Many agencies rely on freelance help to complete client work faster and for less money than it would cost to hire in-house talent.
From large campaigns with many moving parts to last-minute one-offs, freelance talent can help bridge the gap in many areas.
But getting everyone on the same page when people outside the agency are working on the project is often easier said than done.
Whether an agency is temporarily short-staffed or looking to bring in vendors to consistently work with their internal teams.
It’s important for agency leaders to ensure all parties understand timelines, deliverables and other expectations.
Below, Forbes Council members share their top tips for making sure freelancers understand the agency’s goals and the specifics of the projects they’ve been assigned.
- Use a two-pronged approach
First, put the exact requirements of the project in writing – including expectations, deadlines, resources, speakers and syllabus – and provide any other documents or background information they may need. Second, schedule a quick phone call where they can ask questions and clarify the task. This two-pronged approach goes a long way to ensuring that goals and deadlines are met and both parties are satisfied.
- Treat freelancers like teammates
The key to building strong bonds with freelancers is to treat them as if they were already on your team. Include them in project meetings beforehand. Have a written scope of work that details assignments, deadlines, and who the other team members are. Make room in the plan for edits, rewrites, and so on. Basically, make everyone in the process accountable – not just the freelancers.
- Be clear
Have a statement of work written for your freelancers. Be upfront with your expectations. I encourage agencies to have a trial period because much of the industry is sink or swim; if freelancers don’t follow or fit into your team’s work ethic, you can have a chat.
- Create a starter package and a clear brief
Create a starter pack and a clear brief for suppliers. Company culture shouldn’t just be for permanent employees. Everyone who walks through the door should be informed of the agency’s goals, processes and vision. My advice to agencies is to create a clear roadmap for the vendor that leads them to the vision you are working towards as a team. –
- Correctly define and explain tasks
Provide a detailed brief or task that has been properly defined and explained by the manager responsible for the project. Freelancers and contractors have the same interest in achieving the best results as employees, so it is extremely important to ensure that they are on the same page as management. Setting clear goals and expectations for the project ensures better communication throughout.
- Provide sufficient history and context
One of the biggest mistakes freelancers and contractors make is throwing them in without proper context and instruction. Sometimes because we want to move so fast and hire experts, we don’t give those experts the right information and context to be successful. Before you ask them to create something, take the time to instruct them and talk about the history and context.
- Don’t leave too much to their imagination
You hired them because you trust their skills and their judgment, but you shouldn’t leave too much to their imagination. You need to bring a clearly articulated project vision to freelancers and contractors and arm them in advance with the assets and information they will need. If you’re constantly looking for clarification or asking for revisions, you’ve lost the value of outsourcing that work.
- Start with the Creative Brief
Whether written or shared in a meeting, all teams should be informed of the project’s goals, objectives, milestones, deadlines, and any creative aspects. Next comes teamwork and communication. The team stays in sync with open communication throughout the project. Finally, workflow tools are key to project transparency, efficiency and milestone control. – Monica Alvarez-Mitchell, Pulse Creative, LLC
- Share key information about your agency
Instead of just sharing the details of the assignment, share key information about your agency (and possibly the client). Think mission statement, company history, and so on. Ask a freelancer or contractor to read this information and sign to confirm that they have read it. Then call them to answer any questions they have and ask some of your own to make sure they’re prepared and on board.
- Loop of Freelancers in process
Involve freelancers in the process and provide as much context as possible. Make sure your creative brief clearly conveys the mindset of your target audience, campaign or project purpose, message, tactics and positioning. Let your accounting team spend time preparing your freelancers for success. Don’t think of them as expendable resources, but rather as equal members of your team.
- Provide basic framework and details
I make sure all suppliers have a story of the agency and why they are there. This helps them understand what makes us value our unique approach. It’s also important to give freelancers more detail for each task, not less. Providing this basic framework and providing as much detail as possible will reduce the time they need to deal with the assignment.
- Integrate and interact initially
In addition to a documented brief and client case study, have a one-on-one call to explain your business vision and goals. Inform freelancers about your unique value propositions and discuss what you expect from them in their roles. Let them ask questions and give them all the information and training they’re looking for. You will be amazed to see the wonders of two-way verbal communication.
- Communicate clearly and concisely
Have clear and concise communication. You want to make sure everyone is clear on what their role is and what they are trying to achieve. It’s also important to make sure you’re all on the same page about timelines, deadlines, and expectations. Make sure everyone involved understands what to expect from each other and when to expect it.
- Create a branding guide
One of the best things you can do is create a branding guide. This will allow freelancers to look at all of your agency’s standards and mission and make sure they align with what you do. It’s a great way for everyone to get on board and be a part of the brand.