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with Office Freelancers
creative professional often has a mountain of administration
to attend to. This article explores the benefits of
employing an office freelancer who can significantly
reduce the pressures of running a creative business.
By finding the right person to assist with your company,
you can ensure your focus is kept on finding creative
solutions, rather than finding that last invoice that
never got paid.
are extremely useful for an online publicity operation,
and are underused by companies on both the client
side and agency side. They give you the capacity to
take on more work without having to hire staff. When
the overflow work starts getting too expensive, you
can hire in and cut back on freelance services. Most
freelancers have multiple clients and can take the
ebb and flow without the resentment that could sour
a relationship. Freelancers provide their own office
space, equipment, and communication services. With
freelancers, you can hire specialists to fill skill
gaps in your own staff.
patient, be rewarded
takes time to find, evaluate, and hire freelance staff,
and quite a bit of time to train them and build a
good working relationship. Managers should budget
their time accordingly. A typical scenario for me
is that I find a freelancer with good experience and
references, I teach them to do the work I need, and
after a few assignments they either flake out or decide
it's not worth the money. I go through roughly two
freelance situations that don't work out for every
one that does. But when they work, it's beautiful,
and they usually last for years. I worked with one
freelancer for three years and never met her face-to-face.
She handled all my America Online and CompuServe postings.
I paid her piece rate, and at first the money wasn't
very good. As she gained experience, though, the piecework
translated into more than $50/hour, she was happy
to get more work, and I was delighted with the quality
of the results.
your freelancer's limitations
haven't been able to find freelancers who can handle
the writing. The work is too important, I'm painfully
obsessive about the details, and it's hard to price.
Good assignments for freelancers include: discussion
group postings, article syndication, chat or seminar
coordinator, and especially ghost typist. Ghost typists
call chat guests five minutes before a chat, then
read questions to the guest and keyboard the guest's
answers. Ghost typists and chat coordinators can be
recruited from the staff of chat venues. Many web
sites and America Online forums use freelance or volunteer
chat staff. You can sometimes get away with posting
messages right in the forums or message boards that
you're seeking freelance typists or chat coordinators.
These people have experience and will almost always
jump at a paying gig.
One reason you need freelance ghost typists is that
most chats run at night, outside of normal business
hours. There may be problems giving employees access
to the office at night, both for the safety of your
business assets and the safety of your employees.
But there are lots and lots of "stay-at-home"
parents who have great computing skills, loads of
experience chatting online, and want work they can
do once the kids are in bed. I've used several freelance
chat coordinators. They run the whole operation, from
briefing the guests to cleaning the transcripts. But
I have to create the chat profile in-house. The same
goes with seminar coordinators: they're very good
at booking venues and pulling off events, but I wouldn't
trust them to write the campaign materials.
companies are willing to use freelancers, but draw
the line at remote employees. I used to be in this
camp, too, thinking that critical staff needed to
be onsite to interact with the team and with clients.
But in 1998, all that changed. My wife and I moved
to New Orleans, Louisiana, and my staff stayed behind
in Port Townsend, Washington. I thought it would be
impossible to effectively manage my business from
2500 miles away, but I was wrong. What a relief it
turned out to be. If someone's computer broke, they
figured out how to fix it or hired someone to do the
job. No more tedious tech support. No more drawn-out
staff meetings. No more distractions from work. Although
my staff missed me personally, they loved not having
the boss around. And I could easily monitor the effectiveness
of their work from afar. I didn't care about their
habits as long as the work got done on time and up
Since moving to New Orleans, I've worked with new
employees who were interviewed and hired remotely,
and who I have never met in person, despite being
their manager for several years. I've never had a
client in my home town (either in Port Townsend or
New Orleans) and it hasn't reduced my effectiveness.
In fact, I'm able to spend almost 100% of my time
doing "billable work" because I don't have
to attend an endless parade of meetings. If you've
been avoiding hiring remote employees, I think you
should reconsider. The technology is mature enough
to let people work effectively from afar, and the
burden they take off the corporation more than compensates
for the extra work required to hire, train, and monitor
a remote staff.
can find potential freelancers and remote employees
quite easily online. Once again, I recommend you stay
away from the big online employment services and look
for niche sites, such as trade associations or regional
portals. A good freelancer is worth their weight in
O'Keefe is a prolific writer. He has edited
six newsletters and has written more than
100 articles and several books. His writing
has appeared in Harper's, The Wall Street
Journal, Outside, Salon, HotWired, NetWorth,
Entrepreneur, Curio, and dozens of other magazines.
He was one of the original writers for Internet
World magazine, a columnist for the COSMEP
Newsletter, and a frequent contributor to
Small Press, PMA Newsletter, SPAN Connection,
and other publishing periodicals.
Steve's writing has been anthologized in several
books, including Publicity Basics, by the
Council of Literary Magazines and Presses.
His latest book is Complete Guide to Internet
Publicity (John Wiley & Sons, 2002-2007), the
successor to the critically acclaimed 'bestseller',
Publicity on the Internet (Wiley, 1996).
Adjunct Faculty, Tulane University College
Executive Director, Patron Saint Productions,
741 Saint Philip St. #241, New Orleans, LA
Voice: (504) 586-9517 Fax: (504) 586-9518
Web Site: http://www.patronsaintpr.com
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