When your agency is faced with a short project that will be too much work for your in-house team, the best way to manage this short-term fluctuation is to work with a freelancer. Working with talented freelancers is also a great way to expand the offerings of your digital agency.
Today I’m looking at 6 tips to develop strong relationships with the freelancers you work with, and align them with your agency’s goals and values.
1) Establish a Network of Freelancers Who Work with Your Agency
It’s important to remember that the majority of freelancers will be working with multiple clients at any one time. So if your agency only works with one freelancer, there’s no guarantee they’ll be available when you need them.
Therefore, you should aim to develop a network of freelancers your agency works with – ideally a couple of options for similar skill sets.
2) Set up a Database of Freelancer Contacts
Once you’ve established a network of freelancers to work with, it’s vital to create a central database with their contact details, which anyone in your agency can access. This should include details of their expertise – for example, you may work with some freelance designers, and some freelance copywriters, and these should be detailed as such.
This will make it possible for anyone in your agency to search and find details of freelancers you’ve previously worked with, and to find an appropriate person to contact based on the skills vacancy they need to fill.
3) Keep in Touch Regularly
It’s important to nurture your agency’s relationship with freelancers, just like you would with other business relationships. This will give you useful insights to their availability. But you should also keep in touch when you haven’t got projects to work on with them, and work on building a human relationship rather than just a business one.
4) Get a High-Level Agreement in Place
If you work with a freelancer regularly, it’s a good idea to get a high-level agreement in place, establishing how they will work with your agency and how you’ll pay them, for example. This will cut down a huge amount of negotiation and administration that you’d otherwise have to go through on a per-project basis.
5) Recognise When You Need to Work with a Freelancer
It’s vital that your agency is able to recognise when you need to work with a freelancer, and when you would be better off hiring an in-house member of staff. You need to be able to tell the difference between a short-term increase in workload (which can be managed by a freelancer), or a long-term trend which means your agency is under-staffed.
6) Expand Your Agency’s Offering
The obvious exception to the point above is if you’re working with a freelancer whose skills are complementing your agency’s core skills, rather than helping you manage an influx of work. In this case, you’re working with a freelancer to increase your agency’s capacity in a different way: by expanding its capabilities. This means you can say yes to projects with a wider scope, rather than limiting to projects that only involve your agency’s core capabilities.