Many agencies — including my own — use freelancers to get projects done on time and cost-effectively.
Outsourcing work that your in-house team can’t handle can be a great way to get more done without breaking your budget.
Unfortunately, I’ve learned from experience that working with freelancers can present its own unique set of challenges. Because they’re not internal employees, they don’t always feel like they’re a part of the team.
However, the truth of the matter is that freelancers can be just as much a part of your team as anyone else, which means you may want to incorporate them into your goal setting and plans. When your freelancers aren’t aware of the goals your agency is trying to achieve, they may not understand where they fit in the big picture of business success. It’s important for every team member — even external ones — to understand the agency’s goals. Everyone needs to be able to work together to ensure that the appropriate steps are taken to advance. Furthermore, being transparent with freelancers can help them feel included and make them more invested in the work they’re doing.
Here’s how you can incorporate freelancers into your agency’s goals.
1. Share Your Focus
When I first started working with freelancers, I only gave them the information I thought they needed to get the job done. I’d give them a list of to-dos, pay them for the results and move on.
After a while, I found that the results weren’t as strong as they could have been. The freelancers understood what they should be doing, but they didn’t see the big picture. So I started sharing my long-term goals and focus. I let them know what the agency was trying to achieve, and how they fit within that picture.
This improved their work exponentially. Now that they understand how the end result is going to be used, they deliver better work that requires fewer revisions.
2. Create Long-Term Relationships
When you outsource to freelancers, you typically want to work with someone you can trust. However, if you’re only hiring freelancers for one-off work, it can be difficult to know who’s worth your time and investment.
I like to work with the same freelancers time and time again. Once I find a freelancer that I know can provide the quality of work I’m looking for, I keep in touch so they can take on new projects. Because they already understand my needs and preferences, it makes the process easier.
Foster long-term relationships with freelancers who do good work — even if you don’t have the work for them right away. Let them know you’d like to reach back out when you have a new project and be open about when that might be.
3. Create Specific Goals For Freelancers
It’s important to remember that freelancers are not the same as employees. However, this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be a part of the goal-setting process.
While each freelancer has their own way of working, I like to set individual goals with my freelancers for what I’d like to accomplish. This may include a certain number of projects or simply sharing my intentions for how I’d like to work with them in the future.
Including freelancers in goal setting can help them feel invested in your work. It also can give them an idea of what kind of projects they can expect moving forward, which can help them understand where you may fit into their own business goals.
4. Get Freelancer Feedback
Although freelancers aren’t internal employees, they’re still a part of your team. They can express opinions, ideas and feedback in the same way that your in-house team can.
I love running new ideas by the freelancers I work with, especially if they’ll play a strong role in how the project will be brought to life. By getting an external perspective, I can get a better idea of whether the concept will turn out the way I hope.
Let your freelancers know that you value their opinions, and encourage them to speak up. Specifically, ask for their thoughts, and ask whether they have any ideas on how something could be improved.
If you want to get the best results possible from the freelancers you work with, treat them as part of the team. Help them fully understand how they fit into your agency’s goals.
Find freelancers that you enjoy working with and that consistently provide you with great work. Create strong relationships, and share the goals you’ve established for your business. Finally, bring them into the loop by letting them know what specific role you see for them in achieving those goals.