• Julie K. Godard

How to Work with Creative Contractors for Your Business

I have been working as a creative (a writer, editor, and web content writer and strategist) for eight years with businesses in many different industries. When employers present unclear project expectations, goals, milestones, and parameters; are dishonest about the nature of the work; or expect more than is included in a contract situation, projects can fail very quickly. Consider these 12 points when contracting with a creative for a business project like website copy or content strategy, website redesign, or visual and web design.

1. Clearly outline business needs first.

Being vague about business and project goals will waste time as a creative contractor tries to interpret needs, and lead to frustration without clearly defined goals.

2. Ask creative contractors what they are looking for.

If your business is only hiring for a long-term employment position, let the contractor know. Acting otherwise wastes time for both of you, as some creatives are not available long-term.

3. Design projects that lead to a clear goal.

Creatives must understand the goal of a project, and milestones help keep track of progress. Clearly define goals, milestones, and the completed project you expect from your creative contractor in a file both of you can access.

4. Clearly define expected time and location of work.

Creatives often work their own hours, which may or may not be within normal business hours. Clearly establish when a creative contractor is expected to be available for questions or progress reports, and be available yourself for a few hours per week for questions.

5. Engage a creative contractor and ask for opinions.

For creatives, stimulation and interest in projects are key – they are experts in their fields and can contribute greatly to a project -- but only if they are brought into the conversation.

6. Build a diverse team that can discuss issues and reach solutions that work.

If you need a creative team, be sure they can work together and complement one another. Conflict within a team may result in lost productivity.

7. Communication, communication, communication – from your business.

Any project needing more than one person requires open and frequent communication. For creatives, communication and discussion can inspire and determine project direction. Answer questions immediately and be as clear as possible. Communicate on deadlines and milestones as well.

8. Be as honest and transparent as possible.

A creative working on a contract basis doesn’t need to know everything about your company, but be honest about the available project hours and the purpose of the work. Be honest about what your company does up front.

9. Clearly state how creatives are expected to log hours and projects.

Creatives need definition for logging project hour time and knowledge of milestones they are expected to hit. Changing expectations halfway through the project is not only unfair but can seriously affect the quality of the final project.

10. If things aren’t working out, be honest.

Creative contractors often have more than one client at a time and are a part of the gig economy. They don’t want to waste time on a project that isn’t coming together, and are used to finishing projects and moving to the next. Sometimes the fit just isn’t right; be honest and move on.

11. Don’t burn bridges; a capable creative is useful.

The point of using creatives for projects is to add some spice, direction, and originality to your business or business project – or for producing a website, document, or graphics a business needs. Remaining on good terms with creatives can make finding someone for a future project that much easier.

12. Pay creatives what they are worth.

This goes both ways – don’t overpay or underpay. Overpayment means a business did not do its research and may indicate incompetence – underpayment may result in substandard work.

Creative contractors help your business rise above the competition, stand out, and shine – no matter your business niche. Never assume creative contractors are your employees, and never assume they will work overtime, without pay, or be willing or able to perform work not included in the contract scope. Keeping these points in mind before hiring a creative contractor and while working together can result in less headaches and frustration for both of you -- and a better completed project.

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© 2014 by Julie Godard. 



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