11 Tips For Choosing & Hiring Freelancers

Freelancers can take your business to a completely different level.

If your to-do list has become too big for your current work force, you may be looking into options to expand. The most obvious route is to employ a new full-time employee, but this can be extremely expensive, and your business may not have the required budget to do that just yet. The next best thing is to hire a freelancer, but that is something which is easier said than done. The past few years has seen a massive increase in the amount of freelance workers, and it’s only going to get bigger.

From an economical viewpoint, this is a good thing. The majority of freelance employers are from Western countries, whereas the freelancers themselves are typically from lower income, Eastern countries. This dispersion of money from richer countries to the poorer ones can only do good for the economy. However, for the people looking to hire a freelancer for their business, the massive amounts of choice can be overwhelming.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing and hiring a new freelancer;

Always ask for samples and previous experience

Hiring someone from the other side of the planet, when you know nothing about their history is obviously a risky procedure. Personal references, which are often used as a means of judging a person, go completely out of the window.

The only way you can judge their skills and experience is by asking for samples of their previous work. If you want to take this a step further, you could contact their previous employers and ask how they performed on that certain task. This is not always necessary, but if you are hiring a freelancer for a long-term project, it could pay dividends to dig a little deeper.

Make full use of the search functions

Whichever website or service you decide to use for your freelancer hunt, chances are they will have a comprehensive search feature which allows you to search, and sort the listings by different factors such as price, experience, and location.

If you know exactly what you are looking for, then save yourself the hours of scrolling through tons of irrelevant profiles, and try a custom search.

Be creative with your job posting

While it may be nice to assume that every single person who applies for your position is a hard working, qualified individual, the reality is that a lot of the applicants will simply copy and paste a generic cover letter, without ever reading your job description fully.

One way to tackle this is to include a buzz word in your description. For example, your job posting could include something like this;

At the end of your application, please state the words ‘Doctor Who’
The key is not to ask them something difficult, or extremely confusing, it is merely there to make sure the applicant read your job description fully, and they were actually paying attention to what you were saying.

If anyone applies without the answer to your question, or without quoting your buzz word, simply ignore them, and move on to the next. This will save you a lot of time, and will ensure that you are employing someone who pays attention to small details.

Don’t rely on skill test scores

The majority of freelance websites will require freelancers to complete small tasks relating to the field they are interested in working in. For example, a writer could be asked to complete a small writing task. A data entry clerk could be asked to complete a sorting task. Each task submission is graded, and the scores are published on the freelancers profile, letting potential employers see how they scored.

While this is helpful in theory, it is worth noting that any test can be skewed, and no amount of testing can cover the broad range of skills a particular freelancer will need to do any specific job. Take these test scores with a pinch of salt. Combine them with your own assessment of their previous work and samples, and be confident that you are not dismissing someone brilliant, just because they scored sub-par on a test.

Invite your freelancer to a small one-to-one call

Depending on the project you are offering to the freelancer, it may be a good idea to invite your prospective team or person, to a one-to-one call on Skype. Not only will this help speed up the process of asking back and forth questions, but it also shows how committed the freelancer is to the project they are applying for. If they can’t spare 5 minutes to introduce themselves to you in person, how committed would they really be to your task?

Don’t be too strict with your deadlines

We all want things done as quickly as possible, but when you are dealing with human beings, you can’t expect everything to go perfect, every single time. Be realistic with your deadlines. Never expect a full website developed in 3 days, or a 200 page e-book to be completed within 24 hours. The stress of meeting the impossible deadlines will either force your freelancer to submit work that is not up to your standard, or will force them to quit completely. Be reasonable!

Don’t fall for outrageous claims.

The online freelancing market is a competitive place, and individuals are finding it increasingly difficult to find a sufficient amount of work. To combat this, many freelancers will offer way more than the rest of the people applying for your job, usually more than they could realistically achieve.
These claims can be tempting, but before you decide to employ someone new, take a step back and ask yourself if a single person could seriously offer the amount of work which they are offering. If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn't!

You will save yourself more time, and more money if you go with a reasonable offering, rather than a massively outrageous one.

Look for potential freelancers on social media

While a freelancers profile may look like it includes everything about them, chances are, it doesn't. There may even be a chance that your potential freelancer is using a false name, or a ‘business name’ on their profile.

One way to learn more about a prospective freelancer is to check if the name they are using is their real name. Search for them on LinkedIn, or on other forms of social media. The point of this process is not to snoop through their Facebook photos, or to find out what they ate for dinner last night, it is simply a way of enforcing the trust between you and them. Knowing they are applying to work with you using their real name, shows a willingness to be trusted, as opposed to someone who uses a pseudo name, who has nothing to lose.

Don’t expect too much, for too little

Just because you found a freelancer from India, it doesn't mean they would be willing to work for the minimum wage of $2 per hour. They have skill sets just like you, and they will have a certain level of self worth. Knowing the value of your work, and not being afraid to ask for a higher price in such a competitive environment is actually a great sign of confidence. The freelancer knows what skills they can offer, and they know what exactly what that particular set of skills is worth.

Don’t expect everyone to work for bare minimum. Remember, you get what you pay for. If you are looking for something a little more specialised, then expect to pay specialist prices.

Respect your freelancers!

The final tip in our list is not necessarily a tip. It’s common sense. If you respect your workers, then they will respect you, and believe me, that respect will show in the work that they produce.

Trust and respect will go a long way when working with your freelancer. Show them respect, and you can expect a level of loyalty and effort that is unparalleled. Their mission is to provide you with a certain quality of work, but if the freelancer feels like they are being used, or not being shown the level of respect which they deserve, I can promise that it will show in the work they produce for you. Treat your freelancers like you would treat your neighbours.

Don’t be afraid of using contracts

A lot of small business owners will skip this step, in fear of doing something wrong, which was a perfectly valid excuse 20 years go, but not any more. Drawing up a contract can be intimidating, if you have no experience in Law, but thanks to the development of services that offer e-signature services, you can have an effective, legally binding contract that will protect both you and your freelancers for next to nothing. It only takes a few minutes to set up a contract, and if you ever run into problems in the future, you will be glad you did.

While it can be a a long, drawn out process, finding a new freelancer for your latest project doesn't have to be difficult. Following the 11 tips provided will ensure that you find someone who will be a welcomed addition to your team, and will help take your business to new places beyond your expectations.