by Coleen Hanson Smith, Oak City Communications
The gig economy is surging – hopefully leading to a greater pool of freelance talent for corporate marketers to choose from when your to-do list gets out of hand or you just can’t justify an extra FTE. Coming from the corporate side, though – I know firsthand how hard it can be to land a truly exceptional freelancer. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your freelance talent at least once a year – just as you would a regular staff member. When evaluating your freelance lineup, here’s how you know you’ve got a freelancer worth keeping.
- They Don’t Need Babysitting. Let’s be honest, no one in marketing has time for that. After all, that’s why you hired a freelancer in the first place! If all your freelancer needs is a brief project overview and a deadline to get the job started, chances are you’re in good hands. From there, maybe you have a few key check-ins before you’re presented with a deliverable that’s just what you were looking for.
- The Work is Solid. Work is on-time or ahead of deadline – EVERY.TIME. You trust them to talk to your most important customers, your executives or your board members – and you don’t worry for a moment about the impression they’ll make. When the work comes in, it requires minimal changes. Not only that, the finished product makes you (or your organization) sound better than you’d imagined when you assigned the project.
- They Don’t Keep You Guessing. Flaky freelancers are the worst – which is why your best ones never leave you wondering if your latest call or email is off in the abyss of the flaky freelance world. When you email or call – you get a response, and quickly. Even if it’s just to say – ‘I’ll take a look and get you an outline by Thursday morning’. If you need them in a pinch, they’re there for you with a quick turnaround project or an impromptu brainstorm session. They make you feel like you are their only client – and you KNOW you’re not.
- It’s a Good Fit. Just like the yoga pants they probably wear every day, your freelancer should be a good fit for you and your team. If your culture is ultra-formal and professional, they should be as buttoned up as you are (i.e. They ditch the yoga pants for meetings!). If you’re a laid, back, go-with-the-flow type of team, your freelancer doesn’t get frustrated with shifting priorities and fluid deadlines. When working together on an ongoing basis, the culture fit and rapport you have with your freelancer can be (almost) as important as the work itself. While you don’t need to be best buddies, if the thought of communicating with or working with your freelancer is a source of frustration or angst, it’s time to move on.
- You Get More Than You Asked For. Maybe your freelancer offers suggestions on how to use the content they delivered in new and different ways. Or better yet, maybe they read an industry headline and pitched you a content topic you hadn’t even thought of yet. Freelancers who offer support above and beyond the job for which they were hired demonstrate they are invested and committed to you and your business.
- You’ve Thought About Hiring Them. Finally, if the thought has crossed your mind to extend your freelancer an offer to join your team – chances are you’ve hired the right support. Just don’t be offended if they say “Thanks, but no thanks!” Good freelancers have often chosen to work for themselves (rather than those who “fell into it” in between jobs). Plus, one great benefit of having a freelance team member is they bring a different perspective that comes with being one step removed from your team. Cherish this and let them stay independent – you’ll both come out on top.
In closing, if most of these signs relate to your freelancer, you’re in luck. To keep them by your side, your best bet is to keep them busy, keep them engaged and let them know you appreciate their work. The more they know you value them, the more time they’ll keep set aside for you and your projects.
Need a freelancer who checks all these boxes? Drop me a line and let me know how I can help!