Collaborating with a team of freelancers is a cost-effective and convenient way to complete special projects at your organization. Freelancers provide special skills on an as-needed basis, allowing you to keep your business lean and efficient. However, freelancers are independent contractors who set their own hours and often work with multiple clients at one time. That might give some project managers some pause, but by setting clear expectations and establishing a workflow that meets your needs, using freelance help can effectively boost your company's bandwidth to do more with less.
The first step towards adding freelance help to your team is to appoint a person in your organization to be the main point of contact to manage the relationship with freelancers. This avoids any potential miscommunication and confusion that may cause conflicting feedback or different people answering questions a freelancer might have. This freelance manager should be responsible for hiring freelancers, although internal team members could give input. The manager should also be in charge of issuing assignments, revision requests and final approval of submitted work.
Whether you are seeking a freelancer for graphic design work or for writing blog posts, the more clarity you can provide to the job description the better results you will have. Setting expectations for the scope of work, quality of work and rate of pay up front is key to finding the right freelancers for the job. Don't create a job description that's too vague or unspecific. That can result in a large number of applicants, which makes it difficult to choose the best freelancers to meet your needs. Be clear about the specific skills your project requires to avoid any later disappointments.
After choosing your freelancers, it is important to complete the on-boarding process before diving into work. This may include executing a contract agreement detailing terms with your freelancers, obtaining tax forms, or signing a confidentiality agreement. Finalize rates of pay and set up a process to handle billing and invoicing. This is also a good time to clearly communicate any additional expectations or job requirements left out of the original description.
As part of setting expectations and requirements, you'll need to consider how freelancers need to communicate and how responsive you expect them to be. If they need to collaborate with internal team members, you will need to put in place a reliable way to make that happen. There are a number of free video conferencing tools that will enable remote freelancers to have face-to-face meetings with your internal team. You may also consider inviting freelancers to use your company's internal messaging system so that they can easily discuss details regarding the project at hand. Just remember that freelancers often live in different time zones or work with other clients, so always be upfront about how often you expect them to check in.
The best way to keep both internal team members and remote freelancers on the same page is to use a web-based project management platform or content management system. These programs allow you to send tasks or assignments to freelancers, set deadlines, and manage other aspects of workflow. Many platforms also enable you to find freelancers and pay them for their work online. Keeping everything flowing in a single system prevents any details from falling through the cracks.
With these steps, you'll quickly have a well-oiled freelancing system in place. You'll be able to scale up or scale back your projects as your organization's needs change, and you'll have a routine way of finding and working with freelancers from here on out. Prepare to enjoy the flexibility and productivity that comes with working with freelancers.