Looking to hire an Agency or a Freelancer? Let me be your translator.

It is not uncommon to outsource projects to outside agencies or freelancers who can provide a more specialized level of expertise. What I am finding is an incredible disconnect between the two parties — and something needs to be done about the increasing gap between perceived vs.reasonable expectations.

The freelancer or outside agency is like a kid showing up on the first day of school. It’s an unfamiliar environment where they don’t know the other students. They don’t how things work — rules and guidelines are still yet to be provided and the newbie needs to learn the lay of the land. Where to leave their lunch pail, and why we don’t pass notes in Mrs. Kimsey’s third period English class (nothing ever gets past that woman), and where the bathrooms are for the love of everything sacred and holy.

The lack of effective communication between parties is a common problem and it’s also something no one likes to talk about. We all hear little jabs to giant complaints regularly. Things like “Why wasn’t that done yesterday,” and “How could that graphic possibly take two days to design?”

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Here’s are somethings to consider when hiring a freelancer or outside agency:

Perceived value
What is the monetary value of the product or deliverables being returned? If the company outsourcing projects to an agency or freelancer doesn’t know the current market value for rates and services, there will be an initial disconnect and discontentment. Sometimes this comes from a general lack of understanding of how some things work, other times companies just haven’t done their due diligence.

If it sounds like an agency or freelancer is charging too much, do your research before you hire them. How long does it take to sit and edit one photo on Photoshop? How about several rounds of editing a website, flyer, newsletter, etc? Oh, you don’t know? Oh, you don’t have Photoshop? Yikes! Why are you yelling at your freelancer?

Scope of Services
Things need to be clear from the get go. What are the deliverables? Nebulous wording like “basic design needs” doesn’t translate well to a company who is hiring someone for the first time to provide “basic design needs.” What is considered “basic” to one person sounds like business cards. To another it could sound like branding assets. To the design agency — that’s a discrepancy of several thousands of dollars. We would all be hard-pressed to find a human or agency who would charge you the same amount to design your email signature vs product packaging, ya dig?

General Communication
Why do we think people are mind readers? Why? We are we like this?! It’s not just in work — it comes up in love, it comes up while merging lanes on the freeway, and in all other forms of human interaction. If you are hiring a freelancer or agency to do a job, it is your responsibility to clearly state your needs and wants and then — don’t be shocked here — but then listen when they provide their feedback on how best to execute it. You hired them right? Something made you hire them — give them a chance to do their job in a way that you are may not be as well versed in.

Get some face time
What can be accomplished in in one meeting with humans, surpasses anything that texts or longwinded email chains will ever get done. With all of the means and modes to communicate today, we are less effective than ever before. It’s hard to “read” the underlying context through texting and emails. Texting is not an effective way to keep track of business needs. You’ll be scrolling for hours to reference the Who, What, Why and When.

Emails chains could go on forever. Waiting endlessly for one party to respond to an email where 18 people are CC’d, and no one knows the proper etiquette, as someone is writing in all CAPS, allows for things to continue to spiral out of control. By end no one understands who’s responsibility it is to push the plan forward. It’s just a flat out mess — and in the time that was supposed to be sorted, the team is moving on to the next leg of the project. If you hired an agency or a freelancer and can’t make the time to meet with them, do not be disappointed when things go awry.

Collaboration yields a better output
Some of you need to hear this. Not everyone is out to take your job. The freelancer or agency that comes in to help with a project isn’t there to replace anyone on the team. They are literally coming in to share the burden of the heavy workload. Help guide them. Help give them the things they need to get their job done and do it in a timely manner. You will look like a stellar team player. And isn’t that what we all see listed for every job description on LinkedIn? “Looking for a team player who thrives in a fast paced environment.” If I had a dollar for every time I saw that on job description, I’d be retired.

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