How to hire your first freelancer in 6 steps


Freelancing has gone from “niche” to “trend” to basically a worldwide standard in the last ten years. Whether you are a small business owner or the CEO of a huge corporation, the thought of working with freelancers might have crossed your mind over the last couple of years.

You’re right to think about it – freelancers are often highly motivated, extremely experienced and a lot more flexible than regular employees.

However, it can be a bit intimidating to take that first step and welcome a freelancer on board. Your business can absolutely profit from that, provided you do it right. To help you along, we’ve created a six-step guideline that is going to make sure you get the best person for the job without burning yourself along the way.

1. Define the top three skills your project needs

To start it off, you have to be really clear about what you actually need. Think about what your project entails, how long it might take and what you would be willing to pay. Now that last step needs an article of its own – but if you’re looking for pointers, ask your colleagues, look at average rates online and don’t go for the cheapest option. That is often also the worst one.

Outline three core skills that you would need for the project. Those might be programming languages, specialty in writing a certain type of content or anything in between. The more specific those skills are the better. Check these tips to make the most of your hired freelancer from someone who is involved in both hiring freelancers and working with clients themselves.

2. Advertising the position vs. picking out freelancers yourself

Now that you know what you’re looking for, you’re going to utilize those skills as keywords. There are two ways you can go about that. The first way is advertising the position yourself. In the beginning, that requires more effort. Advertise on freelancermap and local job boards. That will make sure applications come in by the dozens.

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Option number two is picking the freelancers out yourself. Here, you have the advantage of definitively choosing someone who fits your project like a glove. That, or a freelancer with whom you’re already familiar, whether through recommendations or their reputation alone. However, this method is also more time-consuming and involves you approaching freelancers rather than the other way around. Sending out dozens of emails is more work than receiving them. 

3. Focus on proven experience rather than boasting

Whether you go for advertising or picking the freelancers out yourself, you now have a bunch of candidates for your project. How do you decide who is the most well-suited? You probably have a lot of applications, so the first step is filtering out as many as you can. The easiest way to do that is to sort by experience. Some people will say they have the skills you’re looking for, but won’t really have a convincing way to prove it. Those should be the first people you sort out.

4. Do interviews with a few potential candidates

By now, you should have a small pool of candidates; anywhere between five and ten people is pretty reasonable. These are people that you know will want to do the project and have the skills to back it up. That’s where interviews come in. If there’s one piece of advice we’d have to pick for this step, it’s to do interviews by phone or, preferably, video calls. If you can’t meet in person, as per usual with freelancers, make sure you communicate in some way that isn’t text-based. Seeing and speaking to a person directly can make all the difference in the world, even if it isn’t face-to-face

5. Contact previous employers

If you’ve gotten it down to a couple of candidates by now and aren’t able to decide between them, there’s one thing to do. Ask other people for whom they’ve worked how it went. Good freelancers will get recommendations. Great ones will get praise. If you have one of those in your candidate pool, they should be your pick.

6. Draft a contract

Finally, when all is said and done, there is one final step to take. Make a contract. This is the only step of the process where it is almost always necessary to get external help. If you feel in any way uncomfortable with drafting a legal agreement between your business and the freelancer, get an expert to help you do it. You might trust the freelancer you’re hiring, but anything can happen. A contract is simply the best form of protection you can have, both for you and your freelancer.


Ready to hire your first freelancer?   Publish your job ad for free!

Congratulations, you’ve hired your first freelancer! Your business stands to gain a lot from external professionals who can do great work as needed. Communicate with them, pay them on time and treat them how you would like to be treated yourself. Think of long-term benefits and build relationships with a freelancer with whom you love working – in today’s world, that’s a cornerstone of a successful business.


Have any other tips for hiring freelancers? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!

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