Full-time employees aren’t always the answer when you have a project that needs completion.
Smart entrepreneurs & hiring managers are quickly realizing the benefits of hiring freelancers, and this has led to an increase in both the number of available freelancers and the number of businesses willing to work with freelancers.
However, just because working with freelancers is a good business move doesn’t mean that it’s an easy task. And many businesses have experienced problems while working with freelancers.
You don’t have to make mistakes then learn from them. This guide will teach you the nine critical things you should consider when hiring a freelancer to ensure that you choose the ideal freelancer to work on your next project.
1. Have a realistic budget beforehand
Although finances aren’t the most significant determinant of who you should hire, they can put limits on whether or not you can hire a particular freelancer.
Freelancers charge different rates, and there is no real criterion which freelancers use to set their rates. Some will charge way above what their services are worth, while others are willing to charge you peanuts for a day’s worth of work.
As such, you should never let a freelancer determine your budget for you.
Before dipping your toes into the freelancer market, get a realistic estimate of how much the project will cost and how much you’re willing to pay a freelancer.
These two values will help you weed out freelancers who are charging way too much. As a rule of thumb, if you cannot afford them, don’t hire them.
Nevertheless, this does not mean that you should choose the lowest bidder. Most low bidders are amateurs in their fields and may not add real value to your business. You may think it costs too much to hire an expert, but you’ll be surprised at how much hiring a cheaper amateur can cost your business.
2. Check for freelancers who have all the skills needed for your project
All jobs or projects have some basic core competencies. It’s up to you to first determine the skills that a worker would need to have to be able to finish your project successfully. This should be done before you start screening freelancers.
If you skip this step, you may end up with the wrong freelancer, and that means your project will not be completed satisfactorily.
With a list of the essential skills needed, it’s time to screen all freelancers on your plate to determine who you should hire. If you have to ask your bidders to list their skills, do so in your job description. This will scare away freelancers who don’t have the required skills.
If you are hiring from a job platform, this step is more thorough.
In most job boards, you post your job and receive bids from freelancers. Each bidder has their skills listed on their account page.
By checking each bidders account, you can determine which freelancers have the needed skills and shortlist these to proceed with the hiring process.
3. Vet each freelancer’s past projects to ensure they match what you need
All good freelancers have portfolios. If a freelancer doesn’t have any previous projects or sample projects to show you, it’s very challenging to determine their skill level.
To determine the experience of a freelancer, you can start by checking whether they have a portfolio website. If they have one, visit it, and you will know the freelancer well before you start communicating with them. If you’re hiring from a job platform, you can check each freelancer’s account for past projects.
Lastly, if all the above is not possible, just ask the freelancer to send you some details of their previous projects. The ideal freelancer will have worked on multiple projects that needed the same skillset as your project.
The more their level of experience, the higher the chances that they are right for your business.
4. Availability for follow-on projects: consider freelancers who can work long-term
Outsourcing one project almost always guarantees that you will outsource a similar project in future. As such it is a wise idea to consider hiring freelancers who are willing to work with you in future.
Continually hiring new employees can be detrimental to both your finances and your productivity.
A 2012 study of hiring costs revealed that replacing a retail employee being paid $10 per hour costs an average of $3328.
Rehiring employees is very expensive regardless of whether you are hiring full-time employees or freelancers.
You could save yourself from making losses by hiring freelancers who can be available to work with you in future.
In addition to saving costs, some projects such as programming can require a personal touch. And the more hands that change the code, the higher the risk of mistakes. Hiring one freelancer repeatedly reduces the points of failure and increases overall project consistency.
5. Testimonials and reviews tell you what to expect from a freelancer
Hiring freelance workers need not be a trial and error endeavour.
Although there is no guaranteed way to know whether a particular freelancer will be ideal for your business, there is something you can do to eliminate freelancers with a tendency of disappointing their clients.
In most job platforms, clients leave reviews or testimonials of their experience with the freelancers. These reviews can tell you what you can expect when working with a freelancer regarding work ethic, experience and whether or not they keep deadlines.
If you aren’t hiring from a freelancer platform, you can always check the freelancer’s portfolio website to see whether or not they have posted some reviews from previous customers.
Only choose highly-rated freelancers and make it a point to avoid freelancers whose reviews have complains that can lead to project failure. For instance, if your project is time-sensitive, it would be very wise to avoid a freelancer who doesn’t keep deadlines.
6. Availability: if they have too much on their plate, move on
It’s very tempting to hire a freelancer based on their skills and experience. But if you need high-quality results, you need a freelancer with an open schedule.
Given that most freelancers work remotely, there is no way of knowing how many clients your chosen freelancer is working with in addition to you. If you choose a freelancer who has a lot of work, it is a guarantee that they cannot invest too much of their time in your work. This may eventually lead to rushed work and low-quality results.
A simple question goes a long way; start by asking them how many clients they are working with at the moment. Also, ask them whether they work fulltime or part-time as freelancers. Fulltime freelancers can invest more hours per day/week on your project.
7. The freelancer’s location: think beyond local
Hiring a local freelancer can be beneficial when your project requires onsite input. However, not all jobs require being done on your premises.
Many freelance jobs, such as writing, programming, data entry and digital marketing can be done remotely. And this allows you to tap into a global workforce of freelancers from any region of the world.
By having such a large pool to choose from, you can overcome challenges such as limited qualified freelancers in your locality.
However, the biggest benefit of outsourcing globally is lower costs. Freelancers from developed countries charge very high fees because that is what their economies demand. But in other countries, freelancers are willing to work for a fraction of the cost, and they offer the same results.
8. Create a standard test to vet a freelancer’s skills
Having screened your freelance prospects using the above criteria, you should consider a thorough examination of the real value each freelancer offers.
A good hiring test should gauge a freelancer’s ability in all the core skills required for the job. For example, if you need a python programmer, you could ask all freelancers to identify the error in a block of code. Similarly, you could give a test article to all shortlisted candidates.
Always pay for the test as most reputable freelancers aren’t open to free tests. Also, these first payment creates trust in your business which is vital for your relationship with the freelancer.
9. Have an NDA if you are working with sensitive data
Not all freelance projects are as straightforward as content writing. Some may require you to give the freelancer access to your company’s sensitive data. And if the freelancer was to share this data, it could hurt your business.
This is where a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) comes in handy. The agreement gives a set of terms of the working relationship and also prohibits the freelancer from sharing your company’s information or data with other parties. Examples of sensitive information include customer details and user account credentials.
Only hire freelancers who are willing to sign an NDA, and if possible, have them sign the agreement before sharing any sensitive information with them.
As you can see, choosing the right freelancer is not such a hard task after all. But to get it right, you have to screen them well and weed out the amateurs, then test the candidates to find out the best.
Given that 23% of start-up failures are caused by not having the right team, you cannot afford to hire amateur freelancers. Be vigilant in your screening process and take advantage of global job platforms that can connect you with right freelancer regardless of their location