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A Great Start Begins BEFORE Your Freelancer Arrives: Day 1 Checklist for Success

A Great Start Begins BEFORE Your Freelancer Arrives: Day 1 Checklist for Success

How do you avoid this?:

“Well this morning was kind of mess. There was quite a bit of confusion and down time, but it’s starting to come together.”

This is a typical conversation we hear at Aquent when we check in with our Talent on the first day of a new assignment to make sure everything is on track, and this is NOT what we or our clients want to happen on Day One.

Bringing on a marketing or design contractor is very different than hiring a temp. For starters, marketing and creative Talent aren’t cheap. Downtime is expensive so you should do everything possible to get a newly hired freelancer working on actual projects as quickly as possible.

Also, marketers and designers work as a part of collaborative effort. They will require the same tools your salaried staff use to do their jobs and they will need to understand how their role works in the context of your team.

Before your contractor starts, you should think about how to rapidly achieve:

  • Productivity. What has to happen for this person to begin working on projects as quickly as possible?
  • Integration. What can I do to ensure this person contributes positively as a team member?

This checklist will help you prepare for the arrival of a new team member.

**Bonus Tip: Consider a different Start Date and Time besides Monday a.m. Most of our clients start consultants Monday morning when things can be pretty hectic. Try starting your freelancers on Friday afternoon. You’ll have more breathing space to impact a great start.


___ e-mail account

___ Phone + extension list

___ v-mail

___ Calendar

___ ways to connect with you (IM, cell phone,)


___ Working/Available computer with necessary software

___ Network access

___ Server details and access

___ Intranet or Extranet access (DAM, collaboration tools, etc)

___ Conventions for naming and saving files


___ Heads up to Team introducing freelancer and encouraging friendliness

___ First Day “buddy”: orientation, tour, coffee break, lunch suggestions

___ Team roster: list of who does what and sits where (map)

HR and Expectations

___ Hours

___ Etiquette & Culture (what’s cool and what’s not)

___ How to get paid

___ Time Tracking forms or system (if applicable)

___ Paperwork/HR

___ Tax forms

___ Non-Disclosure Form

___ Other


___ First Day/Week Agenda

___ Items to review, read, understand

___ List of Projects, Priorities, Deadlines

___ Time tracking (if applicable)

___ First Project cued up and ready for work

A successful Day One for a freelancer or contractor is not unlike Day One for a new permanent hire. But if you do the work beforehand by following the checklist above, you’ll be ensured of a smooth start from the get go. What experiences, good or bad, have you had on Day One? What advice can you share with us? Please leave a comment!

As Vice President and Director of Customer Experience, Randy Ricker is responsible for Aquent’s North American operations specifically to enhance the customer experience for Aquent’s clients, talent and internal staff. To reach Randy, please email him at or follow him on Twitter at @rricker. He’d love to hear from you! That is his job, after all!


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