How to Hire a Freelancer—A Step-by-Step Guide for Employers
Opting for traditional full-time employees instead of leveraging freelance expertise may not always provide the agility and adaptability that modern businesses need. Businesses often require specialized skills for specific projects, and those needs may change frequently as new opportunities or challenges arise. Hiring freelancers allows companies to access expertise only when it is needed, without having to maintain a full-time employee whose skills may not be in constant demand. Businesses that rely solely on full-time staff may face challenges in scalability, as they may struggle to quickly adjust their workforce to accommodate new opportunities or temporary projects, putting the entire business at risk of falling behind its competitors.
By choosing to hire freelancers over full-time employees for specialized tasks, businesses can maintain a competitive edge in an ever-evolving marketplace while enjoying the benefits of workforce flexibility and cost efficiency. In this article, we will provide an in-depth guide on how to hire a freelancer, presenting an alternative approach to the traditional employment model. We will take you through each stage of the hiring process, from defining your project requirements and budget to selecting the ideal candidate. We will also discuss how to enhance your recruitment process by using powerful tools like Workello, ensuring a smooth and efficient experience for both employers and freelancers alike.
Set Clear Business Objectives
Determining whether to hire an employee or a freelancer depends on various factors. Here are some key aspects to consider:
Nature of the work
• Core to business operations
• Requires close collaboration
• Can involve sensitive information
• Niche expertise
• Not part of core business functions
• Long-term commitment
• Ongoing tasks
• Expected to grow in the future
• Specific end date
• Sometimes only a one-time task
• Budget for salary, benefits, taxes, and other employment-related expenses
• Potential for growth over time.
• Limited budget or desire to minimize long-term financial commitments
• No need to cover benefits/taxes
Flexibility and scalability
• Provides stability and a dedicated resource, but less flexibility for scaling
• Allows for quick scaling of the workforce based on project needs or specific skills required
Define Your Project Needs and Scope
If you decide to hire a freelancer, you must clearly understand your project needs and scope. It will help you identify the exact skills you require from a freelancer, set realistic expectations for both parties, and avoid costly scope creep. There are 3 tasks you need to complete before you can set the budget for freelancer engagement.
Outline the project’s objectives and deliverables. Be as specific as possible about what you expect the freelancer to achieve and the results you want them to deliver. This could include creating a detailed list of tasks or a timeline of milestones that need to be reached throughout the project.
Establish a deadline for the project’s completion. Consider any external factors impacting your timeline, such as dependencies on other projects or events. Be sure to build in some buffer time for unforeseen delays or revisions, as flexibility is often required when working with freelancers.
Identify specific expertise or tools needed. For example, if you’re hiring a freelance web developer, you may need someone proficient in a particular programming language or content management system.
Set Your Budget and Payment Terms
To get an idea of how much a freelance engagement would cost you, you can start by researching the average rates for the type of work you require. You can find industry-standard rates on various freelancing platforms or by consulting professional associations in your field. You need to factor in 2 variables:
Project complexity— Complex projects may demand a higher budget because they require specialized skills, a greater amount of effort, or more time to accomplish.
Freelancer’s experience level—While hiring a less experienced freelancer might be more budget-friendly, it’s essential to weigh the potential risks and rewards. An experienced freelancer might charge higher rates, but the quality of their work with fewer revisions could save you time and money in the long run.
Consider not just how much, but also how and when you will pay the freelancer for their work:
Hourly rate—You pay the freelancer for the hours they work on your project. This is great for projects where the workload might change or you’re not sure how long it’ll take.
Fixed price—You agree on a single price for the whole project, no matter how much time the freelancer spends on it. This is a good fit for projects with a clear scope, deliverables, and deadlines, giving both sides financial certainty.
Price per deliverable—Payment is based on completing specific milestones or tasks within the project. This method offers a balance between hourly and fixed price options, letting you adjust payments based on project progress and linking them to tangible results.
Once you’ve determined your budget and the payment terms, you can outline them in your job description and contract.
Write a Clear Job Description and Contract
Job descriptions and contracts are intertwined, which is why you can write them at the same time. They both help establish clear expectations and provide a solid foundation for the working relationship between the freelancer and the client. Here are some key elements to include in your job description when hiring a freelancer:
Project title—Create a clear and concise SEO-friendly title that accurately reflects the nature of the project and the freelancer’s role, for example: “Video Editor Needed for the Production of a YouTube Tutorial Series”.
Project overview—Provide a brief summary of the project, its purpose, and its intended outcome.
Deliverables—Describe the work you want to be performed and list the specific deliverables the freelancer will be responsible for, along with any expected milestones.
Timeline and deadlines—Include a project timeline with start and end dates, and deadlines for deliverables or milestones, ensuring that applicants are aware of the expected time commitment.
Skills and expertise—Outline the required skills, expertise, and qualifications necessary for the freelancer to complete the project successfully.
Project budget—Clearly state the budget for the project or the range you are willing to pay. You can choose to present this as an hourly rate, fixed price, or a price per deliverable. If your company has specific invoicing requirements, include this information in the job description, as well as any negotiation possibilities. Freelancers appreciate it when clients are upfront about their budget. One of the top reasons freelancers turn down projects is because the rates are too low. Stating them right in the job description saves time for everyone.
If you prefer to outsource writing job descriptions to experts, Workello offers several job description templates for hiring freelancers, that can be customized to fit your specific needs. Then, you can generate a link for the ad which you can post on any job board or social media platform of your choice.
Essential Elements of a Freelancer Contract
While the job description serves as the basis for the contract, they are not the same thing. The job description is primarily a tool to attract candidates, while the contract formalizes the agreement and provides legal protection for both parties once you’ve selected a freelancer. A contract should include the following elements:
Project scope—Clearly outline the work to be done, the tasks involved, and the specific deliverables expected from the freelancer.
Deadlines and milestones—Specify the project’s start and end dates, as well as any intermediate deadlines for milestones or phases of the project.
Payment terms—Establish the payment terms, including the total amount to be paid, the payment schedule, and any invoicing requirements.
Confidentiality—Include a confidentiality clause to protect sensitive information shared between both parties.
Intellectual property—Specify the ownership of any intellectual property created during the project, such as copyrights, patents, or trademarks.
Amendments and modifications—Specify the process for making changes or amendments to the contract, such as requiring written consent from both parties (this will be important if there is a need for revisions or additional work beyond the initial scope).
Breach of contract—Outline the actions that can be taken by the parties if one party fails to fulfill their contractual obligations.
Termination—Outline the conditions under which the contract can be terminated and the steps to be taken if either party decides to end the agreement.
Find and Evaluate Freelance Candidates
Once you have a clear job description and contract in place, it’s time to search for candidates. There are several methods available to help you find the right freelancer for your project. Combining these approaches forms a strong recruitment strategy.
Websites like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr are popular freelance marketplaces where freelancers create profiles and showcase their skills, experience, and portfolios. Post your job listing and browse these sites to find candidates that match your project requirements.
Job boards like Indeed and Monster cater more to traditional employment. However, they do have freelance job listings as well. For more freelancer-focused job boards, you can consider posting your job listing on remote job boards. There are also specialized freelance job boards.
Reach out to your professional and personal networks for recommendations. Colleagues, friends, or acquaintances may have worked with freelancers in the past and can vouch for their skills and reliability.
Assessing Freelancer Skills
When evaluating freelance candidates, employers typically review their portfolios to assess the quality of their previous work. However, sometimes those samples have been heavily revised by employers, and the final product may differ significantly from the freelancer’s initial draft. That’s why you should consider using a combination of evaluation methods, as outlined in the table below.
Showcases previous work
There are bad candidates with good portfolios
Gain insights from previous clients or colleagues
Potentially biased feedback, time-consuming
Objective assessment of abilities
Some candidates might refuse to do unpaid tests
Opportunity to evaluate communication skills
Limited insights into technical abilities
Paid trial project
Test freelancer's ability in a real-world scenario
Additional cost and time investment, potential delays
When we faced the challenge of identifying the best candidates for our content agency, we developed Workello. It enabled us to filter out the bad candidates as quickly as possible and hire the top 1% of candidates. Initially, we designed it as a skills assessment platform for writers, but now it features expert-formulated tests for various skills, including marketing, sales, and customer support. You can test a high volume of candidates, and move them effortlessly through the fully automated recruitment funnel, with consistent automatic updates sent to candidates for a great candidate experience.
Foster a Productive and Long-Term Relationship
After selecting a freelancer and signing a contract with them, you should determine your level of involvement to ensure a smooth working relationship. Clarify your expectations for communication and project management. Will you be closely collaborating with the freelancer throughout the process, or do you prefer a more hands-off approach? Either way, schedule periodic check-ins or progress meetings to discuss updates, address any concerns, and provide feedback on the work completed so far.
Whenever possible, provide freelancers with a steady stream of projects to work on. This fosters a sense of stability and encourages them to prioritize your projects. Pay your freelancers competitively and promptly, according to the terms agreed upon in the contract.
When the freelancer delivers quality work, acknowledge their efforts and express your appreciation. Be accommodating when they face unexpected challenges or require flexibility in their schedules. This demonstrates that you value their well-being and are willing to find solutions together. Take the time to get to know your freelancers on a personal level. Show genuine interest in their lives, hobbies, and aspirations. This helps in humanizing the professional relationship.
In addition to having a strong recruitment game, nurturing long-term relationships with freelancers is essential for maintaining a reliable pool of talent for future projects, so stay connected—even when there are no active projects, maintain regular contact with your freelancers. Check in periodically to see how they’re doing and to share updates about potential future opportunities.
How to Hire Freelancers with Workello
Hiring freelancers instead of full-time employees allows businesses to access expertise on-demand, offering flexibility, scalability, and cost-efficiency. To successfully hire and retain freelancers, employers should define project needs, set a budget, write a clear job description and contract, find and evaluate candidates, and foster long-term relationships.
Navigating the freelance hiring process can be a challenge, but with Workello, you’ll gain access to the best talent while streamlining the process. By leveraging Workello’s expert-created skills tests, you can efficiently evaluate candidates and ensure you hire the top performers for your projects. Additionally, it enables you to filter, track, and manage candidate data from a variety of platforms and job boards. It offers a fully automated hiring funnel, ensuring that you don’t overlook the ideal candidate or unintentionally make an offer or rejection to the incorrect person. Workello is a powerful yet reasonably priced solution for hiring freelancers. Click here to try it for free.
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