as much as you would your full-time employees. Many freelance/client relationships are soured when the client doesn’t value the freelancer’s experience, treating them as a service rather than recognising the quality of work they provide.
The best freelance/client relationships are more like a partnership rather than a service, with both parties recognising the expertise of the other.
4) Pay on Time
Just as you value being paid on time by your customers – minimising the amount of time you waste chasing up invoices – so too will your freelancers.
Paying them promptly is a mark of respect for their skills and experience, and conveys that you value their service. In contrast, if you’re consistently late making payments, they’ll feel undervalued and it’s likely they’ll be reluctant to work with your agency again in the future.
5) Facilitate Communication
Anyone who’s ever worked remotely will understand the importance of good communication. Your freelancers may never even set foot in your office, so it’s important that you make yourself (or other appropriate members of your team) available to answer any of their questions or address any concerns they may have in a timely fashion.
Whether this means setting up a weekly call or simply aiming to reply to their emails within a day, good communication will help your freelancers produce their best work that matches up with your customer’s ever-evolving requirements.