Over the years, I have worked with a number of clients. Most were professional and easy to work with, but some were new to the freelancing world, having never worked with an independent contractor before. These newbies looked to me for guidance into how, as many called it, the whole thing works.
I guided them to the best of my ability, but I couldn’t help thinking, in the back of my mind, that I shouldn’t have to guide them. If they are to the stage in their business when they are ready to hire outside help, they should have researched best practices. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Even clients who have worked with freelancers before don’t always know how to treat independent contractors.
The following is a list of best practices when working with a freelancers.
Things Not to Do When Working with a Freelancer
- Don’t act like you are the only client the independent contractor is working with. It’s likely the independent contractor works with dozens of short- and long-term clients and prefers not to give any special treatment.
- Don’t treat your independent contractor like an employee. The contractor is your equal not your subordinate.
- Don’t forget to keep track of the tasks you ask your independent contractor to do. It reflects badly on you if you question why something you asked for was completed.
- Don’t act as if you’re an expert in your independent contractor’s field. If you were, you wouldn’t have needed to hire him or her in the first place.
- Don’t email or call your independent contractor multiple times throughout the day, especially if it’s because you keep changing your mind. Not only does this take the independent contractor away from work, it causes confusion which could lead to conflict.
- Don’t avoid signing contracts or making payments. You’ll lose your independent contractor very quickly with these behaviors.
Things to Do When Working with a Freelancer
- Do be clear about your project expectations and needs. This will eliminate confusion and conflict.
- Do pay the freelancer what his or her time and talents are worth. Freelancing is how he or she makes a living and pays expenses.
- Do give your freelancer at least 24 hours to read and respond to messages and voice mail, more time over weekends and holidays. This shows you acknowledge the freelancer is not your servant and has other responsibilities.
- Do respect your freelancer’s business hours. Taking time off is the best thing a freelancer can do to avoid burnout.
- Do express any concerns or errors in a positive way. Being condescending is not only unprofessional, it could cause conflict by making your freelancer defensive, or it could cause your freelancer to, unconsciously, make more errors.
- Do give several weeks advance notice when you plan to end a long-term contract. After all, you would want notice if your freelancer left you, wouldn’t you?
Have you worked with a freelancers before? What was your experience like?