Retaining Top Freelance Talent: It’s Like Dating

Jul 18, 2018 Emily Brungard

When you find top freelance talent, you don't want to lose them. It's hard enough to find a full-time employee, let alone an amazing freelancer who understands your industry and your specific business. In that way, it’s a little like dating—you have to learn someone’s preferences, talents and expectations in order to click. And for freelancers, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Deloitte Insights’ research suggests that employee retention and engagement are the number two concern in the minds of business leaders, second only to the challenge of building global leadership. This statistic isn’t just relevant to full-time employees—it’s a trend that has made its way into the 1099 workforce. Workers are more like free agents than ever before. So how do you keep them engaged? Allow Ramp Up Time Hiring a freelancer helps you save on recruiting costs by getting to work sooner, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need ramp up time. If you truly want the best quality work from your on-demand help, give them a chance to learn your preferences and learn about your brand. If you routinely switch freelancers after just one project, they may not have the chance to ramp up properly. After your first project, be sure to set a meeting to provide feedback, review expectations and see how you can work better together. It can be as simple as spending five minutes at the end of an engagement discussing what went right and what went wrong, but more frequent feedback is even better. Set Expectations Early Consider offering your freelancers a fixed monthly retainer if you like their work and plan to keep sending projects their way. Include a set amount of work in the monthly retainer, and get their rates for any work that falls outside of it, so they can bill you the extra as needed. Don’t fall into the trap of making your relationship with freelancers purely transactional. If you want to get to work with them again in the future, make sure to treat your freelancer like they’re a true extension of your internal team. Communicate Frequently Treat them like they’re a part of your team, even if they’re not in the office next to you every day. Don’t just rely on written text. Schedule a video or voice call to convey more details. While it might seem like it takes too much time, doing this up front can actually improve clarity, prevent misunderstandings, and save time later on. This also helps you establish a closer connection. Don’t limit interactions with freelancers to just your own. Connect them to more team members to help them learn about your projects and business. Understand You’re Not Their Only Client Because you’re likely not your freelancer’s only client, you have an opportunity. When was the last time you asked for their advice? With a diverse portfolio of work, it’s likely that the freelancer(s) you work with can provide a unique perspective on the content you’re putting out. In the same vein, remember that the freelancers you work with could be working with several clients at the same time, including you. One of the advantages of freelancing is flexibility, so if a client frequently shoots over urgent last-minute projects or expects the freelancer to be available 24/7 (unless specific times of availability were agreed upon), chances are that freelancer will look for work elsewhere. Pay on Time The best freelancers are in very high demand. They can pick and choose their clients. In fact, freelancers might decide to stop working with you entirely if you don’t treat them well. More than 70 percent of freelancers have trouble getting paid at some point in their careers, and 29 percent of freelance invoices are paid late. It’s not difficult to get ahead of this problem: be transparent with your freelancers about how your company’s fiscal year runs, how long it typically takes to process invoices and how it pays its contract workers. The keys to successful freelance relationships are a lot like what it takes to be successful in any other relationship: transparency and communication are key. By setting expectations early and reviewing those expectations often, you set yourself and your freelancer up for success.  Implementing these tips may nurture what could ultimately become mission-critical relationships for you and your company. It could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Are you a freelancer looking for your next gig? Sign up and join Torchlite today.  

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8 Ways to Work Better With Your Freelancers

Mar 09, 2017 Beth Smedinghoff

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. In fact, 33% of businesses today rely on freelance help to get more done. 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 probably 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 can help.

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