Updated February 2023
Like a lot of agencies, we rely on freelancers. And as a former freelancer myself, I work hard to follow that old golden rule and treat people like I'd want to be treated.
4 ways to be better to freelancers
1. Provide reimbursement or support for payment options and platforms.
Some freelancers aren't set up to accept credit card payments, for instance, in part because it costs money to do that. Do your freelancers a solid and allow them to invoice for the cost of processing. You likely won't feel it because it's so incremental for an agency, but it makes a big difference to a solopreneur. Similarly, if you use a third-party payment system, offer to help your freelancers get set up. When you consider than one freelancer might have a different platform for each client, you start to see how much of a time suck enrollment can be. We pay via credit card, Venmo, PayPal and even old-fashioned check!
2. Pay freelancers promptly.
Seems obvious, but you'd be surprised how slow some companies can be to pay and what a strain that can be on a sole proprietor. Make sure freelancers know upfront -- before you sign them on -- what your payment terms are. This makes cash flow planning a lot easier for them, freeing their mind of worry so it can focus more on your project. We generally pay our freelancers once the copy has been approved by the client.
3. Share your budget.
We can save ourselves and our freelancers a ton of time over the course of a relationship by being transparent about what we can pay. Maybe it feels fun to be cagey about costs, but it eats up time on both sides of the transaction and it corrodes trust. If you really don't have any idea, say so from the get-go so you and your freelancer can collaborate on coming up with a fee. Learn more about the value of budget transparency.
4. Streamline and optimize feedback.
Reviews are one of the biggest time-costs in any project -- and the multiplies exponentially across your entire workload. It doesn't have to be. First, if a lot of people on your side need to be involved, review all their comments and changes before handing it back to your pro. Make sure you address conflicting comments/changes, answer questions and clear up anything else that might prompt the freelancer to write you back. Second, don't focus only on changes. Make sure to reinforce what's good about the work so those elements don't get changed in the process, and so the freelancer can start to learn what works for you. Get more advice for making feedback more effective and efficient for you and your freelancers.
The good thing about these recommendations is that they're relatively low-drag and yield big time savings across your team or organization. They also build loyalty, ensuring that top freelance talent chooses to work with you and not your competition.