When it comes to freelancers & business, I’ve spent a good amount of time with both the hiring manager and the freelancer hat on.
I’m a former Marketing Manager, now a full-time creative freelancer and I know first-hand the positive impact a good freelancer can have on a growing business. But, I’ve also seen it go tits-up more times than I can count.
Building a business is a constant balancing act, particularly in the early days or during big growth periods, a good freelancer or two to help you ‘fake it until you make it’ can make the world of difference to your business.
This is why I’ve pulled together three tips to make your next freelancing mission a success.
Hiring a freelancer can sometimes feel like a commitment-free relationship, like a friends-with-benefits setup where either party could drop one another at any point, with no hard feelings or consequences to anyone’s feelings.
And while that’s technically true , viewing a freelancer as a disposable resource for your business usually will just mean the relationship is destined to fail. In my experience, the most successful freelance positions I’ve been involved in were subject to a proper recruitment process from the outset.
With the exception of the much-loathed cover letter and CV, I’ve always found that having a proper (& maybe less formal) interview or introductory call, followed by a trial and a two-way conversation about rates, availability and expectations will set you up for success.
This ‘hiring’ process is a great way to weed out anyone who isn’t serious about you and your business. Taking the time to properly vet your candidates means you’ve got a better chance of the freelancer, and the work they do, being a success.
Tip: Don’t treat the trial like an exam or an opportunity to scrutinise every inch of their work. Instead take note of the way they work, the tone of voice, their turnaround time and the way they communicate with you. These factors are going to be far more important to the long-term success of the relationship, rather than a minor typo you’ve spotted in paragraph four.
Rule number one of expanding your team, be it with a freelancer, an actual employee or your very first assistant, is to document your processes and procedures first. And by first, I mean before you even put the job ad out.
Having all the responsibilities, the systems, the tools and the desired outcomes of the position you want your freelancer to fill will help you a) find the right person, as you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for and b) onboard and train them once you do find them.
Take a little extra time to put together a reference bible of processes and procedures that you can arm your new freelancer with. This will mean that from the moment they’re hired, they’ll be able to understand exactly what it is you want from them, when you want it and how you’d like them to deliver it.
If you’ve done your due diligence throughout steps one and two, then you should have no qualms about leaving your freelancer to get on with the job. Chances are, you’ve hired a freelancer to complete tasks that you either a) don’t have the capacity for, or b) don’t have the skills or expertise required. Either way, you’ve hired them for a jolly good reason and the best thing you can now do is let them do what they do best.
In a day and age when we’re all now more than comfortable working remotely and have been forced to trust our employees and team members, trusting your freelancer should feel no different. And if you’ve built an accountability tracker into your processes and systems, then you can easily check in with their work there and make sure they’re on track.
Remember that a good freelancer will generally charge more per hour than an employee on your payroll. So, to get the biggest bang for your buck, keep them focused on (and charging for) their specialist work only rather than any administrative tasks or calls.
Now you’re in the know it’s time to implement these guidelines next time you’re working with a freelancer.
Jemma Adams - I’m a brand strategist, website designer and digital marketer serving unique and passionate businesses and entrepreneurs in the food, drink and design space tinybrand.co
Creating simple and authentic brands, websites and digital strategies for unique and passionate businesses and entrepreneurs in the food, drink and design space.