When you work with a freelancer, you might eventually wonder just how much work they’re putting into your project. Likewise, your freelancer may be concerned about reaching you when they have an urgent question regarding the work they’re doing for you. Oftentimes, misunderstandings and frustrations can be avoided altogether if you each have a productivity plan.
Productivity hacks require a balanced equation. Both clients and freelancers have equal roles in developing workflows that work. Here are some of the most valuable lessons that I’ve learned in my experiences freelancing:
One of the most crucial things you can do to start the ball rolling smoothly on your project is to have all the relevant details available that your freelancer might need. They might also be a bit uneasy if there are long periods of silence between when they upload a screenshot or draft, and when you respond.
Here are some of the best tips I’ve learned about keeping communication open and forthcoming:
1. Have Important Information Available When You Start a Project
If your freelancer is doing website work for you, one of the first things they’ll ask for is hosting and login information. Having to shuffle papers around to try and find that old email that your hosting company sent you way-back-when, or pawing through scraps of paper to find that all-important password just wastes valuable time. Before you start your project, have all the relevant information ready, including:
• Web hosting account and FTP details (needed to upload files to and from a computer to your hosting account)
• Any WordPress or other content management system logins
• Any third party logins (Paypal, your online store, Google Analytics, Drive or other account management details)
It’s a good idea to set up a separate FTP or content management account for your freelancer, or at the very least, change your passwords temporarily while they access what they need.
2. Be Able to Reference Examples
Another common question your freelancer will likely ask is for examples – examples of websites whose design, layout or color scheme you like, or examples of content marketing or third party websites that have the functionality you want. Ideally, having a list of 3-5 of these sites will give them plenty of information about the style, action and features you want. Be sure to let them know what it is you like about the site in particular, rather than just rattling off a list of URLs.
3. Be Available for Questions
To a freelancer, there is perhaps nothing worse than uploading a mockup or draft, only to be greeted by dead silence. While it’s understandable that you may need to consult with your team on designs or get approval from managers and supervisors, taking the time to keep your worker “in the loop” and giving them an approximate timeframe when you’ll report back will help ease some of their concerns about getting feedback promptly.
You may not realize it, but you tackle a variety of jobs in a day – not just in front of your computer. As a freelancer, you get to set your own hours and work in a way that’s comfortable, but it pays to remember that there’s a certain “work routine” that’s expected of you – meaning that timely responses to emails, frequent updates and a laser-targeted focus on the project at hand are going to be nipping at your heels no matter what type of work you’re doing. Here are some tips for optimizing your workflow:
1. Plan Your Day in a Way that Works
One of the main reasons why you probably started freelancing in the first place was the freedom it brings! And while your clients may be none the wiser that you work from home in your pajamas, having a set routine can help you get more done on your own terms. That means setting aside time for phone calls and follow-ups, a specific time to check and respond to email, and yes, setting aside time for fun and relaxation too.
If you can finish your biggest tasks at the beginning of the day (rather than putting them off until later), you’ll feel much more accomplished and have made serious headway on your projects.
Along these same lines, having a set office space where you work (even if it’s at your kitchen table) will help put you in a work-ready state of mind.
2. Keep Your Client Informed
At some point, your client will ask about the progress you’re making. Even if you’re involved in a deep, detailed project, being able to provide reports, screenshots, or updates on what you’re doing will show the client that you’re making serious strides toward a timely completion. It also makes the client look good to their superiors – confident in the knowledge that they picked the right person for the job!
3. Eliminate Distracting Websites
One of the biggest distractions freelancers face in their work is the tempting allure to just “check Facebook for a few minutes”, or chat with a friend on Skype for a second. Before you know it, an hour has passed. If your day is slipping from your fingers before you know it, you’re not alone.
Fortunately there are many software programs and browser plugins that can block time-sucking websites while you’re working. One of my personal favorites is Anti-Social, available on Mac and Windows. It blocks social websites (and any others you specify) for the time period you specify, breaking the urge to go check Twitter “really quick” and forcing your brain to get back to the task at hand!
Try these tips out on your next project and you’ll notice just how much smoother, easier and better prepared you’ll be!
Photo Credit: Shutterstock/swprod