Notes on the Care and Feeding of Freelancers
Looking after freelancers needn’t be difficult, challenging, or even particularly time consuming. All you need is to give a little thought to your freelancer’s role in the project, and to consider what you need to do to enable them to do their best for you.
If you have, or are thinking of taking on, a freelancer, keep these basic freelancer maintenance tips in mind.
Agree Up Front
Discuss and agree on the nature and terms of your relationship with your freelancer at the beginning of the job, before any work has been started.
Don’t leave the freelancer to raise issues like project phase timings, schedules, deliverables, and payment terms when they feel like it; show your commitment to the partnership by raising these issues yourself. And make your expectations — and points of flexibility — clear, so that everyone knows where they stand before the project kicks off.
Keep Your Freelancer Informed
Whether you’re going to miss a delivery deadline, you’re setting the next phase of the project schedule, or you’ve just had a discussion that will impact the project, let your freelancer know.
Just like you, your freelancer is trying to fit a lot into each day. If you can tell him or her in advance that your plans have changed, your freelancer’s bound to appreciate your courtesy — and will be more than happy to dedicate themselves to your project when the time comes. A quick email, call or text is all it takes!
Clarify the Details
If something — anything — about the information your freelancer has provided leaves you uncertain, talk to them about it. Yes, it might just be an oversight, but too often, what seems like a small miscommunication can wind up throwing a project into chaos.
Clarify anything you’re not sure about. Also be prepared to explain your side of the equation to your freelancer if they have questions. Above all, reiterate pertinent details of the job with your freelancer so that any misunderstandings or questionable interpretations can come to light sooner, rather than later.
Don’t Leave them Hanging
If you say you’ll call your freelancer, do it. If you promise to email them a project input, do it. If you can’t deliver on a promise, tell them so.
Leave your freelancer languishing, and you communicate that the project isn’t very important to you. You risk diluting your freelancer’s enthusiasm for the job, as well as seeming less than professional yourself. So maintain a regular, agreed schedule of contact, updates, and tracking so that the freelancer understands that the project is important to you, and is motivated to show as much commitment and enthusiasm as you do.
For each of these points, the underlying message is: treat your freelancer as you want to be treated. If you want your freelancer to prioritize your work, commit to your project, stay on target, and put everything they have into delivering the optimal outcome for your organization, you need to show the same levels of commitment and expectation to the project.
Freelancers, what care and maintenance advice can you add?