Knowledge | 4 min read

Freelance is not a dirty word so let's keep it clean

© Mathias De Wilde / Storychief.io

When expectations aren't met it triggers the blame game in all of us—all too often. It's not so much with the intent to harm anyone but merely the fear of exposing our failures to the world. With everything under the proverbial microscope of online transparency, scapegoating freelance professionals has become its own art form.

Always wearing the pants in the relationship can get old

In the context of working relationships in the freelance arena you witness time and time again just how little leverage freelancers have from start to finish. Irrespective of their status as salaried or self-employed, creative artists in their respective domains are doing what they're doing because they love doing it. They shouldn't feel judged because they're freelancers but more often than not they are. The F word is met with a raised brow and some reservation.

Nathaniel Hawthorne would have had a field day about the scarlet F, particularly in cases where the work produced hasn't met the employer's expectations. The burden of proof is almost always on the freelancer with no ifs, ands, or buts about it. They're put on trial and persecuted for "dissatisfactory work."

Freelance professionals are hired and fired on a whim and left bad reviews online, leaving a trail of dirty digital footprints in the wake. It's not fun for companies either. But the fact of the matter is, it's you—the company or individual doing the hiring—who has the power (and the funds) to make or break any deal.

So with such a disparity and all this lofty power in your hands, why is it so hard for you to find the right talent?

You may not want to hear this, but when it comes to finding the right talent to relay your company's messaging, you have to do all the work—initially. The foundation must be laid in a meaningful way for the rest of the building to be successful.

The beauty of freelance isn't just skin-deep

Expecting a third party to do what you can't do is one thing, and that's what great freelancers are for. Expecting them to do it right can only come from digging a little deeper into what your company culture is made of—together.

In fact, your company culture dictates the impact of your most important pieces of communication. Merely spitting out numbers and facts and talking at your audience is passé. SEO and CEO and fancy initials may be impressive for you, and meeting your customers' business needs is commendable. But if you want the right kind of traffic and lots of it coming at you, then quality content tuned into your audience's emotional needs is the only way to go.

This is only achievable if you're in sync with what's going on within your organization; so your first order of business is to look outside your immediate pay grade bubble.

Take a minute and think about how you all speak and interact with each other internally. From the top-down and bottom-up or horizontally—from all angles—how do you communicate? And should it be that much different from how you communicate externally? The answer is no. If this makes you uncomfortable then perhaps it's time to re-evaluate your company's culture.

You need to embody your values and philosophy just as much as your freelancer does and ideally, this includes your style of internal communications too. Only then can you both adopt a strategy for your external communications. Authenticity and sincerity are born from the inside-out, in business and in life, from hiring managers to employees to freelancers, and back. The most successful brands adopt this as a culture and not some passing fad.

Consumers-turned-keyboard-warriors can sniff out disingenuousness faster than you can say WiFi.

It goes both ways whether you want to admit it or not

Currently, freelance marketplaces haphazardly run on the laws of supply and demand where there's little to no quality control or commitment required.

You must commi t to your freelance professional
Commitment-phobia is unattractive

The team at the Ghent startup, Story Chief, means to shift this paradigm of "disposable workforce" and offer a healthier alternative to looking at things. Namely, that freelancers shouldn't be used and discarded just as they—the freelancers—shouldn't plunder a company's bank account and run. It should resemble a healthy marriage of sorts. The struggle is real but it shouldn't stop the production of good content, and this is why Story Chief launched a fourth component to their content marketing platform called Matchmaking Service. It ensures the best fits between companies and a thoroughly-screened pool of freelance professionals.

How? With the use of an HR partner.

You get a matchmaker in your search for a creative freelance soulmate. Once you've found your match you can have them create content for you right in your Story Chief cloud account. And to make the process is even more fool-proof, there's a tool called the Editorial Brief (EB) that's built right into the start of your creative process. The EB makes the 3WH1: Who, What, Why, and How crystal clear from the get-go. This goes for both freelancers and your internal team.

More time for dating and other things, as a result

When you close your eyes and imagine yourself with a chunk of extra time in your day, every day, what does it look like? Story Chief knows. Just ask us.

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