Three Steps to Make Sure You Get What You Want from Your Freelance Pro

Three Steps to Make Sure You Get What You Want from Your Freelance Pro
Kate Headen Waddell - Mon Mar 29, 2010 @ 03:30AM
Comments: 14

Ace Up Your SleeveHiring a freelance marketing pro, copywriter, web designer, etc. is a great way to get fantastic results without laying out the cash required for a full-service agency or full-time employee. But hiring a freelance pro is not the same as ordering a pizza for delivery; you will have to put a little work into making sure your freelancer has what they need to succeed. And doing it right isn’t that complicated, it just takes a little concentration and a brief conversation before the project begins.

Knowing what to expect and what is expected of you will help your project go smoothly and ensure you get the best possible results. Your pro should actually help guide you through these three steps - if they don’t, proceed with caution.

1)      Be prepared to bring your freelancer up to speed. No matter how qualified, experienced or specialized your pro is, if he or she has never worked for your company before you will need to give them what they need to hit the ground running. For most projects this can be a link to your website and a copy of any style or messaging guides you have developed. It is helpful to send this over before the first project meeting so that your pro has a chance to look it over and prepare any questions.

2)      Be specific about what you want. Professional or not, freelancers aren’t mind readers, and there are a lot of industry terms that get thrown around pretty loosely. If you’re talking about a “white paper” but what you really mean is a case study or solution brief, you’re not going to be happy with results. Talk about length, audience, tone and content. Send over some examples of similar work you have admired. Your pro can guide you to the right terminology.

3)      Give appropriate feedback. Let’s say after all the prep work you still got something that wasn’t exactly what you were expecting. Shooting back a terse email that says “This isn’t what I wanted – try again” is a sure-fire way to not get what you want on the revision either. Give specific feedback on content (Is it correct? Is it covering what you wanted it to?), messaging (Is it addressing the right audience? Is it conveying the right message?), tone, length, and purpose will make your revision rounds much more productive.

Hiring a freelancer is easier than doing it yourself, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a little prep work involved on your side. Knowing what to expect and being prepared for the experience can lead to a smooth happy experience for everyone.

Freelancers and employers - Do you have any more tips on how to make projects run more smoothly? Share them in the comments section!

Comments: 14


1. Jamie Wallace  |  my website   |   Mon Mar 29, 2010 @ 04:56AM

Kate -
Great and crucial tips. To abbreviate the post, it's the old adage about junk in, junk out. You have to provide clear and complete direction if you hope to get a good product at the other end of the process.

I'd add that you should also be really clear about other aspects of the project like scoping deliverables, timeline, and budget. I often perform a dual role as writer and project manager & it's incredibly important to a good relationship to have everyone on the same page right out of the gate. Making sure there's agreement on the deliverables, deadlines, costs, and out-of-scope items is critical to keeping everyone happy. It's all about clear and consistent (keep everyone up to date as things change) communication.

2. Kimmo Linkama  |  my website   |   Mon Mar 29, 2010 @ 05:18AM

The creative and the administrative are nicely summed up in the post and Jamie's comment.

I'd just like to add one thing, perhaps the most important of all, as far as the results go: make it clear what the MWR—the Most Wanted Response—is. In other words, what you want the recipient of the communication to do after seeing the result of your freelancer's work.

A freelancer myself, clear goal-setting is absolutely crucial to success.

3. John  |  my website   |   Mon Mar 29, 2010 @ 07:21AM

I hate bringing them up to speed, but it really has to be done

4. Sarah Mitchell  |  my website   |   Mon Mar 29, 2010 @ 03:18PM

Hi Kate,

You've included really good advice here. I can't say how important your third point is: Give Appropriate Feedback. I recently took on a project for a new client to write a white paper. I delivered the first draft and got very positive, but vague, feedback. After 6 weeks with no edits, they paid my final invoice. Two weeks after final payment, they asked for a meeting to go over the edits they needed.

Here's the short story: One of their staff decided to edit the document instead of asking me to make the small changes required. He's not a writer, got carried away and totally corrupted the content. I've been asked to come in and rewrite the document. It's not really that big of a deal because I've got the original draft. However, my client wasted 2 months trying to do this themselves and ended up with an unusable document they hated. I'll get it all sorted out in about a day but it's been a lot of unneccessary work on both sides.

I wonder what they would have done if they hadn't liked the draft?

5. Kate Headen Waddell  |  my website   |   Mon Apr 12, 2010 @ 04:03AM

Sarah - Wow. All I can say is that I will NEVER be surprised at how a client handles anything. As freelancers, the best we can do is guide clients through the process with as much direction as possible. But in the end they will do whatever they think is best - even if that leaves us scratching our heads.

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