We all know working with Freelancers can be a fantastic business decision - but how do you ensure that you are working with one in simpatico? I've been on both sides of the coin; having worked with freelancers and now working as one, so I know it needs to work from both parties. If you've hired a freelancer, or you're thinking of hiring one, here are my top 5 tips for a happy, robust relationship:
1. Adios the Bulldozer Effect
A common occurrence is a businesses thinking they can bulldoze a freelancer into doing whatever they want them to do. Whether you've asked them to drop their prices, increase the amount of work you expect from them or work outside the hours they have previously said they would work, it's never good business to bully a freelancer into something they don't agree with. Remember every time you disregard the freelancers terms you are losing their respect. If you're hiring a freelancer, it's because YOU need one. Understand that it's a two-way agreement and just because you're a large business and they're on their own, that doesn't mean their terms aren't as important as yours.
2. Pay them on time!
Imagine you get into work on payday and you haven't been paid. You'd march down to HR and demand to know why, wouldn't you? Because you have a mortgage and bills to pay, kids to feed and beer to drink. Now imagine if your HR manager said to you, "Oh, sorry, I forget to pay you, I'll pay you next week."...how likely are you to just agree and let it go? Then what happens when the following week arrives and still no payment and you're fobbed off again? This is how it can be for freelancers, for some reason, even when work has been completed, businesses fail to pay within the agreed time frame and they don't see anything wrong with it. Despite the fact, that if it happened to them they'd be furious. Don't treat your freelancers like second-rate employees, pay them on time, as agreed and don't mess them around.
3. Integrate and communicate
This is especially important if they work remotely. Treat them as you would a member of your own team - which means keeping them in the loop of what is happening in the business. Perhaps send them over a version of the monthly meeting minutes - editing out what is confidential or irrelevant. Why? Because your freelancer needs to understand the bigger picture of where your business is moving, what's new and what is changing. Perhaps put aside an hour every fortnight for a catch up call to discuss what's coming up for your business in the next month. One of the biggest pitfalls of a great working relationship between a business and a freelancer is communication. Clearly outlining processes, expectations, improvements and changes is integral to maintaining and developing that relationship. Suggest a monthly review, a chance for each party to voice their concerns and queries - some freelancers might not agree to this - but you'd be surprised how many would love the idea of having some feedback on their work and a chance to give suggestions.
4. Tell the world how great they are
Loving what your freelancer is doing for your business? Mega impressed with their work style and results? There's nothing stopping you from hopping on your social media (especially LinkedIn) or writing a blog post about the work they are doing for you. Most freelancers will be bowled over by this kind of appreciation from businesses and you might even find they work extra hard to sustain your appreciation. Win-win.
5. Their time - is their time
Unless your freelancer has specifically said they work weekends, or 3am on a Thursday or even 6pm on Tuesday...leave them alone. They are not at your beck and call. Personally, I don't find an email to my business address intrusive because I switch the notifications off outside of my work hours, but some people do. What's more, unless you've agreed a means of contact other than email; Whatsapp, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social media site is completely out of bounds, especially outside of work hours. If you're that person calling your freelancer at 10am on a Saturday morning, you can rest assured that your freelancer will be looking for other work very soon! Time is an important one, don't forget that just because it's urgent for you, if you're only giving your freelancer a couple of hours notice that something needs to be done, the chances are your freelancer will be unable to fulfil your request.
The key thing to remember though, is the respect element. Don't act like an arse, be respectful of their experience, knowledge and time and communicate clearly and frequently. That will make both parties extremely happy, productive and will contribute to your freelancer creating incredible results for you and your business.
Want to hear more from me? You can find me on Instagram @ems_marketing_consultant and Twitter @ems_talks, see you there!