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5 Tips for Hiring a Freelancer

Previously, outsourcing was a tactic largely reserved for big companies who had a big budget for finding contracted labor and overseas workers. They contracted these people to finish simple, repetitive tasks or complete work that would otherwise require hiring an expensive in-house specialist. Fortunately, the internet has opened new door. Today, anyone can take advantage of the power of outsourcing. With freelance platforms like UpWork and Fiverr connecting businesses of all sizes to talented individuals around the world, you can begin reaping the benefits of outsourcing for yourself.

Why Choose a Freelancer?

Regardless of who you are, two things always hold true: (1) We can’t all be experts at everything. (2) We can only get so much done in a day. Have you ever been faced with a task that fell outside of your realm of expertise? Have you ever had to finish a project on a tight deadline and your work (or sleep) quality suffered as a result? Both of these are perfect examples of when outsourcing can be beneficial.

Outsourcing can help save you time, and it can also lead to a better end result. By outsourcing tasks that are time-consuming, repetitive, or not enjoyable to you, you’ll get an instant morale and productivity boost. Meanwhile, outsourcing things that you aren’t very skilled or knowledgeable about can help improve the overall quality of your output.

For example, maybe your website needs a new logo. Outsourcing allows you to have someone who specializes in logo design create one for you. Or, maybe you haven’t even launched your website yet because you have spent hours trying to learn about domain registration, hosting setup, and content management systems. In that case, outsourcing to a tech-savvy individual can save you time and ensure things are done properly.

Finally, outsourcing can also help lower costs, especially for small businesses. Outsourcing a project (or part of a project) to someone online gives you a broader talent pool to choose outside of your local community. This will also lead to more competitive rates and, again, a potentially better outcome.

Tips for Easy Outsourcing

Ultimately, outsourcing can save you time, money, and frustration while improving the quality of the end result. However, there are some hurdles you may face when working with a freelancer. In most cases, the freelancer you work with will be remote (perhaps located in another state or an entirely different country). Although you can find local freelancers, the former is much more common.

1 – Always “Interview” Before Hiring

Budget is a factor in just about every decision we make, but if you let it be the one and only aspect guiding the decision of who to hire, you’re likely going to end up with sub-par work. So, while you need to know a person’s rates, you should consider things like:

  • How long has the person been on the platform?
  • What do their most recent clients say about their work?
  • Do they have a portfolio?
  • Does that portfolio demonstrate work that’s up to your standards?

This is research you can often do in a matter of minutes just from looking at a seller’s profile. If you narrow down your initial options based on the answers to the above questions, you’ll already be well on your way to selecting the right person for your project. The next step is reaching out to the remaining freelancers who fit within your budget.

2 – Try Communicating Before You Order

Sending a short message before you place an order can help you make sure that the seller is active and ready to accept your project. Keep your message short and to-the-point. Ask them one simple question that you would like an answer to. If they don’t answer your question directly, it’s possible they don’t speak English very well or they didn’t read your message at all (i.e., they struggle with good communication in some way or another). You can always work through a language barrier, but sellers should be eager to listen to the details and understand your request in full.

A good opener is to give the freelancer a brief overview of your project (in a few sentences) and then ask for a custom quote with an estimated price and turnaround. Ghostwriters like me typically base their price on the word count of the project. So, if you’re looking to hire a ghostwriter, your message may read like so:

Hi Sydney! I’m Carrie and I’m trying to find a ghostwriter for my project. I want someone to write a guide about the basics of taxidermy to go along with my new course and website. I’m estimating the guide will be around 5,000 words in all. Are you interested? If so, how much and how long do you estimate for my project? Thanks in advance!

If I were quoting you on your project, I would be able to get back to you quickly because you detailed all the information I need to give you a quote (i.e., the topic and word count). I would be able to collect other details from you later on if you find my quote acceptable.

There’s no reason to detail the entire outline, structure, and style you want from the freelancer in your first message. If they are interested based on a simple explanation of the topic, length, and purpose, they can quote you and you can go from there. If you don’t agree with their quote, you haven’t wasted much of your time explaining (or their time trying to digest all the details). In this example, additional details (like “I want 12-point font”) won’t affect their quote, so there is no reason to include them.

3 – Compare Quotes In a Timely Manner

Once you have received a quote or two, it’s time to accept one of them and begin working with the freelancer. But, which do you choose? Depending on the scope and deadline of your project, you may have reached out to two or three freelancers or over a dozen. You should respect everyone’s time. While I’m personally not in the habit of following up after I send a quote since I understand many buyers are just shopping around, it is always polite to let the seller know if you aren’t going to proceed.

As for the sellers you do want to work with, be timely in your reply. If it has been more than a week since they quoted you, their availability may have changed. Send them a message saying you’re ready to get started and re-confirm the delivery date. They will send you an invoice and most will require full payment upfront. After all, you can easily get a refund if the work isn’t completed as promised. Sellers, on the other hand, are accepting a great deal of risk if they don’t hold the full amount from day one.

4 – Be Patient While Awaiting The Delivery

Some freelancers are very communicative and will update you constantly about the progress. Depending on what the platform advises, the type of work being done, and the person’s work process, they may send you “work in progress” drafts along the way. Most freelancers, however, will just collect the initial information they need to start work and then do just that.

Of course, if you want an update before the deadline, you can request one by sending a message. Keep in mind that your freelancer may be located in a different timezone than you are. This can delay communication by up to a full day (it might be the middle of the night where they are while you’re messaging them in the middle of the day). Additionally, the person you are working with may take certain days off during the week or they may work early in the morning or late at night. For this reason, it’s good etiquette to wait a full business day before sending them a follow-up message.

With this said, a freelancer’s schedule is an important consideration when hiring. Many freelancers are stay-at-home parents or have something else that requires them to have a flexible schedule. Being able to have a flexible schedule is often both the biggest benefit of being a freelancer and also the biggest motivator for becoming one. So, if you require your freelancer to be available during specific hours, be certain to let them know this and make sure they can accomodate before accepting their quote.

5 – Follow-Up After Delivery

The final step in the process is looking over the work the freelancer sends to you. Some freelancers work in iterations, where the first delivery is only considered a draft. That means you should review it and then give feedback to the seller so they can deliver the final product. This is usually the case with design projects where you will most likely pay in milestones.

Other sellers will send you the final product at the initial delivery. That means it’s ready to use right away, so long as you are happy with it. If you aren’t happy with it, give the seller a chance to make it right. Share your feedback with them and ask if they can revise it for you. Some sellers may require an additional fee to revise your order.

If you still aren’t happy with the revision you receive, you have the right to share your experience in the form of a review. Likewise, if you are happy with the work you receive, leaving a positive review is often seen as a meaningful “Thank you!” and complement for the seller. Most of the platforms you’ll find yourself using put a seller’s success almost entirely on the number of reviews they have and the average rating they receive. By leaving them a review when you like their work, you’re doing them a huge favor.

Get Help to Achieve Your Goals

Here’s a final bonus tip. As a freelancer myself, the best piece of advice I can give to any buyer is this: know what you want before you hire! I’m always patient with my clients, but it can be frustrating when you’re in the middle of a project and they completely change directions. It hinders progress, slows communication, and makes delivering the finished project ten times more difficult for everyone. So, before you hire, sit down, figure out what you need, and then follow these tips to find the perfect freelancer. Once you locate the right person, you’ll be able to return to them again and again.

Sydney Chamberlain


5,137 reviews

I’ve been writing and editing professionally since 2014. Over the past five years, I have worked with thousands of clients in a variety of industries. In fact, I’ve collected over 5,000 reviews from my happy customers.

I live in the United States, but I travel often. With that said, I’m super easy to find! I’m a native English speaker and always up for a new project. You’ll find me to be extremely communicative, professional, flexible, and fun to work with.




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