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The Dos and Don'ts of Managing Freelance Creatives

October 26, 2022
min read

You might be wondering why we would write an article about how to manage freelancers, especially when your designated creative director is in charge of that (when you work with us). 

We recognize that the majority of our clients have more than one project on deck, and that you may be utilizing your own freelancers to take care of those projects instead of our service. Or maybe your project is one that we don’t cover, like IT services, for example. 

Whatever the case may be, we’re here to give you some tips and tricks for how to manage your freelancers, based on years of experience from our creative directors and internal team. 

DO Remember that time is money…literally.

One thing to remember before hiring freelancers is that their time is their own. Freelancers work in a robust gig economy where if you expect too much from them and don’t pay them for the extra time, they will run. Seriously, they will run and tell all of their freelancer friends never to work with you. 

This is why it’s so important to find the right freelance creative for your projects. Make sure that their qualifications fit your needs and try not to make your decision about who you will work with based solely on their price. 

Now that the elephant is out of the room, the first tip to remember is that for freelancers, time is money. For your in-house teams, it’s easy to schedule calls whenever you want and spend an hour or two pouring over project details.

 If you want to excel at managing your freelancers and ensure that your project requirements are always met, be considerate of their time. 

Do not expect them to hop on a meeting with you without getting paid for their time. Always factor in meetings (even short ones) when you pay them.

DO create detailed project briefs. 

Creating a project brief for freelancers.

As tempting as it may be to have one single meeting with your freelance talent and send them off to the races, please don’t do this. You’re setting them up for failure and yourself up for a whole lot of back and forth feedback and revisions. 

Freelancers need detailed project briefs that outline not only the project requirements but also the project deadlines for every milestone. Provide work samples if you have them, and make sure that you are as detailed as possible before they even touch the project. 

Your freelance team members want to do great work for you, but they can’t do that if they don’t have the full picture from you right away. Bear in mind that your freelance teams are not a part of your in-house team so everything that they know about your company comes directly from you. 

If there is one tip that we can leave you with here, it’s to please, please refrain from telling your freelancers to “Google it”. You are in charge of your project, and you are hiring freelancers for their expertise, not for them to spend time trying to detangle what your company does by researching for hours. 

Unless you want to pay them for that, too.

DO get feedback from your entire team before sending it.

There is no faster way to burn out your freelancers than endless rounds of edits and revisions. Especially when those edits and revisions contradict each other. Some freelancers may include stipulations in their contracts about how many rounds of revisions are included in the contract before charging you extra. 

Maybe you are a part of a larger team with multiple stakeholders who need to provide feedback. It may be tempting to send the project back to the freelancer one by one, as your team reviews it, but this is a nightmare scenario. Instead, look into a great project management tool like Monday or Asana

These management systems allow you to organize the steps in the feedback process and alert those busy team members that it’s time to provide feedback. In the end, this gives your freelancer the chance to address all of your team’s revisions in one sitting versus endless back and forth over multiple weeks. 

DON’T forget to pay them.

Freelancers getting paid.

Your freelancers are their own small businesses. Every dollar and every project counts for them. Many freelancers are stay at home parents, or may be caring for their elderly parents. We don’t know the reason why they chose to become freelancers. 

What we do know is that if they did a great job for you, then do a great job for them and pay them on time and to their stipulations. If you find a freelancer who requires a 50% upfront payment, try not to argue with that. Especially if their portfolio and stellar recommendations proves that they are trustworthy. 

We can’t tell you how many times freelancers have told us that clients took months to pay them for a project. Months. 

Imagine being a single stay at home parent and having to wait three months to get paid for a web design project. Would you want to work with your company again?

Don’t make them chase you. It’s bad karma.

DON’T micromanage them.

Most people, freelancers or not, absolutely hate being micromanaged. For freelancers, this might be one of the primary reasons why they chose to venture out on their own; to get away from overbearing management teams. 

If you are hiring an experienced freelance copywriter, for example, it’s not necessary to have access to their draft before it’s finished. It’s also not necessary to provide overly-detailed and intensive outlines that leave no room for actual writing. This is one of the fastest ways to lose that copywriter who could have helped position you as a leader in your space. 

Another example of micromanagement is asking your freelancers to complete redundant administrative tasks that have nothing to do with the project that they are working on. An example of this would be detailed outlines of how they are spending their time for every step of your project (1 hour of research, 1.25 hours of drafting, 2 hours of feedback and revisions).

Most freelancers use time-tracking software to keep track of their hours and will bill you a detailed breakdown at the time of invoicing.

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DO build a collaborative remote team.

The key to keeping freelancers happy long-term (aside from paying them on time), is making them feel like they are truly a part of your team. While you may not be investing the same training time into your freelancer as you would an in-house employee, you can still foster a great and lucrative relationship with them by keeping them in the loop and valuing their experienced opinions. 

In this day and age, freelancers are extremely experienced solopreneurs who can give you an incredibly competitive edge if you let them. 

We’d love to hear from you! Do you work with freelancers? What are your do’s and don’ts?

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About the author:
Kat Calejo
Senior content writer- Designity
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