If you are a freelancer, I am sure collaborating with your clients is not always easy. We all know that meeting one of those difficult ones makes freelancing more of a challenge for us, as the relationship with your clients is as important as the amount of work you put in.

However, clients are not always to blame. Many of us need to improve the way we communicate and even if we accept it or not, the truth is that we are not perfect either. Many freelancers lack basic skills of communication and therefore the way they relate to their client is not always proper.

Moreover, and this will be the topic of today’s article, some freelancers even lack skills of communicating with their own team, and this needs to be sorted out quickly, as it creates unnecessary conflicts.

Today we take a look at several guidelines for improving this and, by the end of this article, I hope you know where to improve yourself and how to be better at communicating and collaborating with the team you work with.

Research

Most of us research our clients before we start working with them. It can be their Facebook profile, Twitter account or LinkedIn profile – or even them in person. We do not start working with a potential client if we are not sure we can collaborate well – or at least this is the way it should be.

In the same way you need to study a potential collaborator. Read testimonials about them, if the have a portfolio they might have a page dedicated to recommendations from others. Talking about recommendations, try to dig for them on LinkedIn. Business partners usually give fair recommendations on LinkedIn, as they all know how important it can get for a person.

Your task is to get a general idea about a potential client or collaborator before you start working together on the same project. Ensuring you match his ambitions (or the other way around) and that he is a serious person to work with will be a good start.

Sign a deal

It might be the 100th time I specify this in different articles, but working without a contract is one of the biggest mistake a freelancer can make. It is important to have all terms written somewhere. It is even more important both of you to agree on them.

During a long-term project there might be several contracts to sign. First is the contract between you and the client, then the deal between you and your fellow freelancers. Although the second one doesn’t seem so important, it should be handled as carefully as the first one.

Give all the details

Once you have someone to collaborate with, provide him with all the necessary details. And do not only give him what is needed, but everything you can mention about the project. It is only fair enough that if both of you will work on a project, you will both have the same amount of knowledge about it and the goals.

If they have questions, answer them. Taking on a huge project alongside someone who is not ready is not something I advice you to do. Make sure he is ready before signing the deal with him and remember that the more he knows, the better will he be able to fulfill his part of the project.

Use necessary tools

Using all the tools you need is a key point in your freelance collaborations. There can be tools for project management, time tracking or communication. There are many that can be found online for free or for very low prices. Projects like ProjectPier, Clocking IT, Teamlab, Teamwork PM, Freedcamp and many others will definitely provide you with the necessary tools for project management that will ensure you avoiding frustration down the road.

Choose the leader

Any group needs a leader in order to be able to work properly. You and your freelance collaborators need to find that leader in one of you. It is crucially important to do this from the beginning. One of you needs to act as a project manager and take a bit more responsibility than the others.

In case you are not the leader, just make sure your part of the project is done in time. Although there is a leader in any group, don’t make him waste too much time trying to make you work. Everybody should be responsible for his own part of the project, otherwise things won’t move forward.

The project manager/leader should also be the one who keeps contact with the client and keeps him updated on the progress.

Expect and show respect

In your teams a key concept should be respect. If there is no respect between the team members, there will be no respect for the project as a whole and for the client. If you are the one who hired them, treat them with respect and professionalism. They are there to earn their living, just like you. Only because you are their boss for a period it doesn’t mean you should suppress them.

Never underpay your collaborators and make sure you always acknowledge their work. The main goal you should have is to create a positive experience for you and for them all together.

Pay in time

Another important advice I can give you is to always pay your collaborators promptly. You never like to get paid late by your clients, so never pay the ones you work with too late. If you get the money late from the client, there is always space for explanations, but if you get paid in time and don’t send the money to your collaborators right away you are a bad outsourcer.

Not getting paid, or getting paid late can damage your fellow freelancers’ morale and will definitely turn them into people who don’t want to work with you ever again. Make sure this doesn’t happen, you always need somebody to work with in this business.

Handle communication

One of the mistakes freelancer outsourcers make is to communicate way too often. It is no problem in keeping track of the progress and this is actually recommended, but it is a long way from this to calling every day and asking for numerous reports.

If you wish you project to be successful, you need to allow people work. You know yourself how annoying is when an e-mail pops in while you work – it interrupts your whole workflow. Don’t make your fellow designers mark you as spam or put you down in the answering queue.

Evaluate the progress from time to time, but never overdo it. A brief call now and then should be enough.

Keep records

Although it might not seem like to many, what we freelancers do is running a small business. This means you need to keep track of everything happening in the “company”. Keep records and copies of every part of the project, including minutes from meeting, communication elements, expenses and payments made. Recordkeeping is very important in any business and especially in a very small one where you are the one who handles everything. Being organized from the beginning will only help you down the road.

Allow feedback

Feedback from others is one of the best ways to improve yourself and your business. Some projects will go well, some others will totally fail – the most important is for you to be able to take on tough feedback now and then.

Thank for it and take it from there. Use it to improve the business and yourself. If you don’t get any feedback from your clients or collaborators, make sure to ask for it. People are always happy to share their opinions.

With this last one we put an end to this article. Outsourcing becomes more and more popular in today’s freelancing world and we need to learn not only how to better communicate with clients, but also with our collaborators. In the end, it is them helping them to finish projects that otherwise would take a lot of time to complete.

Until next time… what do you think about outsourcing and more important, about the collaboration between freelancers working on the same project?