If you’ve gone to the trouble of finding a good freelance writer, designer, researcher or whatever, you don’t want your investment to be wasted. You want good results for a fair price in a reasonable amount of time.
Here are three simple guidelines for getting the most out of freelancers based on what I’ve experienced:
1. Communicate. (Describe the project and your expectations clearly.)
Before the project starts, give it some thought. Are you looking for original copy or copyediting? What tone do you want? Are there experts to interview? What’s the deadline?
Here’s an example of what can go wrong:
I had a client ask me to write two pages of website copy. I gave him an estimated cost. Then as I began to write, two pages turned into six. I rushed to get it done on time but wound up having to invoice more than my estimate. I explained that my invoice would be higher and why, but my client was still unhappy.
An experienced freelancer will ask a lot of questions up front to avoid problems and unpleasant surprises. Your freelancer may also check in with you during a project to get clarification and ask questions that come up later. The time you spend giving thoughtful answers will be well worth it.
Of course, you treat everyone with respect – direct reports, peers, upper management, and everyone else. You show appreciation for people’s time and contributions. You set reasonable deadlines. If you need revisions, you clearly explain what’s needed. You pay fairly for the work that’s done.
So why am I making this point? Sadly, not everyone behaves this way.
I had a client who would schedule a meeting and then not be available when I got to the office after a forty-minute drive. I tried a couple work-around strategies but finally had to sever the relationship. While I was working for him, my frustration got in the way of doing my best.
3. Timely payment.
I suppose this is a sub-set of respect. Just as you pay employees on time, so should you adhere to whatever payment arrangement you’ve worked out with your freelancer.
I have wonderful clients who pay me in ten days, and I have other wonderful clients who pay in 45 days. I can deal with either – I just plan my cash flow accordingly. Non-payment or late payment is not OK. I do not enjoy making collection calls.
Your freelancer is a small business owner who needs payment just like any other supplier your company works with
That’s it. Three simple rules for working with freelance talent. Let me know if you have anything to add. And call me in on your next writing project.