Freelancers are invaluable to the advertising industry. When a creative project looks like it’s about to derail, calling a freelancer could be just the thing that saves it. In addition, freelancers routinely fill skill gaps, which offers greater flexibility and cost savings for ad agencies who, in turn, avoid having to hire full time staff. Nonetheless, mismanaging your freelancers can become a costly, if not timely, exercise.
With this, here are our Best Practices for getting the most out of your freelancers.
1. Plan and budget for freelancers.If you’re not already using freelancers then it’s likely you will, especially if you’re trying to grow your ad agency. Having a list of freelancers already prepared when the need arises means you won’t be running around last minute trying to find one. Keep an ear out for any referrals which is a great way to build your freelancer list.
If you’re using freelancers then you need to budget for this. While it seems easier to cost it out on a project to project basis, it’s wiser to build the cost into your annual budget so that you also cover yourself in emergencies.
2. Meet and greet your freelancers.
While freelancers (across industries) are often hired digitally these days, it’s worth organising a meet and greet in person. Remember, you not only want to hire the person with the right skills and experience, but someone who is a good fit for your agency. Once you get the mix right, you’re more likely to have a reliable freelancer on the books who can deliver on brief and deadline.
3. Agree on the terms and leave no stone unturned.
Before any work commences, your freelancer needs to understand and be agreeable to the rate, the scope of work and deliverables. Always make sure that the start and end dates of the project are clearly outlined. Just as importantly, define what will and will not be covered in the rate such as travel and food allowances. To secure the deal, send the freelancer a contract to sign agreeing to all of the terms.4. Keep your friends close and your freelancers closer.
Some freelancers will work inhouse but the reality is that many live remotely - in other cities, even other countries. Still it’s important to keep the lines of communication open so that if they have any questions you’re available to answer them. It’s always good to check in regularly with your freelancer to see how work is progressing. Some ad agencies are using agency project management software which tracks all project work so you have full visibility over everyone’s work, including your freelancers. The tool also enables freelancers to access marketing assets and upload and exchange files quickly and easily.5. Treat your freelancers as you would like to be treated.
There’s something to be said for treating people with respect. If your freelancers feel valued, they’ll work harder and go the extra mile for you. Of course, it’s a two-way street. If your freelancer is unreliable or delivers sub-standard work, then don’t re-hire them.6. Beware of over-kill.
While a reputable freelancer is a great asset to your ad agency, if you over-utilise them then you’re just wasting good money. If you do notice your agency is relying too heavily on freelancers then perhaps its time to review and streamline your processes, or potentially bring someone in on staff.7. Keep one line of communication open for work directives.
You absolutely want to avoid confusing your freelancer by having three people direct them. Likewise, you don’t want a situation where you end up paying for more hours because someone else in your team has instructed the freelancer to do extra work. Your freelancer should only have one point of contact and an emergency back up to avoid confusion and higher costs.