Freelance projects are a convenient way to partner up with talented designers, writers, and tech geniuses for online marketers on a time or budget crunch. As a professional that has been on both sides of the negotiating process, I have come across some situations that have provided insights that need to be shared. No matter which side of the fence you’re on, there are some very clear-cut tips that should be, but often aren’t followed. Here are some spring cleaning tips for your project work.
-Know what you want.
One of the biggest time wasters in any negotiating process is running before you can walk. If you aren’t ready to launch a project until 2015, don’t start shopping for a contractor today. Be ready to rock and roll the first time you start your search. Discussing hypotheticals is useless for you and the freelancer who you just spent an hour devising a plan to open virtual hotel on Mars in the year 3000. It makes great content for Conan O’Brien’s new show, but it’s not going to help you make money, or friends in the industry.
-Know what you can afford.
Big problem with a lot of you online marketers- you’re big BSers. Yup, I said it. STOP LYING! If you have $2/ hr to pay a programmer, Fine but don’t look stateside. There are plenty of sites out there who will find you a freelancer from a third world country for a penny a day. If that’s what you want, great. Quality is probably not important to you, and that’s ok (more on this below).
Sometimes you just need a project done and skill sets are irrelevant. If you want Einstein to solve your math problems, though, expect to pay accordingly. I can’t tell you how nuts I go when unnamed potential clients try to ‘do you a huge favor’ by giving you a 500 page novel to write for $5 or less. It’s great that there are service providers that can meet any budget, but you get what you pay for. Freelancers have to pay their bills just like you do.
-Quality Score Your Project.
This tip will help in almost any facet of your business. Know what you’re willing to sacrifice and what you absolutely can’t live without. Think of your project on a scale of 1-10. Rating relevant aspects of your product, service, or project by budget, quality, deadline, and experience needed will help you find the right person for the job. It will also save you time- you won’t be calling anyone and everyone trying to convince them that your $5/ 500 pager is reasonably budgeted. What does saving time do? Save money! Why? Time is money. Come on, biz big shots, you already knew that.
-Know When to Say No.
Just like every freelancer out there won’t be perfect for your project, your project won’t be perfect for every freelancer. If the initial consult doesn’t go well, or you’re questioning the knowledge or abilities of the vendor day 1, trust your instincts. The issue with the availability of hundreds of thousands of freelancers is some will be more qualified then others, while some won’t be qualified at all. You know how everyone thinks they’re a ‘social media expert’? It’s ok to tell them politely, of course (at first anyway) that they’re not.
-Help Me Help You.
I try to make this a key theme in almost every post I write, because it is so absolutely essential to any project. If you’re difficult to get ahold of, set deadlines that get missed because there’s documents missing, or are never happy but don’t communicate that without flipping out well after you spent $10k but made 10 cents, you are your own worst enemy. Communication is key. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rocket scientist, a marketer, or a CEO. If you can’t express what you want calmly and efficiently, you’re not going to get it. Remember, you hired a developer, not a psychic.
While not everyone has the philosophy of ‘I turn down work because I can’- most freelance workers operate their businesses the same way you run yours. Have the same attitude. While there won’t always be a perfect match, you can pick and choose who you trust your business with. As with any deal, read the fine lines and in between them. A little prep work goes a long way for you and your bottom line.
Dina Riccobono is the VP of Business Development for 1938 Business– a video advertising/production agency. She is returning to the online TV space with a new show, 1938 Cares, launching this month on the 1938 Media platform.