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Freelancing is steadily on the rise, attracting more independent professionals who want the benefits of being their own boss, including flexible, remote work. But leaving the traditional 9-to-5 to build a freelancing business comes with its own set of worries and frustrations—common anxieties like securing health care, paying taxes, saving for retirement, and the unpredictability of work.

Unfortunately, a number of those concerns are directly related to client relations, whether it’s a lack of communication or a poor track record with on-time payments. As clients, these might seem arbitrary in the grand scheme of their businesses, but to freelancers, these are key issues that can potentially put stress on your relationship with them. Where relationships struggle, so does the potential for collaboration and innovation.

Understanding their concerns and being empathetic to their situation is a good place to start. Here are five other easy ways to build trust with freelancers so your relationship can flourish.

1. In the early phases of the relationship, keep payment cycles short and timely.

A large percentage of freelancers have cited late or non-payments as a primary concern. One of the easiest ways to build trust right off the bat is submitting an initial payment quickly. This offers good peace of mind for both parties—they know you value their time and you’re serious about working with them, while you’ll have fewer concerns of them holding work “hostage” and slowing progress.

2. Put a premium on your interactions.

Clients often cite the having a freelancer physically present in the office as a key contributor to their lack of trust—but that can work both ways. Freelancers don’t have the benefit of offline, in-office interactions, either. That’s why building a trusting relationship with a freelancer is so important, and the most effective way to ensure better collaboration. Former Yahoo! Executive Tim Sanders said, “Email is not how you build relationships,” underscoring the importance of more personal interactions like video chats.

Don’t wing it when it comes to those trust-building interactions. Agree on the tools and technologies you’ll use to communicate and collaborate up front. Show up prepared for meetings, and send a brief ahead of time if possible. Also, you can offer to include a freelancer in meetings relevant to the work they’re doing. This keeps the freelancer from being too siloed, and can also help give them a better understanding of the business and an opportunity to contribute thoughts and ideas.

3. Respond in a timely manner.

Timely communication works both ways. You want a freelancer who responds to you and submits deliverables on time, but freelancers value that communication, too. When clients go MIA, freelancers get nervous.

Try not to go “radio silent” on a freelancer after they’ve met a deadline and sent the deliverable or they’ll likely wonder if they missed the mark, if you’re not happy with the work, or if the project went bust and they’ve just wasted their time.

It doesn’t have to be over the top. Often, a quick, simple confirmation of receipt of a deliverable will do, then follow up when you get more time. Bonus: Timely communication keeps projects moving when freelancers aren’t waiting around on feedback.

4. Don’t nickel and dime.

What you invest in a freelancer you’ll get back in trust and enthusiasm. Letting them know you value them and the work they’ve done is a crucial way to build trust. If work was done early or the freelancer was especially flexible in responding to last-minute changes or deadline shifts, reward them for their dedication by agreeing to increased rates on the next project. Or even give them a bonus.

5. Make the next project bigger to show them you trust them with more important work.

Another great way to show a freelancer they’re valued is to discuss ways to extend their engagement with more work and more responsibility. This shows them you value the work they’ve done so far and don’t want to lose them—which in turn will build their enthusiasm for your company and project.

If a project is ending and your demand is temporarily shrinking, be sure to end things on a positive note. If things went well, you’ll want to make sure that freelancer is likely to work for you again if they’re available. After all, you’ve invested time in energy in them, making them a valuable asset should you need additional work in the future.


Trust is a two-way street in any working relationship, but keeping these tips in mind when working with a freelancer can help address their common concerns and make you a better, more empathetic client. Remember: You don’t have to both be 9-to-5 to make a working relationship great.