The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Creative Services Freelancer

Sep 19, 2018 Emily Brungard

Freelance Experts, Marketing Strategy, Torchliters

Maybe you’ve been depending on your DIY design skills. Maybe you’ve worked with other designers in the past. Maybe you have an existing creative team at your company, but you still need an extra hand. No matter what your current situation is, hiring an independent creative worker can help your team get more done without increasing your headcount. If you’ve never hired a freelancer before — or if it’s been a while — you might be wondering how to make sure you’ve got the best person for your team. Look no further than our Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Creative Services Freelancer.

Preparing Internally

Before you can bring another person on to your team, you need to make sure you’re ready. Make sure that the new creative team member’s job description is clear and specific, with descriptive indicators that truly show a potential hire what they’re getting into. Make sure you start your freelance relationship on the right foot by creating a list of the deliverables you expect to receive, even if it’s high level (but the more details you can provide, the better).
You want to make sure that your freelancer is the right fit for your team, too. Top talent has lots of options, so why should they choose to work with you? Share information about your company’s mission and what makes your company a compelling choice. Outline your budget from the start so that you’re aligned.

Finding a Freelancer: The Basics

Your job has been posted and the applications are pouring in. Now what?
Any professional independent contractor should be able to provide you with samples of their past work. A robust digital portfolio can help you determine if a freelancer’s style will work for your brand. For example, if you’re looking for someone to create presentations for your Board of Directors, but your designer’s style is flashy and bright, they may not be the best fit (or they may be perfect, depending on your Board’s taste).
If they are a design whiz, does the work they’ve completed in the past look like what you want for your brand? If they have photo or video skills, does their past work have the same qualities you’d look for in what they would create for your company? Always be sure to ask if the freelancer has an account on Dribbble, Behance, Vimeo, or their own hosted online portfolio.

The Interview

When meeting with a potential hire in-person, by phone or on a video call, there are a few areas to focus on. After reviewing the freelancer’s portfolio, consider how they would fit in with your team. Make sure to ask questions that show their:

  • Qualifications and skills – Do they have any certifications? Can they elaborate on a favorite past project?
  • Work ethic – How does your prospective hire talk about past projects? How do they function under tight deadlines? Do they get things done ahead of time?
  • Flexibility – Are they willing to make those extra changes? Are they receptive to feedback?
  • Communication style – Does the way they communicate resemble how your team communicates? What is their preferred method of communication?
  • Preparedness – Do they know about your company? Do they have questions prepared for you?

The Onboarding

Your team has selected the perfect freelancer, but the onboarding process is just as (if not more!) important. When onboarding a creative pro, don’t forget to share:

  • A contract that clearly states deadlines, deliverables, payment methods, ownership of completed work and any other requirements
  • Any branding materials that may be necessary, including logos, colors, fonts, standards guides, past work, etc.
  • Key milestones that your creative hire needs to know, including event dates and deadlines
  • Your vision – Your designer/photographer/videographer can’t read your mind, so if you’ve envisioned something, be sure to share it! If one task that the freelancer is working on is a part of a larger project, give them context so that they can tailor their output.
  • Communication standards, so that your freelancer knows how often to update you, how quickly to reply and when to expect responses from you

Communicating On the Job

It doesn’t stop after you’ve onboarded a creative expert. Communication is key to any fruitful freelance relationship, so do it early and often. Your regular communication should include:

  • Feedback – If you’re happy with a project, let your freelancer know. Alternatively, if you’d like the project to head in a different direction, be vocal about it. Your deliverables can’t be improved if the freelancer doesn’t know you’re unhappy about them.
  • Trust – Your creative pro is just that — a professional. They have skills and experience that lead them to make certain decisions, so take their suggestions seriously.
  • Openness – Keep your lines of communication open throughout your projects. Let your creative expert know what success looks like for this project.

Finishing Touches

Are you using this expert for a one-off project, or are you planning to establish a long-term working relationship with them? Either way, there are several best practices to note once you’ve reached the end of a project.

  • Wrap up loose ends – Make sure the project is complete. If this is the end of your relationship with the freelancer, ensure that you have any necessary files, information logins, etc.
  • End on a high note – If you enjoyed working with your expert, but don’t have an immediate need for them, communicate that. Keep lines of communication open after a project ends so that they are top of mind the next time a project comes up.
  • Ensure payment is accurately processed in a timely manner

Finding the right freelancer can be tough. Don’t have the time to vet a new hire? Let us help. Request an expert today.

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