Using freelancers to achieve your business’ goals has numerous benefits: reduced costs, as-needed workers for temporary jobs that require particular skills, and access to a larger talent pool compared to local, full-time or part-time workers. Yet many companies still prefer regular employees for one overwhelming reason: communication.

Being able to discuss the specifics of a project with someone on-site, even if it’s outside of their normal skill set, can reduce or eliminate communication errors with freelancers who don’t know your business as well as your employees. Sometimes this is genuinely more valuable, but often managers and business owners don’t consider freelancers even when it’s the objectively more efficient choice because they don’t want to deal with communication issues. It’s a comfort choice, not a business choice.

That doesn’t mean communication issues aren’t something to be concerned about; rather, if you’re in charge of what could be freelance-friendly projects, learning to communicate well with freelancers should be viewed as part of your job in an effort to run the most efficient possible business. Since communication issues often arise due to you and a particular freelancer having never worked together, the most consistent way to improve communication from the start is to use a clear, well-prepared script to describe the work you want accomplished.

Here’s an example of what not to do:

  • “I need a logo based on my design.”

If this is all you say, it leaves more questions than answers. An entirely new article could be written on what a logo designer might ask to get a better sense of the job. Presumably, if this is a freelance ad you would leave, it’s because you don’t know enough about graphic design to be more specific. However, an experienced design freelancer will know that means there’s no way to tell what you’ll like or not like, and thus they’ll avoid your job, leaving you with a reduced talent pool to choose from. You need a better idea of what you want.

This, on the other hand, is much better:

  • “We’re looking for a logo for our business, ‘Unveiling Utica’. The logo needs to capture the essence of Utica, NY, in a simple but unique way. The city colors are blue and silver, and the logo should make primarily make use of those. Our business is a consulting firm for other companies seeking to identify with Utica as their home. Since Utica is largely known as a college town, we feel a logo that incorporates education-based themes would be appropriate, though we are open to other ideas from an expert graphic designer. We are looking for two versions: One with just the logo, the other designed to take up the same space, but with the words ‘Unveiling Utica’ included at either the top or bottom.”

If you’re a freelancer, how many questions do you have left after reading this? A couple small ones, perhaps, but not many. The job is fully described and offers a substantial foundation for even someone who has never spoken to you to work from.

More importantly, very little knowledge of graphic design is necessary to write this ad. You know your business name and its goals; you don’t need design knowledge to have color preferences; the theme is an idea you want to represent your company, which also requires no design knowledge; and you always have the option, as in this example, to allow flexibility for a freelancer who has a different concept they think will work for you.

Alongside graphics work, writing jobs are frequently offered to freelancers. Here’s an example of an ad for a writer that’s good but imperfect:

  • “I am searching for a native or fluent English speaker to write five articles on a variety of economic topics. Each article will be 1,000 words and up, and cover topics such as debt relief, banking, loan types, and so on. Specific topics and details will be provided upon hiring. Strong research is a must. Articles should be easy to read for a general audience; please avoid highly technical language unless you can explain terminology in a way that makes sense to the average reader.Articles should be unique and able to pass a Copyscape check.”

This is a solid baseline ad. The language expectations are set forth immediately, as is the knowledge set required of the freelancer (economics). Number of articles and article length are clear, and example topics give an idea of the scope of the articles. Expected research level and the tone of the article are also key for a freelancer and should always be included. Plagiarism checks should be assumed by freelancers, but making note of the fact you’ll run one is fine.

However, because a freelance writer’s entire job revolves around knowing the main thrust of what an employer wants written, it is critical to offer as much information as possible. The employer makes it clear specific economic topics will be assigned, and the examples cover substantially different aspects of the economic world. Debt relief, for example, will be of interest to a much different crowd than banking issues. Because the articles themselves are not described, a knowledgeable freelancer who could be of help on some economic topics may avoid this because they’re concerned the employer is going to ask them to write about unfamiliar topics. Likewise, newer freelancers may jump on this and be surprised when asked about unfamiliar topics, leaving either the employer with subpar work or the freelancer with far more hours put in than the job is worth and a negative view of the employer.

If you’re writing to freelancers, or advertisements for freelancers, clarity is key. Remember these details to minimize communication mishaps with your freelancers:

  • Length of job (expected time investment, word length, etc.)
  • Requisite themes and topics (the more specific, the better)
  • Description of your business (for a freelancer who doesn’t know you, this can be enormously useful)
  • If possible, note how much flexibility the freelancer has in following your requests
  • Anything and everything else you know you want—remember, freelancers work to fulfill a job request. The better the outline of what you expect, the better the work you’ll receive.