There is no doubt that the lifestyle of a freelancer is an enviable one as it is rich in both personal and professional benefits.
As a freelancer, you can choose flexible work hours to suit yourself. You can work from anywhere in the world, and your low overheads maximize every single cent of your income to provide you with a comfortable lifestyle.
One of the most valuable features of the freelancer existence is the independence that it brings you. You do not need to rely on anyone to produce income. The work you do is based predominantly on one relationship and that is with the project owner.
While you are working happily away as a digital nomad, it might come as a bit of a disappointment to hear that for some projects, there is still strength in numbers. Whether you are a freelance designer, freelance copywriter, or a freelance app developer, there will be occasions when you will benefit considerably from utilizing the skills of other freelance experts.
Perhaps a project owner has a more complex assignment they want to allocate to one person (you!) to coordinate, or maybe you are working on a larger project that is too much for one freelancer to handle. You might also not be a freelancer at all but you have a multifaceted task which requires the skills of many freelancers to bring it to completion.
There are many reasons you might have to put your gig as a freelancing solopreneur on hold for a while and work with others, but this does not have to be a bad thing. If a collaboration with other freelancers is going to bring you the best results, it is in your interests to know how best to manage a team of freelancers remotely.
Here are some of my foolproof tips on how to manage a team efficiently and professionally so they will come back to you time and time again:
Choose the right freelancers to work for you
You are in a fortunate position that the Freelancer.com streets are paved with freelancing gold! You can choose from hundreds of freelancers to help with your project so there is no need to settle for the first one that bids on your job.
Make sure that you are comfortable with who you engage with, and ask to see samples of their work to see if they are a good fit for the brief that you received. This is your golden opportunity to offer a dynamic edge to your existing service. So do not waste it by rushing into hiring!
When you become responsible for someone else's work, it is important that not only do you hire based on their skill but also based on their ability to work as a team member with you because that relationship is critical to the success of the project.
Set a realistic budget
As the owner of the project, you are in control of the purse strings, and it is important that you discuss this with your team of freelancers from the outset. You will need to make clear how much they will get paid and when — honour your word impeccably. If you plan to wait for the project owner to pay you before paying your team, make sure that your team is aware of that too.
Set clear milestones from the outset
It is a good idea to break the job down into smaller milestones to ensure that you keep your team on track. If you require 5,000 words of copy, set smaller milestones of 1,000 words at a time. That way, if anything does stray off course, you will have plenty of time to do some damage control before it gets too late.
Your lines of communication should be flawless while the project is underway. Check in with your team of freelancers every day if you need to, and always make yourself available. It is unlikely that yours will be the only project they are working on. So if they need something from you and cannot reach you, they are within their rights to move on to the next freelancing job. Subsequently, this can cause a delay in your timeline. So avoid this at all costs.
Stay logged in, and make it very clear that they can contact you at any time.
Insist on regular face-to-face progress meetings
In addition to being active online and making yourself available, it is important that you set regular weekly progress meetings to ensure that even if there are no issues, your team still know that you are present. You can set this up via video call if your location makes it impossible to meet face-to-face. Regular meetings will ensure that even if there is no one there to keep an eye on your team, they are still accountable to you and must adhere to this.
Use a productivity app
Apps such as Insightly are an excellent way to make sure that everyone stays on track during a shared project. You can check items off once they are complete, and everyone has transparency over who is responsible for which tasks and how they are tracking.
Stay in control
The flexibility that the freelancer life creates is second-to-none, but if your team has committed to your project, it is important that they work to your timescales and within your restrictions. Make sure they observe agreed deadlines and that they deliver on their promises to you. Creating this relationship from the outset will avoid any misunderstandings once the job is in progress.
The freelancers that you have chosen have their unique set of skills, and you have employed them to do your task for a reason. As the project owner, it is expected that you will have your opinion on how they should work, and that is acceptable. However, remember that they are specialists in their fields. So while it is absolutely fine to communicate this with them, you must respect their expertise in their niches.
Once the project is complete, give feedback to the team. Evaluate the successes, as well as the areas that could have worked better. Managing a team of freelancers can become very lucrative. So I recommend that the evaluation process is extremely thorough in order for the relationship to continue successfully into the future.
Always give feedback for a job well done. It is not only valuable to the freelancer but also to those who are looking to hire a freelancer to know that they are making the right choice. It will also encourage the freelancer to want to work with you again if they know you appreciate them.
I do not think I need to mention this one, but I did just in case.
Make sure you abide by the payment terms that you set out at the start of the project as a matter of priority. You risk your reputation otherwise, and if the union was successful, you want to encourage freelancers to continue working with you for future projects.
Whether you are a freelancer yourself or if you are looking to hire a team of freelancers for your project, active management will ensure that the relationship runs smoothly to get the best results for your clients — and ultimately, for you!