By: Rebecca Alwine

Freelancers are increasing in popularity as the gig economy continues to grow. For many, freelancing is the perfect way to blend their professional passions and their personal goals. But they are still professionals. They work hard, and those efforts should be rewarded appropriately.

Here are a few ways to make sure you are treating freelancers well so that they will want to work with you in the future:

  1. Use the right terminology.

Freelancers are not employees. You don’t hire them. They don’t work for you. Starting a professional relationship with a freelancer is the best time to lay the foundation of the agreement. Make sure you are using the correct terminology when referencing the contract, terms, and compensation. If you have questions on what these terms should be, check with your legal department.

  1. Honor the contract.

Just as you would not conduct business with a new client without a contract, a freelancer won’t either. And you shouldn’t expect them to. A freelance contract or agreement can be as simple or complicated as needed. But it should include a few important things like payment terms, length of period for work, and any specifics for the project they are being contracted for. Once both parties sign the contract, do not assume that “because they are freelancers” you can choose to change or ignore it.

  1. Respect their boundaries.

As an independent contractor, the freelancer agrees to complete the work within the time period. There is no requirement that he or she work specific hours or in a particular place. Unless written explicitly in the contract, there are no requirements for working on-site, attending meetings, or being available for phone calls. If you need someone to be in your office daily, then you need to hire an employee, not a freelancer.

  1. Pay them on time.

Payment terms are part of a contract and thus should be honored accordingly. You may be surprised to hear how much time freelancers spend chasing down their paychecks. Whenever possible, make the invoicing process easy for your freelancers. Pay them as soon as possible but absolutely within the terms of the contract. If something extreme happens and you cannot make payment within the agreed-upon terms, communicate this with your freelancer as soon as possible.

Freelancers have their own networks—they share ideas and they share information about clients. If you have a good reputation among this group of professionals, you’ll find it much easier to get one to do the work you need when you need it. However, if you avoid best practices, like those listed above, it will take a long time to rebuild the trust of the freelance community.