Get the Most from Your Freelance Partnership
Are your marketing employees over worked and stressed out? The Labor Department’s announcement this week that worker productivity has dropped, indicates that they are. The report shows that Americans worked slightly more hours this quarter but accomplished less, suggesting that full-time, salaried employees have hit their limit.
As we all know, since the economy’s Titanic sinking in 2009, employers have been hesitant to add staff and lighten the load on existing employees. The bright spot for entrepreneurial types is that this has opened a door for freelance professionals. Whether they call themselves freelancers, contractors, or independents, these free agents can provide top-notch work at a great value and ease the burden on full-time staff. If you are considering hiring a freelance graphic designer or copywriter to supplement the efforts of your marketing team, here are five tips for getting the most from your creative partnership.
1. Ask the Right Questions at the Interview
When you’re ready to hire a freelance graphic designer or copywriter, look for one who can explain the rationale behind their work. As you peruse your creative prospect’s portfolio, ask why a piece looks or reads the way it does. You want a graphic designer that thinks about how the customer will interact with the end product and how the design enhances the organization’s brand. A good copywriter will explain how the tone and word choices fit the intended audience.
2. Plan Ahead
Don’t wait until your staff is overwhelmed and overworked to bring in contract help. Most talented creative professionals will be eager to be a part of the conceptualization process and happy to contribute their knowledge, experience, and ideas to your project. A freelancer may be the breath of fresh air your team needs to see a new solution to a vexing problem. The added benefit of including your contract help early on is that he or she will understand your goals, challenges, and customers much better when it comes time to produce your brochure, website, direct mail campaign, or anything else you dream up.
3. Find a Style That Works and Stick with It
If you’re lucky, your company already has a strong brand identity, making it easy for you to assess the fit of your prospect’s design or writing style with your brand. Although every project is different, you will probably notice a distinctive style in a creative professional’s collected work. It might be clean and simple or edgy and provocative, but chances are you will sense a unifying theme. Look for an aesthetic that compliments your brand’s personality. If you’ve never taken the time to define your company’s brand identity, reviewing multiple portfolios might help you start to understand how you want your brand identity to grow. Once you find a style that fits your company and your customers, stick with it.
4. Have a Plan and a Contract
Do you know that without a contract ceding ownership to you, the freelancer you hired to create your logo legally owns it when the project is finished? Have a contract that specifies payment terms, timelines, and who owns what at the end of the process to make sure both you and your freelancer have a clear understanding of the project expectations.
5. Find the Right Match
Finally, choose a freelance graphic designer or copywriter you like as a person. In order for your project to be successful, your freelancer will need to spend time with you and other members in your organization to fully understand the business’s needs and challenges. It doesn’t matter how good his or her portfolio is, if you really can’t stand working with the person. At times, a good creative professional may encourage you to consider options with which you aren’t entirely comfortable. It’s imperative for your working relationship that you trust each other and know your freelancer has your organization’s best interests at heart. With open communication, respect for each other’s experience and expertise, and a shared vision—your creative partnership will generate effective marketing programs that benefit your brand.