There are so many freelancers out there – all promising to do an unparalleled job on your latest project. You may feel as if you hit the freelancer jackpot! But before you choose, there are several important considerations to keep in mind.
You need to make sure that you are aligned in terms of (1) skills needed, (2) workflow, and (3) preference and taste. Sometimes, this process takes a bit of practice and work.
Remember, this is just as much about the freelancer themselves as it is about their expertise and knowledge of your requirements. Hiring freelancers is a two-way process that requires strong communication on both sides. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not easy either. That being said, here’s what to look for in a quality hire (and when to run in the opposite direction!)
Step 1: Be Location-Driven
The web truly is a global marketplace. Make sure you’re aware of the time difference (if any) between you and your freelancer. If you’re on a tight deadline and you can’t afford to be late, it may be a better idea to choose a freelancer in your local time zone.
Also be aware of any language or cultural differences. It may be very commonplace in your freelancer’s native country to haggle on pricing, but would come as a complete shock to you that they question your budget. Acknowledging and accounting for these differences will make the entire project flow much more smoothly.
Step 2: Check Portfolios (and References!)
This is a big one and perhaps the most important step you can take when evaluating different freelancers and their estimates. They’ll likely have portfolios where you can view their work in different mediums or for different clients. Check to see if their work includes any projects similar to yours and, if the portfolio yields no results, don’t hesitate to ask them.
Many freelancers will provide you with a selection of links where you can browse their work. In some cases, however, less-than-honorable applicants will claim to have designed some seriously famous websites. These people don’t expect you to check and hope you’ll simply take them at their word. Go the extra mile and don’t only check their portfolio, but the owners of those sites as well. Ask the freelancer for permission before doing this, of course. You’ll either get deafening silence (which should throw up a huge red flag!) or an eager welcome!
Once you have the go-ahead, ask the former client about their experience with the freelancer. Did they deliver on time? Did they deliver on budget? Would you hire them again? Did you experience any issues with them? Another person’s experience can be an invaluable tool in helping you to narrow down the list and separate the wheat from the chaff.
Step 3: Set Milestones and Accountability (Before You Hire)
This is vital to the success of any project – but being clear up front about what you expect and when you expect it by will help eliminate that big, looming cloud of dread that all freelancers hate: scope creep. This is when the project expands into being something far more detailed, involved and resource-heavy than the freelancer anticipated – and the project poster is often surprised when certain things are not included for the same price.
Be clear about what you want and when you want it. Don’t be afraid of being too detailed – it’s better to have too much information than not enough!
Step 4: Don’t be a Cheapskate
Price matters in the freelance world, and in some countries, the value of certain work is decidedly more or less than in your own home country. But, in the same vein, you should also note that a cheaper price may also equate to less experience or skill in a certain area. Think about the end result you’ll be getting: what kind of value will this add to your bottom line? Whether it’s a fix on your website, a software app or compelling copywriting work, chances are, the work will pay for itself many times over.
Read reviews and recommendations of other clients, if the freelancer has any. This isn’t to say that a freelancer with no ratings isn’t worth hiring – they may be a true professional in every sense of the word, but just new to the site. This is where it pays to check the aforementioned references and portfolio and let their work speak for them.
Step 5: Know How to Get in Touch
If something goes wrong, is left unfinished, or you have questions – can you easily reach your freelancer? If their location is several hours ahead or behind, you may end up getting no answer. Many freelancers are also available by email, mobile or Skype. Don’t hesitate to ask for this information for more prolonged projects. Knowing that you know how to reach your freelancer when something goes wrong (and their responsiveness in fixing it) will give you greater peace of mind and confidence in getting your project done precisely the way you wanted.
Step 6: Have Fun!
What’s “have fun!” doing in an article about finding the right freelancer? It means that you shouldn’t worry about all of these things happening on your project – whether it’s your first or your fiftieth. Most freelancers are honest, eager, hard-working people that want to please and do the best job possible. So relax and leave your requirements in their capable hands – chances are, you’ll be amazed and impressed by the results!
Photo Credit: Petr Kopka/Shutterstock