6 Tips on How to Delegate for Freelancers

Growing freelance businesses need to scale in order to expand beyond the capacity of the founding freelancer.

For some, freelancing is about freedom. The reason to start a freelance business was to possibly earn more money, but mostly to be free from timecards and schedules. For this type of freelancer, there is not a need to scale beyond the limits of a freelance business and can enjoy the perks of the independent workforce.

For those interested in building a business beyond freelancing, though, it’s important to understand how to delegate and about managing remote teams.

Delegating means that as a freelancer you’ll need to put others in charge of work. Each person only has so much capacity to perform tasks. Freelancers are used to doing it all on their own especially in the startup days. But for a business to scale, more people need to be brought into the mix.

Tips on How Freelancers Can Delegate

A recent article on Forbes on tips for delegating success spurred the inspiration for this post.

Here, we’ll revise the 6 success tips and rework them for freelancers with new insight into how you can successfully scale your freelance business by delegating.

1. Prioritize Business Tasks

There are a variety of tasks you perform, as the only worker, in your freelance business. If we use a freelance web designer for example, this person does the actual design, but they also perform sales tasks, project quoting, project management, budgeting, reporting, and a variety of other tasks. A common first step is to determine what you don’t like working on and then delegate those tasks first. This can work, but the more likely scenario is that you’ll end up delegating every task at some point. Figure out the tasks that are most important. Assess your ability to perform those tasks. For the tasks that are important, but you aren’t more than adequate at performing them, look for someone to delegate to.

2. Test Multiple People

Not every person will work out to your expectations. The tricky part about being a freelancer is that you’re naturally wired to have standards of yourself. Not everybody is the same. There are people that think just like you and those are the people you want to find. The way to do this is to give new prospects a chance to prove themselves with a small project or small part of a big project. Be sure to leave yourself some leeway in case the results aren’t provided in time. An interesting thing you can test is to provide a schedule and see if a prospect delivers ahead of schedule. If the work is quality, it’s a good sign this person could be a great fit.

3. Coordinate Schedules and Expectations

When working on projects, it’s important to make sure schedules and expectations are understood by everyone on the project team. For the people you delegate work to, be sure they understand what is expected of them and when the work is expected to be delivered. Before the project begins it’s important that everybody involved can keep working and is not waiting for someone else to finish something. As a freelancer, you know there are usually multiple projects happening at once. Make sure the people you work with have an understanding of each project so they can schedule their time with other projects.

4. Learn to Give Feedback

It’s important to give feedback early on in new work relationships. You want to make sure expectations are worked out from the beginning. A habit most people have is to leave out the details of praise while being more specific about items that need to be changed. Provide as much information about your expectations up front. After work is performed, provide details on both your likes and dislikes. This gives the person a better understanding of what is expected and can save time in future projects. We've found Google+ Hangouts for freelancers to be an effective way to build a stronger relationship with our remote workforce.

5. Create Backup Plans

You never know how a new person will work on any given task or project. You need to plan ahead for the worst possible outcome. You don’t want to be expecting a deliverable item from a person on the same day the project is due to your client. Allow for time in the case you have to redo all the work on your own. This will happen sometimes. Don’t let it get you down. It happens. Continue looking for the next person. Leaving some extra time and a backup plan should relieve some of the stress.

6. Communicate Success

Success is fun! Be sure to share feedback you receive from clients with everyone involved in the project. Share details of a successful project with the people you hire. Everybody loves to hear positive feedback. It keeps them excited about working together in the future. Success is expected as part of the job, but it’s still good for morale and business to communicate positive feedback.

Bonus Tip: Create Happy Surprises

When it comes to work, people generally only like surprises when the surprises are happy. Freelance work can be stressful for everyone involved in a project. In order to relieve some of the stress you can work to include a few happy surprises along the way. You could buy a gift card for a partner in the middle of a project just to thank them for the work done so far. At the end of the project you could give a little bonus money to show them they exceeded expectations. Little happy things can make a relationship positive and this makes your delegating life easier.

What have you found works when delegating tasks as a freelancer? Any interesting stories?

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