In the process of setting up our business, I’ve done a lot of research on freelancing and freelancers. It’s surprising how quickly you can weed out freelancers who don’t know what they’re doing from those that do. If you browse freelance profiles on a site like eLance.com or oDesk.com you’ll see what I mean.
1. Check Samples
Writers are easy. The proposal is their first audition piece. If a freelance writer can’t put together a stunning proposal, when their business is on the line, don’t expect too much when it’s your business on the line.
For graphic and web designers, just go to their portfolio. No portfolio? Not a good sign. They could be new to the business, but they should have something either from classes or from their own experience that they can show off. If you decide to go with someone without a portfolio, just know you’re taking a risk. It may pay off and you’ll get the perfect freelancer who you’ll use for years, or it may be a bust.
2. Look at Experience
Once you’ve narrowed it down to the professional candidates, look for someone with experience in your project’s area. That article writer with an amazing portfolio filled with magazine articles may not be the best candidate for your web content. Each kind of writing and design requires special knowledge in that area. Some skills can be transferred, but for the best results look for someone with specific knowledge of your project.
3. Consider Perspective
While looking at experience, also consider your freelancer’s perspective. If you need a fresh set of eyes to ensure a layman can understand your project, choose someone with limited experience in your field. If you need a last check to ensure you document is technically correct, choose someone with insider knowledge.
4. Match Character
Once you’ve narrowed your candidate pool to those that are qualified and will be technically helpful, choose one that will work with your business’s style. For example, if your company keeps their messages light and fun, find a writer that makes you laugh. If your signature style is conservative, don’t choose a comedy writer expecting them to be able to change the way they write.
Of course, freelancers bidding of your job should know all this too and only bid on jobs they feel are a good match, but don’t count on it. Freelancers only know as much about your company and your project as they can find in public forums and that you tell them, they can’t read your mind.