Best Practices for Working with a Freelancer - Rachel Levy Sarfin

Guest Blogger: Rachel Levy Sarfin

Rachel Levy Sarfin is a freelance writer who grew up outside of Philadelphia but now lives in the suburbs of Toronto. When she's not writing, she's spending time with her family and trying to figure out the metric system

I’ve been freelancing off and on since 2010, and exclusively since 2012. Over the years, I’ve worked with great clients… and not-so-great clients. What’s the difference between the two groups? The great clients understand how to establish an effective working relationship with freelancers, whereas the not-so-great (and downright awful) don’t know how to get the most value out of a freelance employee.

If you’ve never had a positive experience with a freelancer, read on to learn some of the secrets to working successfully with freelance employees.

Communicate Clearly from Start to Finish

As a freelance writer, I can tell you that one of my biggest frustrations is when my clients don’t communicate clearly. I’ve had clients give me very vague descriptions of what they needed (“more content for that website… you know which one I’m talking about”) as well as change their mind after the work was completed because they decided to go in a different direction, which wound up costing them more money.

From the outset, make it clear exactly what you expect from the freelancer with whom you’re working. Put everything in writing – both parties should have a thorough understanding of the project’s scope, the fee and payment method, how often communication should take place and what method of communication is preferable, and anything else you find important. That way, no surprises will crop up along the way.

Be Available

Part of clear communication from start to finish is making yourself available to answer the freelancer’s questions as they come up.

When I say “making yourself available,” I mean that you should be able to respond to your freelancer’s emails, texts, or phone calls during working hours within a reasonable time period. Your freelancer might have a question that could affect the course of the project, and you don’t want to miss out on something that important.

Give Them the Resources They Need

It’s true that a good workman brings the right tools to the job, but some tools are proprietary to the client. Freelancers might not always have access to the resources they need to get the assignment completed, so you need to provide them.

For freelance writers (like me), research is crucial. There are times where I can just Google what I need. However, I might also need to speak to a team member or access a white paper that isn’t online. Make whatever resources necessary to complete the project available to the freelancer. It’s not just about making his or her job easier; it’s about ensuring that he or she can get the job done.

Your freelancer bears some responsibility for the success (or lack thereof) of your project. Who bears the rest? You do. Your ability to communicate, your availability, and your willingness to share vital resources determine whether you’ll get the results you want or experience failure. Choose wisely, and not only will you succeed, but the freelancer will recommend you and want to work with you again.