How to effectively collaborate with freelancers

Guide to collaborating effectively with freelancers and remote workers

If you haven't worked with an online, remote freelancer before you may be wondering how this would work:

  • Can an online freelancer really do as much as in-house staff?
  • How would a freelancer access the packages I use?
  • Could I let my freelancer get on with the work or would I still be spending time checking up on them?

Online tools are the way to go!

With the rise in the popularity of working from home and online freelancing, so too comes the creation of multiple tools that can help you and your freelancer work together more effectively and productively. These tools make it even easier to use freelancers in your business.

We have included some tips and tools that you'll find useful when working with freelancers, and have focused on four themes:

Collaborating with freelancers

Using Trello to manage freelance projects

Tracking progress

One of the most common worries when thinking of hiring a freelancer is that you will not be able to trust that the work is being done. As with anyone working for you it is important to make sure that your freelancer is focussed and working proactively. Naturally as you get to know your workers more, your trust in them grows - you can monitor things in the office and see the work coming in.

Trello is an online to do list with a difference, it can be used as an individual or with a team, meaning that you can add work to your freelancers list and see as the tasks you've set move from "To do" to "Done". You can see how your project is progressing by just glancing at the board and it updates immediately. You can even post comments on a task to give instant feedback to your freelancer. Here's a simple example of a Trello board.

Tracking time

Another concern you may have about working with freelancers is that they are quoting and charging accurately for the time they are working on your project.

Toggl is a time tracking tool which will show you exactly how much time your freelancer has spent on your project. Most freelancers are used to tracking their time so may well already be using either this or another tool such as Harvest or Timely.

tracking a freelancer's time

Sharing files

"How do I get all these files over to my freelancer" and "This file is way to big to email, how do I send it" are questions you'll ask yourself quite frequently when working with remote freelancers.

Here the choices you have are vast! There are a whole heap of ways to send and receive large files. Of course, you can send files through the weliketowork application, but here's some of the other file sharing services out there that we're fond of:

All of the above have pretty decent user access options, so if you're working on a number of projects with a number of freelancers, you can make sure each freelancer only gets access to the files and folders relevant to their project.

File sharing with freelancers

ideas sharing with freelancers

Sharing ideas and inspiration

As you and your freelancers start getting stuck into your projects, you'll want to share ideas, things that could inspire or improve your result. Of course, you can do your best to describe your thoughts and visions with words in an email. But sometimes, it's true, a picture (or sketch or diagram) is worth a thousand words.

Here are some tools that are very useful for sharing your ideas. Most of these tools offer a free account too.

Decide your tools together at the start of a project

Freelancers are typically very comfortable using any and every collaborative tool out there, including most of the ones we've mentioned above.

When you create the brief for your project, it's a good idea to include your preferred tools where possible, so the freelancer can ensure they are familiar with how best to work with you.

Other Resources

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