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10 Tips For Booking Freelancers

10 Tips For Booking Freelancers

If your desk area has started to resemble a small dysfunctional recycling plant, complete with its own ecosystem growing from a well used coffee mug it might be time to face the fact you need an extra pair of hands to lighten the work load. Many people have had to "cope" through the past 6 months due to budget restrictions but as we get busier it is time to reevaluate ( and in some cases try to renegotiate budget) for your freelance requirements. I feel it would be helpful to you all if I pointed out 10 top tips to help you ensure you get the best freelance experience if and when you need help in the coming weeks, either through Aquent, through another agency or through your own freelancers you have worked with directly.

  1. Plan ahead as much as possible. Yes, I can hear you now saying we currently can't commit until the last minute due to budget restrictions and fluctuating workload etc. Yes that's fine, we understand that. We are seeing many a job come in at the last minute, but if there is a specific need on the horizon or a specific freelancer you want to book, it's good to give the heads up, even if the job is not confirmed yet. The market has shifted recently and freelancers are picking up quite a bit of work again, especially the ones that are always sought after. Not to want to sound like an advert for Ticketek, but please book early to avoid disappointment.
  2. Keep in contact with your freelancers/recruitment contacts. Many people have not used freelancers for six months or more in some cases. If you had a "pool of temps" last year and have not spoken to them recently, chances are the pool may have dried up. If you think there is a chance you will need to rely on a temp or two in the coming months then now is the time to call your contacts and see who is out there still. If you would like further help, you know where to find us!
  3. Be aware of hourly rates for freelancers. Some people may assume that rates have dropped significantly due to the drop in the temp market over the past six months this is not the case. Value for money is still very much the gage for freelance pricing. The best finished artist or the best creative designer can still easily command the same rates they got last year. The bookings maybe shorter or less frequent, but the old adage still stands-pay peanuts get monkeys. It's also important to note that because people are more aware of their pennies, the freelancers are under more pressure and have to do more than ever before during their bookings, and be more accommodating than ever. Forcing them back unrealistically on their rate will only discourage them from going that extra mile for you and will leave them feeling rather disheartened. There is the added risk that they may even step away from your job for another project that will pay their proper rate.
  4. Zero tolerance. On the flip side of the above point, don't be afraid to have zero tolerance when it comes to freelance attitude and skill. The fluctuating market has been a good reality check for many temps (and businesses alike). It allowed everyone breathing space to re-evaluate their skills, roles, offering and attitude towards their business. We have seen more fantastic talent come on to our books than ever before this year. They are up skilled to the max and have a real can do attitude. So if you have booked a freelancer and the skill isn't quite there and they are not being as helpful round the clock as they could be it might be, time to try someone new.
  5. Have a recruitment agency as a back up if you haven't before. Going back to point number three, due to gaps, you may have had the need to use freelancers. You may get stuck if your guys aren't free or around anymore. Make your recruitment agency choice off the back of people's feedback. We all say similar things about our creative recruitment offerings, so the proof is in the pudding somewhat. Put your feelers out amongst colleagues and staff to see who has had the best experience with an agency and who you feel is best suited for your business. If you can't decide on one, give a brief to a couple and see what they come back with and for what price.
  6. Be specific on your briefs. Everyone has had to check his or her work process. This is a good thing as it means many studios are now working more efficiently and work flow is better organised. This has a knock on effect to freelance hires and certainly from my perspective as an agent it makes the temp booking so much easier and stress free. We hardly hear about any situations where the freelancer is left twiddling their thumbs due to jobs not arriving when they should, which is great, as that is no fun for anyone and probably causes the most embarrassment for the freelancer that has been hired. In light of this better working practice, don't be afraid to be specific on your brief. This helps us (or your own freelancer/other agency) to maintain efficient consistency in your studio by giving you a very accurate placement. Yes we are getting busier, so we may experience a talent shortage situation at times, however we have a large pool of talent to choose from. This year, talent know what they are best at more than ever, as they really had to sit down and evaluate themselves. So please always bear this in mind when making a booking.
  7. Don't be afraid to extend bookings. If you are at 80% work capacity, book to continue on with the same talent. This will ensure that you maintain consistency with the same freelancer. September and October are traditionally the busiest times of year, especially for typesetters and long document specialists. If you have jobs coming in requiring such people, it is best to book them and then move the dates if the work does come in a bit later than expected. Don't feel bad if you change the start or continuation date as the freelancers can normally pick up plenty of work around your booking at this time of year.
  8. Be upfront about your budget. Always come to your agent/freelancers with what you have in the money jar, even if you know it is a small amount. I know I sound like I am contradicting myself, but I always encourage clients to still come to me if they have a genuinely tiny budget but really need help. If you have a good relationship with your freelancers/agency that you use, they should always be able to give you some options - it may not always be doable, but if you don't ask, you don't know.
  9. Be organised. Make sure you have computers organised for everyone to use and they work properly (obvious really, but when things get really hectic and multiple freelancers are booked in, this can be a big Monday morning headache). Many of the freelancers have their own equipment and also are fully set up at home. With capabilities where they are now many jobs can be produced offsite with very little disruption.
  10. Don't be afraid to try someone new. Finally, there are so many great people out there now, it is worth revisiting your benchmark of quality and seeing what else people can offer and do for you. We only know what we know, and sometimes when we are exposed to new people and new ideas we can see so much more opportunity.


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