5 Key Things to Consider Before Hiring Your Next Freelancer
There are many ways to hire a freelancer in this day and age. You can contact them directly via their website or email, or use an online hiring platform like Upwork, Fiverr, and ZipRecruiter to name a few.
However, it doesn’t matter as much how you find a freelancer but what you need to consider before hiring them.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to bring you the best candidate as well as keep you from the headache of hiring the wrong one.
1. Research Them
I know it seems silly to even have to mention this but simply taking a few moments to do your due diligence will save you precious time and money. Be sure, the freelancer is doing the same about you!
If you use an online hiring platform this is pretty simple. Simply read through their reviews and if the program has a scoring system just look at that as well.
Google Their Name. If you are looking to hire them directly, be sure to google both their business name and their name to see what pops up.
Visit the Better Business Bureau. This will show whether or not they have complaints, lawsuits, or any other negatives.
Go to their website and read reviews. See if they have recent ones and if the client was willing to put their name and/or company name on the review. I’ve heard of some freelancers starting out with very few clients to “fake” reviews. I like to click on the review if it has a link to the company who gave it or at the least, go to the company website and see if that person is listed as working there.
2. Setup A Virtual Meet & Greet
Within just a few minutes of conversation, you can usually tell a lot about a person. Same here.
No more than 15-20 minutes. The purpose of this meeting is to get to know each other and find out how their workflow process works. Make sure you are very clear on a timeline, a budget, and what exactly you need. This will help the freelancer know if he/she is interested and if they have the time available to commit to your project.
Use online platforms. Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts are the most popular. You can use your cell phone but know that not all freelancers are near you or even in the same country to be able to get good reception and/or charging you additional fees.
Take notes. I hand write notes on a pad of paper. I’ve had meetings where I can hear someone taking notes by clicking away at the keyboard. It is distracting and comes across as a bit cold.
3. Review What They Told You About Themselves
You can tell right away if a freelancer knows his/her business or not. There are always key questions that they should have asked you in the meet and greet.
They will insist on a contract. Freelancers don’t have the same protection that a company would. In fact, most freelancers work as a sole proprietor and can’t afford liability insurance. A contract that shows their hourly rate (or flat rate if you agree to one), late fees, arbitration, etc. is key to keeping you both safe.
They will request a SOW to be done. An SOW (or Scope of Work) is a document that outlines the project, the timeline, the round of edits and more. A seasoned freelancer will insist on both of you reviewing it and signing it so that there will be no confusion.
How was their personality? You will be working with this person for days or even weeks going forward. How did you feel you “gelled” with them? Were they respectful and well spoken?
4. Go with Your Gut
I know this is about business but going with your gut is never wrong! You might be tempted to go with a freelancer who has been doing this for decades, but you found them off-putting. Walk away. I hear stories from both freelancers and those who hire them about not trusting their guts and it was a painful process that ended badly. Use your instincts.
5. How Serious are They about the Project?
Interaction right after your meeting will tell you a lot. Just as back in the day you would have followed up a job interview with a thank you note, serious freelancers should do the same. Also, their quick responses to your follow-up email gives you same important information.
They should send you a follow-up email within 1-3 business days. It will likely be just a generic “nice to meet you” but if they had promised to send you a link or their contract, etc., and they don’t that is not a good sign.
You send them an email with no swift reply. If you send them anything whether it is a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), a request for a W9, or just any kind of correspondence and it takes more than 2-3 business days to respond, walk away. This means that either they currently have too much work and am planning on “shuffling” you into the stack, or they are not serious about their business. Sometimes, it’s true that an email has gone to spam but if you tell them at the end of the meet and greet that you will be sending them an email and to make sure they receive it, they should have gotten it.
These are basic things to keep in mind when looking to hire a freelancer so that the experience is both productive and stress-free for both of you. Happy hiring!
M. Page Jones is a published author and award-winning graphic designer who has been in the business for over 26 years. She runs MPJ Creative Services (www.mpagejones.com) which has clients from all over the world.