4 Tips for Entrepreneurs Working with Freelancers

By Aimy Ngo

There are a number of challenges associated with running a business, not the least of which is how and when to outsource projects. Almost everyone struggles to find the time to handle everything on their to-do lists but many don’t realize all of the resources available to them. Saving time saves money, and as small business owners know all too well, identifying core competencies can save a lot of time. It’s important to know which projects you can undertake and complete with quality results — everything else can be outsourced to freelancers.

Outsourcing sounds simple enough, but entrepreneurs may realize there are some nuanced complexities to deal with when working with freelancers. You may find yourself asking questions like “How should I manage them, or the project?” or “How should I share feedback?” Don’t settle for a product that doesn’t match your expectations or investment, be it a questionable illustration or copy with an inappropriate tone. All business owners can work more effectively and efficiently with freelancers who have different backgrounds and perspectives by following a few simple guidelines. Managing a freelancer is a lot like working with a new remote employee: establishing and agreeing upon on terms, goals and communication styles goes a long way in developing a strong working relationship with freelance partners.

Find the right talent

Finding talent is the first and arguably most important part of the process. It might also be the hardest. It’s kind of like dating: it can be hard to find someone that meets all your needs in your immediate vicinity, which is where online platforms come in handy. Budget is often the first point of consideration when vetting freelancers, but you shouldn’t pick someone based solely on price. While it’s important to find a partner that can work with your budget, online freelance marketplaces guarantee a selection of options in all different price ranges, making it easier to find someone with the style or experience that resonates with your business. If you already know you can afford their help, spend some time talking to potential partners to see if their vision aligns with yours.

Be clear about the project and vision

It’s critical to the success of your project that you and your freelance partner are on the same page. You can establish a sense of agreement from the start by setting clear guidelines and metrics for success. Consider the end result: if you can find examples that represent the desired results those can be invaluable reference materials for a freelancer. Examples of what to avoid can also spare some revisions later on. Be as clear and detailed as you can — remember that what may be obvious to you likely isn’t to others who don’t have the same in-depth understanding of your business and customers. It’s equally important to be just as clear about any other expectations you may have for the project, including the total scope of the project, your budget and timeline.

Test the waters

Don’t delegate a major, time-sensitive project to a freelancer right off the bat, especially if you haven’t worked with him or her before. It’s good to test the waters a little first and ensure you can continue working together. The first test should always be samples of their previous work — check to make sure they’ve handled projects at least somewhat similar to yours before. The next step is to actually see the freelancer’s work applied to your business — try working with the freelancer on a small or trial project before you both invest time and money in a larger project. Along these lines, it’s also wise to include multiple rounds of revisions in your timeline so you’re both satisfied with the finished result.

Work as a team

Once you’ve found your freelancer and established the terms of your project, success is rooted largely in how you work with them. Hired experts are more like partners than employees, so you should treat them with respect and like an extension of your team. Remember, you hired this person for their outside expertise, so they likely know the best way to complete the project.  At the same time, don’t be afraid to level-set with them. Be vocal about what you want — a strong working relationship requires open communication and trust. This can be intimidating, but constructive criticism can improve your project and your freelancer’s overall approach. Along those lines, payments are a quick way to build or break trust with a freelancer: pay them on time and in full for services rendered. A lot of freelance marketplaces take the hassle out of this step and handle payments for you, but if you have an individual agreement with someone, stick to it — a freelancer is just like any other vendor or team member and should be paid on time.

These guidelines may seem simple enough, but the devil is in the details. Throughout the process of choosing and working with freelancers, be detailed in what you do and do not want from them. There is no such thing as over-communicating when it comes to your business. If you fail to provide freelancers with what they need to succeed with you, you both fail. Being thoughtful about who you work with and how to get things done can unlock unforeseen potential for you and your business.

Aimy Ngo is a Business Development and Market Strategist at Fiverr, the world’s most transacted marketplace for creative and professional services. Her focus is on driving growth through strategic partnerships and market opportunities. Aimy has a background in strategic and innovation consulting for Global 500 and FTSE 100 companies. She is a Mogul Influencer, Education Pioneers Fellow and a rising voice in the areas of entrepreneurship, the gig economy and women in tech. Follow Fiverr at @fiverr.