Tips on Managing Freelancers

| January 29th, 2009 | ,

It is the nature of any small business that it must fluctuate in size to meet the demands of seasonally larger projects. Freelancers are a great way to ramp up productivity without committing to long term employees. However, some freelancers can be difficult to manage. Here are some tips on getting the most out of a freelancer:

  1. Learn their schedule
    One of the main reasons freelancers freelance is they like the freedom of not having a rigid schedule. Also, some freelancers are nocturnal, preferring to churn out work while the rest of us are sleeping. Freelancers will often have schedules that don’t line up with the traditional nine-to-five workday the rest of us are used to. It is important to find out their availability up front so you can plan around their schedule. And let them know they will have to be flexible as well, and may have to forego sleeping in one day to make that afternoon meeting.
  2. Require them to track their time
    You will be on the hook to the client, not the freelancer. This means you will be accountable for not only managing freelancers, but paying them as well. Regardless of how your pay cycles work, accurate and timely payments are important to keep both the client and the freelancer happy. You have to be careful not to get stuck in a situation where the freelancer is demanding payment while the client has yet to cut a check. Since most freelancers work on an hourly basis, require them to track their time, and explain to them they will be paid based on this data. This system will take care of getting the freelancer paid, and give you the data you need to justify your expenses to the client. The more data you have, the less questions and problems you’ll have with your billing.
  3. Verify their reliability
    Good freelancers are difficult to find. Reliability is one of the most important qualities a freelancer can have. The last thing you want is for a project to fizzle because the freelancer has gone AWOL. Make sure your project is high on the freelancer’s priority list, and do anything you can to incentivize them, otherwise, you’ll find your project getting dropped because your freelancer made a last minute decision to spend the week in Vegas—which you won’t find out until after they’ve come back and the deadline is a distant memory.
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John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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