What to Look for in a Freelancer

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At some point you and your staff might find themselves with a project that cannot be done with the resources you have.

Perhaps the project needs a skill that you don’t have. Or perhaps it’s something as simple as everyone in your company is already committed to other projects and just can’t find the time to spare.

Hiring a freelancer can be a great way to proceed with the project. But if you’ve never hired one before, it can be scary.

This guide is here to help you make a better decision about hiring a freelancer. I’ll be honest, the process still can be scary but my hope here is to give you enough knowledge so that you can make the best decision.

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Qualities

Across all industries and skills, there are specific qualities that separate great freelancers from crappy ones. These help get to the core at who the freelancer is and what they can do to help you.

Because in the end, freelancers are here to help you. Their business depends on it.

1. Has the technical expertise you need

The first quality you should look for in a great freelancer is that they have the technical expertise you need.

It makes sense, right?

If you need Ruby on Rails development, you’d hire someone who has experience with it.

If you need a mobile web designer, you’d hire someone who has done it before.

But there is a bit more to this quality.

A common problem when first hiring a freelancer is that you might want the "best in the world". If you can get them, that’s great. But when someone is the best in the world, it’s going to be that much harder to get to work with them.

As freelancers improve, they can become more selective with their clients. This is natural – they want the best experience for themselves and their clients. One mechanism they use is their rate. All things considered, a more expensive freelancer will be a freelancer who is in more demand.

But you need to make sure you have the budget to hire them. Take a look at what kind of experiences and expertise you need. Not want, need.

You might find that you don’t need the best in the world, just someone who is great.

And as you’ll see in a minute, being the best in the world with a technical skill might not be the best fit for you.

2. Compatibility

When you hire a freelancer, you’re not hiring a person who you just throw work to and it magically gets done.

You’re hiring a partner who is going to work with you and your company to achieve the results you need.

This work might involve going off and working independently, but it might also involve 1-on-1 discussions, team meetings, group training and other collaborative work.

Increasingly, freelancers are being used to train and mentor regular staff so the staff can achieve better results themselves.

Since a freelancer is going to work so closely with you, you’ll want to find one who is compatible. Compatible with you, with your company, with your teams.

Compatibility will take many forms. Ask yourself these questions below to see if you can get an impression.

  • Do they communicate well with you?
  • … with the management? (without going into technical jargon)
  • … with your team members?
  • Does their personality fit in with your company culture?
  • Are they flexible and willing to change to fit you better?

3. Trust

The third and perhaps hardest quality to evaluate a new freelancer on is trustworthiness.

In a perfect world, this wouldn’t be a problem because no one would do anything to break anyone’s trust. Everyone would keep their word and do what they say they will.

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