A “freelancer” used to be a term to describe someone who was struggling to find work. But all that has changed, and the rise of the modern freelancer has been a joy to behold. The Balance reports that the number of self-employed professionals active in America skyrocketed by 400% between 2005 and 2014.
That’s good news for business. Unless you’re dead set on hiring staff to work in a physical office, there are quality operators available to take your business to the next level and the freelance pool is growing all the time.
So, how do you spot a good one? Here’s what to look out for.
Step 1. Do they have a website or a strong portfolio?
Serious freelancers are best-in-class; they value their time and wouldn’t want to waste yours. They’ve likely worked in senior positions at firms in the past and are now going it alone because they want control over their workday.
All the same, if this is a career choice they’ve embarked on with serious intentions, they’re likely to have a good website or, at the very least, a detailed portfolio.
You’re well within your rights to ask to see examples of this work. If it’s confidential, offer to sign an NDA, or ask for alternative examples.
Some other points: when was the website/portfolio last updated? Does it look professional? Check these before making the hire.
Step 2. Are they a part of a network?
If your candidate has legitimate experience, it’s a good idea to check if they’re a part of a wider network.
Member organizations will invite freelancers to join or charge a small annual fee for the privilege. Both are a good sign, since you’re dealing with someone who is committed to the work they produce, and will have additional contacts on hand.
Step 3. Are they proactive?
If your candidate is good, they’ll have a get-up-and-go attitude. That means they’re going to produce work to a high standard, but also make judgment calls without endlessly asking for your opinion.
Ultimately, you’re not only paying for their time, but their experience as well…
Step 4. Do they bring their own ideas?
Gravitate towards someone who has an opinion on the product they’re producing, and isn’t simply content to accept instructions and work like a robot.
They might not be as familiar with your business, or your clients, but they’ll have instincts that could be useful. Value their ideas, since it’s a sign that they’re passionate about what they do.
Step 5. Are they deadline-driven?
We’ve saved the most important point for last.
Deadlines are the lifeblood of the freelance industry. A good hire will always want to know when the work needs to be delivered, and will communicate any potential delays well ahead of time. They’ll also be prepared to burn the midnight oil should the occasion call for it.
By the same token, they’re not precious about their work. They understand you’re in charge and will make small changes or alterations without charging extra for the effort.
Ultimately, the relationship should be mutually beneficial. A good freelancer will go above and beyond the call of duty to please you in the knowledge that you’re likely to give them repeat work.