10 Tips for Managing Your Creative Freelancers
Around one in four businesses now use freelancers - and putting them to work can be especially beneficial for specialist creative projects. For one thing, they can plug skills gaps that may be difficult (or expensive) to fill internally. Alongside this, they can bring valuable fresh perspectives, and generally breathe new life into marketing campaigns.
But how do you make greater use of freelancers, while still ensuring that those campaigns stay on brief, on time - and consistent in terms of messaging? Read on to find out…
Define what you want to achieve
“We need more eye catching visuals”, “We want greater use of video”, “Our next campaign demands the wow factor”...
Any or all of these might be true! It’s just that if you really want to put freelancers to work in the most effective way, you’re going to have to be more specific. It should be more along the lines of, “We need X number of videos for Y campaign.” You should also be very clear on budget and timeframes.
Find the gaps: Carry out an internal skills audit
Why pay for work to be carried out externally - when it can (and should) be done in-house? To ensure your budget is spent in the best way possible, carry out a full review of what your existing team are capable of - and those genuine gaps you need to fill.
You may be pleasantly surprised here. With templating tools for instance, you don’t need to be a graphic design specialist to create some amazing assets.
Build your pool early
Having identified the areas where you need help, build up a bank of freelance talent to call on. This avoids a last-minute scramble when you actually need the work to be carried out. Sources of people may include referrals from existing employees, LinkedIn and via your employer branding campaigns.
Basic project management tools: Think visual
Especially if multiple freelancers are going to be working together, it helps to be able to collaborate in an easy and organised way. This includes being able to see at a glance what needs doing - and when. Tools such as Trello are especially useful for this.
Set a clear brief
This includes communicating in the clearest terms what you need doing, when you need it by - along with any special considerations to be taken into account. This enables self-selection at the freelancer’s end (they are much better able to decide themselves whether they are a good fit for the job!).
Set realistic timeframes
If a campaign is due to go live on 1st of the month, set your deadlines way in advance of this (if possible). It gives plenty of time for any snags to be addressed without a last minute rush.
Provide a rule book
Depending on the specialism, this may include style and tone-of-voice guidelines, along with branding do’s and don’ts and layout specifications.
Put everything all in one place
It’s amazing how much time a freelancer can waste looking for up-to-date materials across multiple locations! A central brand portal means more time creating and less time searching.
Have a clear reporting structure
Give freelancers a go-to contact - not just for submitting work but also for addressing concerns that might arise along the way.
Check in regularly
Especially if it’s a complex project, split it into bite size chunks and stipulate separate deadlines for different milestones. This means that whoever is responsible for revising and reviewing isn’t left with a mammoth editing task at the end.
With the right tools and processes in place, you can stay in much better control of the production process.