5 Big Mistakes Agencies Make Working With Freelancers - Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies

5 Big Mistakes Agencies Make Working With Freelancers

By Jason Swenk on February 21, 2018

Are you frustrated working with freelancers? Does your agency experience high freelancer turnover that leaves you stuck, or sometimes screwed? The struggle is real! Learn the 5 big mistakes agencies make using freelancers and what you can do to avoid frustration.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • 5 big mistakes agencies make using freelancers.
  • How to avoid pitfalls of working with freelancers.

Today I talked with Nathan Hirsch, CEO and founder of FreeeUp, the agency he formed after numerous frustrating accounts with the freelance/hiring process. FreeeUp connects businesses, of all sizes, with vetted freelancers. Today he shares the five mistakes he sees agencies make when using freelancers and is here to help us avoid those pitfalls.

5 Big Mistakes Agencies Working With Freelancers

MISTAKE 1: Hiring one freelancer to do a multitude of tasks.

It can seem like a great idea to hire one talented person with a large skill set to manage a large portion of the agency work, but what happens when they leave? You are left scrambling.

INSTEAD: Diversify. This is important with your clients, finances and also with your freelancers. Split things up and diversify your delegation of tasks as much as possible. This will make replacement costs minimal when a turnover does happen.

MISTAKE 2: Sticking with one freelancer for all things.

It is easy to get comfortable with employees but freelancers do not hold loyalties. They are working for others so their availability and loyalty varies with their workload.

INSTEAD: Build up your agency’s freelancer rolodex. It is beneficial to have two to three freelancers available to your agency. That way if a large project comes down the shoot, you can request time from whomever has the bandwidth. When you rely on just one freelancer, you could be left scrambling if he/she is booked when you need them.

MISTAKE 3: Treating a freelancer like an inessential outsider.

It can be easy in the bustle of agency life to hand over projects to freelancers, get them back and move on; treating the freelancer like a commodity.

INSTEAD: You should have a goal of bringing them on full-time. Freelancers are, usually, freelancing until they can get something more stable. So when that opportunity comes along, they’re going to say yes to a permanent position. You’re goal should be let your agency be the one they say yes to.

Turnover is expensive and painful. Anything you can do to reduce it is in your agency’s best interest.

  • Until you able to offer a freelancer permanent employment, keep them engaged.
  • Treat your freelancers well and let them know how they’re contributing.
  • Keep freelancers involved and a member of your agency community so they want to stay with your agency.

MISTAKE 4:  Being vague with timing and due dates.

A lot of times we unintentionally leave deadlines up to interpretation. Ten hours be one ten hour day, or ten one hours days. You can’t know the freelancers current workload when receiving their estimates and sometimes it’s unclear which leads to disaster.

INSTEAD: Manage expectations up front. Get these two numbers from your agency’s freelancers when estimating a project for you:

  1. Estimated hours. How many hours it will take to complete and at what hourly rate?
  2. Due date and time. Make sure you’re clear with the client’s due date and build in your buffer. Make sure the date is clear and what time of day you should expect the work to be handed over.

MISTAKE 5:  Assuming the freelancer knows what you want.

Just because they are a freelancer in the agency industry, does not mean they know what your agency or clients expect. Remember, most freelancers are working with multiple agencies, all with different processes and procedures.

INSTEAD: Set expectations right off the bat. Days and hours of availability, preferred method of communication,etc… all those things your agency expects to see in it’s employees. Have these expectations written down and get the freelancer’s sign off.

Related: Solving Sucky Staffing Issues

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