How To Find And Hire Top-Quality Freelancers

by Ryan Kohler

As an increasing number of workplace tasks become virtual or computer-oriented, more and more employees can work remotely. For businesses, this creates a unique opportunity. When companies need additional assistance, they can hire a freelancer instead of a regular employee. This allows businesses to pay only for the hours of labor they actually require, while acquiring a variety of specialized skill-sets.

If your company needs someone to accomplish a specific task like handling payroll, creating spreadsheets, designing website pages, or writing the company blog, you should consider hiring a freelancer. You’ll get a skilled and experienced worker for a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee.

1. Use A Reputable Website To Find Your Freelancer

Look for sites like oDesk and Elance where freelancers have to complete proficiency tests to be listed. The freelancers receive ratings and feedback from each client, so you can find reputable professionals with proven track records. You can use a general site like oDesk, or a site designed for a specific type of freelancer like Rent A Coder and 99Designs (for designers and programmers) or Problogger Job Board (writers). And don’t forget about Craigslist -it’s a great place to find local talent you could actually meet in person, plus job listings are free.

2. Always Ask For References And Work Samples

Treat your freelancers like any other employee. Never hire a freelancer without checking their references and samples of their work. You can also interview candidates over the phone or via video chat to get an idea of their personality and professionalism.

3. Don’t Be Cheap

As with most things, you get what you pay for when you hire a freelancer. If you go with the absolute lowest bid, you’re not going to get the highest level of experience or talent. Even if the person you select has a good rating, if you force them to take the project at a pitiful price, they’re going to crank it out as quickly as possible so they don’t end up making $4 an hour. In a similar vein, you might be tempted to hire a freelancer from India who will work for less than minimum wage. For some jobs it won’t matter, but for anything that involves writing, I would strongly suggest you choose a freelancer whose first language is English. Otherwise you’ll end up with copy rife with grammatical and contextual mistakes.

4. Start With A Trial Job

Your first job with a new freelancer should be something small, inexpensive, and relatively unimportant. You don’t want to rely on an untested person for a huge or vital project. You can also give a new freelancer a trial assignment, like the first 500 words of an 8000 word project. You’ll still have to pay for their work, but it’s much better to pay for a small trial sample than a full project if you’re not happy with the results.

5. Set Extremely Clear Expectations

Because a freelancer works remotely and you may never meet with them face to face, your communication skills become extremely important. You should always send your instructions in writing so there can’t be any confusion, and you need to be completely upfront about the parameters of the project, the quality you expect, and the timeline for when each part of the project needs to be completed.

6. Make Sure You Retain Ownership Of The Finished Project

Have your freelancer sign a legal document assigning ownership of the completed project to you. If the project involves a client, you may also want your freelancer to sign a non-compete agreement stating that they will not solicit similar work from that client for a specific period of time (say 6 months or 1 year).

Hiring freelancers may seem daunting, but once you’ve built a stable of 4 or 5 highly talented individuals you love to work with, your freelancers will become an invaluable asset and a huge boon to you business.


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