Working with freelancers: what I’ve learned

By September 5, 2016Thoughts

Living in this digital age which knowledge flourish and the stream of new ideas flow like the Mekong river, I have to admitted that it is impossible to be the best at everything. Alone within my practice discipline (I’m a digital designer by trade, btw),  there are at less fifty different skill sets ranging from illustration to front end development. As the Moore’s Law proven to be so true (it even speed up), new technologies invented and perfected everyday to make our lives better. Can you keep up with your world? I’m barely able to keep up with one creative field alone, not considering working multi or integrated disciplines.

There are ways to get job the job done, quick and quality without you spending weeks try to master new skills. Don’t get me wrong, I love to learn new stuffs and show it off to the work. However I do it on my own times and won’t use it until mastered. One of the solutions beside hiring a firm or employing someone is outsourcing to a freelancer.

Below is an example of what I’ve tried to do vs what freelancer can provide me with half the time spent:

Blessed with the speed of the internet, we are able to connect to people far far away and tap into their valuable capabilities and experiences, for a very very good price (not underpaying anyone, it’s the amount both parties agreed on). However, as a coin has two sides, there are some things I always look out for:

Having a good brief

Distance limited communications so you will need a good and detail briefs, either for recruiting or working on the projects. My experience lead me to believe by detailing what you want out of a project and how much you willing to pay, it will cut your recruitment time by half at least. Whoever bidding for the work know exactly what they are in for.

As an example, a graphic design’s project brief/scope should have:

  • Expected visual outcome (style, quality and quantity)
  • Budget and payment schedules
  • Time frame and delivery stages
  • References

Asking yourself if you limited their capabilities

I hired freelancers by judging their previous work examples and bidding that they can deliver the same quality outcomes. If they are failed to deliver what you agreed too, you have to stick with your brief and pursue the best results possible. However, don’t be so obsess with your plan and limit your freelancers.

I have met freelancers, who truly understand how business works and go the extra miles and deliver something much better than planned. So keep your scope opened for improvements.

Build a team for yourself

My target is never just about getting the jobs done. I am also building up my team, whom I know what they can do at what conditions. This allow me to quickly tap into other source of helps outside my office when needed. Also, your freelancers will greatly appreciated this.

Keep an eye on details when approving drafts

Any problems slipped through the draft approving process will cause potential delays or even budget blowing later on. Further more, it can cause frustrations which increased rapidly through time. So, look as hard as you can when approving drafts if you don’t want any complications later on.

P/S: If you planned to work with the same freelancers later on, tell them you want future projects should not repeat the same mistakes.

Asking for a bulk ordering discount

Don’t hesitate to ask for a discount when you ordering multiple jobs. Freelancers will gain great certainty plus potential savings on time, based on this you can negotiate 10-15% discounts with them.

Asking for post delivery bug-fixing and support period

If your projects are about developing an ICT products or such, make sure you ask for this. Bugs and issues might not be seen at the time of delivery, but over times with more usage times you will definitely find some. Ask for 30-90 days support / warranty periods if you can to avoid unecessary expenses.

Here are what I’ve learned from working with several freelancers. Hope you found some useful tips and good luck!

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