If you are working with freelancers, you know how hard it can be to find the right fit – an independent consultant who does their job well and with whom you work well. I know you want to keep that freelancer on your team for as long as you can. So here are a few tips to help you do just that.
Communicate your desire for a long term relationship
It doesn’t matter if you have a large scale project with ongoing workload or you have a series of small projects on ‘as needed’ basis. What matters is you tell that freelancer you want them on your team, regardless the project.
If you don’t do that, you risk missing an opportunity to bond with the freelancer. You may lose him or her as a team member because of other commitments he or she has made, unknowing of your desire for long-term relationship.
Give your top freelancers financial bonuses
Like employees, freelancers work for the money, not because they don’t have anything better to do 😀
In other words, no freelancer would be offended or would refuse if you gave them a bonus for a job well done. To the contrary! A financial bonus will make your relationship stronger because the freelancer will feel appreciated – it’s nice when reaching a milestone translates into a financial incentive for them as well.
Update your freelancer’s wage on regular basis
Giving financial bonuses might be a recommended tactic but updating the pay rate on regular basis is more or less mandatory, if you want to keep working with that specific freelancer.
As time goes by, their experience grows and their skills improve. Naturally, new clients seek their services at a higher pay rate. Their schedule is filling up quickly. Eventually, they start filtering active contracts depending on their revenue.
In other words, if the freelancer’s work has direct or indirect impact on your business bottom line, you must update their pay rate every 6 to 12 months. How often you will do this depends on the workload, the freelancer’s role in your project and how complex his or her tasks are.
Discuss your plans on regular basis
When you discuss opportunities for future cooperation, you strengthen your client-freelancer relationship. Such conversations give the freelancer a feeling of belonging and security. They feel appreciated and better see themselves as part of the bigger picture when it comes to your projects.
Make sure you send them work on ongoing basis
Even if you don’t have any immediate tasks for the freelancer whom you want to keep on your team, continue the communication with them. Don’t hire new freelancers for a quick job – give it to that specific freelancer you want to keep in the long term. This way you show your loyalty to them as a team member. It matters. Lead by example – be loyal to your freelancers and they will pay you back the same way.
Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB) says
I’m just completing the process of working with a team of two on my upcoming eBook cover. We’ll be doing a series of covers for two different related projects. To me, being as up-front as possible about expectations matters the most, plus not being reticent to point out when expectations are not being met. Sometimes people get defensive when that happens, and those are the types I would rather not work with.
You are so right, Jeri – about communicating expectations and to what extend they are being met. It’s true freelancers who get defensive are not always the best choice – but it’s true the other way around, too. Clients sometimes accuse freelancers of not meeting expectations instead of pointing out and explaining how the expectations can be met better. 😀
It’s all about perception and approach. Good luck with your cover projects. I already saw one on your blog – i wish you form a very fruitful and long term relationship with those fellow freelance designers 😉
I hadn’t thought about the bonus! Thanks for the heads up on that. Because if the relationship is to be a long term one, mutually decided, that’s not a bad idea!
Glad i could help, Jacquie – i promise you, no freelancer will frown upon a bonus 😉
“As time goes by, their experience grows and their skills improve. Naturally, new clients seek their services at a higher pay rate. Their schedule is filling up quickly. Eventually, they start filtering active contracts depending on their revenue.”
I am having this “problem” with one client, it’s been a long relationship and I am charging him half the amount I charge in new contracts. I want to brought up the issue so we can discuss a raise, but I feel that I don’t deserve it because I’ve been neglecting my tasks giving priority to other clients (because they pay more). So I am in this vicious circle and I can’t see how to get out of it 🙁
I wish my client read this article, but I don’t think it’s going to be that easy to solve.
Hi, Ana – this is a tough one!
First off, ask yourself if you are neglecting this project only because it doesn’t pay well or because the work is no longer interesting, challenging whatever-else-you-look-for-in-a-project?
Secondly – ask yourself how would you feel if you no longer work on this project? Do you need the money or will you quickly fill the gap with a new and better paying customer? Will you miss working with that client and/or on their project?
Thirdly – besides the money, what does this project give you? E.g. is there some kind of satisfaction because it’s a good cause and it’s worth for you (morally or in some other way) to work for less money on that project?
Depending on the answers of these (and some other that come to your mind) questions, you will be able to decide what’s the best course of action – e.g.:
– talk to the client with the clear mind you will lose them – ask for what you are worth and you will lose them as a client simply because they cannot afford you;
– talk to the client with a compromise in mind – you don;t want to lose them as a client and you are willing to compromise with your rates but not continuing working at the current rates under no circumstances;
Once you figure out what you want to achieve, you can then move in the direction of re-negotiating prices or ending the contract altogether. Here are 2 of my old posts which can help you when it’s time to make a step:
renegotiating prices with existing clients
when it’s time to end a contract
Hop these helps – and please, come back to tell us what happened, what you did, how you did it, etc.
This is good food for thought and maybe even an idea for a blog post so thanks! 😉
Debra Yearwood says
I regularly share the strategic plan for the organization and my specific objectives for a project with my suppliers, freelance and others. I believe my suppliers are part of team, well if someone wants to me a supplier of mine then they have to be part of my team. 🙂 As budgets begin to shrink I think it will be critical that businesses develop stronger virtual teams and that means treating suppliers like colleagues and/or employees.
Right, feeling part of the team is a powerful motivator. Freelancers appreciate it equally, especially when they work remotely and rarely (if ever) meet team members face to face! Thanks for the addition, Debra 😀
Jeannette Paladino (@jepaladino) says
I love the idea of the bonus. Freelancers ARE part of the team. Why not let them share in the rewards of a project well done.
Great news, Jeannette – i am glad i have you the bonus idea; your freelancers will thank you (and me ;-))
Well I’m a freelancer and I found all the tips very helpful to implement and also would surely increasing the profits.
Glad i could help, Samir – good luck with increasing your profits! 😀
Lorraine Marie Reguly says
Diana, I haven’t met the person yet who would decline a bonus!
Rewarding others with extra praise is nice, but when it’s coupled with a few bucks, it makes things that much better – especially in today’s tough economy.
hahaha, right, i too have not yet met the person to decline a financial bonus! By the way, Lorraine, your comment made me think of one more aspect of the whole bonus thing – if the client has a cool product which can improve the freelancer’s life, the bonus can be related to that, too – e.g. free subscription for a year, or a set of whatever the product is, etc.