10 Business Leaders Share What They Look Out for When Hiring Freelancers

by Dorothy Mitchell
via: USAToday.com

The freelance industry is exploding. In fact, it is estimated that by 2020, 40% of the American workforce will be freelancers by choice.

At Moonlighting, we know that for business owners, this stands for numerous benefits too – less overhead costs, limited payroll and ultimately a more skilled and affordable worker on board as despite the higher hourly rates, business still save 20-30% on average when hiring freelancers.

Yet, finding a good freelance “match” can be a tough call. You must follow some critical steps to make sure you get the most qualified and reliable person to “fill the bill,” considering that you may have never actually “meet” them in person. By paying attention to the next 10 pointers, you will be able to hire the right person for your team!

1. Experience in your industry

“The very best content writer in the world may be creative and engaging in many niches. But if your niche is legal and the writer you are considering doesn’t have experience in that niche, there will be a learning curve that will be too long and complex. No matter how much you may like the samples a freelancer presents, you must consider niche knowledge. Same goes for designers, developers and other digital professionals.” – Kotton Grammer, CEO of Kotton Grammer Media.

2. References and testimonials

“The depth of reference checking relates to the depth of your project. If you are hiring someone to design a logo for your company, then you will want to see the person’s portfolio and that’s pretty much it. If, however, you are hiring someone to develop an HR manual, you will obviously want to see more than just samples. You will want to talk to others who have used their services for similar projects. Great professionals won’t mind sharing public testimonials, putting you in touch with a former client or showing some case studies.” – David McNaught, CEO of All Business Marketing.

3. Established online presence

“Professional freelancers typically run personal websites or portfolios; are active on LinkedIn and Twitter. Do a quick “background check” to pick up more information about your candidate, along with the possible references.” – Jeremy Skillings, President of You Can Be Found.

4. Availability to schedule a discovery call/quick interview

“That might not make sense for smaller or one-off tasks, but getting on the phone/Skype is essential when establishing long term co-operations. First of all, this will allow you to see through watching facial expressions as you ask questions; talk over the key details in real time and merely get a better idea about whom you will be working with. If a professional feels absolutely reluctant about scheduling at least one quick call, consider this a red flag.” – Joshua Fletcher, CEO of Call Tracking Pro.

5. Pricing

“Most freelancers bill you either by the project (fixed price) or per hour. Paying by the hour can be a bit risky, because those hours can add up quickly and even expand to more time than you originally thought. Some freelancers do charge this way, however, such as lawyers, and you will need to be certain that you ask for a full and detailed accounting of their billable time. Never go with the cheapest freelancer. Research the going rate for the type of work you need, and get an idea of the average for the niche. This will at least let you know if a freelancer is within the ballpark of reasonable pricing.” – Chris Saviano, Vice President of Business Development, PGM Medical Billing.

6. A simple contract

“A professional freelancer will want a contract as much as you do. This is a legal document that will spell out all of the responsibilities of both of you. It will include the full details of the project/task, the timelines, and, of course, the payment. Having a mutually acceptable contract in place will set proper expectations from both sides. You may be going through a freelance platform. In that case, you will find contract templates that have been carefully designed, so using those will give you all of the details you need.” – Joe Marfoglio, CEO of 3 Stage Marketing.

7. Clear payment agreement

“When you hire someone to do work on your home, let’s say painting, you do not pay the entire amount up front. You pay a certain amount in the beginning and the remainder at the end. The same should work with a freelancer. The only time this is not the case is if you go through a freelance platform. You may need to make the entire payment up front, but the funds are not released to the freelancer until you have received delivery and are satisfied.” – John Victoria, CEO of Polianna SEO.

8. Well-defined communication pipeline

“Normally, these will be spelled out in your contract. But there are some things that you will want to emphasize with the freelancer. For example, how often are they supposed to provide a progress report to you? At what points during the project do you want to see what has been done and approve it? Talk this through in advance.” – Charles Lipcon, Attorney at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A.

9. Enthusiasm

“You want a freelancer who is enthusiastic about your project. This is usually revealed in voice tone and a willingness to talk about the details of the project. Does the person ask a lot of thoughtful questions? This is also a good sign.” – Michael Pilko, CEO of Click Reign Internet Media.

10. Your gut instinct

“This is hard to define. But if you just have a feeling that this is not a good match, move on. There are lots of freelancers in every niche, and you want one that you feel good about right from the beginning.” – Jason Stephen Ali, Director of Marketing at BroadConnect Telecom.

If you follow these 10 tips, you’ll stand a great chance of making quality hires and avoiding the wasted time, energy and resources that comes with making bad hires. Moonlighting has more than half a million freelancers and small businesses ready to work on-demand, so take what you’ve learned and sign up for Moonlighting today to find your next great hire!

Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.