A creative freelancer can be for life. Not just per project!

Treat them well, and it may just be the best investment you ever make.

It can be a hard life freelancing. No really, it can. I know that some freelancers (myself included) bang on about how great it is working for yourself, that you are your own boss, and that you can schedule meetings for the afternoon if you just don’t feel human before midday. But there are certainly some downsides. Being your own boss also means that you are your own marketer, sales chief and finance department all on top of what you’re really good at, which is whatever you’ve chosen to freelance in.

Now, I’m not going to rant about the things that annoy me when working with clients, because you’ve heard it all before. But, what I am going to detail in this post, is the ways you can help your freelancer work better, harder and happier. This in turn obviously has great effects on your business. Lets break it down.

  1. Be specific. Specific in what you want from them. Is it a video? So how long do you want it to be, whats the purpose of it? Evaluation? Marketing? A bit of both? Give as much detail as possible to them and in return you’ll spend more time using your product, and less time pulling out your hair over drafts. (Side note: If you aren’t sure what you want, ASK. Explain your project, the aims of it, your goals or targets and co-create with your freelancer to fully get the best out of them).
  2. Let them be creative. Its what they do. You don’t necessarily need to give them a play by play of how you want it done. Let the graphic designer give you a wild card design within the pack of the concepts, maybe you’ll fall in love with it and never turn back. Always bear in mind that this is what they specialise in.
  3. Give them the details. The more they know, the more you’ll get. I mean details of the project, who’s the target audience? Whats the overall goals of the project? This way they can take in all of the information to deliver a better, more integrated product.
  4. Treat them as a Human. Interesting point this one. I’ve heard many a story of designers, writers, editors being bombarded with messages at 2am with people trying to get changes done or wanting phone calls to talk things through. PEOPLE, IT’S 2AM! I love your work ethic but please, some people want to sleep. The exception to this would be based on having a positive relationship with your freelancer, this can only be achieved over time.
  5. Pay them on time. I really didn’t want to have to boil it down to this, but, the more I work, the more I learn. There are two main reasons I feel that creative freelancers should be paid and paid on time aside from the most obvious one. They are providing you with a service or product. The other reasons are as follows; firstly, the creative industries are saturated with people wanting to work, this is good. In my opinion creativity is the key to success, however, it means that some people will work for free, or for expenses, This again, isn’t the worst problem in the world, providing that its understood from both sides that the ‘payment’ is useful to the freelancers career, such as real connections, real paid work opportunities or even experience that is valuable. My advice for people wanting volunteer creatives is to offer support instead of money, so maybe an hours mentoring, or proper critical feedback on their work. This is useful. However, it does leave other freelancers, that may need to be paid for their work at a bit of a loss, as people tend to prefer free to paid. My suggestions here is understand why that particular freelancer is worth what they ask, and pay them. They have bills to you know. Finally, simply and honestly, please pay on time. Its hard enough for younger, maybe less experienced freelancers to find work, so that invoice from them might be their only income all month. Let them have it. If you’re happy with the work they’ve earned it.

So there you have it. Adhere to these fairly loose rules and you may just find a freelancer that you work with for a lifetime. Or at least a few projects. We love to work, for many of us its our life long passion turned into a career. Help support our dreams and we’ll help you support yours.

Paul Stringer

Film maker. Photographer. Loves bad jokes and sweets.