Over the last 5 years, I have outsourced over 200 projects to sub-contractors or individuals. During this time, I have learnt a lot about freelancers, being an employer, landing a gig and communication. Here are 20 tips that may help you to become a better freelancer or a better employer.
For Freelancers: Landing A Gig
Freelancer: The Universe Of Possibility – Source: Wikimedia.org
1. Provide a relevant sample to employers only. If you provide samples of everything you’ve ever done, you will look unprofessional.
2. Do not address employers with “Sir”, “Dear” or anything else. A simple “Hello FirstName” or “Hi FirstName” is much more professional and sincere these days. Addressing someone directly is the norm these days and shows you’re on par. Addressing someone with “Dear Sir” on a message board or a random mail may even prevent an employer from looking at your proposal, it is generic and not very personal. Of course, this is different from country to country, but employers in the US will prefer a more direct salutation unless you are writing a formal letter like a job application or something, but even then I would use something else to stand out from the generic crowd.
3. Improve your communication skills: Nothing looks more unprofessional than a proposal riddled with spelling mistakes.
4. Ask for more information. There is a good chance the employer is taking something for granted, which will cause more work on your side later on if you want to satisfy the employer. To avoid this trouble, ask as many questions as possible about the intended purpose of the project.
5. Think outside the box. Freelancers that address relevant issues before sending the work over for review are more likely to be hired over and over again. Always remember, a repeat customer is better than a one-time gig.
6. Never use gmail addresses. Most employers will not answer requests or business proposals they receive from gmail/hotmail addresses. It looks unprofessional and means you are still a beginner. Employers may use those mails, because they are easy to use for project coordination, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a branded address somewhere they use for B2B communication.
7. Give the employer a clear idea of what he can expect, when he can expect it and what additional costs may occur (for additional work).
8. Provide a little information about your background. What have you done so far, do you have a relevant degree to the job at hand? Have you worked in the industry before?
9. Be sincere and personal. Nothing screams more “I’m a generic copy-and-paste cat” than a one-liner.
10. Show passion. Why are you the right person for the job? Do you love what you’re doing? Show it.
For Employers: Getting The Job Done
Entrepreneurs: You Rule. Source: Wikimedia.org
1. Ask for a fixed price, avoid billing by hour. This will allow you to know the price for the entire project ahead of the project and allows for more flexible planning. In some cases, billing by hour can work in your favor, but as a rule of thumb ask for a fixed price.
2. Create a clear and cohesive project description. Add information about your intended purpose, about your budget and list all details that are relevant to the project even those your deem minor or redundant, but make sure the freelancer can scan your project description in a short amount of time.
3. Cut your project description into two parts: The first part is the short version. In one sentence, what is your project about. The second part includes the finer details. Lastly, below the two parts you can add additional information. At the very bottom, do not forget to include your budget or freelancers will ask for a lot more than you anticipated.
4. Provide all necessary information beforehand, including login details, possible problems and potentially some graphics.
5. Provide any information you take for granted. Most freelancers cannot think outside the box, they will follow your instructions precisely. If you forget to give any information that you take for granted or deem common sense, you will be let down.
6. Ask for samples before hiring anyone and review the samples extensively.
7. For bigger projects, create a PDF step-by-step guide. Even for smaller projects, recurring projects, this will help the hired freelancer to deliver quality work. Freelancers will excel if they receive step-by-step instructions they can follow blindly. Always keep in mind, most will not address any issue if you do not mention it.
8. Make the freelancer send in a preview version of the final work. Better yet, let him send in work after each step so you can review the work and give the freelancer feedback as early as possible.
9. Look at the presentation and communication skills of the freelancer. How does he present himself? Is it a small team or a one-man show? What does his proposal reveal about him/her?
10. Last, but not least, don’t always pick the guy with the most and best reviews. Give the new guy a chance. If he presents himself well and you talked with him beforehand, you can often get a great discount. The new guys has something to prove and wants to establish himself, so hiring a new guy makes perfect sense for your project: You have a passionate, motivated person or team that wants to make a name for him/themselves. Use that to your advantage.
Good communication is the key to a successful project. Planning ahead for possible problems will save you time. Be pro-active, be cohesive, be fair, personal and generous and you will get along just fine.
Business is not always about being the best guy for the job: It’s about relationships, integrity, loyalty and having fun.
With that being said, keep on rocking!