Freelancers Are Awesome If You Follow These 7 Rules of Doing It Right

Chris Beyers - FormstackFreelancers are awesome professionals who can help your business grow, before you need to hire employees. I’ve used freelancers for years and they’ve helped my business, quite a bit.

Chris Byers, CEO of Formstack has some thoughts on how to do this and he’s shared his top tips for working with freelancers below

Learn from past mistakes

Identify the problems you have had with freelancers in the past. Was there conflict about rate or scope of the project? Establish a written contract. Have you hired freelancers who didn’t deliver? Create a new hiring process.

Once you pinpoint the underlying issues, determine what you need to do differently. Take the mentality that you’re not just hiring a freelancer; in many ways, you’re hiring a remote employee.

Vet your freelancers

Hiring is one of the most important elements to a business, but many people will take on a freelancer with little consideration. Even though you don’t have the same commitment to a freelancer as a full-time employee, you are still counting on them to deliver an important service.

Require references and ask about the freelancer’s turnaround time, dependability, and attitude. Were the references happy with the quality of work they received? Did they hire the freelancer for multiple projects? Always ask for work samples to evaluate their skill level.

Over communicate goals and deadlines

Be clear about your project schedule. Some freelancers juggle multiple clients and may not have total availability. As the project goes on, touch base with their progress. Give deadlines for rough drafts or mockups. You want to be able to stop your freelancer from going too far down the wrong path. (After all, you’re paying for the work!)

Video chats with screen-sharing can reassure you that your freelancer is producing what you had in mind.  According to the Formstack “Managing Remote Teams” infographic, 83% of remote workers report their project statuses online. Ask your freelancers to update you at least weekly.

Make the connection

Your freelancers are working on a project that probably includes several other employees. How well do they fit with the rest of the team? Help them feel connected to the team so they can catch the vision for your project. Introduce them to people via video chat or have them sit in on a meeting.

Connecting with your freelancer results in less isolation and a better sense of what your project’s goals are. This is especially helpful if you want to build a long-term relationship with a freelancer.

Create cheat sheets

Freelancers need to know about your brand guidelines. They should clearly understand your company’s style, design, and voice. Style guides can save you lots of time correcting things that aren’t quite right with freelancers.

Because brand guidelines usually change over time, create a living document that can be shared internally. Your freelancer may even offer suggestions on how to improve it, which is an added bonus.

Evaluate your freelance experience

Too often, small businesses have to run headlong into the next project without taking a moment to reflect. Evaluate your freelancers along the way. Did they meet the goals of the project? Were they available to you? Did work have to be sent back repeatedly for revision?

For example, if the deliverables were great but you could never get ahold of your freelancer, you might not want to work with them again. If you decide not to rehire someone, give them feedback to help them improve.

Managing freelancers like remote workers

The same rules apply to freelancers and remote employees. Hire well, communicate your objectives, report on progress, and offer feedback. Additionally, if you’re like the 66% of employers who offer occasional telecommuting, you’ll become more skilled as a remote manager. Taking a new approach can help you find the freelancers who will help your company reach its goals.

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About Ramon Ray

Ramon Ray, Marketing & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com & Infusionsoft. Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook

  • rhea gaur

    Hi Ramon, the ‘cheat sheet’ point is particularly important. Sometimes clients can be cagey in sharing information on their business with a freelancer. But as a freelance writer, the more information I get from my clients, the better I am able to deliver. Another point will be initial ‘hand-holding’. As with any new work relationship, when you hire someone new, encourage them to seek clarifications. Also, respond quickly when your freelancer is in doubt. Once the initial questions are answered, the project can move pretty much on auto-pilot mode :)

    • http://Smallbiztechnology.com/ Ramon Ray

      Hey Rhea – thanks for contributing!