Freelancing has become increasingly popular over the years. In 2014, there were 53 million freelancers in the U.S.. In 2019, this number grew to 57 million, which means freelancers now account for over one-third of the U.S. workforce.
Many marketing and SEO agencies hire freelancers for content creation, graphic design, SEO campaigns, social media management, and other tasks. In fact, the most common type of freelance work is skilled services, which includes consulting, programming, and marketing.
There are countless benefits to hiring freelancers. Working with freelancers allows marketing and SEO agencies to reduce payroll costs. It also gives agencies the opportunity to hire people with very specific skills that are needed to complete certain projects.
But there are some drawbacks, too. The larger the freelance team, the more difficult it is to manage. Here’s how you can effectively manage your freelance team regardless of its size:
Create An Effective Onboarding Program
Deloitte’s 2018 Human Capital Trends report revealed that only 54% of businesses offered formal onboarding and training to freelancers. Although freelancers are not the same as employees, they should go through the same onboarding process when they start working with you.
Use this time to set expectations for freelancers and tell them about every aspect of your business. Walk them through each step they will need to take to work on projects and introduce them to other freelancers they will be collaborating with. This is also a good time to make sure they can access any tools or systems they need to use to complete their work.
Taking the time to onboard new hires, regardless of whether they are employees or freelancers, will make it easier to manage your team in the future. The onboarding process will help your freelancers understand exactly what needs to be done and why, so they won’t have as many questions moving forward. By the end of the process, they will be ready to dive into their work without your assistance.
Freelancers that produce high-quality work are much easier to manage than freelancers who don’t. But if you want a freelancer to produce high-quality work, you need to help them improve by providing feedback on a regular basis.
When a new freelancer starts, provide feedback on every task they complete. This means leaving constructive feedback when their work needs improvement and leaving positive feedback when they nailed their assignment.
Your team can keep this feedback in mind when they work on other assignments, so their work should slowly start to improve as time goes on. Eventually, they will understand exactly what you are looking for so they will be able to produce the type of work you need without your assistance. Once freelancers reach this level, managing them is a cinch.
Provide Detailed Instructions
It would be nice if freelancers could read your mind so they knew exactly what you were looking for when working on a project, but that’s not how it works. If you want to avoid fielding countless questions, doing dozens of rounds of edits, and missing deadlines, make sure you provide detailed instructions whenever you assign a new task.
If you are asking a writer to create content, for example, your instructions should include:
- Type of content (blog, landing page, video script, etc.)
- Target audience
- Targeted keywords
- Word count
- Competitor examples
- Specific points you would like to address in the content, if necessary
This gives freelancers enough information to produce high-quality content that meets your expectations. But if you fail to provide this information, you could end up wasting hours working closely with the freelancer to fix it.
Share Your Big Picture Goals
Freelancers are hired to work on specific tasks. Their knowledge of your business is limited, so they may not understand who they are performing the work for or what purpose it serves. This often makes freelancers feel like they are out of the loop. It can also affect their ability to interpret your instructions or meet your expectations. If they aren’t sure what your goals are, they won’t know the best way to help you reach them.
To solve this problem, help them understand how their work fits into your company’s big picture. Explain the role they play so they can produce more cohesive, high-quality work for your agency.
Providing this insight will ensure everyone on your team–both employees and freelancers–are moving in the same direction and working toward the same goals.
Respect the Freelancer Lifestyle
Many people choose to freelance because they want more flexibility in their work schedule and more control over their workload. Keep this in mind when working with freelancers. You shouldn’t expect your freelancers to work the same hours you work, so there’s no need to panic if they don’t immediately respond to a phone call or email. Be patient–they will get back to you.
Also, remember that freelancers usually work with more than one client at a time. You probably are not the only client they are working with, so it’s not fair to constantly ask them to prioritize your work. Set realistic deadlines that give your freelancers enough time to produce the high-quality work you expect.
Use A Project Management Tool
Above all else, use a project management tool that simplifies the process of managing your team of freelancers. Using a project management tool makes it easy to assign and track tasks so you can make sure your freelancers aren’t falling behind or missing important deadlines. You can see the status of each task at a glance so you know exactly what everyone in your team is working on at all times.
Using a project management tool will also centralize your communications. You can communicate directly with employees, clients, and freelancers within the tool, so you won’t need to constantly check and respond to emails or instant messages.
Look for a project management tool with time tracking and invoicing features, too. This way, your team of freelancers can use one tool to complete their work, track how much time they spend working on each task, and invoice you for their work once it’s complete. Being able to do all of this within one tool streamlines the process of managing dozens of freelancers.
There are many project management tools out there, but none that can compare to Gryffin. Gryffin was built by digital marketers, so it was designed with all of the features that marketing and SEO agencies need to efficiently manage teams of all sizes. Start your free 14-day trial today.