Freelancers are already an affordable, flexible, and efficient resource for many businesses. However, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t or shouldn’t help them grow and become more productive.
Increasing the productivity of your freelancers makes business sense, because:
- They can turn work around quicker
- They can take on more of your projects
- They can help you with urgent pieces
- You spend less time managing any inefficiencies
When done well, you’ll enjoy increased quality and output for lower costs, even if you give your freelancers a raise!
We’re sharing some tips and tools below that can help you help your freelancers increase their productivity in no time.
Tools for increasing the productivity of your freelancers
The benefit of freelancers is that you give them a brief, and they take it and run with it. You can use the tools below to keep everything organized and provide clear communication channels, decreasing administrative time and enhancing output.
Collaboration software enables you to share work, give feedback, make changes, and answer questions, all without leaving the project your freelancer is working on. This allows your freelancer to concentrate their time and attention on your work, rather than dealing with emails or managing version control.
The best collaboration software depends on the work your freelancer is doing.
Popular tools include:
- G-Suite – For documents, spreadsheets, and presentations
- Zeplin – For web/product design and development
- InVision – For web/product design and development
Project management tools
Project management tools are ideal for allocating, scheduling, and tracking freelancer work. They also auto-generate a clear schedule of tasks and deadlines for your freelancers, so they don’t have to do it themselves.
You can even go one step further, creating workflows to channel tasks through a review process that alerts you or the freelancer when action is needed. This helps to standardize another administrative task and remove email chains from the equation.
There are many powerful project management tools, but some of the best ones include:
- Trello – An intuitive kanban-style tool
- Asana – A project management suite with boards and lists
- Basecamp – A project and team collaboration system
Facilitating instant two-way communication with your freelancers is crucial for providing them with the necessary information to do their work, and providing you with a quick way to answer questions. Think about it – the more time they spend composing emails, leaving voicemails, and waiting for a reply, the less time they’re working.
The great thing is that many of your existing tools already have instant communication functionality, such as:
Knowledge is the elixir of efficiency. The more your freelancers know, the less time they spend researching, searching, and asking for information.
Facilitate knowledge sharing by giving your freelancers a cheatsheet of all the essential information they might need to know. For example, your mission statement, top keywords, top-ranking URLs, style guide, boilerplates, brand colors – anything that doesn’t involve your freelancer reinventing the wheel.
Here’s a content project brief I put together to capture all the details needed for freelance articles!
Even better, turn this into an editable document for your freelancer to update with their own quick-reference information.
Techniques for increasing freelancer productivity
Tools are fantastic, but there are also simple things you can do to enhance the productivity of your freelancer (and yourself).
1) Open up the lines of communication
Freelancers are people too, meaning that they have vacations, children, dinner, burnouts…all the usual life admin that makes certain times, days, or weeks less manageable than others.
Nurture your freelancer relationship by establishing one point of contact and opening up the lines of communication. This helps them feel comfortable coming to you about any issues that might hamper productivity and helps you learn how to better allocate and manage their workload.
2) Provide complete briefs
This cannot be stressed enough. The more details you provide when briefing your freelancers, the less time they spend coming back with questions or correcting work.
Turn your briefs into an efficiency hack by clearly outlining the project, including relevant information, adding useful links you’ve come across, and sharing any ideas you already have. Don’t create more work just for the sake of it.
3) Set realistic deadlines
Setting deadlines sets your expectations and allows your freelancers to allocate and schedule work when they’re most productive.
Be open about soft and hard deadlines and be realistic about what your freelancer can achieve by when. For example, setting a very short deadline probably means your freelancer must work late into the evening or weekend, when they might be naturally less productive. Sometimes, short deadlines are unavoidable, but often they’re out of desire rather than need.
4) Give and receive feedback
Productivity is a two-way street – you need to give and receive feedback to boost it.
If your freelancer is spending a lot of time doing something you don’t really need, tell them. If they’re making common mistakes that you have to correct, bring it to their attention. If you’re doing something that hampers their speed, make sure they can tell you about it too. It’s all about upskilling each other to become the best team.
5) Pay well and pay on-time
Paying well and on-time guarantees you the finest freelancers, who are more productive and require fewer revisions and edits. It also means that your work isn’t pushed to the bottom of the pile or saved for the least-efficient part of the day, in favor of bigger spenders.
If you respect your freelancer’s skills and time, they respect your work in return.
You already know that your freelancers bring you efficiencies that are impossible to create in-house (no time spent hanging around the water cooler, taking leisurely lunch breaks, or writing the Friday office quiz), but that doesn’t mean you can’t hack their productivity further.
And, when you increase their productivity, they have a happier work-life balance too – a win for everyone involved.