The Way We Work

You finally found a freelancer or contractor who “gets” your business values, understands what you need, and delivers on promises. Wouldn’t it be nice to hang onto him or her? Nobody wants to lose the workers who really make outsourcing worthwhile.

But good freelancers are just that: free. Free to move on, free to say no, free to walk away from you at any given moment. So, how do you keep valuable contractors on your team? How do you make them appreciate having your business as much as you appreciate the good work they do for you?

1. Manage the workflow well. Your freelancer doesn’t want a dozen emails full of tasks from you each day anymore than you want a dozen emails full of questions from them. Be consistent and efficient when you give assignments, so the freelancer doesn’t feel bombarded.

2. Communicate expectations clearly. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to please someone who doesn’t know what they want or can’t verbalize what they want. Know what you want and know how to communicate it.

3. Give deadlines. Don’t ever leave expectations like deadlines hanging, because we all know that you do expect to get results at some point. Let your freelancer know when your deadline is, and any leeway you need for review time. It will help them understand your timeline and prioritize your work accordingly.

4. Acknowledge — with gratitude — the work they do for you. It doesn’t take much. “Hey, thanks for fixing that link on our website.” Value your workers and loyalty will grow — it’s the same for freelancers as it is for your other employees.

5. Be respectful of their work. When a freelancer delivers something that isn’t quite right, don’t berate her, unless you want to lose her. Get on the phone, thank her for the work, apologize for not doing a better job communicating on this task, then explain politely what you need to complete the assignment.

6. Stay in touch. Answer emails from your provider or freelancer. Return their calls within 24 hours, if possible. Set the tone in your business relationship for healthy and prompt communication.

7.  Be personable. You don’t have to be your freelancer’s best friend, and you shouldn’t be. However, you’d be surprised how many freelancers will be loyal to a buyer simply because he or she is friendly. No one wants to feel like a vending machine – constantly pushing out product at the touch of a button.


8. Ask for their input. You’ve hired an expert. Let them give you advice. Ask for opinions and acknowledge any thoughtful contributions. Most freelancers like being viewed as an active part of your team.

9. Don’t wait too long between assignments. If assignments from you are not coming at a steady pace, the freelancer will probably look elsewhere for work. You could lose them to another client, simply because you didn’t keep them busy.

10. Pay promptly. Pay in full. This is the ultimate show of respect, appreciation and professionalism.  No amount of kindness and gratitude will get a freelancer back if you failed in this one area, because your attention to this speaks volumes about you.



Tamara Rice

Freelance Writer and Editor

Tamara Rice is one of several freelance writers on the oDesk Blog team. She joined the oDesk marketplace in 2009, after more than six years on staff at an award-winning national magazine.