How many times have you received an “I’m currently occupied” response when you got back to hire that freelancer from your previous project? Let me reveal a secret. They might not be really occupied. Maybe, it’s something from your previous project that’s stopping them from working with you again.
Here’s a post to help you avoid such situations and see the other side of the coin. I tried to emphasize how your decisions and actions as a client, impact a freelancer’s work and behavior. Keeping this in mind should make your dealings with freelancers easier.
1. Respect their time:
Just like companies, freelancers could have many leads/inquiries coming in about projects. I remember one of my projects where it took nearly 3 weeks to sign a contract with a company for 20 days’ work. There are instances when people called me to check my availability and then got back after 10 days, asking if I could start working immediately.
We understand that companies could have to go through a lot of formalities and standard procedures to assign a contract to someone. But this delay occurs mostly with companies that begin their project-planning after they find a freelancer to work on it. That is, if a company receives a new requirement from its clients for which it does not have the expertise, it starts looking for freelancers that specialize in the relevant domain. Once it identifies one, it starts discussions about the project with its clients.
So, first the company needs to sign an agreement with its client, and then it will reach out to the freelancer to sign another. Have you ever thought what had the freelancer been doing all this while? Of course, we work with multiple clients at any point of time. But unless we’re sure of our availability, we’ll not be able to give any commitment to other clients while you’re busy negotiating with yours.
I know this also happens, sometimes, because we don’t plan our work properly, and this is something that we also need to work on.
2. Stop playing the ‘Vendor & Client’ card:
Even though you may have a short-term agreement with them, freelancers are just like your employees, working from a remote location.
I’ve experienced this with some of my clients. My project manager suddenly calls me in the night and says, “Harish, the image in the second slide is not aligned with the text below. Can you please move the text box a little to the left and mail an updated ppt file to me?” This behavior surprises me.
When you’re working with a freelancer to serve your client, it is in your best interest to work as a team. Looking at it as an opportunity to play “I’m the client” and “you’re my vendor” card will only make things move slowly and will also create an invisible barrier between you and the freelancer, which is not good for either of the parties.
Your friendly behavior with the freelancer makes him/her take ownership of the project and work flawlessly with your team to deliver the best results.
3. Get to know them before you start working together:
Just because they’re not your regular employees, it doesn’t mean you need not know them very well. In fact, how many managers today know the strengths and weaknesses of their own team members? I remember working for a company, where after working for one year, they came to know that I was fluent with multimedia software and asked me, “Why haven’t you told us before?” I replied, “I thought you read my CV.”
Have a small conversation with your freelance vendor, wherein you dig deeper into his/her past work-experiences, specializations, interests and more. This will give you an insight of how to make the best use of his/her skill set for your requirement.
4. Have a proper communication system in place:
This is one of the biggest issues with working from a remote location. Unfortunately, technology doesn’t solve all our problems unless we know how to put it to proper use. Maintaining proper communication with your freelancer is very important to avoid any surprises at a later stage.
Having too much communication is also no recommended. It will reduce the efficiency of the freelancer, while inadequate communication will lead to assumptions that can cause irreparable damage. At regular intervals, inquire about how things are going on; and if everything is going as per the plan, ask if he/she needs any support.
At the same time, keep the freelancers informed about any updates on the project, which includes your conversation with the client and your team about any major changes in the project. Keep them informed on when they can expect to receive the feedback on their deliverable.
Make it a point to greet each other regularly. It might sound funny, but when I receive a “Good Morning” or “How are you doing?” message from my project manager, I say to myself “Okay, looks like I received feedback on my deliverable.” This assumption mostly becomes true.
5. Stay connected after the project is complete:
Freelancers keep updating their skill set in order to survive in the industry. Stay connected with your freelancers, even after the project is complete. Keep watching their updates on LinkedIn, or follow their blog posts/articles or even say “Hi!” sometimes to see what they’re up to.
It is not necessary that their skill set is limited to what they’ve offered you before. Follow their updates to get a full picture of their capabilities, which will make it easier for you to make a wise choice the next time you have a requirement.
Let’s end this post by reading a couple of quotes from my freelancing friends.
“It’s not professional to wait for payment after the work is over! It leaves a sour mark on the enriching work experience.” – Anonymous 01
“Often clients turn to freelancers as a last resort. When a client comes to me with a deadline for yesterday, it puts me off. I really wish clients would realize that proper planning is very important, all the more when a freelancer is working with them for the first time.” – Anonymous 02
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