Every Monday, I profile a business, person, or website doing neat things online. I thought I’d take a little break from the usual format and talk about something I see a lot: business owners working with the creative people they hire: webdesigners, writers, graphic artists, internet marketers, etc.

Admittedly, I’m somewhere in between. I do creative services for people but I feel like I also do a lot of organization of creative people to keep things moving forward too. Here’s what I’ve learned over the last couple years:

1. You might not know exactly what you need but be as specific as you can with what you do know. There is a reason you’re hiring someone to create a logo, a website, a painting, or anything really: You don’t know much about it or you don’t have the time/interest to do it yourself if you do. Creative people understand this.

That said, to get the best quote possible, be up front with what you do know: budgets, other players on the project, and deadlines are all helpful. It’ll keep the person from doing something embarrassing like bring up the name of a rival company or time wasting, like generating a quote for a project four times your actual budget.

Generating a request for proposals may seem a bit much but you’d be surprised how happy everyone is when a project communicates the variables involved to everyone up front. Equate it to having a business plan for your business. Planning helps!

To see examples, just do an online search for ‘request for proposals’ adding details specific to project type like logo design. Or, you can hire someone to do it for you.

2. Include the person in on side conversations while you work together.
For example, you may have told your ad rep at the local newspaper about your upcoming sale but didn’t tell your website designer. Use BCC on emails so you can send out once and everyone you work with knows what’s going on. (BCC to keep people’s email addresses private, not to be sneaky.)

3. Ask them about their process, references, and a detailed quote.
If you’re working with someone new, ask them about their process and references. It’s probably written up somewhere on their website or otherwise so you aren’t asking for anything ridiculous. And if it isn’t written up, it’s probably something that needs to be created anyway since someone else is bound to ask anyway!

Also get a broken down quote and ask any questions you have about it. Sometimes creative people who do this all the time don’t realize something is confusing to the average person. (Personally I’d love it if someone would let me know if something was confusing so I could fix it!) Creative people are happy to explain things, just like you are happy to answer questions about your business so don’t be afraid to ask them. If you are, you might want to hire someone who you feel more comfortable communicating with.

4. Give information needed and feedback in a timely manner.
Want to know what slows things down the most? A lack of communication.

Sometimes, your web designer will email you with a question, say, about a font. Do you like Futura? (I clearly do.) Either you have an opinion about it or don’t really care. Let them know so they can move on with things. Don’t feel bad about not wanting to be involved in every decision, but just tell them so they know you aren’t lying in bed at night thinking about whether you should go with Helvetica instead.

That said, expect communication to work in both directions, which brings me to…

5. Nag a bit.
I’m often hired to nag people. I schedule it in my Google Calendar even.

It’s ok to nag. For example, I am currently working on 30 projects right now. It’s not like other types of jobs where I’m doing the same things at the same times of day. It’s much more disjointed than that, which means I may have forgotten to write you back three days ago about Facebook advertising. Nag me a little, I don’t mind. Most people, creative or otherwise, don’t mind being reminded. We appreciate you care about the work! We’ll nag you too if need be.

6. Give a good review.
When I do work for people and they’re happy, my heart is warmed. When they write a testimonial for my site, review me on Yelp or Google, or recommend me to their friends, I am elated.

Make the day of a creative person and recommend them. It’ll help the good workers rise to the top and the feeling you give them is better than a bonus.

If you want to look at it from a purely selfish standpoint, if you call me up a month from now, forgetting how to shorten a link in Twitter, think I’m more likely to give you a bit of free help for your good karma? Absolutely.

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