February 3, 2024

6 Steps to Create A Robust Freelance Supplier Black Book

A comprehensive 6 Step guide to building your freelance database for you marketing or content team.

Freelancers can play a vital role in the success of your content or marketing team. They add in that extra bit of capacity and skillset when you might need it. But, it usually comes with a tradeoff... Reliable and skilled freelancers can often be a rare find. But fear not,  we have a tried and trusted method to easily streamline this process.  In this guide, you will learn to select, vet, categorise and create your own freelancer database. All in one simple document.

Step 1 - Define

Before you start searching for freelance suppliers, first define your needs. These filters will be the first step to start selecting potential freelancers. Consider areas such as:

  • Area of Expertise: What is their role or skillset? Examples could be Photographer, Videographer, Strategist, Copywriter, Designer etc.
  • Experience/Capability: How experienced or capable are they? This might not just be the amount of years in the industry. It could also be the quality of their work. We would suggest creating your own score for this out of 10. 1 being very junior and 10 being an expert
  • Rates/Budget: This would probably be a range or an hourly rate. Consider looking at both for shorter or longer projects.
  • Speed: This would be their usual delivery times. It is good to check back on this metric in the vetting step. First you would ask them what their average delivery time is. Next you would compare and replace it with their actual delivery time on a test project.
  • References: This would be a link to their portfolio or a folder of their work examples. It is good to have a variety of examples here. This is to get a more complete overview of their skills and capabilities.

This will give you a good foundation for selecting potential suppliers effectively.

Step 2 - Search

Next it's time to start finding potential freelancers. Start with exploring various platforms and networks. Some good places to start might be:

There are also popular websites like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr that you can look at. Look for freelancers who have positive reviews and a strong portfolios. Attention to detail is also a good thing to look for with how they communicate and create.

Step 2 - Select

Once you have found the freelancers you are looking for, get in contact with them. Reach out to them and start building a relationship. You can also tell early on about how your relationship might be with them based on how they reply. If they take forever to respond or are not professional with how they respond, then they already might not be a good fit. Collect their information based on the filters you defined in Step 1. To do this, create an initial spreadsheet list with columns for each filter. You can also download our free template for this here.

Step 3 - Vet

As they say, the proof is in the pudding. In this case, you should have dessert before the main meal. It is very important to make sure that the freelancers you have selected can actually deliver. This should happen before brining them onto a real project. There are two phases here:

  • Phase 1 - Create a trial project. Create a smaller project designed to show elements of what you are looking for (This project should be paid for and not free). This project should give you a good idea of the freelancer's potential skill and working manner.
  • Phase 2 of the vetting process is to check references. Ask for references from freelancers who pass the initial trial project . Contact these references to ask about their experiences working with the freelancer. Ask them about communication, reliability, and the quality of work delivered. This step will give good insights into the freelancer's professionalism and reliability. Also make sure these references are not just friends but actual clients that have had work done.

Step 4 - Sign

Once you are satisfied with the vetting process, next is to get a contract in place. This should be a legally binding agreement that sets out the following key areas:  

  • Clearly define project scope, timelines, deliverables,
  • Payment terms: Outline exactly what your payment terms are and the relevant milestones required.
  • Non-Disclosure and Confidentiality: This is very important to make sure that sensitive projects are kept safe.

You should consult a legal professional if needed to help structure this contract. The freelancers should sign this document in order to be onboarded correctly.

Step 5 - Create & Categorise

Next it's time to start creating your Black Book. You can do this on whatever platform you prefer. We recommend using either Google Sheets or Notion. Ideally, you want to start with a section or sheet for each skillset. Then you want label your columns with each of your filters from Step 1. Once that's done, have three sub sections on each sheet either based on the freelancer's level of expertise or their rates. This would usually be split into Low, Medium and High.

Once you have created the document, then it's time to fill it in. Start categorising your vetted freelancers into the relevant areas. Or, you can also download our free pre-made Freelancer Black Book template here.

Step 6 - Update

Remember that it doesn't just end here. You need to always update and expand Your Black Book. Add to your Freelance Supplier Black Book with new contacts and information when needed.

Also, monitor their performance. As you begin working with freelancers, closely monitor their performance. Are they still delivering quality? Are they still delivering on time? Have their rates changes? These are all important things to update. It may even cause you to remove certain freelancers over time. Regularly assess whether they align with your expectations and project goals.

By following these 6 simple steps, you can create a reliable freelance database that you can count on. Just remember to keep it up to date monthly so that it is accurate when you need it. We would love to hear if it works for you!

If you need any help with getting quality external talent, consider looking at our Contentual Studio solution.

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