Treat Them Right: Tips for Great Freelancer Relationships

What are your tips for working with freelancers?More and more, freelancers make the world go round. Especially in the world of self-publishing, freelancers are the bedrock of the industry. Whether you’re working with a book editor, a web designer, or ghostwriter, it’s essential to approach these relationships professionally and deliberately to keep your freelancers happy and productive.

So, how do you keep your freelancers happy and productive?


The key to all relationships is communication. Communicate often. Communicate when it’s easy. Communicate when it’s hard. Be direct and avoid passive aggression at all costs. Tell your freelancer when you’re happy. Tell your graphic designer when you’re disappointed. You’ll have an effective, productive relationship if you follow these simple communication guidelines.

Have a Contract

For your protection, as well as your book editor’s, it’s essential to sign a written contract. This lays the groundwork for your entire client/freelancer relationship. Make sure it’s a contract that both parties understand. If it’s a significant contract, you may want to have your lawyer to review it.

Make Your Payments On Time

Your payment should be spelled out in the aforementioned contract. And, if all obligations are met, you must pay your freelancer.

A couple years ago, Mike Monteiro – the guy behind Mule Design – did an excellent (if explicit) talk about clients, freelancers, and payment. It’s well worth your time and, as the client, gives you an intimate look at the actual experiences of the freelance life. (Do keep in mind, though, that the language is very not safe for work!)

The basics of the talk go a little like this: Almost all creative service freelancers have had trouble collecting agreed upon payment. Common excuses include:

  • We ended up not using the work.
  • It’s not what we were looking for in the end.
  • We got someone internal to do the work instead.
  • We cancelled the project.
  • We didn’t get the funding we thought we were going to get.

And, while those are sad stories, they are not reasons to not pay your freelancer. You and your freelancer are equals in your relationship. Respect your freelancer. Pay your freelancer on time.

Ask About Office Hours

Many ghostwriters are working non-traditional days. Some are balancing their professional lives with their children. Others are holding down an office job in addition to their freelance work. And some just prefer to do their work outside of the 9 to 5 window. No matter the reason, your relationship with your freelancers will benefit from knowing, in general, when you can expect responses to your queries.

Have Meetings

Even if you’re conducting an all-virtual relationship with your freelancer, it’s important to have regular status meetings. They don’t need to be long or involved, but they do need to happen. These meetings encourage the  regular, open communication necessary to complete your project while hitting all deadlines and objectives.

What are your tips for maintaining good freelancer/client relations?

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