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WORKING WITH FREELANCERS AND OTHER SPECIALISTS As a result of living and working in a virtual world, it’s easier than ever before for work teams to form and disband, depending on the client’s needs. Outside experts can help you pull off a rush job or pitch in when you’re inundated with too much work. Often the “expertise” will consist of other creatives who possess skills that you need to get the job done, such as designers, copywriters, editors, photographers, illustrators, cartoonists, or animators. Outside specialists like printers, typesetters, coders, back-end programmers, audio or video production companies, or service bureaus also bring their own expertise to projects. SOURCING Before you even open for business, devote time to forming these important linkages. Contacting or meeting with these experts before you need their services gives you a leg up. Collect samples of their work, obtain rates, and inquire about credit lines. Once you’re in operation, always keep an eye out for bylines and credits of work you admire. Ask those in the know for names of people they recommend. For example, your printer is likely a good source of information about talented photographers or proofreaders. WORK PLANS Noted author Stephen Covey urges his readers to “Begin with the end in mind.” This observation is worth heeding as you mastermind a project that relies on the expertise of others. Since you are in charge, you’re the lucky stiff who develops the work plan, which will serve as a blueprint that guides you and your team onward toward the completion of the project at hand. Planning is a left-brain function. As taskmaster you must break down the smaller, sequential steps and assign mini-deadlines. Once you’ve tweaked your work plan, write it down and share it with the client and your freelancers and other specialists so everybody is on the same page. If delays occur (and they inevitably will), revise the work plan accordingly. WRITTEN AGREEMENTS Just as you should never take on a new client without a contract or some other form of written agreement, the same applies for your working relationships with outside help. Putting it in writing offers you legal protection. Furthermore, it’s a legal necessity if the job will take more than a year to complete or if the bill exceeds five hundred dollars. We recommend going over the terms together first verbally, then following up in writing. Keep a copy for your records and mail or fax one to your outside expert. Steffanie Lorig of Lorig Design in Seattle uses the Independent Contractor Agreement shown on pages 192–193. Another choice is to draft your own letter of agreement about the work. Include these elements: • Scope of work • Clear description of the deliverables (including file formats) • Time frame, including process and deadlines • Fees and expenses • Terms of payment (will you or the client pay?) • Sign-off lines for both you and the other party The Designers Toolbox Web site at www.designerstoolbox.com offers a version of a freelance agreement, along with a nondisclosure agreement (NDA), a standard document signed by those who hire you or those whom you hire. An NDA insures proprietary and sensitive business information is kept confidential.