It’s no secret that managing a team of freelancers, directing multiple outside teams and independent contractors, can be challenging. First, you’ve got to figure out your contractors’ personality types, work styles and communication styles. Then, you have to navigate how those personalities will work with your internal team. Not to mention it’s also on you to keep track of impending project deadlines, and your budget.
If you’re in a field like graphic design, content development, editing or website development, this probably sounds all too familiar. As someone who works with outside teams frequently, you understand the points of friction that take place when you’re tasked as the freelance manager. You need to make sure work gets done as effectively and smoothly as possible, while reporting back to your manager and keeping your internal team in the loop.
Explore the 5 tips below for more efficiently managing a team of freelancers.
Properly Communicating Deadlines with Your Freelance Team
The biggest key to success as a freelancer manager is communication. The more seamlessly you can keep the flow of communication between your company and your contractors, the easier your job will be. Here are a few easy ways to make this happen:
- Set standards for how you’ll communicate from the start. Make it crystal clear how you plan to communicate with your remote team members, whether that’s via an instant messaging app, or within your project management system.
- Inform your new team how often you expect to hear from them. Do you want daily updates? Or will weekly check-ins suffice? Don’t expect your freelancers to read your mind, lay this out for them right from the start of your project.
- Make sure they know who their points of contact are. If that’s just you as the freelance manager, then great! That keeps things really simple. Otherwise, provide your freelance team with a contact sheet so they know who to go to and when. That way, you’ll save everyone a lot of time and effort.
Providing Feedback in an Organized Place
Aside from great communication, killer organization is another must-have as a freelance manager. The less time your freelancers are wasting trying to find the file you mentioned in your latest round of feedback, the quicker your project will get done.
- By utilizing enterprise collaboration tools, you’re able to keep your feedback in the same spot as your work. This lessens confusion, and will saves some serious headaches.
- Make a rule that your team’s messaging apps are NOT to be used to communicate project feedback. Ideally, all feedback should live in your software system, and not be communicated through these external apps. This will ensure wires aren’t crossed and messages aren’t missed.
- Additionally, make everyone’s lives easier by sticking to just one or two outside communication apps (aside from your project management tool). Whether that’s Slack, Skype or some other messaging app, keep it simple.
Be sure to select a system that allows you to easily transfer and share important files, make notes on various tasks and projects, seamlessly communicate milestones and more. The more organized your enterprise collaboration tools allow you and your team to be, the easier your job as a freelance manager becomes.
Being a Stellar Freelancer Manager Liaison Between Your Internal Team and the Independent Contractors
As a freelance manager, it’s your job to be the ultimate liaison between members of your company and your contractors. The more you can limit unnecessary communication between your internal team members and your contractors, the better. Remember, the idea is to keep things really streamlined and organized, so the fewer people trying to communicate deadlines, project needs and other details, the less confused everyone remains. Consider some of the following questions:
- What characteristics should a great liaison have? And what qualities would you want in a project liaison if you were a freelancer or an internal member of your company? This may include above and beyond communication skills, patience and understanding with external team members and the ability to stay on task during meetings.
- What qualities are not helpful when managing a project? These may include things like talking over people, lack of focus and specificity, and not staying within the allotted time for team meetings. Make sure you’re making your freelancers feel like their concerns are being heard throughout the life of the project. Remember, everyone has different communication styles so there is a good chance that your independent contractors won’t communicate in the same way that your internal coworkers do.
- As a freelancer manager, who can you go to for additional support when needed? Make a list of a few different people who can help you out when you’re feeling overwhelmed. These people could include your manager or someone else in your office who has experience managing independent contractors.
Keeping Your Manager Up-to-Date on Project Timelines
Along with managing your new freelance members, it’s important you don’t neglect updating your manager about project progress. When there are several moving parts to a project, this can be easy to do. As a freelance manager, if you are the main point of contact for communicating project happenings to your boss, it’s important you create a calendar for yourself that includes:
- When you’ll check in with them about the project- Daily? Weekly? Biweekly?
- What specifically you’ll tell them about- Create a list of 3-10 items that you’ll be updating them on, such as statistics, budget-related items or timelines.
- Ask them what else they want to know- Allow them to offer suggestions of additional project elements that they would like to know more about.
The more prepared you are for conversations with your manager, the more qualified they will consider you in your role as a freelance manager. Remember, excellent communication along with fantastic organization will keep you on track for success.
Making the Team Aware of the Budget
Although this isn’t always the most pleasant aspect of being a freelance manager, it’s a necessary task. Don’t forget that it’s your job to communicate the importance of your project’s budget to the team. Chances are, the freelancers aren’t going to be worrying about your company’s bottom line, because it’s not their responsibility.
Take advantage of the enterprise collaboration tools within your project management software to ensure you’re staying on budget.
- Input as many budget-related check-ins as necessary within your software system. This will allow you to easily check in on the status of your budget whenever you need to, without trying to sift through your massive project overview document. Note: your project management system should allow you to set varying level of permissions on financial information, so you don’t have to worry about the wrong person seeing certain dollar amounts.
- Require that all team members and freelancers input every expense related to the project. If this is implemented from the very beginning of the work, it will save you some major time as the freelance manager at the end of the project. Every receipt, invoice and minor expense should be input into your system by whomever incurred the cost.
- Pull reports as often as you need to. Whether that’s weekly, twice weekly or biweekly, it will help you understand your budget more clearly. Sometimes seeing financial elements in different forms, like bar charts or pie charts will help shed light on a particular segment of your budget. Also, pulling analytics allows you to easily share budget information with your team that they may need to do their job more effectively.
Your project’s budget doesn’t have to be scary. By using the right enterprise collaboration tools throughout your process, you’ll be a budgeting pro in no time.
Explore How to Be a Better Freelance Manager Today
By using smarter, more comprehensive enterprise collaboration tools, your responsibilities as a freelance manager will become significantly less challenging. The right business tools allow your communication and organization to seriously improve. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to know that all of your project feedback will be housed in one, central location (and not across 6 different apps?).
Establishing rules and project expectations from the start is vital to a successful freelance manager – contractor working relationship. It will also allow you to give your manager clear, concise updates on project scope and budget.
Choose better, more comprehensive project management tools to ensure the success of your company’s next project.