Using freelancers can be quite convenient: It allows you to hire talent for specific tasks, both large and small, without bringing on additional full-time employees. And this ability helps you save two valuable resources -- time and money.
Related: 6 Ways to Avoid the Dreaded Bad Hire
I’ve used freelancers in the past for personal side projects, and my company has matched freelancers with some of our online marketing consulting clients. While hiring a freelancer may sound easy, there are some things you should take into consideration. I picked the brain of Matt Barrie, CEO of Freelancer.com, to highlight six must-dos to ensure you hire the right talent.
1. Be as detailed as possible.
It’s important that your request be as detailed as possible, including the skills required, project time frame and deliverability benchmarks. Share an outline of what you require directly with the freelancer, and, as needed, break it into small steps so you can easily track the freelancer's progress. Since you have to define exactly what you require, it’s important that both parties communicate efficiently. You might want to schedule an online video conference to go over the plan and make sure the freelancer fully understands the scope of the project.
2. Make sure the freelancer has good communication skills.
Make sure that anyone you might consider hiring has excellent communication skills. Different time zones, cultures and language barriers may all come into play, so you need to be confident in the freelancer's communication skills before awarding the job. Different projects will have different communication requirements. To avoid any misunderstandings in the future, keep your communication on the freelancing platform you choose, so, if you need to, you can make use of the site’s dispute-resolution services.
3. Look for relevant experience.
Look for someone with experience doing the specific task you are hiring for. Ask to see examples of his or her work, whether those be web and app development, data entry or content writing. There are a lot of highly skilled freelancers who stick to a specific task because that's what they are good at; but there are also some who will bid on any project they can find. The key metrics to look at when searching for talent include ratings, feedback and his or her repeat hire rate. To avoid wasting time, entertain only those freelancers with experience doing the exact task you are hiring for. Ask for references if you want extra reassurance.
4. Give yourself plenty of time and frequently engage with your project.
Given the millions of skilled and talented people to choose from worldwide, freelancers are usually quite flexible about getting things done based on your requirements. Frequent engagement is the key to any project's success; don't simply hire a freelancer and disappear. So, plan to constantly communicate with the individual you hire throughout the project's duration. Also make sure that you provide enough time for the freelancer to do the work and for you to provide feedback throughout the course of the job, allowing room for any needed revisions.
5. Pay only when the project is completed and delivered, as agreed.
There are multiple freelancer sites to choose from. Use one that releases the payment to the freelancer only after you have signed off on the project. Never pay up-front; use the site’s escrow system and make sure you are 100 percent satisfied with the project before you release the funds. Paying in advance gives the freelancer very little incentive to stay on schedule.
6. Don’t fall for offers outside of the freelancing platform.
If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. If a freelancer says he or she will offer you a lower price off-site, be cautious, because you have zero protection if things go sour. Freelancing marketplaces are designed to help keep your project on track and protect your best interests by keeping all of the communication and payments on the platform.
Do you have any tips to share that have helped you hire quality freelancers in the past? If so, share them with our readers in the comments below.