How to hire on Freelancer.com
I'm pretty well versed when it comes to the Internet, web technologies and everything that goes along with it. While that is the case, I know that I still lack in certain areas, not only because I'm lacking the skill, but also the time.
Outsourcing is one of the options that I have to get things done that I cannot do because of skill or time constraints. I have been using Freelancer.com for the most part for that, and would like to share my experience with the hiring process on the site, and tips on how to find the best person for the job on the site.
Hiring on Freelancer.com
The first thing that you will realize is that there are thousands upon thousands of potential coders, sales and marketing people or account & legal freelancers on the site that offer their services to you.
That's a lot, and it can be quite overwhelming in the beginning. Your first stop should be the Find Freelancers page on the website, as it enables you to search for suitable workers based on information that you enter and require. This can be done without signing in or up.
Note: While it is possible to create a new project right away and wait for freelancers to come to you, you may want to use the find freelancers search option to find and invite suitable candidates to your projects.
Use the sidebar on the left to describe what you are looking for. You can select a category and job, pick a skill from the list of skills, narrow down results to a specific country, require exams, limit the hourly rate or user rating.
You won't be able to search for any term here though. There is no "terms of service" skill for instance, which means that you will have to pick the closest matching skill, in this example legal, to display a list of freelancers.
Each freelancer is listed with an overall rating, hourly rate, number of reviews, the top skills, and a description.
Once you have that list, it is time to evaluate individual freelancers. Since you may spend hundreds or thousands of Dollars on a project, you may want to make sure that you pick only the most suitable candidates for the job.
The search results page lists -- among other things -- projects by other users of the site who mentioned your search term in the project description. While that alone is not that useful, the list of freelancers who bid on the project is.
Find the projects that are closest to yours, and look through the list of bidding freelancers and their profiles as described below.
How to pick suitable candidates
The profile page of a freelancer helps you vet that person. Here are the important steps that you should follow:
- Check the overall reputation as a freelancer, and make sure that the account is verified.
- Check the activity indicator, especially the completion rate, repeat hire rate, but also on budget and on time. If the freelancer has a low completion rate, or is never on time or budget, then you may find that the freelancer is not a suitable candidate for your project.
- Read user comments and reviews. Look at what work has been done, the user comment, the rating, and the money paid for that. If you find a closely-related project, it may provide you with information on how to budget your project properly so that you are not overpaying.
- Tip: You can click on the titles of those completed projects to find out more about them, provided they are public.
- Also check "work in progress" and "latest bid on".
- Next, open the user's portfolio, which highlights work samples. You may see website designs here, app screenshots, legal documents or articles, depending on what the freelancer is offering.
- Next stop, the resume of the freelancer. You may find information about education and past work here.
- Last but not least, check the exams & skills section.
Repeat the process for any suitable candidate on the site. I suggest you limit the results listing to freelancers that have received an average rating of at least four stars on the site.
Post a project
You do need a -- free -- account on Freelancer to post a new project. A project is a job that you want done on the site. You have two core options for that: make it a public job, so that everyone on Freelancer can apply, or make it a private one, so that only freelancers that you invite can bid on it. Public jobs may also be accessible on search engines and other sites outside of Freelancer.com.
The second option may be suitable if you do not want "the world" to know about your project. If you have the greatest application idea ever for example, you may not want to describe it in detail for the world to see.
It is possible to hire individual freelancers right away. This should only be done if you are confident that you won't find anyone with a better offer on the site.
I suggest you create a project instead and use the "invite to project" button to make sure that your favorite freelancers are informed about it.
The project name and description are the two important parts of each new project. Especially the description needs to be as thorough as possible, as it details what you want completed.
If you just write "create a website for me", you will probably not get that many bids, or bids by the wrong crowd of freelancers. If you add more detail, freelancers will be able to make better bids as they get a better understanding of how long they will work on the project and also if they are capable of completing it.
So, make sure you are as thorough as possible. If you do not want to reveal all information but require the project to be public, add to the project description that you can send the project plan or additional information to suitable candidates who ask for it.
This ensures on top of it that freelancers who contact you have read the project description.
Projects can use a fixed price or an hourly budget, and you need to select a proposed budget as well. This range is a guideline and freelancers may ask for more or less depending on the project. It may sometimes be difficult to determine the budget of a project, especially if you lack the skills to create it your own.
I set the budget for the domain monitoring project to $1500 - $3000 for instance, and ended up hiring a freelancer for more than $8000.
Once you have set up your project, you will receive offers for it. I suggest you use the "invite to project" button on freelancer pages that you have found suitable for the job so that they notice the new job offering and may add a bid for it.
It is important to communicate with bidders before you select one. Make sure they understand exactly what you require them to do, ask them if they have any questions or require further explanation, so that it is likely that the project will be done on time.
Tip: What I like to do is ask them to summarize the project. Some won't do so and that's the end of that, but those who do -- I limit this to viable candidates -- provide you with the information you need to make an educated decision. It is of utmost importance that the freelancer understands all requirements.
I usually created a detailed project file in Word and attach it to the project or mention it in the description so that interested freelancers can request it.
This sorts out all the "phony" bids that you get from companies who bid on a lot of projects all the time.
If the project is considerable large, agree to milestone payments. This releases payments based on work that has been completed.
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I recently also posted my first freelancer coding project to make an Outlook add-on.
I got lucky and managed to pick a good coder. I just liked what he said “that’s easy to do” and he had a lot of coding experience to back it up. Other bidders didn’t sound as confident.
I also chatted with him quite a bit and we built up a good rapport.
I think communication is definitely important to getting a successful outcome.
I made mistakes though:
– I didn’t sit down and think about the end result I wanted. I really should have brainstormed and scoped it tightly. Would have saved me going back and having to pay more for features I didn’t consider.
– I also had a beer and paid the 2nd milestone too early. But the guy was really nice and helped sort out bugs and other features I added later that I should have gotten right in the first place.
– I also didn’t test out the solution enough to help debug it. That would also have improved the delivery time and kept the budget down.
I think if I do it again I’m going to write a process on it and systematize how I want it to go.
You really need a project plan that is as detailed as possible. Anything that it does not include and does not gets agreed on may cost you extra.
I was also fortunate to find the right company for the coding job, which I started to notice when they started to ask questions about the project that I had not considered, and created a detailed work-plan that highlighted the hours they needed to code certain features.
I think it is really important that you communicate with prospective teams / freelancers prior to making a choice.
OK Martin, you got us all curious… tell us something about your new project! :)
I’ll post an update as soon as it is ready. For now, it is a domain monitoring service that takes everything to the next level.
Mr. Brinkmann . . . We all got the feeling that this project will be unprecedented; breaking new ground . . . an absolute Mind-Blower!
We are all in it with You for the long haul.
I would not go that far, but I think it will be very useful to webmasters, domain owners, agencies, marketers, SEOs and companies ;)
this was very interesting as usual. One issue I have and you somehow skirted is how much can you really trust these guys. I understand that there is a review system in place but allowing someone access to the backbone of your website or insight into your customer database or similar is a big step. Sure you talk about vetting and I accept that if you hire a “regular” company locally you may face the same issues of trust but given that you deal with someone basically unknown possibly overseas and based in a different legal domicile, aren’t there more traps? Are there limits to how far you would go? Jimmy above mentioned coding and I am not sure how much he knows himself but I always feel at the mercy of the other party as I am not a techie, so for me handing over the keys to “the project” is really a big step.
Tom, sure there is the issue of trust, and even if you vet someone thoroughly, you may end up with a bad experience. I think the main part in making sure that it is unlikely that you will run into bad experiences on Freelancer or on the Internet in general, is to communicate a lot with the other party.
So, make sure they understand what you want, and that there are no areas left where it is up to interpretation. If they are good, they may spot those areas and ask you about it.
I would generally refrain from hiring companies or individuals with too low offers, that reply to your project in a sentence or two only (I got one saying “We can do it” and that was their application for the job), that have a low reputation on the site, never created a similar project in the past, or are not speaking a language properly that I understand.
Good thing is that you do not pay them in advance, which means that you can hold back payment until work (partially) is delivered. This may not always work, but it most cases it will.
For coding, you could ask that they provide you with the source code of what they have done so far. If you do not have any code reading experience, you may have problems here as well, but maybe you have a buddy or colleague who can look over it just to make sure it looks legit.
The same is true for all other projects. If someone creates a design, have them show it to you as the work progresses. For article creation or writing, agree on partial delivery and a test article.
The Android app I would like to hire for is conceptually unique but not terribly difficult for most Android programmers to carry out. What holds me up is the problem of safe disclosure. I wouldn’t want to operationally disclose it until I had settled on a contractor but then what is to prevent her from simply walking away with the idea and making it her own?