How To Manage Your Creative Freelancers

If you’re in the creative industry, you probably spend a great deal of time managing freelancers. With multiple jobs active at any given time, managing your creative team can become a complex endeavor, even for the most organized team leaders.

Hiring freelancers is often the most cost effective way to get various jobs done without having to invest in a full-time staff, but herein lies part of the problem: how do you manage a team without completely knowing the level of output or when the next fire-drill is going to hit?

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Finding & Managing Your Creative Team

With a full-time staff, at least they’re there when you need them. You know how to get the most out of your team, how to motivate them, and how best to put their skillsets to use.

The other side of the coin is that although freelancers may be really good at what they do, they might not know anything about your business initially, which could potentially fuel the need to bring them up to speed with the job at hand – a task that can require a good amount of your time. Or that ideal resource has already committed to other work, compromising your timeline.

If you are knee-deep in deliveries and suddenly discover you need to hire a freelancer (or five), the last thing you want to be doing is be scrambling. Many companies work with agencies who specialize in managing freelancers, and having such a partner can save you a lot of time and trouble. Here are some handy tips for managing freelancers:

1. Figure out in advance when you might need a freelancer

You probably have a fairly detailed schedule for the next few months or so – maybe even for the next year. When you break down the work that needs to be done, you should be able to identify what areas might require a freelancer or two. The further in advance that you can plan, the greater the probability that you will get the talent you need.

2. Make a list

Don’t wait until a project gets the green light to start your search, make sure to identify your pool of freelancers ahead of time. If you’ve worked with external resources before, compile a list of the ones you like the best for future use. Not every talent is available at a whim, so having a reliable pool can help save you in a time crunch. We recently launched Talent Pool to make it easier for our clients to stay organized and ditch the cumbersome freelancer spreadsheet.

3. Hire freelancers that fit with your job and your team

Just like hiring a full-time crew, your freelancers should share your company’s culture and standards. Additionally, hiring the right person for the job will save you a lot of time and aggravation. For instance, you wouldn’t hire a senior developer to do a junior-level project. Don’t hire a print guy to do a web job. There are plenty of freelancers who will jump right in and say ‘I can do that!’ but in reality, you’re not doing them or yourself any justice, and the job may suffer because of it. Hiring freelancers with the right experience will make all the difference.

4. If needed, let your clients know you are using freelancers

This may seem innocuous, but if you hand your client something that doesn’t look like previous work, it may raise a few questions. So be up front about it, let the client know that you are using a freelance creative team and assure them that under your direction, they have a good understanding of the brand, the job and what’s at stake.

5. Define the scope of the work

Deliver a detailed brief, just as you would to your dedicated team. When your freelancers know what is expected of them, the work will be completed faster, more efficiently and with fewer concerns along the way. Once you have set out your expectations, stay on top of the situation and make sure everything stays on course.

6. Don’t give only production work to freelancers

Freelancers love creative freedom and will bring a fresh perspective and new creativity to your projects. With that in mind, try to give them space. That doesn’t mean giving them total creative license, just that you should try to strike a balance between the project requirements and the freedom for your freelancers to get work done.

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