How to Choose a Freelancer

Forrest ReadingChoosing a freelancer can be a mind-boggling experience.  With the current economic status, many people are choosing to work in non-traditional methods, including freelancing.  This can leave potential clients at a loss when choosing the best contractor for their work.

There are a few key issues that a client may want to consider before even beginning their quest.  First and foremost, not all freelancers are made alike.  Freelancer’s are just like the people you hire to work within the confines of your company, except, you do not have the luxury of looking over their shoulder to ensure the work is being completed as you desire.  Second, you get what you pay for…

Of course you want to get the best deal possible, doesn’t everyone?  You also know that when a deal sounds too good, it probably is, so keep this in mind when you are searching the masses for your perfect freelance contractor.

What Kind of Jobs Can Freelancers Do?

Freelancers come in all shapes, sizes, styles, and abilities.  Some work from home and others work from an office.  Some freelancers have experience as a freelancer, where there are many who lack this experience.  Either way, a professional freelancer should be able to provide you with proof of what they can do for you.

  • Virtual Administrative Assistant
  • Freelance Copywriter
  • Freelance Copy-editor
  • Freelance Journalist
  • Freelance Marketing Creator
  • Freelance Web Designer
  • Freelance CSR
  • Freelance Social Media Expert
  • Freelance Writer
  • Freelance Editor

So, you can see, it is not as simple as hiring a freelance writer or a freelance editor.  You can hone in on the freelancer with the greatest amount of experience and expertise in your desired area.  Not all freelancers are created equally.  Some freelance writers are great at health related topics and politics, others are great at creating SEO article content to drive more readers to your website.  It all depends on what it is you are looking for.

Tips for Choosing a Freelancer

There are a lot of opinions on how to choose the best freelancer for your project.  It is going to depend on the type of project, but there are some basic guidelines to follow.

  • Have a clear vision of what it is you need from your freelancer
  • Look at their portfolio (almost every type of freelancer is going to have a portfolio and a resume.  If they are a Virtual Administrative Professional, they may only have a resume, but ask for examples of excel spreadsheets and other types of documents that you may require in your project)
  • If at all possible, get a referral
  • Follow-up on their references-don’t just get a list, call them or email them to find out how the project went
  • Look through their personal website
  • If you are hiring a freelance editor, as for specific examples of their work.  If they are willing, send them a “test” piece of one or two pages for them to edit for free.  If you need more than one or two “double-spaced” pages to use as an example, be prepared to pay a fair rate for those pages
  • Be sure that your freelancer is clear on delivery times
  • Be clear on the pricing and expectation of the contract

Let me just add this, I, like many freelance writers and editors, do not do “test for free” sample projects…at least I tend to steer clear of them.  Rarely do I break this rule and provide a “test” sample.  My portfolio and resume speak for themselves.  If there is a particular type of work you would like to see that is not included in my portfolio, then I am happy to provide it to you.  If I do not have a reference piece that fits your criteria, then I will do a “test” piece…a small test piece.

Also, bear in mind, when you are looking for a ghostwriter, many times we are prohibited by NDA from providing you any reference material or contact information.  This is where it can get a little sticky for the client as well.  Just because a freelance “ghoster” states that they are “published” doesn’t make it so.  Once again, their portfolio should be able to reflect the caliber of their work.

Choosing a freelancer is crucial to the success of your project.  Personality is still a part of the overall process.  As much as I despise Skyping, it does provide you with the opportunity to meet “almost” face-to-face with your potential freelancer.  If you are hiring someone to work customer service, you do want to make sure that they speak clearly and have a pleasant tone to their voice.  If you are hiring a writer, how they look and how they talk is of little consequence.  Yet, you will be working with this person, so you will want to make sure that your personalities mesh.

Let me reiterate, the cheapest freelancer is not necessarily the best choice.  Nor would the most expensive freelancer necessarily be the best option.  There are a number of freelancer for hire websites where you can have them bid on your project.  There are also a lot of writing and editing websites, just like the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors, that have a list of freelance professionals you can contact.  You can visit my profile and portfolio, right here on NAIWE.

Okay, so look for my next post where we will cover some basics in managing your freelancer and how to ensure you get what you pay for.  We will also discuss non-disclosure agreements and how they apply to copyright law.

Until next time, eat, drink, read, and write…you will be happier for it.