Creative’s Guide to Recruitment

May 2, 2024 | Blog, Business Basics

Find, retain, and attract freelance collaborators

By Monica Davidson

Finding people to collaborate with can be a real challenge when freelancing. Sure, there’s always the little black book of creative friends, previous colleagues and that guy your brother recommended. However, taking a strategic approach to building a team of people when you’re leading a creative project can save time, money and heartache in the short term – and help you grow your business in the long run.

Tip 1: Get Clear about the Work
It’s boring, and not always possible, but before hunting for people be as clear as you can about your project. Is it self-devised, or work for a client? Where is the money coming from? Clearly define the who – what – where – when – why of the project, and the best possible outcomes, to help you identify the skills needed for your team. The clearer you are, the easier it will be to attract the right kind of people. 

If you can, dig further and break down the work into responsibilities and tasks. For some creative projects this will be obvious due to the nature of the work (film usually has a predictable hierarchy) but for more collaborative projects it can help to break down the following:

  • Who does what, and is expected to complete each task?
  • Who owns the outcome, and is ultimately accountable for the success of each task?
  • Who provides input, and who should be consulted for their expertise?
  • Who needs to be kept informed, to ensure everyone relevant to the project is kept up-to-date?

For more, check out this information on how to create a RACI Chart (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed).

Tip 2: Identify Potential Collaborators
With your project defined, now it’s time to identify your ideal collaborators. Now that you know what’s needed to complete the project, you can define the specific skills and strengths you need to complement your own. Consider aspects like:

  • What technical or creative expertise is missing from your project?
  • Do you need someone with specific industry experience or a fresh perspective?
  • Do you like open communication and frequent brainstorming, or prefer a more independent collaborator?
  • Will physical proximity be important, or can you collaborate virtually?

Of course, this will help you to identify people you already know, but if you need to think about recruiting new collaborators then identifying skills is a good start. 

Tip 3: Cast A Wide Net
If you’ve found the best people by this stage, great. If not, it’s time to start looking. Create a profile of what you’re looking for from previous steps, and start promoting. 

Try using:

  • Online freelance marketplaces like Freelance Jungle and Rachel’s List.
  • Social media, including LinkedIn, and online groups or communities focused on your creative field.
  • Creative community platforms like Behance.
  • Industry events & workshops related to your field.
  • Recommendations, of course. Reach out to colleagues, friends, and peers who might know talented individuals who fit your needs.

Tip 4: Check Their Work 
Once you’ve found a potential collaborator or two, ask to see examples of their work. Hopefully they’re featured in an online directory or have a lovely shiny website of their own.

Reviewing a freelancer’s portfolio or past projects gives you a concrete sense of their skill level and experience in the specific area you need help with. You’ll also be able to assess if their style and approach align with your project’s vision and desired outcome.

It might feel more comfortable to chat first, but by reviewing work beforehand, you can avoid wasting time meeting with freelancers who aren’t a good fit, saving valuable time and resources during the selection process.

Tip 5: Recruit for Fit
Time to chat! Set up a meeting in person or online, and use this as a chance to set expectations for the work, and communicate what you’re looking for.

Also think about what you’d like to ask your potential collaborator. For example:

  • Have you worked on similar projects before? Tell me about your approach and the outcome.
  • Do you have experience with the specific tools or technologies needed for this project?
  • How do you typically manage projects and communicate with clients?

Also check in about availability, rates and payment terms. 

Finally, consider their personality traits and get a feel for their style. Would their personality complement yours for a smooth working relationship? Keep an eye out for good communication, flexibility, creativity, and a sense of humour—essential ‘soft’ skills when collaborating!

Finally—Keep a Freelance Recruitment Book
Once you’ve done the hard work and found these amazing people, don’t let them go! Keep all their details in a directory of your own, and you’ll not only save time in the future but you’ll be heading in the right direction to consolidate and sustain your creative business. 

Interested in learning more about recruiting and retaining creative talent? Check out our workshop People-Skills. Find when it’s next happening here.


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