A Quick Guide: Best Practices for Hiring Freelancers

Freelancers are the unicorns of the working world — they’re not employees, but they aren’t traditional business owners either. As independent contractors, they work for themselves while working with other companies. 

Because freelancers defy standard hiring practices, many companies don’t know how to get started. We made it easy, paring the process down to the essentials. Here is your quick guide to finding, selecting, and onboarding freelancers:

Three Ways to Find Awesome Freelancers

You can scour the internet to find high-quality freelancers, but there are more reliable (and productive) ways to find the best freelancers and consultants for your needs. These three methods lead you to talented freelancers without the hassle:

1. Ask For a Referral

Your professional and personal networks are the best places to find freelancers. Start by asking your coworkers, formers colleagues, and industry contacts for referrals. Chances are, they will do the work for you and pass along some talented folks.

Also check out: How To Pay Freelancers

2. Reach out to a Local Trade Organization

Freelancers love to connect through their own networks. Instead of using a freelance site, reach out to a local trade organization to find top-notch talent. If you need a freelance writer, email the head of a writer’s group in your city — the same goes for developers, designers, consultants, bookkeepers. You could look into Meetups as well!

3. Check Out the Secret Hive

Most companies don’t know about the best online resource for finding amazing freelancers — it floats just under the radar. The Freelancer Union’s Hives are the go-to spot for independent contractors for all things freelance. Post your project on their Work, Work, Work Hive, and watch as the responses flood into your email.

Review Portfolios

When hiring a freelancer, start with a portfolio. Ask for a few specific examples that parallel the focus, breadth, or scope of your project. Look through the completed samples and notice the details. You should be able to tell if it looks polished. If they meet your standards, you’re on the right track.

Assess a Collaboration

As you communicate with potential collaborators, mull over their soft skills. Do you connect with each freelancer? Has it been easy to establish a clear dialogue? Communication is key. With outsourced projects, it’s vital that you feel comfortable placing your work in a freelancer’s hands.

Stage a Trial Project

That huge, mega-project looming on the horizon is not the best opportunity for you to collaborate with a freelancer for the first time. Instead, test the water with a short, sample project. Some companies ask for potential freelancers to complete work “on spec,” without guaranteed pay. This idea is not a best practice — always pay independent contractors for test projects. The most reputable freelancers will not complete work without clear boundaries around payment.

Develop a Contract

A trial project is not just a test period for a freelancer. It’s a test for you too. If you’re both happy with the results of your first collaboration, start a conversation about availability, timeline, and perimeters for ongoing work. Make sure to respect each freelancer’s time and develop a contract on mutual terms. By setting positive intentions and strong boundaries, you pave a path toward a successful working relationship! 

After you hire your freelancer, make sure to onboard them to your Payable account for  seamless onboarding, invoicing, payments, and  year-end 1099 efiling.

Elizabeth Wellington is a freelance writer, editor, and content strategist who lives to tell stories. You can find her with a cup of tea in hand, scratching away in her favorite notebook.

Get the latest from Payable!

Start your taxes for FREE

Get Turbotax