5 Ways to Prepare Yourself for Hiring a Freelancer

Hi, I'm Matt Olpinski

I teach thousands of freelancers how to get more clients, raise their rates, and create a better life for themselves.

Updated: May 10, 2015

So you’ve decided that it’s time to get serious about your website. You’ve been thinking about it for a while, but something recently sparked an urge to put this project in motion. You’ve done a little homework and discovered an overwhelming amount of information. It seems daunting. Who should you hire? What should you expect to pay? How long will it take? How do I know it will meet your goals? What do you do if things go wrong?

Freelancers often underestimate the amount of questions you have and the number of objections you need to overcome in order to hire them.

1. Define the Purpose

The best thing you can do before hiring a freelancer is take the time to identify and define the purpose of the project. Maybe you have a website already, but it does a terrible job at selling your product.

Maybe you don’t have a website yet, but you know that having one will help your business succeed.

No matter what the problem may be, it is important that you have a complete understanding of the project goals before scouting for a freelancer.

It is also important that you communicate this with your chosen candidates early on in your conversation with them.

This will set the right expectations upfront and facilitate effective communication throughout the project.

2. Set a Budget

You must have a complete understanding of what you can afford to invest in your business before scouting for potential freelancers. Let’s say you evaluate your finances and determine that you can comfortably invest $5,000 into a new website over the next 3 months. Great!

Now you know that you should not be talking to most digital agencies because they will usually quote you far above that price point. Instead, you’ll want to focus your energy on finding a freelance designer and/or developer.

Setting a budget upfront will help you narrow your options during the scouting process and establish realistic expectations for yourself.

If you get caught off guard by a high price tag, you’ll already know what your business can afford, and be equipped to negotiate the scope of the project with your candidates instead of the price tag.

3. Set a Timeline

Much like setting a budget, it’s also imperative that you set a realistic timeline for the project. Take a few moments to determine when the work should be completed. Then ask yourself if you need it to be completed by then or if you want it to be completed by then.

There is a big difference between urgency and importance.

If it’s urgent, it simply cannot wait. If it is important, it may not be urgent, and therefore you might consider being more flexible with your timeline. Lastly, you should never expect to find a freelancer with immediate availability. The good ones will usually be booked at least a few weeks out.

For this reason, try to factor in a few extra weeks into your timeline to account for a delayed start date, revisions, and the other unknown factors (sickness, vacation, etc) that can sometimes cause delays during a project.

4. Hire Trustfully

You’ll want to maintain a certain degree of control over your project, but you’ll also want to let your new business partner do their job. After all, they are, presumably, the experts in their field.

It’s important that you communicate your questions, concerns, and expectations, but when it comes to the creative aspect, try to loosen up a bit. Don’t ask them to make changes arbitrarily. Stay objective and be thoughtful with your feedback.

Good freelancers will create work (design, code, writing, videos, etc) according to your goals (see point #1), not according to their personal preference.

If you don’t feel comfortable giving up creative control to a freelancer, you might consider hiring someone else or postponing the project entirely until you are ready to do so.

5. Ask Questions to Mitigate Risks

If you want to have an satisfying experience working with the freelancer you hire, it is important to mitigate risks in the early stages of communication. You can do this by asking them questions. Lots of questions. I even suggest getting to know them a little more personally.

In addition to qualifying their technical abilities, aim to discover who they are and why they love what they do. Ask them how they plan to meet your business goals using their talents, but also what they like to do in their spare time.

Doing so will require extra time and effort, but the results will be far better than if you just gave them some requirements and told them to come back with a polished result.

This will help your chosen freelancer feel like a valued partner (not just a contract worker) which will result in them being more passionate about the work they are doing for you.

Ultimately, this will yield better results and a more enjoyable working relationship for each of you.