Working With A Freelancer: How To Set Clear Expectations & 7 Tips For A Successful Partnership

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Before embarking on any project, it is critical you and the freelancer read from the same script about the work ahead, deliverables, and timelines. There are certain categories whose deliverables are not easy to define. Such categories include telemarketing, social media marketing, lead generation, and SEO. Ralph Martson said that you should raise your level of performance to meet your expectations, instead of lowering your expectations to meet your performance. Most of the freelancers who have gone through frustrations in their career have not been able to make their expectations clear. Freelancing needs clear instructions otherwise you’re on course to unmet expectations, and then frustration. Read through this article to find a few tips to ensure your project is on the path to success.

1. Be real

Ensure you have realistic and clear expectations. It is critical to work in tandem with your freelancer to be clear on what they can deliver, and at what time. If you approach any project without clarity of instruction, you will be shocked when your freelancer does not deliver. When you have projects whose deliverables are unclear, such as blog posts or logo designs, you will need to be very specific. Such projects consume a lot of time before you can see the final product. It is therefore important to work with your freelancer and set realistic, time-bound, and achievable milestones. For instance, you cannot expect a freelancer to give you the top-ranking search in Google overnight. A freelancer cannot deliver 10,000 Facebook accounts in a day. No one can achieve such results within such short timelines. Here are a few examples of project descriptions that are clear, and easy to achieve:

  • In telemarketing: Call a list of 1,000 people from 8am to 5pm GMT today. Welcome them for a seminar, and assess the results.

  • In social media marketing: Design new content such as photos, videos, articles, and quotes every day, and post them. Ensure they are on the company’s accounts on  LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube pages, and Facebook.

  • In SEO: Conduct thorough research of 200 keywords that are related to a given business. Ensure these keywords can generate a lot of traffic.

Setting expectations is not a one-way issue. You should rely on the expertise of your freelancer to determine the deliverables that will give you the result you need. Moreover, the deliverables should be within your time frame and budget. You can test your prowess by working on the available projects on Freelancer.

On the other hand, freelancers should not promise anything that is beyond their ability just so they can excite the owner of the project. Even though the freelancer is advertising their work and expertise, perform due diligence before committing your project to anyone. If a promise seems too good to be true, do not hesitate to ask for details before your hire them. Find out how they will deliver on their promise. You will escape a lot of frustrations if you follow this.

2. Start it

You should endeavor to meet your freelancer before they begin working on the project. Such a meeting is necessary so you can iron out any differences, and lay out your expectations. If your freelancer has any issue, they should raise it then. Discuss your expectations for the project, let the freelancer state how they will meet each of them, and assess if you are happy with this. If your project is one-time, give it to the best freelancer you can find. If you have an ongoing project or a long-term one, agree on the frequency of checking in with each other, and set achievable milestones. With such issues addressed, your project will get off to a good start.

3. Communicate as much as possible

The freelance world incorporates people from all walks of life, from all across the globe. You need to understand your freelancer may not be a native English speaker. Your means of communication should be comfortable for you both, so you may understand each other. Whether you are communicating via phone, chat, or email, be clear and concise, and avoid using slang or idiomatic expressions.

4. Test your freelancer

When you are in the freelancing business, you will find many freelancers who promise unrealistic delivery timeframes. If you encounter a newbie in freelancing, it is prudent to give them a small project and assess how they manage. Do not rush to give anyone a large project. A test project should have a short deadline to ascertain if the freelancer is fit for the work ahead. The test project prepares you both for what lies ahead. Make sure you pay your freelancer on a fixed-price or hourly basis. You may not find a freelancer who is ready to do a free test, since they are here to make money.

5. Be open to receiving feedback

Feedback is a two-way street. Once the freelancer has finished working on your project, be kind enough to leave some feedback. It should be based on how the freelancer worked for you - and make sure to ask them to leave some feedback for you. They could be having ideas on how you can improve communication, improve your speed of payment, or enhance your style of work. You will find that the feedback will help you improve on your next project.

6. Make sure every project has a contract

Do you need a contract for every project with any freelancer? How do you get the right freelancer for your work? Having no contract makes it hard to finish many projects so make sure to have one in place before you commit. This does not mean every project needs a new contract. All you need is a general agreement that takes care of the basic, yet critical terms the freelancer agrees with you. Your contract should cover:

  • High quality work with no plagiarism or grammatical errors

  • Do not disclose your proprietary information

  • Terms of payment. How much will you pay for the project? When will you make the payment?

  • The freelancer should be ready to carry out any revisions you deem fit

  • You and the freelancer can terminate the project at an appropriate time for both

7. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no.’

Many freelancers do not have the courage to say no. This happens because everyone wants to be the best, and they attempt to work on every project that comes their way. You don’t want to discourage anyone, so you try your best to fit in the shoes of the freelancer. However good you may be, you will always frustrate someone. A freelancer may deliver a project that is below your expectations, and you have no option but to reject it. They may have put long hours into the work, but you need to say no if the project does not meet the minimum standard. The freelancer will be disappointed today, but they will improve for their next client.

Freelancing is not a walk in the park, especially for newbies who think they can make money easily. Even expert freelancers, in any field, can disappoint you when you least expect it. It is important you make sure you set realistic expectations to all level of freelancers. No one will admit they are unable to handle a given project, especially if it pays well. To succeed in your work, manage it well, hire the best freelancer, and ensure they give their best.

Whether you’re an old hand at freelancing, or just starting out, did you find this article helpful? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Postat: 21 august, 2017


Entrepreneur & Creator

Nick is the Entrepreneur Correspondent for He is based in Sydney, NYC, & London. His life consists of frequent flyer points.

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