“What do you wish people knew about working with you as a freelancer/ creative, or about working with freelancers in general?”
The response to this was resounding and I thought it would make an interesting post for those already working with, or interested in working with freelancers from any given field.
Here were some of the points raised – please note: I have generalised these somewhat, they are not strictly applicable to all freelancers and the ways in which individuals think and operate (but mostly they are!)
1. First and foremost, us freelancers probably work harder than any agency you know 😉 Jokes aside, there are some great agencies out there and a lot of these points probably apply for them too!
2. Typically, freelancers roll with more than one project at a time, and while we pledge to give each of our clients our very best, it’s important to remember that we do also have other clients and other commitments.
3. For communications with clients, most of us prefer to keep these within “business hours”- ie the standard 9-5 working day. Even though many of us work at times which are more productive for ourselves (early mornings, late at night etc) we probably don’t really want to be on the phone or ‘Whatsapping’ with clients at these times. Also managing your expectations about communications with us is imperative, sending an email late on a Friday evening and expecting a response in your inbox that day or first thing Monday morning is not really fair or realistic.
4. When a client dismisses our processes right in the beginning of a project, sad face – we have spent time (and often money) in creating these protocols and although many of us are flexible to a degree, we do have a set procedure to ensure things run smoothly not only for ourselves, but also for our clients, so that we can meet expectations and do our best work for you (and our other clients)
5. Detailed briefing is SO important – we aren’t mind readers and most of us will ask the right questions to draw the info from you that we need, however, part of the briefing process requires a bit of work from the clients side and some of us have had instances where we’ve even had clients withholding inspiration/ideas for fear that we won’t use our own creativity (this is certainly not the case for me personally, the more you give me, the better I understand and can explore/execute your vision!) An email trail is also key and useful later down the line.
6. Beyond briefing, preparing and supplying info/content (and any other things your freelancer requires) BEFORE starting on the project is equally as important (eg. if you are working with a website designer, have your copy edited/proofed and ready to go, likewise with imagery – your freelancer will discuss these requirements with you beforehand)
7. Our rates don’t start from ‘free and upwards’ – this is how we make a living and believe it or not, most of us aren’t charging ‘an arm and a leg’ – after tax and expenses, there isn’t much leftover. Being ‘creative’ is not easy – it takes time. And even if it doesn’t take time, it takes great skill to make it take less time. Time costs money. Also, don’t forget that you get what you pay for – so, sure, someone can do it cheaper or faster, but it may not always be good 😉
8. That brings me to the The Magic Triangle – you can only pick two: cheap / fast / good!
9. Signed agreements and deposit payments up front are absolutely necessary and totally the norm. We are not here to fleece you. (Unfortunately there are scammers out there who have given the good guys a bad rep though, so make sure you work with a reputable and experienced contractor.)
10. Payment: always on time and according to agreed upon payment terms / timeframes – it’s really that simple. Don’t hire us or use our services if you do not already have the money in your bank account (this is a pet peeve for me especially, I’ve had clients reply to the email with my final invoice saying “oh, I’m having a really bad month, can I pay you next month?” – errm, no!)
11. Feedback: we really like it – even when it’s not great! We are professionals and not (easily) offended because feedback is a tool that helps us towards achieving the common goal. Timeous feedback is important too, if your comments aren’t received on time, your work will possibly get moved down on the priority list.
11. Treat us as collaborators and not as employees – treat us with respect and we will pretty much give you our all. It’s all about relationships and relationship-building, a little humanity (from both sides) goes a long way.
12. A good understanding of copyrights and ownership is a must – there are many resources online on the subject, but you can start with discussing this directly with the person you are hiring, and the details of it should also be outlined in your formal agreement/contract.
13. Lastly, many of us are flying solo because we value two main things – creativity and autonomy/independence – don’t be afraid to ask us to think outside the box, do something different, and then try your best to TRUST US to deliver 😉
All this said, most of us freelancers also know that it is entirely up to us to make sure our clients know all these things upfront! The purpose of this post is NOT to slate our clients/future client and/or to point fingers or lay blame – we totally adore you and you are the reason why we do what we do!
A large chunk of our day to day work involves managing client expectations, communicating with clients and related project management/admin -never mind the actual creative work!
We also know that every client is different and that some haven’t worked with contractors before, while others are seasoned pros – either way, we know WE can do a lot through our own actions and experience to help with creating an enjoyable and mutually respectful partnership.
Hope you’ve found this round-up interesting and useful – would love to hear what you think about these tips if you are currently using / planning to use a freelancer for some work in the near future; and/or from other freelancers out there with anything to add/share – please comment below ♥
Shout out to all who joined in the original conversation: Justin, Jonelle, Ashley, Dee, Sean, Cath, Amy, Peter, Claire, Deborah, Bryan, Melissa, and Mia – your insight and thoughts were amazing and appreciated.