How to work with creatives and freelancers in 6 easy steps


Cover Image source: StockSnap

If you find managing your team of creatives and freelancers difficult, unproductive and time-consuming, that’s because you’re probably doing it wrong. Creative work is not a linear, straight-forward process, and you need to be conscious of this fact.

Here are 6 useful tips to keep in mind the next time you collaborate with designers, writers, artists, musicians and other creative individuals.

1) Find a good match

If you need to collaborate with a freelancer on an upcoming project and aren’t sure where to look, here are a few site suggestions: Upwork, Freelancer, People Per Hour and Fiverr. Once you’ve posted your job, take the time to carefully look through the portfolios of potential candidates and evaluate if they will be a good fit with your project. How can their previous experience be useful for your current needs?

The next question you need to ask yourself is, how are you going to work with them – for example, are they going to be on-site or off-site? If you do end up having freelancers come to your office and work with your team directly, you need to check your insurance policy has adequate coverage. By ensuring you have correct insurance plan for this will protect you and your company against any claims made by clients and contractors as well as members of the public.


There is a reason for all-caps on this, and that’s because it’s INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT. If your brief is hastily thrown together with incomplete ideas and vague suggestions, don’t be surprised when the work you get back isn’t what you envisioned. Creatives aren’t mind-readers; if you have a clear idea of what you want, spell it out! A strong brief will guide the work from the very first draft to the last, and will provide a structure for the scope of work. You can’t suddenly suggest a new direction on draft 3; you need to stick to what you agreed on in the original brief.

3) Give prompt feedback

Whether it’s positive encouragement or constructive criticism, you need to deliver your feedback quickly to keep the momentum of the project going. Lack of prompt feedback will only delay timelines, create uncertainty and lead to general frustration – plus, it could jeopardise your chances of working with this person in the future!

4) Avoid subjective terms

Don’t use terms like ‘good’ and ‘bad’ – these are not productive or useful terms for moving forward. Subjective statements don’t give the creative any sense of direction on how to proceed. You need to be specific with what you want to see more of (and less of) in the next draft. Leave out your personal taste, and think about the overall goal of the piece of work being created.

5) Ask questions around the work

Don’t immediately resort to phrases like ‘I like it’ or ‘I don’t like it,’ as this won’t foster a productive dialogue around the work. Ask the designer/writer/creator about their thought process behind their creation; give them space to explain themselves. By asking questions about the work, you will also encourage the creative to dig deeper into their own design, and inspire them in new ways for subsequent drafts.

6) Respect!

Never forget the golden rule: treat others as you wish to be treated. If you receive a first draft that’s not up to your standards, remember that behind this work is hours of valuable time, effort and creative thought. So stay positive, because negativity will get you nowhere.

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Image source: StockSnap

It takes some practice and effort to give constructive feedback and foster a healthy relationship with your freelancers. Keep these 6 simple tips in mind, and you will (hopefully) have less bumps on the road to great creative work.

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Andy Paddock November 20, 2015

I found that making sure people had an idea of the bigger picture helped, often the person doing that bit of work will be aware of a better/more efficient way of achieving the ultimate goal.

the furious engineer November 24, 2015

You’re spot on, Andy – communication, communication, communication (as someone undoubtedly once said). If freelancers are aware of the overarching strategy they can use their wealth of experience to assist in reaching a common goal.

Smithe747 June 1, 2016

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the furious engineer June 1, 2016

Why thank you! Very kind of you to say so.

Trisha panda January 23, 2017

This blog is nice and informative too. You have mentioned quite impressive things which is very useful too.

Thank you for the post
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