Plan ahead to get the best results for your project.
Life seems to get more complicated by the minute. But you can simplify work by creating an awesome project plan to help you get the results you need. Too many clients fall into the trap of being poorly prepared before engaging services from an online freelancer. A skilled freelance web designer won’t try to take advantage of you and hopefully will ask you the right questions to help you decide what you need.
Are you a client looking to hire a freelancer for a job or project?
So before you even start to look for a freelancer, put together a quick project plan, that will guide the project, maximize the time invested by everyone involved and ensure it all comes in under budget.
Let’s say for example you want a new website for your business. This is a big project, which takes a lot of time and requires expertise. You could choose one person who can do the whole project. You can also outsource different components of it to different people as you please. You can’t make decisions about these things however unless you have a clear picture of what you want. This is why you need a project plan.
1. Define your purpose
Why do you want a business website and what is its purpose? Are you just getting a website because everyone says you should? Websites have a variety of functions so you should be clear about what you want yours to do.
Is it so people can see the location of your restaurant and then check out your menu before making a dinner reservation? Or download your monthly program to stick on the fridge? This is a simple project and easily produced. You may even be able to do it yourself.
Is it to increase you customer base? If it’s a focused marketing exercise then you will need to consider the social media requirements, blog options, and the ongoing maintenance of those. That kind of website is a machine that must be fed constantly so be sure this is actually what you want!
Or maybe you’ve decided to start selling products or services online? E-commerce enabled sites must be customized to the user and to help them find the details they need about your products and services. They must also function well so that all the necessary information needed is captured and orders can be processed accurately and efficiently.
Think through exactly why you want a website and what you want it to do, because this will be the first question a designer will ask you. Knowing the answer in advance and being able to clearly outline your vision to them will make a huge difference to their engagement with the project plan and ensure you’re satisfied with final results.
2. Map it out and delegate
In the case of a website, you can look at other sites for inspiration, take screenshots of components you like and make a master list of all the things you want on your site. You can then map it out yourself, page by page, or use this information to do that with your designer.
Building and Populating
Sometimes people get a surprise when their new website is built and they find that the words on the pages are in Latin, there are generic images in place, and the Facebook icons don’t link to anything for example. This is because they hired a web developer. Not a designer, or a content writer, or a professional photographer, or a social media expert.
There is a difference between building a site and populating it. If you know you want a website where people can download things, follow you on social media, look at great photos, share your content, subscribe to a newsletter, interact as a community, for example, then you need to know the following:
What your freelancer can do
What you could do yourself
What you can afford
What you will be need to outsource
“Spend some time on your project plan. It will guide the project, maximize the time invested by everyone involved and ensure it all comes in under budget.”
Skills and Resources
Mapping out your site will then help you refine resources. If your freelancer is taking on the whole build for you – from installing the framework to designing social media icons and logos – then your list will probably include things like; finalising the content for the pages, refining documents that will be offered as downloads (such as menus, price lists, newsletters) and selecting images you want to use on the site.
If the freelancer is building you a basic WordPress site and allocating pages and widgets for you to fill in, then your list will include; choosing and installing a social media plugin, installing webmaster tools, creating a contact form, uploading a favicon among other things.
You need to be honest with yourself about your capacity and skill for these tasks as well as your budget and then decide which of them to outsource. Maybe your freelancer can do all of these things, but does your budget allow for them to do it all?
You can write your own content but how long will it take you? Will it be optimised so that your content works for you? A professional content writer will do the job for you in half the time as well as optimise the content. They can probably refine your documents as well. Are your photography skills good enough? A 2 hour shoot with a professional photographer might give you a year’s supply of great quality fresh images that will make all the difference to your site.
The important thing is that you know all the resources you need to build the site you want, who you have available to do these things and what they charge, so you can then delegate accordingly and keep things within the budget of your project plan.
3. Invest and engage
The final stage of planning focuses on the life of the site after it has been built. Knowing what your marketing goals are, how to use the tools you have chosen for your site and how to engage with the community you have built is the key to fulfilling your purpose and making sure the investment you made in your new website was money well spent. You may need to invest your own time from week to week, engaging with the community and reading things online that help you learn how to do things better. Or you can hire a freelancer to do that for you!
You already defined your purpose, so now you must decide how to action that purpose from day to day, week to week, month to month. Ideally, the freelancers you chose to help you build the site will become your team and continue to provide you with the services you need on a regular basis. This requires an ongoing plan and possibly a monthly budget.
Knowing what the content strategy is for your site, your blog, and your social media outputs and engagements will determine how much time every week needs to be invested. Is it time you can invest or is it better to allocate a monthly budget to a freelancer to manage your social media. Can you connect that person with the content strategist who wrote your site content and get them to manage your strategy together?
The project plan may seem like a lot of work, but actually it’s an investment of time to save you money in the future. Freelancers generally charge an hourly rate and the good ones are busy! So the more focused you are in your dealings with you, the more they will love you as client. This means not only will they do a better job for you because you are making things easier for them, but the whole process will be more efficient, simply because you took the time to create a project plan.
Got a project plan in place and you’re ready to find a freelancer?