6 Steps to Successfully Hiring Your First Freelancer

Chloe Brooks
6 min readMar 27, 2019

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The future of work awaits

The verdict is in: Freelancing is here to stay. With more than 1 in 3 U.S. workers turning to freelance jobs as a way to pay the bills, it’s time for companies to take a long, hard look at their hiring policies.

If you want to keep up with today’s workforce, it’s either adapt or die.

If you’ve never worked with freelancers before, you may feel confused or intimidated at the prospect of recruiting, hiring, and onboarding a whole new breed of workers. After all, there’s a big difference in employees and freelancers, and you need to get it right the first time if you want to stay out of hot water with the IRS.

Ready to outsource but not sure where to start? We’ve outlined 6 steps to successfully hiring your first freelancer below.

1. Get clear on your budget

Before you hire any freelancers, you need to double- and triple-check your budget. Have you allocated enough funds to pay your contractors fairly for their work?

If you’re not sure, spend some time now to research the average rate for the type of work you’re looking to have done. For U.S.-based developers, you can expect to shell out at least $70 per hour, according to a study by Codementor, or even up to $300 per hour for veteran freelancers.

If you’re able to pay a fair rate now, then keep reading through to the next section. Otherwise, you may need to adjust your project timeline or quality expectations to accommodate a fair rate of pay.

2. Create a job description

Once you know how much you can afford to pay your freelancer, you should create a job description for the position you’re looking to fill.

Just like traditional employees, freelancers need to know what duties and the job entails and what skills it requires before throwing their hat in the ring. Remember, many freelancers have spent a significant chunk of time deciding exactly what services they will and won’t offer, so it’s important to be very clear here.

Your job description should outline:

  • Duties and tasks you expect a freelancer to perform
  • Skills they’ll need to succeed in the role
  • How many hours per week you expect the role to take
  • What hourly or project rate you’re offering (alternately, you can ask applicants to name their rate)
  • A description of your company
  • Etc.

Be as thorough as you can, because this is your chance to attract a great freelancer who will want to work with you again and again, so you’ll want the job to seem as appealing as possible.

3. Find a good source of talent

Perhaps the most difficult part of hiring your first freelancer is finding a reliable source of talent to hire from. Popular freelance job boards like Fiverr and Upwork may seem like a good deal, but remember that with freelancers, more often than not you get what you pay for.

That’s why we created Collabos, a new resource that takes the headache out of finding, vetting, and hiring freelancers.

First, we sift through the giant pool of freelancers who apply to be one of our collaborators and ask a little more than half to give us some more information about what they do. From this pre-screened group, we choose about 1 in 4 to take a skills test to determine their level of expertise.

Of those freelancers, about half make it to the next step in our process: the interview. One of our advanced- or expert-level collaborators has a chat with each to confirm that their skills are a good fit for what our valued clients want and need.

After going through this rigorous vetting process, eventually, only about 5% of the original applicants will be offered a contract to work with us here at Collabos.

So when you submit a project to us, you can be sure that only the cream of the crop will ever work on it.

4. Be ready to share details

Want to know one of the biggest keys to a successful relationship with your freelancer?

It’s communication!

Just like any other relationship, you need to approach this one with openness and honesty if you expect it to work out. That means that at times, you may need to share proprietary information with your freelancer in order for them to do their job correctly.

Think about it — if you want a graphic designer to create a logo for your startup, they’ll need to know:

  • What your company does
  • How it stands out from competitors
  • What audience you serve
  • How you want your audience to perceive your brand
  • And more.

That’s the kind of sensitive information that could be dangerous in the wrong hands, so most companies tend to guard it closely. But without it, there’s a good chance your logo just won’t hit the mark.

Here at Collabos, any freelancer who works with us signs a confidentiality agreement before they ever touch a client project, so you can rest easy knowing your trade secrets are safe with us.

5. Understand the laws

If you’ve never worked with a freelancer before, you may not know what you legally can and can’t ask your freelancer to do.

For instance, if someone works for you as a contractor, you cannot require them to work from a certain location or at a certain time, like during your startup’s business hours.

Doing so, as well as providing the freelancer’s equipment like the laptop they work on, means that freelancer could be legally considered an employee. And when you start treating freelancers like employees, suddenly you’re liable for a lot more taxes than you originally planned to be.

So if you want the person you hire for this role to be subject to your own company rules and policies, you may want to reconsider going the employee route. Otherwise, a freelancer is an excellent choice to fill the position.

6. Sign a contract

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You’re almost ready to hire your first freelancer. But before you do, there’s still one more step you need to take to keep your relationship running smoothly …

A contract.

Freelance contracts are important because they protect both parties, not just one or the other. They clearly outline the scope and timeline of the project as well as other terms that the two of you agree to — things like cancellation policies, ownership and usage rights, and more.

And in the rare case that something goes horribly wrong and can’t be resolved with a simple conversation, your contract also gives each of you legal recourse to make things right again.

Here at Collabos, all of our freelancers sign a contract that outlines punctuality, work standards, and confidentiality requirements. This agreement, plus the user agreement you accept when you create a project with us, constitute your freelance contract should any issue arise.

We make working with freelancers headache-free

If all of the steps we’ve outlined above seem like a lot of work … well, they are. That’s why we’re here. We’ve done the work of finding and hiring the best freelancers so that you don’t have to — all you need to do is submit a project and pay for completed work.

Read to get started? Click below to get your free quote.

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Chloe Brooks

Helping you heal and prevent burnout with the #AntiBurnoutLifestyle. More about me: www.chloerbrooks.com