How to Hire a Freelancer Online

Posted on November 22, 2013

While I’m a big fan of the Jack of All Trades approach, it’s safe to say that no one can feasibly do everything.

There are going to be times when you need something done that you haven’t the slightest clue how to do.
Do you leave it be, decide it’s not worth the effort? Heck no! You call in the big guns and hire someone to do it.

Now I know what you’re thinking, sounds expensive, right? Not necessarily. With the advent of fantastic sites like Freelancer.com and Elance.com, there are literally hundreds of thousands of skilled freelancers out there who you can hire for a single job, multiple projects or indefinitely if need be.

Need some complex coding done for your site? A fancy book cover design? Or help managing your social media accounts? It’s as easy as posting up a job and seeing who’s interested. And because everything’s done online, it’s both efficient and cost-effective.

Here are a couple of easy to follow Do’s and Don’ts for hiring a freelancer online:

DO: Create a complete profile

Regardless of what platform you plan to use, you’re going to have to create a profile of sorts. Don’t skimp on the details, fill out as much about you or your company as possible. And be sure to complete all the registration steps such as email and password verification. You’re more likely to draw higher quality freelancers if you present yourself professionally and show that you mean business.

DO: Shop around

Don’t jump on the first offer that knocks on your door. Size up the competition, compare past experience, portfolios, reviews and pricing. Freelancer.com actually has a bidding system for potential freelancers to submit personalized bids for a particular job. This makes it easy to compare offers and determine the best applicant.

DO: Know what you want

The difficulty with recruiting a freelancer online is effectively communicating the desired outcome and specifications of the job to someone you’ve never met – and by email no less! Not sure whether you want a static infographic or a Flash enabled interactive map? Well, get clear about it before you even think about posting the job. You’ll save both yourself and your freelancer a lot of time if you go into the project with a definite idea of what you want to get out of it.

DON’T: Be fooled by price

Cheaper is not always better. There is no minimum skill level for freelancers using these open platform sites. While it might be appealing to pick the lowest offer from a complete newbie, the time you may lose reviewing, correcting and revising their final product may not be worth it. Have a budget in mind when you post the job, but don’t be afraid to hit the higher end of the scale if you think the person is worth it.

DON’T: Be afraid to be direct

People all over the world use these platforms so it is no surprise that you may encounter language barriers or other comprehension issues as you attempt to get the details of your job across. The situation can get considerably worse if you start beating around the bush. Be very clear about what it is you want and explain your objectives in simple sentences with direct terms. Bullet points, sketches or flow charts are a great medium for getting your ideas across and ensuring you don’t end up with something that looks nothing like what you had initially envisioned.

DON’T: Go on a power trip

It may be exciting to have someone working for you, completing your tasks and following all your directions. But freelancers are people too. Many of them make a living from freelance gigs alone. Therefore you should treat them as you would any other contractor, with courtesy and respect. Don’t agree to a certain job and then continue to add extra tasks to it as you go along. Don’t send email after email of inane, unnecessary requests that weren’t part of the initial agreement. Unless the freelancer is being paid on an hourly basis, their earnings will be exactly the same regardless of all the extra time they spend running around after you.


photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc


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