10 Essential Guidelines for Freelance Collaboration

by Laura Spencer

on January 19, 2012

in Business/Freelance

Freelance collaboration is on the rise. Increasingly, teams of freelancers are now doing the work that in-house departments used to do. Graphic designers are now working on teams with writers and programmers.

But many freelancers are used to working alone. Collaboration definitely requires freelancers to make a few adjustments.

In this post, I’ll provide ten essential guidelines to help you put the pieces together for freelance collaboration. If you enjoy this post, you may also enjoy reading 15 Questions to Ask Before Collaborating.

Guideline #1: Do Your Homework

In the same way that you would research a potential client, learn all you can about a potential collaborator. Study their LinkedIn profile and other online profiles. Read any testimonials and recommendations they have received to see what past clients think of their work. Review their portfolio to get an idea of the type of work they produce. Remember, if you work together on the same project, your reputation will become linked with that of your collaborator.

Guideline #2: Provide Details

Once you have selected a freelance collaborator, provide them with as many details as you can about the job. Be specific. Remember, if the freelancer is working in a different specialty from your own, they may need entirely different information to get their job done. Give them an opportunity to ask their own questions and make sure that they get their answers. The more your colleague knows, the better able they will be to fulfill their part of the project.

Guideline #3: Use a Contract

Most freelancers understand that it’s important to get the terms of an agreement with a client in writing, preferably in contract form. However, when the project becomes a collaboration you now have an additional agreement to consider. First, there’s the agreement between you and your client. And second, there’s the agreement between you and your fellow freelancer. The second agreement should be handled as carefully as the first–get it in writing.

Guideline #4: Take Advantage of Online Tools

There are many online tools that can make managing a group project easier. Take advantage of them. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel and create your own online tools from scratch. This will only eat into your project time and cause additional frustration. Here is a list of collaboration tools, but there are many others to choose from.

Guideline #5: Designate a Lead

Whenever a group is responsible for a project, someone needs to act as project lead. If you’re the project lead, your job is to make sure the project keeps moving forward and to coordinate all the various players. If you’re not the project lead, your job is to make sure that your parts of the project are on schedule and make the leader aware of any needs that you have to get your job done.

Guideline #6: Exercise Respect

Be sure to show plenty of respect for your freelancing collaborator. Remember, you hired them because of their skills and abilities. Treat them like the professional that they are. Don’t try to rush them unnecessarily or underpay them for their part of the work. If credit is being given for the project, make sure that their part is acknowledged. Your goal should be to make working on the project a positive experience for both of you.

Guideline #7: Communicate Well and Often

Adding another person to a project adds a whole new dimension. Now, not only must you communicate regularly with the client, you must also communicate regularly with your collaborator. You may even need to schedule meetings from time to time. Good communication is an important part of a successful project. Allow for some extra time in your project plan to answer additional emails and phone calls.

Guideline #8: Keep Adequate Records

All freelancers should keep good records. After all, when you freelance you are basically running a small business. All businesses need good records. However, when you collaborate your recordkeeping impacts not only your own business, but that of your collaborator. Make sure to keep copies of all records that pertain the project including meeting minutes, important communications, project expenses, and any payments made.

Guideline #9: Pay Promptly

If the client is paying you a single flat fee for the project and you are responsible for paying the team members, be prompt. Don’t make your fellow freelancers wait to get paid for their part of the job. Nothing can sour good morale like late payments. Besides, you like to get paid on time for your work and so do your colleagues.

Guideline #10: Be Open to Feedback

Feedback is an important part of any project. No matter how well the project went, there is always some room for improvement. Ask for feedback from both your fellow freelancers and your client. Also, make sure to pass along any relevant feedback from the client to your team members.

Your Turn

Have you been collaborating on projects with other freelancers? Add your own tips and suggestions in the comments.

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About Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer is a freelance writer from North Central Texas with over 20 years of professional business writing experience. If you liked this post, then you may also enjoy Laura’s blog about her freelance writing experiences, WritingThoughts. Laura is also on Google+.