Freelancers are a different breed of workers; they do not work in a world where they have to live up to corporate standards. This does not mean that freelancers are unprofessional; it’s the opposite in most cases. Freelancers value time more than most because the saying ‘time is money’ is taken literally by a freelancer. Every minute spent is money to a freelancer, which is a good thing and a bad thing.
A freelancer wants to get through all the fluff of small talk and get down to the task at hand. So why is it important to be communicating effectively with freelancers and consultants? This article will cover the importance of time management and what time means to a freelancer.
We will also be covering how micromanagement or helicopter managers struggle to deal with communicating with freelancers. Communication habits will allow you to establish rules and how you would like to construct the bridge of communication between you and the freelancer. Finally, planning and knowing what you want before hiring a freelancer can speed up the process.
Establishing habits or rules for communication between yourself and the freelancer will make both of your lives easier. Communication is one of the most significant issues in freelance work; either the client does not know what they want, or the freelancer cannot comprehend what is asked of them. This struggle in communication is a lack of understanding of how to articulate a concept of a project to one another.
Likewise, a problem a freelancer struggles with is being too afraid to ask questions or risk sounding incompetent and being at the risk of losing the client for good. The fundamental problem is that both sides have not established a line of communication and how they would like to communicate.
A prime example of lack of communication is availability. For instance, if a client is in the United States and a freelancer is in Australia, there is a time gap between the two individuals. If time zones and availability are not discussed, when someone needs to reach the other party, the dreaded sitting and waiting for a response comes into play. Ensure to use communication tools as these will help you coordinate the time zones as well as provide clear visual and audio options for talking to the freelancer.
Nobody likes waiting for an answer, and without knowing what the availability is for both parties will mean that you will not know when to expect a response. In the end, it can create a rift between client and freelancer, and it will all be down to a lack of communication.
There is a way to avoid this lack of communication. Simply put, establish forms for communication, take time zones into account, and always make sure you articulate ideas and requests clearly. Do not be afraid to ask questions because not asking may create a problem that could have been solved with a simple clarification which would save time and money on both ends.
Remember, ’He who asks a question remains a fool for five minutes. He who does not ask remains a fool forever.’
Do Not Waste Time on Unnecessary Information
’Time is money’ is something most people have heard. Every minute spent with clients is a minute less to work on projects to a freelancer. Think about this: A freelancer has five clients, and they all to ask for a meeting on the same day. Now you go into your meeting with your freelancer, and it lasts an hour, then the freelancer goes to another four meetings, each lasting an hour.
In the end, the freelancer has used up five hours in meetings, which leaves them with either a long night ahead or a stressful deadline due to lack of time. Yes, it is on the freelancer to have better time management; however, wouldn’t it be better if you had all your ducks in a row? You could turn that hour meeting into a 10-minute session. Not only would it make things easier for both you and the freelancer, but it will also build a better relationship between you.
There is a common misconception that clients have all the power; the reality is that, yes, freelancers do survive off clients and doing jobs here and there. However, if I were a freelancer, I have a choice to say yes or no to your job. Just because you offer me a job does not mean it will work for me or my circumstances.
Micromanaging or Helicopter Management Does Not Work With Freelancers
It is in the name – freelancers enjoy their freedom, they get given a due date and decide the best way to complete the project assigned to them. By hovering over them and frequently checking in on how they are doing is not going to generate positive results; chances of the freelancer working with you again are slim. Trust that the freelancer will be doing the work assigned to them, especially if they have a positive track record.
The critical thing to note is that micromanaging and working closely with a freelancer are not the same. There may be instances where the freelancer needs direction or information on a specific task or how an element of a particular thing works to better grasp the understanding of the project you want them to complete. There is nothing wrong with checking in on the project, especially if no milestones have been set, but do not hound the freelancer with unnecessary check-ins that ultimately create delays and waste time for both parties.
Not Agreeing to and Finalizing the Scope of a Project
The scope of a project refers to the project's overall size and what it needs to get done. If the scope of a project is not established, then, in theory, there is no endpoint in sight. This happens typically with inexperienced freelancers and clients. The problem with a lack of scope is that once a part of the project is complete, the client could get overly excited about the project's success.
Once the client is excited, they will carry on piling more tasks onto the freelancer; this sounds like a positive thing because everything has been successful thus far. However, the freelancer gets overwhelmed, and things start going south, the client begins to panic, and the freelancer goes into a panic because neither knows when the project is supposed to end.
One issue that can arise is that without scope, the freelancer may start declining to do certain parts of the work. This makes the freelancer look bad because they did not sign on to complete the extra amount of work. In addition, not having scope prevents you and the freelancer from following through and seeing the project through completion.
Scope allows for an expectation to be established, which will allow the freelancer to inform you if they can do the project or have the time to do the job.
‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.’
How do You Convey Effective Communication?
Avoid distractions and stay focused on the task at hand. Remain clear and concise when describing the job; avoid overcomplicated words. Preparation is key. Plan your communications via email or notes for a conversation before it happens, rather than freestyling it.
What are the Steps of Effective Communication?
- Establish the method of communication (email, Zoom, etc).
- Speak clearly and concisely.
- Recognize communication problems.
- Never assume anything.
- Recognize communication issues caused by technology.
- Learn how to talk business. Set an agenda or points to cover and stick to these.
What Are Some Good Communication Skills?
- Emotional intelligence
- Asking good questions
Most freelancers are cut from a different cloth. They value time management greatly and appreciate clarity and concise language. If you come to the table prepared and know your scope, the freelancer will be able to give you an accurate assessment of if they can or cannot complete the job. Practice communication skills, remember to create channels of communication and consider time zones. Micromanagement will not serve you well in the world of freelancers. Allow them to do what they do best without hovering. Most of all, remember that time is money – and that works both ways. This is why communicating effectively with freelancers and consultants is so important to master.