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10 Tips to Get the Best Possible Results from Your Freelancers

Working with freelancers is not always easy, especially if you are doing this for the first time. If you are working with freelancers without following these rules, you are not getting the most value for your money…

I work on both sides of the freelancing table. I am a freelance market research expert, and I hire freelancer research analysts to help me with big projects. This unique setup has helped me better understand not only how to deliver the best value to clients but also on how to get the most value from my freelancers. I can't tell you how many times I have seen clients leave value on the table because they do not follow a few simple rules. As a freelancer and a client, I hate to see this.

To help fellow companies that hire freelancers, I have put together a list of 10 to-dos that will help you get the most out of your freelancers. Here we go:

#1. Share your big picture

The first I do when hiring freelancers is share my big picture with them, i.e. why I am hiring them and how will their work fit into my main project. This little insight helps them better understand my expectations, ask better questions, and most importantly deliver better results.

#2. Align on the final deliverable before starting any work

Aligning on the final deliverable on day one is essential. You need to tell your freelancers what the final deliverable should look like and ensure they completely understand it.

A best practice is to put it in writing and have all parties sign off on it. This tip seems like common-sense; however, I have seen many such situations where no such document was signed.

Without aligning on what the end of the project will look like, you are setting up your freelancer to fail - and therefore setting yourself up to lose money.


#3. Share your core values

I always, always, share my company's real core values with my freelancers. Your real core values are not the ones that are posted on your website, but the values that lead you to promote or fire people. For example, for my firm, one of the core values is Aesthetics, i.e. presenting all research data in a beautiful format. Analysts that excel at this value get better, bigger projects.

Sharing such core values is important because typically we just assume that people will adhere to these values because, in our mind, they make complete sense. However, unless you share it with your freelancers, it is unlikely that they won't pick on these underlying values and will deliver work that may not be in line with their expectations.

Sharing my core values with my freelancers aligns them to my unsaid expectations well in advance. It saves you countless hours and allows my freelancers to put their best foot forward.

#4. Share past success and failure stories

Discuss success stories of former successful freelancers with your new hires. Share with them what these successful people did that you loved so much. Also, share a few failure stories. Talk about what these failed freelancers did that did not work for you.

Discuss your worries with them, and brainstorm ways to address them with your freelancers. This insight will allow your newly hired freelancers to create a short list of best practices and pitfalls-to-avoid for your project.

Discuss success and failure stories of former freelancers with your new hires, so that they can create a best practices lists.

#5. Ask what you can do for them

Every freelancer has their style of working that is unique to them. Talk to them about what you can do to help them perform the best.

Are there any resources you can provide to them? Do they need frequent check-ins at the beginning? Do they like to be left alone?

Your job is to understand what resources you need to provide to your freelancers to help them deliver maximum results.

#6. Align on communication preferences

Communication issues are the biggest reasons for failed freelance gigs. Before I work with any external partner, I share my communication preferences with them and ask them to do the same. For example, I tell my freelancers the best way to get in touch with me is email and they can expect an answer within 24 hours.

This way, my freelancers know that if it has been more than 24 hours, I have either missed their email or have forgotten to respond, at which point they can shoot another email or call me. I also ask them about their preferences and ensure that I stick to them.

For example, one my freelancers has told me the best way to get in touch with her is via phone calls after 6 pm. This information helps me save time and get the needed response quickly.

These preferences, of course, do not apply in cases of emergency. Also, check out these tips for better communications between clients and freelancers.

#7. Schedule regular check-ins

I like to schedule weekly check-ins with all my freelancers. It helps me stay on top of my to-do lists and also forces freelancers to show progress every week. It enables us to avoid delays and keep the lines of communication open.

You should choose a call/meeting frequency that works for you and schedule these calls beforehand because once the project starts, you will have no time whatsoever.

Schedule weekly check-ins with your freelancers before the project starts to avoid delays and keep communicating with them.

#8. Give and request candid feedback

Freelancers thrive on feedback. Your job is to not only give them honest feedback on what you loved/did-not-love but also ask them for their feedback on you.

Is there something you did that helped me a lot? Was there something that is a roadblock for them?

Knowing these things will help you get the best possible results from your freelancers.

#9. Respect their time

Do not treat your freelancers like you are their only client. They may have other professional commitments, and as long as they are meeting your deadlines, you should not expect them to put in additional hours.

Freelancers love clients that respect their time and are usually more committed to these clients as they see them as long-term prospects.

#10. Give them a chance to make it right

Despite all the above measures, it is possible that your freelancers may not live up to the mark. If that happens, rather than letting them go right away, give them a chance to fix their mistakes. Most freelancers will not charge you more for this extra work.

Think about it this way; even a full-time employee takes up to six months to fully understand the company's culture and inner workings to be able to produce good work. You need to give your freelancers just a little bit of breathing room at the end so they can update their work to meet your needs.

I hope this is helpful to you. We would love to hear your ideas on how to get the most from freelancers.
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