How to choose the right freelancer for your project
Contracting a freelancer offers many advantages over recruiting an employee, but how do you ensure that you get the right freelancer for your project?
In this article, we look at how to find a freelancer who can deliver what you need, help you meet your objectives and leave you satisfied with the result.
Clarify the project
If you don’t know what the objectives are, then how can you expect someone to meet them? Before you even start looking for a freelancer, you need to clarify what the project is and how it will add value to your business.
Needs and objectives
Without an idea of where you want to go, you could end up heading in the wrong direction. Many businesses invest in things they think they need without understanding why they need it or whether they even need it at all.
What are your overall business goals? How will the project you have in mind help you achieve them? What are the desired outcomes of your project?
What do you need your freelancer to do? Perhaps you know exactly where you want to take your business, but you don’t have a strategy to get there. Maybe you have a strategy, but you don’t have the resources to implement and embed it. Where are the gaps in skill or experience?
Are the problems in HR, operations, marketing, IT or management? Do you need a strategy, training, transformation, systems overhaul, project management, task-based work, consultancy, change management, a restructure?
If you understand what your needs are, you’ll know what skills and experience to look for.
Constraints, timescales and budget
- Does your project have any constraints?
- Are there compliance issues or industry regulations that need to be considered?
- Do freelancers need specific accreditations, qualifications or certifications?
- What are your timescales for the project?
- Do you have deadlines that need to be met or is your project part of an ongoing strategy?
- What are the implications if deadlines are not met?
- How often will you review the progress?
- Has a budget been allocated to the project and is there any flexibility?
- Has research been done into whether your budget is realistic for your objectives?
- Will funding or investment be required and what is the strategy for obtaining this?
If you understand what the constraints are, you won’t waste time approaching people who can’t accommodate your needs.
Once you have a clear idea of what the project will involve, make a shortlist of freelancers who can deliver what you need.
Freelancers can be sourced in several ways:
- Freelancer sites and directories
- Social media
- Online search
- Recruitment agencies
- Referrals and recommendations
- Job boards
Spend some time making a short list, then do some initial checks before you make contact. If you have found freelancers online, check their website for case studies, reviews or testimonials. If you are working with a recruitment agency, get feedback from the recruiter on the suitability of each freelancer.
With Portl, you can view key skills (including years of experience), sectors worked in, qualifications and languages spoken. You can also check availability and rates before making a connection. Find out more about the benefits of using Portl in our article about what makes Portl different.
When hiring a freelancer, approach it in the same way you would when recruiting a new employee. Look for the right skills and attributes, ensure they are the right fit and ask for references.
If there are areas that are absolutely non-negotiable, such as timescales or qualifications, inform freelancers of this to begin with. There is no point wasting their time or yours if there is no possibility of them winning the project.
Skills and experience
Decide which skills are essential and which are desirable. It may be that one freelancer has extensive experience in your industry but limited skills, whereas another has an impressive skillset but no experience working in your sector. Which is more important?
Cost is always a factor in the decision-making process, but it should never be the only consideration. You pay for a person’s skills, knowledge and expertise, not just their time. A more experienced freelancer might add greater value and will, therefore, justify a higher price. However, a lower price doesn’t always mean lower quality. A freelancer with lower rates may not be offering the same package, and the package they are offering may be closer to what you need.
Consider exactly what is being offered in each proposal and decide which gives you the best value for money, not just the lowest price.
Having the right skills, experience and qualifications is great, but your chosen freelancer must be a good fit for your business too. It’s important that they share your values and believe in your vision. If you’re contracting a freelancer on a long-term basis, it’s important that you and your team can work with them.
As with cost, availability is important but should not be the only factor that contributes to your decision. If a freelancer meets all your other needs regarding skills, price and compatibility, then perhaps it’s worth reviewing your initial timescales.
Finalise the agreement
Once you have reviewed your candidates and made your decision, ensure the expectations and terms are clear. You don’t want to contract a freelancer only to find later that they can’t deliver what you need.
Do any necessary background checks; ask for references if you need to. Get any relevant documentation and check certifications are genuine and in date. Ensure there are no conflicts of interest and that any non-disclosures or confidentiality agreements are in place before work commences. If you are trusting someone with your business, you need to be confident they are not a risk.
Agree the terms of the project.
- What work will the freelancer carry out?
- What will be measured?
- How will fees be calculated?
- When will payments be made?
- What timescales will be in place?
- How often will a project be reviewed?
- How regularly will you meet?
You need to be clear about what you are getting in return for your investment.
Before you make any payments or allow the freelancer to start working in your business, get a contract. For task-based work such as website design, you may not require a lengthy agreement; some freelancers may simply require confirmation in the form of an email.
However, for project-based work, consultancy, retainer work and business transformation projects, you should ensure there is a formal agreement which protects both parties. If there are any disputes, a contract makes it easier to prove what was agreed.
Communicate and review
Good communication is vital when working with freelancers. They are part of your business, so it’s important you understand what they are doing. If you aren’t happy with their work or you don’t feel they are meeting your needs, let them know. If you don’t communicate, they may not realise there is an issue.
It’s important to review freelancer contracts regularly.
- Is the freelancer still providing what is required?
- How are they contributing to your overall business strategy?
- Is a freelance contract still suitable or is it time to hire a permanent employee?
The needs of your business will evolve, and your people need to evolve with it, including freelancers.
Find the right freelancer with Portl
At Portl, our aim is simple; we want to connect clients with high-quality, experienced freelancers that can deliver the results they need.
Portl is an easy-to-use, inexpensive mobile app that makes finding freelancers stress-free. Once you’ve entered your criteria, you’ll be able to view freelancer profiles that closely match your needs. When you find profiles that are the right match, you use credits to unlock the contact details.
Credits start from just £3, and each profile you unlock uses one credit. No matter how many searches you do, how many freelancers you contract or what the value of your project is, you never pay any additional fees.
If you’d like to know more about how Portl works, you can request a demo or view our tutorials. Alternatively, why not download the app; there’s no cost to download or register an account, and there’s no subscription fees or membership charges.
It really couldn’t be easier to find high-quality freelancers to meet your business needs.
Written by Lisa Slater, Freelance Copywriter