In today’s business sphere, hiring freelancers has become increasingly common due to the flexibility and cost-efficiency that independent contractors can offer. But misconceptions or unrealistic freelancer expectations will often hinder the success of these collaborations. Case in point: If you scroll through social media, you’ll come across a community of freelancers, influencers, and other creators openly discussing this issue.
Many freelancers, at all stages in their careers, encounter brands who want to negotiate free advertisement for their companies in exchange for…drum roll…creative exposure. Now can exposure be a form of payment? Absolutely. But when the two collaborators are not on equal footing, one of those parties (a.k.a. the hired contractor) will be at a clear disadvantage. So it’s time for major brands to cancel these toxic norms and archaic freelancer expectations and learn how to work together in a more efficient, equitable manner.
The Benefits of Hiring a Freelancer
There are numerous reasons to partner with a freelancer instead of hiring another full-time employee. While most staff members need comprehensive benefits and a secure job commitment, freelancers approach their work with a short-term mindset. Rather than traditional in-house perks, freelancers are usually motivated by a passion to leverage their unique skillsets on a contract basis.
If your organization needs to tackle a short-term project, this freelance route can be extremely advantageous. You’ll save on overhead costs, while reaping the benefits of specialized creative or technical expertise, accelerated project deliverables, a flexible work relationship, and effective risk management. However, it’s also worth noting: Freelancers have to combat many challenges in the business world. These issues primarily stem from the following expectations that clients often place on them.
Let’s Cancel these Freelancer Expectations
Freelancers might not perfectly nail their deliverables on the first attempt — and that’s normal. Freelancers are not mind readers. They do not work for your organization or attend various meetings with the rest of your staff. It is important to thoroughly communicate the entire scope of each project. Be clear about what you’re asking the freelancer to accomplish, then create reasonable deadlines and agree on the number of revisions. Provide constructive feedback to refine their work and be accessible for collaboration.
Many freelancers are accommodating with their time, but do not expect them to always be available at your whim. These creators chose the freelance route for a specific reason. (Hint: It wasn’t so they could be at someone’s every beck and call.) They need space to be flexible in order to churn out a stellar performance. Many freelancers also have multiple clients, so be sure to give them advance notice if you want to meet with them. Agree on working hours, response time, and availability during the interview. Then write these parameters in your contract, so that everyone is on the same page.
News flash: Your last freelancer’s price most likely will not be this new freelancer’s price. Moreover, freelancers with higher rates will not always perform best. A freelancer who charges less money should not be seen as less skilled — chances are, they just don’t know their true worth yet. Offering a fair price and honoring the contractor’s fee is a reflection on the core values of your business. Double check that your budget can account for a quality market rate and create space for reasonable negotiations.
Excessive micromanagement or supervision can stifle a freelancer’s creativity, efficiency, and productivity. Trust in the freelancer’s unique abilities and communicate all deliverable requirements as clearly as possible. Give freelancers the autonomy to manage their own workflow within the agreed parameters. If you are looking over their shoulder at each stage in the project, don’t be shocked if that same freelancer chooses not to partner with your business moving forward.
Collaborations require effort from both parties, so don’t rely too much on the freelancer’s intellectual property. This is still your organization — the freelancer has temporarily come on-board to accomplish a certain task, nothing more. (Of course, it’s fantastic when they do extra, but that shouldn’t be your goal.) Take an active role in the project and be forthcoming with all necessary information or feedback. This will foster a mutual relationship in order to achieve the best outcomes.
Required to Do Everything
Unless you’ve contracted an entire outside agency, be aware of freelancer limitations. In most cases, these creators operate as one-woman (or man) shows. Some projects require a team with diverse skillsets, so be aware of your needs before hiring a freelancer. Evaluate the whole project, then select the right person to meet those unique requirements. Or build a team of freelancers with complementary skills for large, complex jobs. This is more effective than assuming one individual can tackle it all on their own.
No Need for Contracts
If someone has told you it’s not necessary to use a contract with freelancers, this person was not telling the truth. Contracts will protect both entities, while outlining your concrete expectations. Always have a written contract with project deliverables, payment terms, and specific deadlines. This way, in the event an issue might arise, you can both refer back to what was initially agreed upon. So before anything else, consult with a legal professional to assist you in drafting an official, comprehensive contract.
Freelancer Expectations Removed, Time to Re-Build
Releasing these unrealistic freelancer expectations to form successful, positive connections is a strategic move that will pay off over time. Think of the freelancer-client relationship as a dynamic alliance in which both parties can thrive. Freelancers are not interchangeable resources — they are valuable collaborators who bring unique ideas, skills, and vantage points to the table. Nurture these assets because you never know when you might require a freelancer’s expertise again, or when they might introduce you to other professionals who could benefit your organization.
Freelancers occupy a distinct intersection. They are not woven into the fabric of your business, like full-time employees are. But on the flipside, they have a unique inside view of how the company functions. This outlook enables them to offer constructive, honest critiques and evaluations of your organization. As such, freelancers can be valuable allies in upholding the mission and reputation you hold dear. By establishing a respectful working relationship with freelancers, you’ll create an environment where trust flourishes. This can lead to more successful projects and connections in the future. To ensure a solid relationship with freelancers, make sure you do the following:
- Invest in your freelancer contracting and onboarding process.
- Maintain clear communication at all stages in the project.
- Respect freelancer boundaries and have reasonable expectations.
- Give consistent recognition and constructive feedback.
Working with independent contractors can be a mutually beneficial arrangement, but it requires clear communication, realistic freelancer expectations, and a collaborative mindset. By canceling these misconceptions, business owners can foster lasting connections with freelancers, which will ultimately contribute to long-term success.
Peaches Dean is a parenting coach and writer/author. She uses her decade of experience in working with children and families to fuel her passion for writing. Her goal is to empower women in their life’s journey, especially as it pertains to parenting.
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