Managing Freelancers When You Hate to Manage People
I enjoy a sort of busman’s holiday when I develop and create my own websites. I get to open up my left brain for content ideas on personally engaging topics and connect with an audience of like-minded people. In turn, I try to develop technical and marketing skills that I can turn around and share with freelance writing clients. I have fun, generate some extra income, and add to my freelancing stack. I regard the process as lots of fun and productive but fairly self-indulgent.
Why Hire Freelancers?
The main thing that I dislike about being my own boss is having to be anybody else’s boss. For example, I might develop a video script but lack the tools and experience to produce a professional video. When I decide I need to write an eBook, I know I need to hire a cover artist. I really do enjoy working with freelancers but like many sole proprietors, I would rather not have to manage them.
As a freelance writer here at WriterAccess, I’ve learned a lot about guiding freelance writers from many incredibly effective clients. I’ve also spent time reading suggestions about the best ways to manage freelance talent from authorities on the topic. If you need to hire freelancers but would prefer not to spend much time and energy managing them, take a moment to share some lessons I’ve learned.
Five Tips for Managing Freelancers (When You Dislike Managing)
This is my personal checklist of tips to get the best results when working with freelancers:
1. Communicate the Big Picture
When you start off by making sure your freelancers understand your overall goals, you help motivate them by sharing some ownership in your project. When good talent knows how their task fits into your plan, they’re also likely to understand their work and ask better questions. In fact, I’ve worked with plenty of smart freelancers who have used their own experience to offer suggestions for improvement and yes, caught my mistakes.
Takeaway: Good freelancers are experienced professionals and not mushrooms, so there’s no reason to keep them in the dark.
2. Provide Examples
If a picture’s worth 1,000 words, a good example can save you 10,000 words of explanations and better yet, lots of time-wasting revision requests. When I take new orders from my own clients, I always appreciate links to examples and some explanation of the qualities that make these pieces good.
HubSpot also suggested providing not-so-good examples, so your freelancers will know what you don’t want. I haven’t seen many of my own clients do that, but I plan on taking this suggestion in the future.
Takeaway: If you’re getting bogged down in instructions, find examples of what you do and don’t like.
3. Introduce Your Audience
As a content strategist or business owner, you understand your audience very well. You cannot expect freelancers to have your perspective. If you have already developed buyer personas, you can supply a sample of these to your talent. Otherwise, you might simply link to some popular websites with a similar audience. Again, good examples can help reduce the details you need to include in your instructions.
Takeaway: Help freelancers understand your voice and audience.
4. Develop Clear, Concise Instructions
No matter what else you do, you will need to explain the job. Depending upon the task, instructions might contain lots of details or only a rough outline. I rarely micromanage because I generally hire freelancers who have skills I lack. Also, have I mentioned that I hate to manage? I just need talent to meet me at the finish line with a quality product and expect them to know how to get there.
From my own experience, I’ve also learned how easy it is to miss details in long blocks of text. If the instructions start to grow longer than the project, it’s usually time to break the work down into tasks that you can explain with fewer words and to rely more upon examples.
Takeaway: Strive to hit the sweet spot with instructions that are detailed enough but not too complex.
5. Remain Friendly
Since I mainly communicate with my clients and freelancers online, it’s hard to know how they perceive me. I hope to sound friendly and positive about working together. Still, by the time I hire talent, I often have dozens of red-hot irons in my digital fires. I may strike some people as curt when I’m really just distracted.
Naturally, you will want to let your freelance talent know that you are approachable in case they have issues or questions. Hopefully, your tone and words will demonstrate that you assume the best and not the worst.
Takeaway: Even if you don’t love managing freelancers, let talent know that you expect a positive experience.
Find Freelancers You Enjoy Working With
Sadly, every freelancer doesn’t click with me or my goals. Especially with new freelancers, I prefer to break projects down into simple tasks with simple instructions. You should probably consider the cost of testing out new talent as part of the price of doing business.
Despite my reluctance to manage other people, I’ve had mostly great experiences. I’ve had the luxury of working with lots of professionals who manage themselves and would rather not be micromanaged. Of course, I am personally biased towards working with this kind of talent because I’d rather not manage. On the freelance writer side, I will admit that I suspect some of my repeat clients tend to revisit me because they feel the same way.
You may have a different type of project or personality. Obviously, you will need to find a good fit for your own unique needs. Here at WriterAccess, you can find the perfect writer for your project, industry, and personality.
Marilyn K has enjoyed working on a variety of freelance writing assignments for the fantastic clients she has connected with here at WriterAccess. She’s a reliable and versatile writer who strives to make every piece relevant and interesting for herself, her clients, and her readers. Marilyn brings years of real-word IT, digital marketing, writing, and insurance experience to the table.