I recently read an article on LinkedIn by Vivienne Neal about how companies should manage freelancers (which is well worth a read if you have time) and one part really resonated with me. It advised that freelancers should be treated as part of the in-house team. It said:
Give them time, answer calls and emails promptly, don’t think: ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Value their input, treat freelancers as human beings that are temporarily part of your company. Be polite, don’t keep them waiting for responses.
I was able to relate to this in many ways. I have received some lovely and heart-warming feedback over the two years I’ve been self-employed, I’ve received some extremely helpful constructive criticism that’s helped me grow and then I’ve heard nothing from clients – zip – nada.
As a freelancer working with communication and marketing teams of various sizes, I believe this simple act is imperative in how a relationship between a freelancer and client is managed.
Keeps the project on point – at the end of the day the freelancer is there to do a job. We know this, and you know this. By feeling part of the team, the freelancer will naturally be more focused on that project and can implement any feedback quickly. Just like permanent members of staff, if you invest in them, they will reward you.
Reassuring – imposter syndrome or the feeling of thinking we are not talented enough is felt high numbers by freelancers on a regular basis. A call, email or text will go a long way in reassuring your freelancer that they are valued. Freelancers are human beings and sometimes need support. Your communication gives them that.
Maintains the relationship – especially in uncertain times like these where the threat of budget cuts could lead to job losses and contracts being terminated, our professional relationships are going to be tested. Out of sight, out of mind is not a fair way to treat a freelancer. You also never know when you may need to bring that freelancer back. If they feel valued and included, they will want to work with you again.
A word about feedback.
As a freelancer, feedback is so important, and it goes hand in hand with being treated as part of the team. Yes, we can use it on our websites and on social media to raise our profiles (that’s what we’d tell our clients to do) but it’s more personal than that.
Feedback does not have to be pages and pages of text and it can come in different forms – tracked changes on a document, an email, a call or event a quick text to say how the project is going. Whatever form it is, it’s imperative that a client does this small act for their freelancer – I promise the relationship will be better for it.