Hiring a freelancer can be tricky business. You want to make sure they’re trustworthy, that they’re up to the task and that they’ll get it done on time (as well as a plethora of other concerns!) These worries can lead to tunnel vision, with you focusing so much on your project that you forget there’s another person on the end of the phone. But ultimately it’s important to treat your freelancer well. So here are some handy tips on etiquette when hiring a freelancer.
1. Freelancers are not mind readers
A quick Google search will reveal a veritable menagerie of horror stories from designers and other creatives. Often top of these complaints is a client who has no idea what is is they want! Before you even think about hiring a freelancer, figure out the exact fine details of your project and write them down in unambiguous terms. Clear specifications on font, colour and layout are helpful; vaguely telling them you want it to “pop” is not. Similarly, if you want something changed, know what is wrong in the first place. A very simple example:
“I’m not sure about that red. Could we try it with purple instead?”
“The colour isn’t right. Change it.”
It’s clear which is better!
2. Freelancers are not charities
When you’ve got your commercial head on, it’s easy to convince yourself you are doing the freelancer a favour simply by hiring them (“you can build up your portfolio” might be one excuse that springs to mind). But this is disrespectful to someone who, like you, is trying to earn a living. Don’t ask them to do free speculative work; if you want to test their ability, give them a small part of the project to start with and see how it goes. Similarly, never ever ask someone to work for free. If you can’t afford a freelancer’s services, it’s best to back off and rethink. It’s a big faux pas to ask for free work, so keep this piece of etiquette in mind.
3. Freelancers need to eat
Please please pay your freelancer on time! If you weren’t paid, you would not be happy. If you’ve set up a payment plan, or promised payment by a particular date, keep those promises. If you’re worried about forgetting, make it easier for both parties and pay upfront. Having a clear budget in mind to start with helps you to avoid these problems.