How to get the best project result from creative freelancers
In my last post, I talked about how creatives can handle revisions from tricky clients. If you’re someone who hired a creative and you’re having issues, you might be thinking, “hey that’s not fair! I’m easy to work with and they keep screwing up!” So, I wanted to write a post geared to you specifically, to help you get the best revisions as a client.
When Your Project Isn’t Perfect
It’s a drag to hire a creative person for a project, only to receive the finished product and be less-than-thrilled with the result. I’ve been there. I’ve been the creative person and the client at different times, and it’s hard on both sides. No one wants to be the reason the project didn’t go well, and no one wants to be the bad guy. I’ve hired demo singers to work on my projects before and the result was…meh. It wasn’t that they were a bad singer, just that their voice didn’t work as well as I thought it would on my project. I’ve also hired freelance graphic designers, writers and artists for various other projects. Most were great, some were decent, and a few needed revisions. So let’s say you got your project back and are underwhelmed with the results. What now?
1. Provide Clear Feedback
I would almost encourage you to be overly kind here, since you’re about to step on some toes. I know, you shouldn’t have to, but consider this: Artists cannot separate themselves from their work. The singer becomes the song and the notes. The writer becomes the words and the letters. The painter becomes the colors and canvas. When you respond with, “this is awful,” you’re not likely to get a level-headed response. The creative person is usually highly sensitive and takes everything they do seriously. With that in mind, it’s likely they thought this was the result you wanted, and that you would love it. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have submitted it. So, when you request a revision, you’ll want to express what, exactly, you don’t like. And I mean exactly. Look at these two sentences:
“This isn’t what I was looking for.”
“I like the green background, but the blue kind of clashes with it.”
Which is more helpful? Which will help the artist make better revisions?
If this sounds like an obvious suggestion, just know that we as creatives hear the top comment a LOT. You might think you’re being clear, but try to be extremely specific about what you want to change. Feel free to take a bit of time to figure it out.In order to get the best product from a creative freelancer, it's important to be really clear on… Click To Tweet
2. Ask for a Repeat
Have your freelancer repeat what you need in their own words. This will let you know if they are on track. Sometimes, both parties think they know the goal and both are surprised at the end result. Even if you think communication isn’t an issue, it’s a good idea to ask for their summary of what the end result should be.
3. Consider a Revisions Sheet
In my book, I have several worksheets for musicians and people hiring musicians. The worksheets can be easily modified for any type of work, or feel free to build your own. Take some time to list out everything you like and don’t like. Create a sheet asking for the exact edits, as well as anything else you’d like to add.
4. Have a Contract
This won’t apply if you’ve already started and are in the middle of a battle, but I cannot recommend contracts highly enough. They ensure that both parties will be happy and will be treated fairly. People tend to get so excited to have found someone to do their work, they rush right into the process and ignore the formalities. Don’t do this! Take your time and iron out the details. Many creatives charge for additional revisions, so it’s important to know this up front. Which brings me to my next point:
5. Aim for One Revision Only
Two at most. I’m giving you an insider’s perspective here: I’ve had clients come back to me with over ten revisions. These were things they “forgot” to mention before, or decided later that they wanted to change. By the 9th or 10th revision, how much passion could I possibly put into the project? How much did I care about the work, vs just wanting to get it done and over with? You’ll save your freelancer a lot of time and trouble, and will ensure a much better result overall, if you aim to resolve every issue within the first edit. Trust me, we would rather get a list of revisions up front than get six revisions separately. This is again part of listing everything you like and don’t like. If you do think of something later, or if something changes, that’s fine. Just try to aim for the least amount of revisions in order to keep everything easy and stress-free for both sides. It might also save you money as well, since many creatives will do one or two revisions for free and charge for the rest.
6. Know When to Move On
Sometimes, the person you hired just isn’t the right fit for the job. I’ve had this happen with session musicians. As much as we tried to fix it with editing or mixing, their voice just wasn’t as good of a fit as we thought it would be. At that point, we had two options: 1). Continue to try to work with the musician and make endless revisions, or 2). Call it a loss and hire someone else. We usually decide to go with option 2, because there’s no use in stressing people out if the job isn’t a good fit. We still paid them for their time and thanked them for their work, and I strongly encourage you to do the same if the artist has, in fact, made a good effort to achieve your goal.
One Last Note –
I realize that most of these suggestions are based on the assumption that the freelancer is hardworking and actually wants the job. I know there are times when this is not the case. I’ve worked with creatives that made me think, “why are you even in this field if you hate the work and don’t care about doing a good job?” So I understand that those situations happen as well. For issues like these, I would again suggest having a contract in place to avoid issues of underperformance or late/no delivery.
If it helps you to see my other post on Revisions for Creatives, check it out here: https://mellamusic.com/creative-revisions/ I recommend reading both because sometimes it’s helpful to see both sides!
If you have any suggestions I’ve missed, please let me know! Best of luck to you with your creative project.