How to Hire a Freelancer: 15 Must-Know Tips Before Hiring a Great Freelancer

Learn how to hire a great Freelancer 15 tips

If you’re reading this article, then you’ve probably had a bad experience with freelancers who wasted your time, turned in a shoddy product that you were unable to use, or just ripped you off entirely. Take heart.

There are good freelancers out there, and you can learn how to hire them by adopting the practices listed here.


Learn How to Hire Freelancer:
Tip #1 Accept the Hiring Fees?




Elance charges a fee of 8.75% on each and every transaction; oDesk charges 10%. While it might be tempting to avoid those fees by meeting freelancers on those and other sites, then agreeing with your freelancer to work with them outside of the sites where you met, this is definitely an unethical practice and will not work well for either provider or client in the long run.

You’re operating a small business that seeks to build trust with your customers, but if your own practices are a little slimy, your customers will eventually find you out and they’ll avoid you because of it.

To look at this issue from another perspective, do you really want to work with a freelancer who plays fast and loose with the rules? Such a person is bound to find a way to shortchange you as well. Good freelancers—that is, the really good ones—are seeking to build relationships with clients they can work with both now and in the future.


They, too, are trying to build their own small businesses. Freelancers with whom I’ve spoken know that without the job sites where they meet their clients, their businesses would not even exist. They therefore feel some loyalty to those sites and view fees to oDesk, Elance, Guru, and others as merely the cost of doing business.

Thus one rule is when you are learning how to hire great freelancers to play by the rules and accept that you will only find serious freelancers on freelancer marketplaces.


If you really have a problem with the fees on those sites, talk honestly with your freelancer about structuring your deals with her or him so that you share the fees, or find another arrangement that works for the two of you. But, really, think about this now.


Aren’t you proposing to get work from your freelancer for a rate that is far less than you would pay a regular employee, not to mention the fact that freelancers don’t even think about asking for benefits?

Above all, though, this is an integrity issue. With everyone’s integrity intact, everyone will sleep better at night. Moreover, chances are that you can switch directly to Paypal or any other payment system, when you have found a great freelancer and you have hired him for some time. Once you have built a serious relationship with a good freelancer, you might be in a position to make such a suggestion.


Learn How to Hire Freelancer:
Tip #2 Use the Site’s Search Function to Find Skilled Freelancers


HOW TO HIRE A GREAT FREELANCER: 15 Must-Known Tips Before 2


On freelancer marketplaces, you can look for great freelancers with a simple search that you can narrow by category, feedback rating, and other criteria.

If you find some freelancers in this way who look like a good match for what you need, send them an invitation for the job you have in mind. If they indicate they’re available, do a little more research before you make up your mind. Read on for more.


Learn How to Hire Freelancer:
Tip #3 Ask for a Unique Phrase in All Job Applications


Learn how to hire an freelancer 3


Another way to call freelancers out of the woodwork is to post a job and see what happens. When you post a job on a freelancer marketplace, as you surely know from your own experience, you’ll get lots of applications that you’ll then need to sort through.


You can simplify this process a bit by, somewhere in your job posting, instructing bidders to include a simple but unique phrase to show you that they’ve actually read your job description.


For instance, you could include an instruction somewhere in the middle of your job description for applicants to insert a phrase like “shiny copper penny” in their applications to you.

To narrow your results even further, insist that responding freelancers place that phrase in a specific location in their applications to you, like right at the beginning or at the very end of their application.

If you receive an application that does not contain your phrase, eliminate it with no further ado.


Learn How to Hire Freelancer:
Tip #4 Always, Always, Always Check Out the Freelancer’s Profile before hiring them


Let’s say you’ve posted a job on a freelancer marketplace and gotten some applications. Some of the applications are obviously boilerplate letters, copied and pasted over and over again.

They’re not even written so as to be specific to your job, even if someone has taken the time to insert your special unique phrase. Toss those out right away; those applicants are just wasting your time.


Now, you’ve narrowed your results down considerably, and it’s time to review the remaining applications.

Go to the online profiles of the remaining applicants.

Look at their job histories and portfolios and narrow your results by what you see there.

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View portfolios with a critical eye and do the same with ratings on completed jobs. While a great rating is a pretty good guide, ratings can be very subjective.

When you’re looking at a potential freelancer, take into consideration how many jobs that freelancer has completed how consistent that person’s ratings are. If you find someone with a good many jobs and mostly five-star ratings, you’ve probably located a freelancer who can deliver.



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Having narrowed your results in this fashion, you should now have only a handful of applicants left.


Learn How to Hire Freelancer:
Tip #5 Skills Test Scores Can Be Misleading


Skills tests aren’t always the best indicators of freelancers’ knowhow.

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When I first started hiring on freelancer marketplaces I always looked at freelancers’ skills test scores, but what I found was that freelancers’ stated skills—even when they had high test scores—did not always match with reality.

This phenomenon is especially true with agency contractors, for obvious reasons. First of all, it is very easy to fake a test result. Secondly, a generic test, for instance one on Excel skills, only partly reflects the actual scope of Excel.



Since you, as a client, don’t have access to what the test is testing for, you have no way of knowing if the test score really matches what you need. Therefore, while you may want to give a cursory look at the freelancer’s test scores, don’t give them too much weight. Other indicators, such as ratings for completed jobs and a robust profile, can give you a much better picture of a potential freelancer.


Learn How to Hire Freelancer:
Tip #6 Does Your Potential Freelancer Use His or Her Real Name?


Some freelancers, just like clients, use a business name or work with an agency, and when they do, you have little access to their real identity.

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While there are some jobs that are better performed by an agency with larger resources, I always feel better about hiring an individual if I can find that person elsewhere online, such as on LinkedIn.



Elance, for one, provides a service for freelancers by which they can choose to have their identity verified by a third-party service.


Freelancers who choose to go this route show a willingness to be above-board with their clients and provide another level of trust that is missing when someone goes by a cute but phony name.


Learn How to Hire Freelancer:
Tip #7 Always Arrange a Personal Skype Session


Unless your project is crystal clear and the costs of the project are low, such as with a simple proofreading, you should arrange a personal Skype call with the freelancer before you seal the deal.


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First of all, you want to know that you’re dealing with someone who is willing to communicate with you. You want to get a feel for who the person is and how they operate. Both you and the freelancer are taking a risk with the beginning of a new job, and you want to minimize your risks as much as you can. A good freelancer will welcome the opportunity to get to know you, too.

Another reason to have a Skype call right up front is that the chances are high that you will face challenges at one point or another during the life of the project.

It’s so much easier to work things out when you can talk things through in a face-to-face session.

Lengthy messages back and forth on a freelance marketplace message board, especially with all the built-in delays involved, just make things worse.


How to hire a freelancer

So set up Skyping as a way to communicate, right off the bat. You’ll give yourself more information to base your decision on, and you’ll be setting up a way to communicate that can ease the process as the project moves forward, too.

Sadly, freelancer marketplaces do not offer any form of integrated voice chat, since it’s in their best interest to stay in full control of everything. (Fiverr is particularly bad in this regard.) Chat is simply no substitute for a personal conversation, and, in my opinion this is one of the main problems with freelancer marketplaces.

Make sure your freelancer is able and willing to conduct a personal Skype call with you before you assign the project. Otherwise, minor problems can become major headaches, if you have to conduct all of your communications by way of freelance marketplace message boards.

Another big reason to insist on a Skype session before you hire are…


Learn How to Hire Freelancer:
Tip #8 Faked Western Freelancers


Especially in the areas of blogging and proofreading, you just might find faked Western profiles. People who claim that their mother tongue is American English, and who even post profile photos which have a Western look, suddenly claim that their microphone has broken and insist on a text chat instead, right before your first scheduled Skype session with them.

Hmmmmm. This is your first red flag and a sign that this person might not be the right freelancer for you.


Learn How to Hire Freelancer:
Tip #9 Turn to MyHelpster in a Crunch


Don’t have time to deal with all of this? You’re busy. You’ve got a business to run. To get quick service on a one-time job, check out MyHelpster.

They’ve already vetted their experts, done the research we recommend you do here, and you can get what you need in a hurry.


Learn How to Hire Freelancer:
Tip #10 Respect Your Freelancer


Let’s say that what you need, though, is something that is going to take some time, and you want a personal relationship with a freelancer with whom you can work for the long term. Because you want to end up with a quality product, you’re willing to go through the steps outlined here in order to end up with a good freelancer.

You’ve done the work, you’ve narrowed your choices, and now you’re ready to make your decision. Good. Now what?


No matter where in the world your freelancer lives, respect that person as if he or she were your neighbor. Deal with him or her in good faith, throughout the negotiating process and as the job progresses. You’ve done your homework, so you know you’re dealing with someone who is skilled and good at what they do, no matter where they live.


So if you’re dealing with somebody from India, for instance, where the average wage is around two dollars an hour, don’t expect that person to work for that low a fee just because you found them on a freelancer marketplace.

When you waste freelancers’ time by sending requests or invitations then fail to follow through, you’ve shown a definite lack of respect. Keep appointments, and don’t abruptly halt communications as soon you think you’ve found somebody better suited for what you need. It’s always a nice touch to send a brief message to freelancers you’ve been in touch with to let them down gently.



While negotiating is all a part of the process, don’t waste anyone’s time, including your own. Remember that freelancers don’t have the social safety net that traditional employees might have. If they are sick, they can’t make money. Think twice before you start negotiating to save yourself a few extra dollars. It’s also your time that’s on the line.


Never underestimate the hustle a freelancer has to go through before they actually get a job. I talked with a highly skilled programmer from the Philippines who told me that he had to apply to an average of sixty freelancing jobs before he actually landed a project. I don’t imagine that’s uncommon, whether in the “real” or the digital world.


Learn How to Hire Freelancer:
Tip #11 The Concept of Face


Freelancer marketplaces are global.

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Seventy-two percent of the freelancing force comes from Asia, while eighty-three percent of customers on freelancer marketplaces come from the West.

This is great and will probably lead to a great planetary leveling off in economic arenas in the decades to come. It is also probably one of the main reasons for the success of freelancer marketplaces in previous years.


However, if you are a customer dealing with Asian freelancers you need to accept the concept of “face.” In the Western world people tend to appreciate unfettered honesty, and business dealings are straight and to the point. Asian culture is quite different. Open criticism can cause a serious loss of face and increase the difficulties you might have to deal with as your job unfolds.



If you deal with Asian freelancers, you’ll need to accept this cultural difference and learn to incorporate it into the job, beginning with the earliest negotiations and continuing throughout the life of your project, especially if it goes through some challenges.


To read more about the concept of face, click here.

Learn How to Hire Freelancer:
Tip #12 Be Flexible About Deadlines


Don’t expect an entire website in only two weeks or think you’ll get a well designed logo in just two hours. You’ll read and hear promises just like these from people working on freelancer marketplaces, but most of these projects won’t be delivered such short timeframes. Freelancers deal with a great deal of competition, and they’re always looking for a way to stand out and get your attention.

If you make too big a fuss about a short deadline, you’re just inviting trouble. You’ll end up with a freelancer who might be good under less stressful circumstances but who will surely fail to deliver because they have overpromised.

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Instead of dealing in this way with freelancers, try to be realistic and fair. Sure, you’re impatient and you want what you want yesterday. It’s frustrating to have to wait.

But good work takes time, and you’re probably working with someone who is either an individual working on his or her own or with a small agency with limited resources.


So don’t stress the deadline too much when you’re working through the negotiations before hiring a freelancer. Instead, do a little research beforehand so that you’ll have a good idea of what the job requires, then listen carefully to the timeline the freelancer proposes. If his or her proposal sounds realistic, take it as a sign of that person’s professionalism.

If you’re really in a hurry and need your project completed faster than that freelancer can deliver, don’t press too hard. End the conversation and look for a larger agency with greater resources. To determine the size of an agency, just look at the name of the agency shown in their profile and look for that name elsewhere online.

Learn How to Hire Freelancer:
Tip #13 Approach Previous Customers


If your project is a big one and it’s really important to you, take the time to dig a little deeper when you’re choosing a freelancer.

Yes, take a look at the profile reviews for the freelancer you have in mind, then go a step further and approach their previous customers directly. Previous customers’ names will show up in freelancers’ profiles most of the time, and since most of those customers will be either small-business owners or project leaders for small businesses, they shouldn’t be too hard to find.

Especially, if you’re planning to spend a good chunk of change, take the time to make an effort to contact these companies and ask about their experience with the freelancer you’re thinking of hiring.


Learn How to Hire Freelancer:
Tip #14 Don’t Buy Faked Traffic!


Have you ever gotten this come on?

“$5 will bring unlimited traffic to your website!”

While this sounds great, most likely you’ll end up with fake traffic that won’t generate a single customer for you. Even worse, you could be risking your Google website score.


Learn How to Hire Freelancer:
Tip #15 Be Careful with SEO and Don’t Even Think Someone Will Be Able to Provide You with a Thousand Backlinks in One Week

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous paragraph, and it’s just as true.

While it might sound a little harsh for me to go this far, unless you really know who you are contracting with, chances are high you are making a great mistake if you trust someone who claims they can do this for you. I have talked to so many people who have tried link-building services on various platforms.

Many of them were disappointed, and some of them faced severe consequences for their business. The reason is that a good many of these people are using cheap and outdated black hat techniques and place your links with the help of a robot on thousands of platforms.


The consequence in many cases is a short-term increase in your Google ranking, followed by a rapid drop or dismissal in the search results.


The lesson to learn from this is to be suspicious about freelancers who offer you a huge number of backlinks in a very short time. Instead, buy from the ones who tell you about the limitations of link-building and offer realistic services.


In Closing…


Freelancing is expected to grow by leaps and bounds over the coming decades, especially as Millennials hit the job market.

While the numbers are difficult to come by, as many freelancers don’t identify as such, there could be billions of people who work in this fashion in coming years. In order for this market to be strong and successful, both providers and clients will need to operate with good intention and good will, practicing fairness and exercising integrity with each other, human being to human being.

In this way, good freelancers and good clients will rise to the top, and a world of economic justice could finally become a reality—all around the world.

We would like to bring you closer the always needed type of freelancers – assistant , as well as the personal review of the one of the most famous freelancing websites. However. if you decide to go with a marketing agency instead of a marketer freelancer, follow these tips.




Written by Susanne Webster

One thought on “How to Hire a Freelancer: 15 Must-Know Tips Before Hiring a Great Freelancer

  1. I completely disagree with your first tip. As a freelancer, I want to make sure my clients are happy, period. I have had clients who were small biz or individuals who had a hard time paying all of those fees week after week and asked if they could pay by check or direct deposit instead. Saying yes does not make me slimy or shifty. Am I really supposed to say no and potential lose a stream of income because I am unwilling to do what a good client has asked? This is not slimy, this is making a paying customer happy.

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