An award-winning journalist started hiring freelancers, and learned more about freelancing than she ever had before.
Hiring freelancers isn’t something I do often, but when I do I get to play client for a few days. Each time, it gives me new insight into what my own clients may want and whether I’m delivering on expectations.
It’s basic research, really, if you choose to look at it that way. When we want to write books, we read books. When we want to sell courses, we take courses. When we want to set up websites, we look at examples of websites that work.
So when we want to freelance, it’s an excellent idea to learn from the successes and mistakes of others by hiring freelancers and seeing how much (or how little) they can deliver.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned from hiring freelancers:
- Reliability is important. You don’t need to be in touch 24/7, but if the client has emailed you a question, you need to answer as soon as you can or ask for more time to provide an answer. Don’t ignore them.
- Don’t go missing and then post on Facebook and Twitter about your night out or what you’re currently working on.
- As soon as you go over budget, let the client know. Don’t surprise her with the final bill that’s three times what you discussed.
- Set deadlines, even if the client doesn’t because it helps match your client’s expectations to your schedule. Otherwise, when the project scope gets wider, both of you will resent one another.
- Late is bad. On time is good. Early is absolutely freaking fantastic.
- Communicate. “Got your email. Will get back to you on this in a couple of days,” is better than waiting three days to reply.
- Understand that when someone hires you for their product brochure or website content or ghostwriting a book, it is something that’s important to them. Your job is to treat it that way. To say, your image is my image and my job is to make you look good. Your job is to make an editor look good in front of her superiors, a website owner to look good in front of her visitors, a company to look good in front of the people that pick up their marketing materials. If you make them feel like you care, they’re more likely to forgive mistakes and will be much more likely to recommend you to everyone they know for being amazing.
- After someone has worked with you, they need to feel like they saved time and money, not wasted it.
- Pay attention to detail. If you want to get repeat work, make sure you’re not making basic spelling and grammar mistakes or missing key information. That’s what people hire you for.
Natasha Khullar Relph
Founder and Editor, The Wordling
Natasha Khullar Relph is an award-winning journalist and author with bylines in The New York Times, TIME CNN, BBC, ABC News, Ms. Marie Claire, Vogue, and more.
She is the founder of The Wordling, a weekly business newsletter for journalists, authors, and content creators.
Natasha has mentored over 1,000 writers, helping them break into dream publications and build six-figure careers. She is the author of Shut Up and Write: The No-Nonsense, No B.S. Guide to Getting Words on the Page and several other books.
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