External Affairs: Five Tips for Successfully Collaborating with Freelancers

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14598392170_ac019b29f8_zPublishers hire all sorts of freelancers to help get books designed, printed, and marketed. Even in an entry-level job, you might find yourself in charge of finding and hiring freelancers to help with permissions, ancillary educational products, or design work. If you’re worried about finding the right person, or how to manage your relationship once you’ve hired them, look no further!

Fit is Everything

You want to find someone who knows what they’re doing, but also whose personality meshes with you and your publishing house. To find the perfect person, ask around. Maybe someone at your company has used someone great on a previous project, or a friend at another company works with someone frequently and loves them. Check out online resources like Elance, oDesk, or Freelancer and see if anyone comes up who might be a good fit. And don’t hesitate to reach out to local colleges and graduate schools, which often have students who can freelance for you. Look over your candidates’ portfolios and give them a quick call to make sure they’re the right fit for you.

Get It All In Writing

Your company probably already has procedures in place for when freelancers need contracts, so be sure to follow those guidelines. If someone doesn’t need a contract, though, it’s still very important to be clear and up front in an email—before the project starts—about what your expectations are for the project’s work, timeline, and compensation. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to address them right at the beginning, and the same goes the other way. If a freelancer has a question, make sure to answer it fully and quickly, so you’ll each know up front what’s expected.

Give Your Freelancer Space…

Trust that you’ve found the right person, and give them the freedom to do their job and be creative. There are two main reasons to hire a freelancer: they can do something you aren’t capable of doing, or they have time to do something you don’t have time to do. Either way, don’t breathe down their necks. It won’t help you get a better product and it won’t help you save time, either.

…But Stay in Touch

It’s okay to check in on how a project is coming along from time to time, since you need to know how things are progressing and need to enforce all your deadlines. It’s especially important to respond to requests for feedback quickly and in as much detail as you can, to keep to your timeline. If you don’t respond, or only respond with something vague like, “I don’t like this. Change the whole thing!” then you’re unlikely to make your deadlines, and you’ll only have yourself to blame.

Hold Up Your End of the Bargain

Once you’ve received your completed work and are happy with your final product, it’s important to pay your freelancers the agreed amount, on time. It’s only fair, of course, but it also helps you build a good relationship with your freelancer. If everything goes well, you’ll be able to use them again on other projects and know immediately what you can expect from them. That’s good for them, and good for you and your company!

Post photo by Markus Spiske (CC-BY).

This article was contributed by YPG member Kristin Maffei. To learn more about our contributors, visit the contributing writers page.

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