How to keep your freelancer happy*

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Yes! A whole issue of BQ devoted to freelancing and consulting! I have whinged and moaned for a long time about the fact that we are never considered in the bidding world and yet here we are, a dedicated survey and an issue of BQ lovingly devoted to us consultants – hurrah!

Of course, we all sweep in with our big egos and large invoices, bringing nothing to the table your own staff can’t provide a whole lot cheaper – right?**

So why hire a freelancer? Generally, we provide additional capacity at times when bids coming through the door are high, or you are a company that has little or no bidding function/ experience/expertise and we provide that service for you without adding to your overheads.

This is me (ooh I feel a song coming on!). I have now been freelancing for seven years, after starting in bids a few more (ahem) years ago than that. I went freelance for the flexibility, and because I thought I could make a difference and offer something other freelancers didn’t seem to provide. My services include bid review, edit, write (my first love), manage, mentor, coach and advice. I complete just one question, or I manage the whole process, including the financial submission. My clients range from tiny two-man outfits to my core clients (Civil Engineering SMEs) and even large blue-chip corporations. I have sector-hopped from Highways to Facilities Management, from Custody to Forensic Science to Energy, and back again.

And there is your reason to hire a freelancer. We are good at what we do. We love what we do. We have multiple layers of experience across several sectors that will enhance your bid. We will be coming at it from outside your company with a fresh pair of eyes – no office politics, no company fatigue, just good old bid experience and enthusiasm to enhance your team.

If this is not your experience, sadly you are not alone (I know, I have seen and worked with some shockers in my time). I thought I’d offer some advice on how to keep us doing what we do best – aside from the boring contractual stuff:

  1. Choose carefully
    CVs are OK, but meeting in person and getting personal recommendations are so much more important to get the best fit for your people.
  2. Listen to us
    We have done this work many times and have multiple layers of experience. We know how to get a good bid across the line.
  3. Find out how we like to work
    We can’t all sit in your office for six weeks 9-to-5. Bidding doesn’t work like that in general and not all freelancers can fit in with core hours or travel. However, some can – they even prefer it.
  4. Make expectations clear from the start
    We need to know what you need from us and how, ideally, you would like it delivered.
  5. Be honest
    Show us your best bits and your worst bits, let us help you improve. Without transparency and trust, we won’t be able to help you to our full capabilities.
  6. Make us part of your team
    Give us access to your SMEs and operational staff. Invite us to team events. We need to become part of your company and earn your staff’s trust too.
  7. Keep talking
    Regular dialogue throughout the whole process is so important to make sure all parties are doing what they need to do.
  8. If it’s not working, off hire us
    Sometimes we aren’t the best fit for what you are trying to achieve, or even don’t deliver what you’ve asked for (I don’t count myself in this category, obviously 😉).
  9. Tell us how we have done
    We need to know how we can improve. ALL feedback is welcomed. And we love a testimonial for our profile 😊.

News Flash: We don’t get time off to be sick – if we aren’t working, we aren’t earning.

I’ve spoken lots about how I love to freelance and how to go about leaving the world of employment, but I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about the bad bits.

I had a minor operation under general anaesthetic recently, coupled with several deadlines that I had to hit. So, I thought I would let you know how rubbish that can be…

I knew it was coming three weeks out, so I blocked two days out on my diary and told my clients I wouldn’t be available. Two days. Bloody luxury for me, total panic from clients.

On the third day after the op I was back at work (albeit in my comfies), feeling exhausted, in pain and, to be honest, a bit low. I knew I was going to have to work the weekend to make up for the two days I had off.

Would I do it differently? Probably not. Here is my advice for fellow freelancers who need time off for personal reasons:

  • Plan for the time off if you can
  • If it is an emergency, accept it – there is nothing you can do
  • Inform clients – they need to know where they stand
  • Provide clients with solutions – if a bid is due in and you can’t complete the work, put them in touch with other freelancers or companies who can source them, like our Bid Solutions
  • Accept help from others at home
  • Put your Out of Office on
  • If you absolutely MUST do stuff, try and limit your hours
  • Have a nap in the afternoon
  • Feed yourself the good stuff
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get some fresh air

Just remember – whatever life throws at you, we are humans, not robots.

*Holiday to the Bahamas would be nice. Thank you.
**We don’t all do that. Just in case you were wondering…

This article was written by Pippa Birch.

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