5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Freelancer

So, you’ve decided to hire a freelancer. Congratulations! This is a great way to take some of the workload off your team and bring in some outside expertise. A great freelancer can help you elevate your brand to new levels while saving yourself the cost of hiring a new full-timer. Plus, freelancers typically specialize in one or more niches, so you can take advantage of their highly refined skill set to boost your company’s performance.

That said, freelancers can still cost you a premium (if you want quality work), and you have to choose them from among an ever-expanding sea of options. Sites like Fiverr and Upwork are inundated with unscrupulous freelancers who charge cheap rates but have little to offer. Meanwhile, the quality freelancers are hard to find among the crowd.

As a freelancer, I’ve heard from many a client that another freelancer took their money yet turned in shoddy work. From overseas competitors willing to work for $1 per hour to delusional newbies who think that their three months’ experience commands $100 per hour, it’s hard for a reasonably priced, accomplished freelancer to break through the noise. Often, I’ve been hired to clean up another freelancer’s mess.

This isn’t meant as a criticism of freelancers in general, but rather an acknowledgment that as in any field, wannabes wanting to make a quick buck are distracting potential clients from the pros who do this for a living or legitimate side hustle. Sadly, it’s hard for many clients to tell the difference, especially when the posers are notoriously good at selling their services at an enticingly cheap rate.

Dear clients, here’s how to tell if a freelancer can help you out. Ask them these questions:

What previous jobs have you had that are most like my job?

Ask freelancers if they’ve done jobs similar to what you’re asking for, and be specific in asking for samples. Very few of us are equally good at multiple types of projects; it’s perfectly natural and human to specialize in just a few areas. This isn’t to say you should assume someone is lying if they claim to be a Renaissance person, but rather to request samples and evaluate for yourself. If the freelancer hasn’t done anything quite like your project, it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker: Look at how their skills might translate from one format to another.

What’s your work style like?

Even the most talented freelancer in the world might not be a good fit if your work and communication styles don’t align. That’s because a relationship with a freelancer entails more than their raw skills: You must find synchronicity between your workflows and philosophies. To assess a good fit, chat with the freelancer during the interview phase. This is also a good time to set expectations for delivery timelines, feedback protocols, and other key elements of the project process.

What’s your rate structure?

The real reason to ask a freelancer for their rate structure is to get a sense of how the project will be managed. Some freelancers charge fixed-price rates because they’re going to be delivering work in chunks. Others will charge hourly rates, and you might need to check in more regularly or even supervise their efforts. Having a conversation about rate structure is the ideal time to discuss a project management system and time-tracking app. Professional freelancers should take responsibility for time-tracking and invoicing, so take note of their response while asking this question. Whether you two use your project management app or the freelancer’s system is up to you. Ensure that you settle on a consistent program in which you share files and swap notes.

What’s your level of expertise?

Believe it or not, you might not need an “expert” freelancer. Remember that “amateur” is not synonymous with “bad.” Depending on your project’s characteristics, you might just need someone who’s getting their foot in the door. For projects with a well-defined creative brief, a newbie freelancer can be an affordable option, whereas more complex projects demand greater expertise — and therefore greater expense. It’s not necessarily true that you “get what you pay for”; the key is to match your needs to the level of expertise you need. You wouldn’t hire a master painter to teach a kids’ art class, but you also wouldn’t expect an art school student to create the next Apple logo.

What’s your passion?

Asking a freelancer about their passion is the best way to get a sense of what they’ll be offering you. If you sense a lack of enthusiasm in their response, you’ll likely get lackluster work. Freelancers, this is important for you to realize as well: Let your passion and confidence shine through in your bids and cover letters! Clients sift through dozens of dull applications and uninspired portfolio websites; they want to feel as excited about a freelancer as a freelancer feels about their craft.

Full version posted on our Medium publication.

Want a passionate, devoted freelancer who can add magic to your marketing? Need expert writers who can write words that sell? Reach out to Lyra Creative Studios today! We’ll be happy to answer the above questions for you.

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