As a freelancer and business owner, I know that time = money. I've always been conscious of how my time is spent, and it's one of the big reasons I made the decision to work for myself. I could never get over the concept of having to clock in a certain amount of hours when the work I did varied from day to day.
And since becoming a freelancer, I'm still very conscious of how my time is spent -- both for myself and the clients I'm working with. Whether you're a fellow freelancer figuring out what to look for in new positions, or a manager that isn't sure the best way to communicate to freelancers, I wanted to outline some tips based on personal experiences:
- Provide a project budget, and build out a billing structure from there.
This probably sounds obvious; but there have been several freelance projects that I've created proposals for that I had very little knowledge of the budget for. It's just like shopping for any big-ticket item -- if you don't provide a budget, you're likely going to be shown items that will be out of your price range.
If you start working with a freelancer that has a higher hourly or project rate than you expected, or if you go over the number of hours you wanted to allot to the project, you'll wind up spending much more than you wanted. And freelancers, it's best to iron out this information to ensure you'll get paid in a timely manner for the project and there won't be unexpected prices.
- Determine turnaround times.
At times, clients can expect you to work like you're in-house, turning around edits in a matter of minutes. Other times, you'll be waiting days for clients to respond to emails. Even though unexpected hurdles may come up, it's a great best practice to always provide a timeline and expected feedback and turnaround times.
For someone hiring a freelancer, it's also good to go over any pertinent deadlines on your end, so that the freelancer will be prepared and is ready to clear out part of their schedule for you.
- Outline all of the set deliverables.
As a designer, I base the programs I use on how the design will be featured. I once was designing an infographic for a client that I assumed would be used on social media and email; it wasn't until the very end of the project that the client mentioned that it would be printed. Because of the printer capabilities, I wound up needing to reformat the majority of the project. If I'd asked up front how the files would be used, I would have gone about creating them in a completely different way.
Even though freelancers often assume the client will provide them with this information, it's not always the case -- and sometimes the client isn't sure what all details you need to know. It's important to bridge that gap and ask the right questions so there's no surprises at the end of the work.
- Get all of the above in writing.
Last, but certainly not the least important point. Always, always create a contract. It doesn't matter if you're doing work for a friend or a Fortune 500 company -- a contract protects both the client and freelancer, and also ensures you're paid for your work! If there's any hiccups along the way of the project, the contract is always there for you to go back to.
What do you think about this list of ways to maximize your time on freelance projects? Anything I missed? Feel free to drop your thoughts in the comments below!