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A creative freelancer can be your ‘secret weapon’ if you master the engagement process

The benefits of outsourcing a creative project to a specialist freelancer are endless for business owners. Firstly, you don’t have to delegate the task to a staff member who might not be the most skilled person for the job. You’re also freeing up internal resources to focus on their own role. And outsourcing to a creative freelancer also allows you to set your own parameters and budget for the project.

But locating, hiring and briefing a freelancer is a new skillset that business owners need to master if they’re going to get the best outcome. Particularly if you’re on the hunt for a savvy, independent creative type that you want to really understand your business and ensure they feel part of your team, regardless of whether they work on the desk next to you, or from their own office.

Here are seven essential steps to ensuring creative freelancers are a good fit for your business:

1. Understand your motivation

Firstly, understand that a freelancer can become a part of your business. A secret weapon, if you like. Creative freelancers come in all walks of life, they operate in their own way and have a variety of specialist skillsets.

For example, they could be web developers, copywriters, graphic designers, photographers, creative directors, project managers, illustrators, journalists, app developers or more. These folks are taking advantage of technology improvements to unshackle themselves from employers to forge a freelance career in their chosen field, selling their skills via the interwebs.

Creative freelancers relish the chance to come in and solve the problem for you. They want to roll up their sleeves and do something creative that presents your business in the best light. They may want to work in your office, or they might prefer to work from their own office. Be prepared to be flexible about the creative process when you’re hiring great talent, and encourage them to ask questions to get the best of out the experience.

2. Write the brief

Take some time to nut out exactly what’s involved in your project, and implement a deadline. Most briefs give a decent amount of detail about the project expectations, include some background material, perhaps a few links to examples of related work you like or don’t like, and explain what you’re expecting to use the creative work for. 

3. Start the search

Sure, you can place a job ad on one of the online job boards and hope for the best, but we recommend being proactive and actually searching for a freelancer that you want to work with as well. If you’re wanting an Australian freelancer, most people have a browse through LinkedIn, and ask other businesses for recommendations.

It’s worthwhile dropping a few freelancers an email or picking up the phone and asking a few questions to see if they’re the right fit for you. It’s important to opening your mind to hiring a creative that you might never actually meet – remember, the best freelancer for you might just happen to live on the other side of the country by the beach, and that’s OK. Location-independent freelancers are just as easy to work with as someone sitting in your office thanks to email, phone, Skype or Zoom meetings.

4. Look for the skills you’re after

Remember, the best freelancers focus on a few service offerings, and do them well. Look for information on how they work, samples of their work, testimonials and how long they’ve been at it for.

Also, make sure you check out their work history online, take a read through their website and ask to see similar work from that freelancer to see what they produce and if it’s similar to what you’re after.

Shortlist two or three freelancers and send them your brief, asking them to provide a quote and inviting them to come back to you with additional questions. This process could take a couple of days.

5. Review your quotes

Sending out your brief to a couple of freelancers you’re interested in working with and asking for a quote can be a very telling experience. Some will go to great lengths to provide a backgrounder on how they work, what they can provide for you, and a quote. Others might not be so thorough.

Review each quote, and be sure each includes information on both project inclusions and exclusions.

Make sure there’s capacity for a couple of rounds of proofs or edits. Even if you’ve provided a thorough brief and hired a quality freelancer, this protects you as the client and ensures you end up with a product you’re able to use.

6. Don’t go for the cheapest

The best freelancer for your project might not be the cheapest. What they charge is entirely up to them, and will depend on their professional reputation, experience, who they’ve worked for in the past, and whether the skills they bring to the table are hard to come by.

Once you’ve made your selection, make sure you set regular intervals to check on their progress. It’s also a good idea to start with a smaller project, and build up. Expect to pay a deposit to secure their services. Most freelancers expect between a 10% of 50% deposit.

7. Provide feedback

Make sure the work has been completed to your satisfaction. Don’t be afraid to ask for a few changes if the finished product isn’t quite what you’re after, and provide feedback on their work. Pay the freelancer’s invoice on time, and offer a testimonial if you’re willing to.

Refer work to the freelancer when you hear of others seeking someone with their skills, and keep them in mind when your next project requiring a freelancer comes along.

About the author

Nina_Hendy_thumbnailNina Hendy is a business journalist & wordsmith as well as the founder of The Freelance Collective – an online curated community of top Australian creative freelancers. 

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Nina Hendy

Nina Hendy

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