You need to get more done and you’ve decided a freelancer is the person for the job. Good choice! Freelancers are a great way to fill skill gaps and extend your team. They bring vast experience and a deep knowledge of their specialty to the table.
As with any hire, it’s important to understand how to best collaborate, communicate, and work with freelance talent. Freelancers aren’t full-time team members, and they’re often juggling multiple clients at once. This flexibility empowers them to be experts in their field, but it also requires that you manage them differently than your full-time staff. To help you set your extended team up for success, here are 8 ways to build a strong working relationship with your freelancers.
1. Don’t just communicate, over-communicate
Clear communication is essential in any working relationship, but it’s especially paramount when working with freelancers. Your freelancer isn’t in the office every day so they’re not privy to water cooler convos or even major announcements, unless you share the news with them. You are their primary source of information on all things related to your business and your marketing initiatives. Don’t assume they have any insight into changes, progress, setbacks, or glitches, and always err on the side of over-communicating to prevent misunderstandings.
2. Manage expectations
Out of the gate, it’s important to establish total alignment on what needs to get done, how, and by what date. Help your freelancer better understand your goals so they can better help you achieve them. Clearly define the project from scope to schedule. It’s important to set your freelancer up for success by providing clear guidelines and sharing your expectations from the start.
3. Trust and empower them to do their job
Freelancers are experts at what they do, which is why you partnered with one. They help clients across a variety of verticals achieve marketing success in their area of expertise. Empower them with the tools, knowledge, and deadlines they need and then trust that they’ll get the job done – and get it done well. Make yourself available if they have questions (see #6) and be open to receiving their feedback. This type of mutual trust will only benefit your business.
4. Tap into their expertise
Along similar lines, be sure to take advantage of their expertise. Freelancers are specialists with extensive knowledge and experience around a central topic. Ask for their advice and opinions whenever possible. Perhaps they’ve run into a challenge you’re facing before or have feedback on a better way to get something done. Ask them what you could do differently or where they see projects like yours typically go off the rails and then take their advice.
5. Treat them like part of the team
Your freelancers will be more effective if you view them as a partner, not just a cog in the wheel. When possible, copy them on team communications or include them on conference calls. Get to know them personally and encourage the rest of your team to do the same. Helping them feel connected to the team takes little effort on your end and is sure to produce major results.
6. Make yourself available
When you first start working with a freelancer ask them how best (and how often) to communicate with them. Once you understand how they work, make a point to regularly check in with them. If your freelancer can’t track you down for approvals or questions it can lead to delays or cause the final product to miss the mark. Provide feedback, answer questions, and listen to their concerns just like you would a full-time hire. Similarly, let them know when you’ll be out of the office or on vacation so they can play accordingly.
7. Plan ahead
Provide your freelancers with insight into your goals for the entire year, not just for a specific project. Giving them a better understanding of the big picture allows them to produce work that scales and delivers long-term results. Planning ahead also means giving your freelancer a heads up about potential shifts in strategy or deadlines. Freelancers often work on multiple clients at one time and aren’t always able to drop everything to meet an urgent request. If you can anticipate when you’ll need more of their time, it’s always helpful to give them a heads up.
8. Provide valuable feedback
Tell them specifically what you like and what you don’t like. Freelancers are experts in their field but they won’t be an expert on your brand overnight, especially if you don’t provide concrete descriptive feedback. Review their work in detail and provide suggestions on how they can improve and better support your brand and business objectives. Keep this productive feedback loop going and they’ll start to understand your brand just as well as you do.
At the end of the day, remember that your freelancer wants to help you grow your business. If you can keep the lines of communication open and build a strong, collaborative partnership with your freelancer, the results will speak for themselves.
Know you want to extend your team with high-quality freelancers but don’t know where to find them? Torchlite Flexperts can help.