Got loads on your plate and juggling things like a slightly tipsy clown? Thinking about hiring a freelancer to take some of the pressure off? Before you start the process of finding a freelancer (that’s a whole other post), here are five things you need to know before you start.

Set deadlines

If you want to have a great working relationship with your freelancer and get effective results, have a firm idea what you want from them first. It’s an easy trap to fall into to think you ‘should’ have a freelancer, without having a firm idea of what you can fill their hired time with.

Hiring a freelancer often means you’re paying someone by the hour or the day to do a job. So make sure you’ve got a To Do list ready for them – otherwise you’re wasting your own money and their time.

Pay them on time

*Puts on stern face* Personally, I think paying purposely late (yes, freelancers know the difference between a ‘lost invoice’ and a lie) is bad manners and, in most cases – inexcusable. Freelancers have to pay bills at the same time as everyone else, and a freelancer paid on time is a happy and productive freelancer. After nearly six years of freelancing, I still fail to understand why some businesses, small businesses in particular, have a 60/90/120 day payment period. If you’re unhappy with their service, tell them in good time and allow them the opportunity to rectify the situation, rather than avoiding them and refusing to pay.

Basically – if you can pay your employees on time, pay your freelancer on time (Added bonus – if you pay me within a week of getting your invoice, you actually get a discount!)

Respect their hours

In the past, I’ve had clients who call me up at 9pm at night or the weekends. My terms of business now detail that my set hours are 8-5, and contact after that (unless previously agreed) will have to wait until working hours. Your freelancer had a life too, and it’s unlikely you’re paying them to work for you every day, so respect that by contacting them within business hours. If you want someone who is available at all times, get an employee. (Or, as my less polite inner voice says, a life)

Don’t insult freelancers with high expectations and teeny budgets

Say, for example, you ask for a quote from an experienced freelancer for blog posts. You’ve probably heard about them before and had a recommendation from them because they produce blog posts that excite. They offer a quote of say five posts for £100 (which is a good deal, by the way!). Please don’t go back and ask for 50 posts for £100. It’s beyond cheeky, and borders on insulting.

Oh, and saying “can you write for free, we’ll give you a byline” when you have a brand new magazine/blog with a tiny readership, isn’t the enticing offer you might think it is. If the freelancer is passionate about the subject, they might be be interested – but don’t make out that you’re doing them a favour.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Don’t give up on freelancers! Unfortunately there are a few bad eggs, as there are in every industry, but if you have a bad service from one, please don’t resign yourself to the belief that every freelancer is like that. Ask around for recommendations, check out freelance reviews like PeoplePerHour and check out their LinkedIn profile.

Working with a freelancer can be a brilliant experience. Promise!

What tips would you give someone looking to hire a freelancer?