A Client’s Guide to Building Strong Client-Freelancer Relationships

At one point or another, you may have considered outsourcing work to a freelancer. Whether it’s for a particular project or as an extension of your team, working with freelancers can have a number of advantages over the traditional employee. While there are a number of ways your client-freelancer relationships can go wrong, you, as the client, can ensure strong relationships with freelancers by taking the following into consideration

Choose the Right Freelancer for the Job

Are you looking for a talented individual to assist with a certain project, or are you in search of a consultant to work with you on a long-term basis? Some freelancers only want to work on a project basis, while some would be more than happy to work on a long-term basis. Determining the length of time you want to work with a freelancer will help you choose the right freelancer for the job. Do you need help with back-end development, front-end development, a little bit of both, or maybe something different altogether? Figure out what skills your current team lacks and where a freelancer could fit in. Then, take the time to search freelancers that fit the bill for the work that you need help with. Freelancers are experts in what they do, and for this reason, choosing the right freelancer for the job can be a huge asset to your team. Another aspect to consider when looking for freelancers is their soft skills. We had a chance to speak with Oscar Luna, the former digital marketing manager of a Los Angeles-based agency and current director of marketing for a medical company, about the challenges he has faced when working with freelancers. Oscar says, “a freelancer’s soft skills are very important, especially when the job is increasingly technical. I often found that the best freelancers are the ones that adapt the fastest and familiarise themselves quickly to the project they work on.” So, while technical skills are important, soft skills can be equally as important when hiring a freelancer.

Establish Goals and Provide a Scope of Work

When it comes to business, no one likes surprises. For this reason, it’s imperative that you establish concrete goals that you want to achieve from the freelancer relationship. Once you have your goals in place, work with your team to develop a scope of work agreement to provide to the freelancer. This scope of work agreement should detail the client-freelancer relationship. Add detailed information regarding the project, the estimated length of the client-freelancer relationship, the specific work that the freelancer will be expected to perform, and any additional information that would allow the freelancer to have a complete understanding of the work that needs to be done. Doing so will allow both the freelancer and yourself to manage expectations of each other and have a better understanding of how the client-freelancer relationship will unfold.

Communicate Well & Communicate Often

The foundation of positive client-freelancer relationships start with communication, and this is especially true in client-freelancer relationships. In order to develop strong relationships with your freelancers, there need to be clear lines of communication. We asked Oscar what his biggest challenges are when working with freelancers. He went on to explain that, “you have different personalities to deal with, different levels of talent, and different forms of communication.” His advice regarding client-freelancer communication was to “have a system in place for both parties to adhere to.” Start by determining what forms of communication you and your freelancer are comfortable using. Some of the more common modes of communication include email, phone, or chatting applications like Slack. If you’re looking for video chat and screen-sharing capabilities, look into Skype, Join.me, or GoToMeeting. Work with your freelancers to establish multiple lines of communication with which you are both comfortable. From there, determine how often you’d like to communicate with your freelancer. Depending on the project, you and the freelancer may be communicating with each other every day. This is why it’s so important that both parties are on the same page.

Additional Considerations

If you have experience working with freelancers, then you know that certain aspects of the client-freelancer relationship can change along the way. Be transparent with your freelancer about any changes as soon as you are aware of them. Doing so will allow the freelancer to adjust and adapt to those changes in a timely manner. In addition to a scope of work agreement, it is seen as a standard procedure that you provide both an NDA and a contract to your freelancer. The NDA protects your sensitive information for a specified length of time, and the contract includes more detailed information about the client-freelancer relationship. This can include payment terms, the rights to the intellectual property, and a slew of other things.
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