Getting the best out of your Freelancer

Looking to outsource some of your work? Emily Hunnybun explains how to work with and get the best out of your freelancer for 'happy' outsourcing.

When you have decided what needs to be outsourced and you have found the right person to do the job don't make the common mistake of thinking that's all you have to do. Yes it would be lovely if you handed over the work and it was handed back to you done just the way you want it but it often isn't and it's not always because the person you assigned can't do their job. As the client you have a responsibility to manage your contractor just as much as you would manage a member of staff so here are the common mistakes people make that cause problems.

Don't be brief

A professional person no matter who they are and no matter what they say cannot know exactly what you want unless you tell them. Make sure you give a detailed brief of exactly what you want; any good freelancer will be grateful and will want to meet your expectations. Ask for regular progress reports and draft copies to make sure they are on the right track. So many people make the mistake of giving a brief that is enough for someone to work with when it is delivered and is not what they wanted they blame the sub contractor.

Chopping and changing

Part of the beauty of outsourcing is that they are not under your feet, you don't have any of the HR costs and you don't have to have them in the office - the downside is they can't read minds. Remember that they are not around you to pick up on a conversation or hear that phone call. If you change your mind on what you want you have to communicate that to them if you don't it all too often results in bad feeling, refusal of payment or a very costly mistake as you will have to pay for it to be rectified after completion.

Withholding information

When you are asking a contractor to do work for you make sure you supply them with everything they need. All too often meetings are had, plans are made but the critical information to complete the job is not received. You may be busy, it may not be at the top of your list of things to do, maybe in your mind it's all sorted but if you have agreed to send everything to them by Tuesday chances are they have diarised time to complete the job for the deadline you have given to them. In turn you could end up missing your'slot' causing projects to be delayed or the contractor could decide not to work with you. Would you give more work to someone who was always late delivering?

You are not the only one

A freelancer cannot rely on one client, they may as well be employed if that were the case, they have many clients, all with demands and deadlines. Good customer service is making you feel like you are their priority but in reality you are in a queue, expecting meetings at the drop of a hat, asking for work and expecting a tight turnaround or constant last minute changes is a freelancer's nightmare. Be mindful that they are not a member of staff that only has your work to consider, if you have such demands make sure they are realistic for your contractor.

You can be fired

The client/contractor relationship can be a delicate one, you may think they need you more than you need them but you won't be saying that if you're the one left out in the cold. The freelancer can just as easily terminate your agreement as you can so if you treat them like staff or mess them around they could be the one turning down the work and you have to start all over again to find a new contractor to complete the job. And that includes paying them on time, you expect to be paid and so do they – everyone has bills to pay.

So my advice to have a good working relationship with a freelancer is to:

Communicate, unanswered questions cause delays and frustration so reply to their emails and call them back if they ring you.

Respect them as much as you demand respect, a good contractor will always have more work to do and clients to put on their books, no one is indispensable and that includes you.

Understanding that they are a business and may not be as big as you so a late payment could cause them big problems and they have to go where the work is if yours is a small job you may not be as important as someone with a bigger project.

Happy outsourcing!

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