Anytime a freelancer and an employer start working together for the first time, it’s a bit like a first date. Both parties know enough about the other to think a relationship might be possible, but there’s no way to know if the chemistry is right before giving it a go. However, there’s no doubt that some companies are better to freelance for than others, whether it’s because they are communicative, they pay on-time, or the work itself is compelling.
Kalo surveyed a few dozen freelancers on its platform to find out who their favorite clients are, and why. The respondents ranged widely in how long they’ve freelanced, how many companies they’ve freelanced for, and the work that they do, although most fall under the heading of “content creators” as photographers, journalists, writers, and videographers.
Far and away, the consensus on the best company to freelance for was Airbnb. About one-quarter of the survey respondents highlighted Airbnb, saying it pays well and on-time. Freelancers also said the team is professional, reliable, and has strong communication. All of these qualities distinguish Airbnb in a space where getting paid can be a huge hassle and managers aren’t always responsive to freelancers’ needs.
Another employer to get a couple shout-outs was Apartment Therapy, the online interior design community. There’s probably not a connection, but it is interesting that both companies center around the concept of “home.” NowThis, a digital news company founded by former Huffington Post execs, popped up a number of times as well. One respondent said NowThis was “very professional” and had a “great environment.”
In addition to NowThis, a slew of media organizations were mentioned as good to work for, including Reuters, CNN, Vice, The Billfold, Extra Cripsy (TIME), and The Boston Globe.
Beyond the outlets themselves, themes emerged in the types of characteristics that freelancers highlighted. In addition to payment, freelancers clearly appreciated companies that were pleasant to work with.
About Seal Films Limited, one freelancer said they like to work with them “because they are friendly and easy to work with, no nonsense and pay proper rates.”
And about The Dodo and The Today Show, a freelancer said, “My editors are no-drama, they give me interesting and regular work, and they pay without being hassled.”
Regular work is clearly a major way to score points. Airbnb, for example, was commended for offering stable projects, and Surface, Architectural Digest, and Martha Stewart Weddings were recognized because “the editors are responsive, friendly, and generous with assignments.”
How interesting assignments are matters as well. A videographer mentioned Indigo Films because “ The type of TV shows that I cut there were very interesting and challenging.” Surprise surprise, freelancers prefer companies that don’t assign boring work.
To a certain extent, the “best” companies to freelance for is subjective. Not everyone has the same experience of working with a company. Working with one editor at a media outlet can be super different from working with a different editor at the same outlet, for instance. However, patterns emerge that make it clear what freelancers want from employers, and conversely, how employers can keep their freelancers happy. It may seem obvious that freelancers want interesting, consistent work from companies that are easy to deal with and pay on-time, but too few clients manage to hit those marks. For any company with plans to work with freelancers over the long-term, reputation matters, and these answers provide insight into how to create an environment that enables freelancers to thrive.