If your business is at the bottom or middle of an upwards curve, first of all BRILLIANT! Well done you! But if your balance sheets aren’t quite ready for a few new developers or SEO executives just yet, maybe freelancers could be the solution.

Don’t worry, this article isn’t all about the decision to use freelancers or not. You and your traffic manager know what resource you need. But what happens when they arrive? How can you bring someone new up to speed quickly enough to make them profitable?

Development – I hate to say it, and most freelancers will kill me, but one of the easiest things to pick up is some development work. Make sure you’ve got a tight brief (written by your client, then deciphered and clearly written by you) and set Bob off to work. He doesn’t need to be inducted into the brand, he doesn’t need the full project history from day dot and he doesn’t need to be watched hawk-like by your creative director in case he ‘doesn’t get our house style’.

A duck’s bottom – The afore-mentioned brief. Make it detailed, make it clear, make it watertight. Do not rely on people to understand what you need them to do, write it down! Client overview, project overview (what you’re trying to achieve and why), where to find the files and brand guidelines, project mandatories (put this in it) and ‘no nos’ (don’t put this in it), tech specs (build it this way), timings (review on Tuesday, send to client Wednesday).

A little more on time – Most freelancers understand that they are there to work. They also want to get booked again, so you are unlikely to get them hanging around the coffee machine. However, you know your project budget and they don’t. When making bookings, be clear on how many days you are booking them for. And when they arrive, be clear on how much time they have on each project. You do not want to get an extra invoice from someone working until midnight just because they weren’t productive during the day.

High Tech/Low Tech – Prepare in advance for someone to sit at their desk and computer and be ready to work. Files should be in place, briefs should be ready to go, software should be installed and there should be a chair for them to sit on! Sounds silly I know, but I’ve seen freelancers sitting around for hours whilst files are being sorted out for them to work on. You’re just burning money when this happens.

Costs – This is a tricky one… You need to be profitable to enable your company to grow and eventually employ more staff, but freelance rates are higher than those of employed staff. Also, most freelancers know their rates and stick to them. However, there is room for negotiation when booking for longer periods of time. Plus you can offer incentives; if your offices are city centre, offer free parking. Throw in lunch. Offer quicker payment terms.

Pencil Me – Most freelancers only work a month ahead. The good ones are always busy. So how do you get the resource you desperately need? Ask your peer groups (Check out our GYDA Facebook group) for recommendations, trial new resource for a week or so, get bookings in early and pencil, pencil, pencil. Freelancers are used to bookings being pencilled and confirmed… you can always cancel.

That’s it really. It’s not rocket science, but you’d be amazed at how many agencies get it wrong!