Eventually in the course of your freelancing career, or even in your personal work, you’ll come across a project that requires more than what you can do. There are several ways you can handle this, and most often, I’m happy enough to only do the part I can do and send the client somewhere else.
But sometimes if the project is one you’re really interested in, or one that has a large budget, it can be to your advantage to take on the entire thing. But if the project calls for a designer and you’re a developer, or vice-versa what do you do? This is the time where your involvement in the community comes in handy.
Partnering with other freelancers can be a challenge. You both have completely different ways of working and invoicing, and sometimes those different ways don’t mesh. I’d like to offer some tips and the best ways to find and get along with another person you have to depend on for a job well done.
Finding Another Freelancer
To partner with another freelancer, it’s important that you know enough about what they do in order to gauge who’s got talent and who doesn’t. You don’t want to hire someone who will do sub-par work and end up making you look bad to your client.
I’ve found all of the freelancers I’ve partnered with in one of three ways:
- Personal connections to other freelancers I know in real life
- Users of one of my apps
All of the people I decided to work with have been long time followers, made an effort to constantly have engaging conversation with me, or those that have made the effort to use and get the word out for one of my apps. A lot of people I ended up partnering with were also old one-time clients of mine. I happened to have like their work enough to ask them to work with me again.
You can find other freelancers anywhere, just make sure their work is as good as, or even better, than your own.
Getting Along With Partnering
Partnering with another freelancer to work on the same project is a bit different than actual sub-contracting or the client to freelancer relationship. They run their own business like you do, so it’s important to be respectful of their policies, as much as you’d want others to be respectful of yours.
- Their rates–Don’t try to talk their rates down just because you’re offering them a partnership. It’s disrespectful and they can probably find work elsewhere. Just because you’re partnering together doesn’t make their work burden any less, so it’s only fair they get paid their normal rates. If you can’t afford them, find someone else.
- Their payment schedules–Just like their rates, it’s important to find out and respect their payment schedules. Personally, I require 50% up front and the rest of the payment to be made before I even hand over files. I almost never drop this rule for anyone. But it never hurts to ask, just make sure you agree or move on if they don’t want to budge. People base their budgets on their payment schedules, so they are unlikely to change them.
- Communication–Communication between you two is the one thing most partnerships have problems with. Too much communication and no work ever gets done, but too little and the project is late and you’ve lost a client. Both of you should be respectful enough to update each other at least once a week, and please, don’t expect the other to magically know when you’ve finished or if you need something in order to finish the project. Just email them already!
As with anything, there are some risks with partnering up for everyone. It’s important to be aware of these so they don’t surprise you if they come up.
- Money –When partnering with another freelancer, you not only have to worry about the client paying you, but you also have to be aware that the partner needs to be paid too. If the client walks away without paying, will you still pay the other freelancer for their work?
- Schedules–You also now have three schedules to worry about: yours, your partner’s, and your client’s. Make sure everyone’s schedules are in sync before you start a project in order to avoid any misconceptions.
- Work–Partnering with someone else is a bit of a gamble. Will they do good work? Will they do the work at all? What happens if they take the deposit and you never hear from them? Always have a backup plan.
Personally, I’ve almost had a non-paying client once where my partner was expecting to be paid as well, but other than that I’ve been lucky to have been able to work with awesome freelancers.
It’s great to be able to choose your “co-workers” and all the more fun once they become actually friends. If the other freelancer lives near you, it could also be fun to partner up in real life and work together. Who said freelancing was a lonely profession?
Have you partnered with other freelancers? How did it go?
Image by Aidan Jones