Working with freelancers and agencies can be tricky, but outsourcing your work to those who are the experts can be the best thing to move your business forward.
So what's the best way make sure it's a win-win for all; after all if they fail, you fail.
As somebody who has been on both sides of the fence, here's my thoughts on how to best manage external resource:
Don’t dance around the subject and try to be fancy with the latest industry lingo. You are the expert on your business and they are the expert (hopefully) on their subject. So don't be afraid to spell it out and spell it out in the way you know best. And if you don't understand what they're saying in return, kindly remind them you're not a full time marketer or designer.
Be concise about the who, what, why, when and from the very start agree the output and expectations. You should always be able to refer to back to these, so don’t list them across a 13 page document.
All part of being clear really, but definitely worthy of a stand-alone point.
Do provide a formal brief, even if you have worked with the freelancer / agency many times before. It doesn’t have to be long-winded; in fact, for clarity, a brief should be a max 2-page document which refers to all the who, what, whys… etc.
All freelancers / agencies should thank you for a clear brief, especially those in design as there’s so much open to interpretation. Spell out dos, don’ts, guidelines, likes, dislikes, examples you’ve seen. Your brief will be your greatest weapon. It ensure everyone is on the same page and will help with my next point... be firm!
Some not-so-great freelancers / agencies may, unwittingly or not, treat you like a fool – ‘we’re the experts in this field and it’s actually your naive, inward-looking fault if you don’t like it.’ Eek! This business is your baby. This of course doesn’t mean you jump down their throat if they don't get it quite right first time, which can end in an unproductive tête-à-tête. Remember, if they fail, you fail.
If you have been clear and briefed well to start, it then it makes it much easier to point out where they haven't quite got it right so you can all move on quickly to a better place.
But be fair
Has your brief changed part-way through the project as you’ve seen it develop? Have you been able to commit to timelines? Or have you been a little unclear and not quite outlined what was in your mind's eye?
Be honest if you don’t quite know what it is that you want yet until you see something on paper. By being upfront at the start you can agree a way forward which will work for both parties and get to where you need to be quicker.
Remember a mutual ‘thanks’ goes a long way
Something that is actually overlooked, despite being something we've all heard many times in our lives.
We’re certainly thankful for the opportunity to work with you, but it’s always nice to know you’re happy with the end result. If you’re happy, we’re happy.