How to Get Freelancer Onboarding Right

freelancer onboarding

Everyone talks about the benefits of outsourcing for your business but does anyone talk about freelancer onboarding?

It’s not the most riveting topic but it deserves some of the spotlight too. Your onboarding process plays a huge a part in the effectiveness, enthusiasm and loyalty that’s needed for working with freelancers. And working with them well.

It’s more than just getting them started on the project. It’s about connecting freelancers with your company culture.

If your employees value a comprehensive orientation process, don’t you think freelancers would appreciate it too?


New employees rely on the orientation to get them in sync but freelancers and contractors rely on it even more. They don’t have the luxury of popping their head in your office to ask a quick question.

That said, here are some onboarding ideas to implement to ensure your project kicks off on the right foot:

Tour the Team 

Giving new employees a tour of the office is usually one of the first things you do. Freelancers should get the same kind of treatment but with other members of your team (I mean, technically you could do a video tour of your actual office but that’s not what I mean).

Remote work is second nature to freelancers but that doesn’t mean they don’t need connection. We’re humans and communication, collaboration and connection is how we work best. Easy ways to kick off the connection are:

  • Video conference to introduce new freelancer to your team and other freelance hires
  • Host webinars or video chat for project kick-off instead of conference calls
  • Share a list of who’s who within the company

Provide Project Particulars

There is nothing worse for a freelancer than to be sitting on their hands waiting for details. Help them get up to speed faster by providing a detailed project scope from the get-go. They won’t be able to execute successfully if they’re not getting the direction they need. Make sure you cover:

  • Project expectations, deliverables, timeline, and payment schedule
  • Target audience research
  • Any internal documents the team uses, like a content style guide
  • Related project samples

Teach Them Your Tech

While freelancers may use their own tools and tech to get things done, be sure to give them a list of applications they’ll need to use prior to project kick off. Give them time to familiarize themselves with your tools so they can ask any questions before. Also make sure that once the freelancer is hired, they have the access they need to said tools.

Sometimes, granting access takes longer so a bit of preplanning is best.

Getting excited about a project to only to have it come to a standstill because someone doesn’t understand how to use your tech tools or there’s an IT admin delay is a complete buzzkill.

Bring Them on Brand

I’m not just talking about your content style guide or mission statement. Bring them up to speed on your internal brand (like your company culture) as well. The biggest part of freelancer onboarding is helping them understand all the nuances of your branding and how your team interacts with one another. Simple ways to increase their understanding are:

  • Provide a brand document/brand guidelines
  • Explain the company’s core values, mission, and expectations of freelancers
  • Define what values you prioritize
  • Explain how they play a role in the company vision, and the overall impact of their work

Chunks of Content Over Time

When you think about it, freelancers digest a lot of information in a very short time – the project, company brand, industry information to start. Yes, they’re talented professionals but they’re not supercomputers.

Sometimes, giving them information in chunks helps them process the overload of information.

A small trial project is always a good test to give at the beginning of the relationship to see their understanding before giving them larger projects and bigger chunks of information.

Quest for Questions

Most freelancers are fiercely independent – which means they usually shy away from asking questions or for help.

For this reason, checking in to get and give feedback and encouraging them to ask questions is critical to make sure projects stay the course.

Whether it’s scheduling a quick call, pinging them on Google Hangouts or even sending a regular ol’ email asking them how things are, you can avoid potential confusion by making sure they know the lines of communication are wide open.

All Aboard

Providing a rock-solid freelancer onboarding process not only increases project success but encourages loyalty and their overall experience. They’ll want to work with you future projects and be able to anticipate your needs better, while happily providing consistent high-quality work.

Have you worked with freelancers or contractors before? What freelancer onboarding tips do you have to share? Leave me a comment below!

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Jennee Rasavong

Jennee Rasavong is a content marketer who helps solopreneurs and startups connect with their online audience and shine bright like the awesome brand that they are. She crafts simplified, uncomplicated web content like in-depth blog posts, website copy and email newsletters.

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