How To Hire A Freelancer For Your Online Business

how to hire a freelancerHow to hire a freelancer is an article that I have promised to write about in my post Outsourcing Internet Marketing Tasks.

How to hire a freelancer is a very important skill to learn since these virtual workers contribute a lot to the success of your business. They work much harder and longer for your business than you (at least that’s how it should be).

Let’s discuss the places where you can hire a freelancer:

– Odesk (

– Elance (

– Rent A Coder (

– Guru (

– Best Jobs (

– Fiverr (

There are many other places where you can hire a freelancer to work for your online business but you don’t need the whole list. The ones above will satisfy most, if not all of your needs for an online business.

How To Hire A Freelancer – The Basics

Before you start to hire a freelancer, you need to understand that:

1. A lot of freelancers lie about their work. Don’t believe how good or fantastic they say they are unless you see proof. Possibly a recommendation from a friend or a person you trust.

This way, you won’t be THAT frustrated when they don’t deliver the quality you expect.

2. Don’t believe the testimonials on their websites. Some freelancers fake their testimonials. Sad but true!

3. Don’t totally believe in the feedback or comments posted by previous customers. Funnily enough, some customers post good comments even though they didn’t like the work very much. Sometimes they’re just being polite and want to move on.

4. The only freelancer you trust that will truly deliver is one that has delivered good work for you in the past.

5. You will never know what a freelancer really thinks. They rarely tell you the truth. Therefore it is normal that some freelancers will disappear without emailing a word to you. Don’t scratch your head or get upset. It’s part of the game.

Note: I’m not trying to be pessimistic. I’m just telling you the truth so that you know what to expect. Learning how to hire a freelancer is easy. Hiring a good freelancer who will be your star employee is very hard. Even Fortune 500 companies have good and bad employees.

Now that I’ve set your expectations, let’s discuss how to hire a freelancer.

How To Hire A Freelancer

1. The Comments

If you choose a freelance website where each freelancer has ratings from their past customers, choose the freelancer with the most feedback. If they have several poor comments, check them out. Read why the customers have given them the poor review.

As I mentioned at the beginning, customers will give good comments even though the work wasn’t fantastic. But if a person gave poor comments for the freelancer the reason must be pretty strong. Or the customer is a nutter. Check out the history of the buyer and read his previous comments.

2. Sample Work

Always ask the freelancer for samples. However, try not to ask for ready-made samples. The latter will be perfect otherwise they won’t be used as samples.

Ask the freelancer if they can give you a free sample. If you want an article written, ask if they can write a short article for you so that you can test their ability. The sample that they’ll give you, will show their true capability.

3. Test With Small Pieces

If the freelancer won’t offer you a free sample especially created for you, it doesn’t mean you can’t still hire them. It just shows that they value their time and hate giving away freebies. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But for goodness sake, don’t give a huge project to the freelancer if you’re working with him for the first time. Test him out by giving him small pieces of work.

For example, if you want a mini-site created for your new product, ask the designer to create an ecover for you first. If you like the ecover after several revisions, then you can proceed by asking him to create the header, footer, order button etc…

If you need an ebook written, ask the freelancer to write an article for you first. This article can be the introduction to your ebook. If you like the article, then you can proceed by asking the freelancer to write the ebook for you.

All that you’re doing is testing the freelancer by giving him small tasks. You’re giving him a chance to prove himself. If he doesn’t deliver, then all you would have lost is a few dollars and some time.

4. Communication

When you’re emailing or Skyping with the freelancer to discuss your project, pay special attention to the communication that is going on. Is the freelancer responsive with your emails, does he speak good English, does he understand your instructions etc…

How the person replies to your questions and his responsiveness should be a key factor in determining if you should hire the freelancer.

5. Skype Interview

If you’re hiring the freelancer to become an important staff for the long term, then it’s a good idea to interview him properly like a company interviewing a candidate for a position.

For example, if you’re looking to hire a long term writer for articles and blog posts, then you should interview the candidate on Skype as well as email.

For my freelancer, I asked her during the Skype call to write as much as she can on a topic which I thought of out of the blue.

I sat back and watched her type away on Skype. It took me about 2 minutes to decide that her writing style and skills were suitable for the role. I hired her right away.

How To Hire A Freelancer – Conclusion

There are a lot of workers which you can hire cheaply. The key however, is to choose the freelancer who is the most capable and not the cheapest.

To make sure that you have the best chance of hiring a good freelancer, do your due diligence. Check his website, reviews, samples and interview him thoroughly.

The truth with hiring a freelancer is…it’s a hit and miss.

Even if you are thorough with the hiring process, you will still get non-competent workers slipping through the cracks. The key is to test the freelancer with several small projects before letting him handle one of your huge projects.

If things don’t look right, try to fix them right away by talking to the freelancer. If problems persist then stop the relationship. I hope this has helped you with how to hire a freelancer. It’s how successful businesses do it and it’s also how you should do it.


  1. You’ve covered a lot of great points here that will help people find the right person to hire. But for me, I only look for one thing: someone who isn’t afraid to tell me the truth, even when I’m being an idiot. In my opinion, I’m paying them for their expertise and if they aren’t willing to stand behind that very knowledge and educate me about what I’m doing wrong, they aren’t worth the money. This type of person IS hard to find, but oh so worth it.

    • Good point Lesa. A freelancer that will give you his opinion on what is best for your situation!

  2. Great points Alan.

    As someone who has run (I sold my business 2.5 years ago) an outsourcing business I know how hard it is to get good staff. Unfortunately often what you pay for is what you get. So if you’re looking to pay cheap you will inevitably get cheap.

    Communication as you’ve said is vital. And test, test, test before you commit to using someone.

    It also helps to have a really good blueprint of the work to be carried out. I also found that if I knew how to do the work myself I could gauge not only how long it would take but also the best way to do it. Obviously this can’t be done for every task.

    Outsourcing is definitely the smart way to work but it can also be challenging running and managing staff so also think of ways to motivate them to keep them happy:)

    • Hi Lilach,

      Great to get someone’s thoughts who has run an outsourcing business. Did you sell because it was a lot of work managing it?

      I totally agree that buying cheap will get cheap!

      Thanks for your comments.

  3. Hi Alan,
    Nobody can do everything by himself, hiring a freelancer can certainly help you take your business to the next level. Of course choosing the right freelancer it’s not easy and may get disappointed if you choose someone who does not deliver the expected results.

    Thanks for sharing these tips to hire a good freelancer they are certainly helpful…

    • Thanks for your nice comments Kostas!

  4. Excellent tips, Alan. I really appreciate your idea of “test with small pieces.” That’s what I do. I also love your idea of using Skype with ’em. Get to know them first hand. Brilliant!

    Bottom line, it takes some time to find the right person. And such person may not be the cheapest. Bottom line, it’s a gamble. Even if you’ve done your homework, you’re still taking a chance. In my case, I use my intuition and gut instincts a lot. But common sense always comes first.

    • Thanks for the nice comments Srinivas. I started using the Skype method about 2 years ago after Frank Bauer of suggested it to me.

  5. Hi Alan,

    These are great tips to keep in mind when hiring a freelancer. I hired someone from Fiverr to create a video. I hired this person based on the videos shown and the feedback from other customers. I was very pleased with the end product and would definitely consider using this person again. I like Fiverr also because of their extremely reasonable prices.

    I have not heard of the other sites, so thanks for giving me other options for freelancers.

    • Hi Jamella,

      Yes Fiverr is an excellent place to find freelancers. Keep the video guy a secret otherwise he’ll be too busy to work for you 🙂

  6. Hi Alan,

    I’ve never considered hiring a freelancer but I can see the benefits and you have definitely taken the guess work out of it. Thank you for mapping out this process and for pointing out the ways that we need to be careful to pick the right person!


    • Hi Stacy,

      Good to know that you liked the tips 🙂

  7. Hi Alan,
    Pretty in-depth post, I like it. I am a freelancer at Elance and, yes, great advice. As a freelancer, I usually work in a similar manner when selecting the client. One thing I look for is how long they have been there, how many jobs they have given and paid out, and check the comments too. So, very important both ways actually, especially though from the clients stand point.

    Great share!

    • It’s great to know what a freelancer thinks as well. Thanks for dropping by Joseph.

  8. Alan,
    Quality article on how to go about how to select a freelancer. No matter how talented you are, you can’t do it all. We need to find people we can work with. Ultimately, like you said, it’s hit and miss but the key is to test the freelancer with many small projects before you give big ones. Also this test does not only build up your trust in their work, but it helps them really understand your vision for things. Thanks again for sharing!

    • Thanks Rebecca. Glad you found the tips useful!