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Freelancers are like any other tool you use to accomplish a task – their effectiveness depends on how you, as a user, use them. You wouldn’t write with a dry pen and then blame the pen for not producing ink, would you?
Freelancers can be a great resource for your business. They can take a lot of the work off your shoulders and provide much-needed outside perspective if you set them up for success.
So here’s how.
Empower them to make decisions
If you’re like me, you hire freelancers to complete the job without the hassle of a full-time employee. This means giving them a longer leash than you would a full-time employee and empowering them to make decisions that most employees would try to leave to you.
So don’t treat them as disposable – treat them like you would an employee who’s been with your company a long time and knows what will earn your stamp of approval and what won’t. Train them the same way you would a normal employee and take the time to fully explain how you want the job done and what standards they will be held to.
In my humble opinion, freelancers should only be employed if they can make your life easier. You don’t want another touchpoint that you’ll have to manage through all of their workflows – you probably do enough with customers as is.
When looking for a freelancer, research them the same way you would a full-time employee and review them for the same qualities. You’ll want someone you only have to instruct once and who feels bold enough to make the tough creative decisions without consulting you every step of the way. Empowering them will reduce the number of edits, back-and-forths, and misunderstandings while increasing their effectiveness on the projects you entrust.
Related: Here are the benefits of working as a freelancer
Refine your onboarding process for their success
If your mind immediately goes to “Oh great, I need more guides and processes,” readjust your perspective.
Look at it this way instead: you can either spend a few hours creating a comprehensive guide that outlines their work and your expectations, or you can potentially lose thousands of dollars because you failed your freelancer. Tough decision, I know.
Create an onboarding guide for your freelancers that helps them get on the right track to understanding your agency. Give them a complete overview of the clients they will be working with so they can transition seamlessly into the team with the right understanding of the client’s unique needs. And finally, take the time beforehand – probably during the interview process – to try to understand your freelancer’s professional goals and how you can help them work towards what they want while still respecting what they want. you hired him.
As an agency owner, I actually find that I have a similar mindset to most freelancers I hire. Like me, the freelancers I hire are workaholics who go out of their way to not only understand assignments, but also find ways to creatively contribute to the success of the campaign.
Look for all the qualities that made you successful. After all, if you can’t hire yourself, who can you hire?
Related: 11 Best Websites to Find Freelance Jobs and Earn Extra Money
Above all: communicate
The best advice I can give: communicate well and learn to realize when you’re not.
Granted, I’m not always the best communicator for various reasons. The first is that I think it’s better to spend time doing something myself than having to explain it to someone else who might not be executing my vision. Another is that I’ve cultivated a team that largely knows what I want, so I can pretty much say, “Go for it,” and leave it at that.
However, when working with a freelancer, especially at the start of the relationship, they won’t have context for your work style or the assignments they will be handling. So don’t just communicate, communicate too much. Explain things in twice as much detail as if you were speaking with a full-time member of your staff. You might feel like you’re talking to them like they’re a baby, but when it comes to your business, they’re basically a baby – so no harm done.
Explain your expectations and work processes once in a while in more detail and encourage them to ask questions. If you do this and they still end up emailing you and calling you non-stop with questions about things you already cover, you can mark them as a bad listener and probably not choose to work at new with them.
Freelancers are a tool you can use – not a panacea for too much work or a guarantee that some creative genius will come along and save your campaigns. By thoroughly researching the right freelancer to match your company’s energy and the workflows and processes in place to help them work successfully, a freelancer can be a boon to your agency. But without it, they are almost guaranteed to be a burden.
Link: 6 Steps to Becoming a Successful Freelancer