Freelancers are pretty good at selling themselves and making them look better than they are. The competition is pretty high, so they need to stand out for a chance to get a good project. The problem is, that they focus more on getting the job than on working, what hurts your project and wastes your time and money. There are few easy steps which let you test freelancers trying to get your job. They help you separate the wheat from the chaff. Are you ready?
Of course, you will do a usual back check and have a look at their portfolio and references from the previous clients. Don’t forget to find them on Twitter or Facebook if you know their name, what is not always the case. But what are the magic 3 steps which will ultimately help you find a right guy for your job?
1. Add an unusual question or specific request to the job description
Many freelancers have templates which they over to every possible client. It’s true, that they can’t write everything from scratch all the time. But it’s important to make them read your proposal properly and test how they pay attention to details. Important is to ask something simple, because no one will spend hours on one proposal, if it’s not a really big project. For example:
- “Describe me your most successful project”
- “What’s your most unsuccessful project”
- “Is there anything specific you like about my project”
- “Give me a brief description of your workflow”
What to expect? First, you will probably find out, that not many of them are going to answer that question. On the other hand, don’t expect essays from them. The best answer would be a few sentences, which focuses on the question and goes straight to the point.
2. Keep an eye on the communication
Although freelancers will not be available all the time, they should answer pretty quickly. Don’t forget, that they usually do more effort to get a job. They may come back to you a few days after you post the job, but important is that they keep answering your questions not later than the next business day. Ideally, talk or type with them on Skype (Google Talk, other IM) about the project a bit. Adding them as a contact will also let you see how often and when are they online. A freelancer who works in the night may not be that helpful, because they would usually not be available immediately if anything urgent happens.
What to expect? Important is to see how long does it take for the freelancer to answer your questions and requests. The other important thing is to realize, how well you understand each other. Do you need to explain every detail in a few different ways to have them understand? Is there a tension and you feel like you are disturbing them? You will be communication with the freelancer, so make sure that this works well.
3. Start with a small task
There may be more freelancers who pass the first two steps. This final step may cost you a bit more in the beginning, but it’s usually worth it. Give every one of them a small task to see how they really work. The best would be a small update to an existing project, or doing the first basic steps of the current project. For example:
- “Set up the WordPress with the default theme and add this custom page template there”
- “Write status updates for the next week for my Facebook page”
- “Do the mockup of the homepage”
Doing this may not be possible with every project and every situation. If not, pay closer attention to the previous steps and if possible, talk to previous customers.
What to expect? To find the freelancer who fits you the best. There may be more of them, but it’s a good problem to choose between more good ones.
And what about you?
Don’t forget, that freelancer evaluate clients as well. The good ones aren’t desperate and you need to be a good client. Don’t make a rocket science out of building a simple Facebook app. Be nice and friendly, but hold your position of the client and don’t lose the authority. Tell them that you expect their effort, but that you will treat them fair. Freelancers aren’t your slaves, they are your partners to help you realize the project. If you want a good freelancer, be a good client.