For many businesses, the thought of hiring a freelancer to do a project is a little daunting. You’re essentially hiring someone, sight unseen, to complete an assignment for your company. The same goes for your freelancers, they barely know you, and depending on how you’ve set up the assignment and the type of assignment, they may not even know for which company they are completing work. These trepidations aside, freelancers have been providing a service for clients like you for a long time, and for good reason. They’re professionals at what they do. Just like you know the ins and outs of your business, they know the ins and outs of what they do.
Most companies choose to hire freelancers and contract out work for temporary assignments or for projects that have limited work, which would be unsustainable for a permanent employee. And one of the biggest questions businesses have when hiring a freelancer is how to keep someone motivated who isn’t on site. It can seem risky for some employers, but ultimately they need a service they aren’t capable of completing in house. So how do you provide the best environment for your freelancers? How do you make sure they remain motivated?
Be Clear and Straightforward
Know what you want for your end project and what your expectations are for your relationship with your freelance worker. If you think you’ll need daily updates, let them know so they can add that into their schedule. Come up with a clear project outline and use a file sharing program like Google Docs to share any necessary resources. Determine how you want files shared ahead of time.
Be upfront about your project timeline. Your freelancer might be working on several other projects at the same time as yours, so they will need to schedule your project accordingly. Some projects are time consuming, and you’ll need a freelancer who makes your project their only priority. Basically, making your expectations clear will allow freelancers to plan ahead. And writing them down provides your freelancer with a reference point, potentially saving you and them a lot of time.
The one experience most freelancers share, regardless of their specialty, is that people aren’t willing to pay them accordingly for their work. Many freelancers will admit that some project propositions calculate out to be far less than living wage by the time they do all the research and work necessary. Professionals don’t take “expanding their portfolio” as a form of compensation. If you want quality work, for an assignment you aren’t willing or capable of completing yourself, you have to be willing to pay for it.
Not only this, but many assignments evolve as they progress, and your freelancer will likely know this about a long term project. Determine up front how any changes will be compensated. If you change gears halfway through a project you can’t expect your freelancer to scrap everything and start over without compensation. Determine also how payments will be handled including frequency, method of payment, and when.
Keep in mind that many freelancers have had bad experiences or known people who have. Just like you may worry your freelancer could disappear in the middle of a project, they may fear that they will deliver a completed project and receive no compensation. Consider offering milestone payments for certain portions of a project being completed.
Communication is Key
Because you won’t be sharing an office with your freelancer, communication is one of the most important parts about having a successful relationship. Determine at the beginning of the partnership how often you want to be in touch, the best way to contact one another, and how you will share updates and necessary information.
You may want a quick daily progress update, or you may prefer a weekly check-in video conference. Set up a schedule for such updates, and consider having a shared calendar with your freelancer. For those who are concerned about keeping their freelancer motivated, make yourself available for questions and have trust in the work they do.
Be Willing to Offer Support
While offering support is a part of communication, it deserves its own section because your support is necessary for the success and motivation of your freelancer. Be available to answer questions, either through chat, texting, calls or email. You are the one who best knows what you want out of a long term project, and you want to make sure your freelancer is on the same page as you.
Depending on the project, a once daily check in for questions may be necessary, but keep in mind if you don’t have the answer to your freelancer’s question it could impact your timeline. Being flexible with when you are available to answer questions will motivate your freelancer and help him or her to stay on track.
Remember Why You Contracted A Freelancer
Remembering exactly why you’ve contracted a freelancer to complete a long term project may just be the best motivator. You hired them because you either didn’t have the time, knowledge or resources to complete an assignment yourself. That makes them a valuable asset to your company having a successful completion of a long term project. Treat them as such, in communication, compensation and resources. When given such respect, they will be more willing to help you out, make changes that may not be part of the contract, and complete a project within a reasonable timeframe.
Many freelancers treat it as a full time job. While the work may not be consistent, it gives them a freedom that most people don’t experience in a traditional job. Freelancing offers a work lifestyle that allows them to work on their own schedule, selecting work that they want to do. They are passionate about what they do, and they are going to work just as hard as a traditional employee would. They’re a valuable resource to any business, and should always be treated as such.