Monday, July 11, 2011

How to Treat Your Freelance Contractor

Now I’m a freelance writer, but these ideas apply to anyone who works as a freelancer whether he is a programmer, a designer, or an assistant. I have been doing this for about a year and a half, and I’ve had about fifteen different employers—good employers and horrible employers. Recently, I completed a long transcript of a teaching webinar that detailed how to hire freelance contractors. The advice that one woman gave was extremely complex, maybe a bit too complex, but it did sound like a very effective way to find good employees. Ironically, after typing this entire transcript and sending it to my employer on the day of the deadline, I didn’t get paid for a full week.

Now, a week isn’t a terribly long time to wait, especially if a client is busy and needs to review the transcript. However, ten days is a very long time to not communicate with your employee. Seriously, I heard nothing from this employer for ten days, and this was with me sending emails to her every day. They also told me that the audio was about an hour long, and it was over an hour and a half. This is a long time when you have to write out every word. So, I ended up underbidding myself because I thought the transcript would be much shorter. I asked for a bonus because of this, which I did not get. As a result, they got a less than stellar review from me.

This whole incident made me think about how I want to be treated as an employee, and what employers should do to treat their employees properly. It really is very simple.

1.      Provide clear instructions.

You have no idea how many people will post jobs with very little detail. Now, at times, I will send a message to ask for more information, but many times, I won’t even bother with those jobs. This also applies to the job itself. For example, if you all give me is a keyword or topic and tell me to write a 500 word article, you really cannot complain if you are not happy with the end result. If you want something specific, you need to tell me that upfront. Otherwise, you are just wasting everyone’s time.

2.      Communicate but do not badger.

I’ve had a number of clients, mostly foreign, who will send me fifteen messages in the course of the day, or who want to chat for an hour every day about the job’s details. First, I don’t have time. Second, you are really annoying. If you want to know when something will be completed, set a deadline for it. If I tell you that an article will be completed by the next day, then it will. Do not send me message after message asking me when I will have an article or a set of articles completed. Conversely, not being available at all is also useless. If I have a question, and you do not respond to your email for three days, then you are putting me behind schedule.

3.      Provide feedback.

Let me know if I am doing a good job. I will appreciate it. Also, if you have an issue with something let me know. Do not let me write three articles, and then tell me that my keyword density is too low.

4.      Pay well and promptly.

Throughout the freelancing world, there are people who think that they can pay a dollar for an article. Well, you actually can, but be warned, you’re going to get what you pay for. If you want a crappy article written by someone who doesn’t have the greatest grasp of the English language, then go ahead and pay a dollar. However, if you raise your price and screen your applicants closely, you will get better results. Also, pay for something when you receive it, or set up a weekly or monthly payment schedule. Do not make your employee wait for days to get paid. It will often cause you to lose employees.

I’m sure there are other important things that employers should do, but these are the most relevant ones that I can think of right now. Nonetheless, the employers who can provide these things are the ones who will have happy, good employees.

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