10 steps to hire the right freelancer

An unsuitable hire is one of the most expensive mistakes your company can make. This applies to freelance workers as much as the permanent employees you take on, especially as the freelance hiring process might not be as familiar to you.

If you’re looking to hire a freelancer but not sure where to begin, never fear- Yellow Cat’s 10 simple steps will make sure you find the perfect fit for your business.

1. Define the Brief

Your first order of business is to establish exactly what you’re looking for. Put together an initial brief that describes precisely what you’ll need this freelancer to do, being as detailed as possible about the project’s deliverables, timeline and skill sets required. With this document ready to go, you’ll avoid wasting any valuable time later on.

2. Select a Sourcing Method

Next up is to choose your applicant sourcing method, which will define your whole recruitment process (and its chances of success). If you’re going it alone, freelance applicants can be sourced via referrals, job sites and freelance marketplaces. Alternatively, work with a specialist agency like Yellow Cat, and have quality candidates gathered for you.

3. Write a Job Description

Now it’s time to upgrade your initial brief to a killer job description that’s ready to post! Bear in mind that you’re also in competition- while candidates will hopefully flock to your job posting, the good ones are being chased by competitors too. If you’re working with an agency you can skip this step, as your consultant will follow your initial brief to handpick options for you using their freelance database. The agency will have already met and carefully screened the people they represent, so you can trust that the people they are selecting have the right skills for the job. If you are not using an agency be sure to create a clear, detailed job description that leaves no room for misunderstandings.

4. Price Your Project

You should also fix the estimated amount you’re willing to pay your incoming freelancer. Will you offer a fixed price, or have them charge an hourly fee? What is the industry standard rate for this kind of work? Are you willing to pay more for higher quality results or quicker delivery? It’s best to remain open to negotiation, but your initial project price will help define the experience level of your options.

5. Put a Shortlist Together

As the applications flood in, it’s time to create a shortlist of 3-5 quality freelancers for interview. An agency will carry out screening on your behalf, sending over the cream of the crop so you can avoid this daunting process. Making your own shortlist? Be sure to allow plenty of time for this step, as you’ll need to scan each candidate for the relevant criteria, examine samples of their work, and rank the best applications to make your final selection.

6. Hold Interviews

Congratulations, you’re halfway there! Interview your freelance candidates as you would for a permanent role, but remember that remote workers often won’t be available for a face-to-face interview. If you can’t meet them in person, consider a video call. This is your chance to gauge the applicants’ personalities- and avoid choosing someone who looks great on paper, but is all wrong for your business in practice.

7. Give Them a Test

If you’re struggling to pick a candidate, why not test the waters by offering them a small paid test project? This lets you get a sense of their work (and how it fits with your company) without investing too much immediately. You can also start establishing trust by setting a short-term fixed deadline, and seeing how well they meet it.

8. Make an Offer

It’s an important decision, but don’t wait too long to extend a formal offer to your chosen candidate- remember, they’re fielding offers from other companies too! Expect to negotiate payment and discuss any logistical details with your freelancer before they formally accept, and be sure to send over all necessary documentation as quickly as possible. This includes everything from the contract to any non-disclosure or non-compete agreements you need from them.

9. Get the Ball Rolling

Your freelancer might have begun work, but the process isn’t over yet. Avoid starting off on the wrong foot by using this opportunity to set clear expectations with your new freelancer. Make sure they understand your brand and company culture, and check in with them regularly to ensure they’re feeling happy on their side too.

10. Learn From Experience

Hiring a freelancer for the first time is daunting, but it’s OK to learn as you go. Whether you opt for the support of an agency or go it alone, work on establishing a process that you’re comfortable with, and make note of any speed bumps you face so you don’t repeat them the next time.

So there you have it – Yellow Cat’s 10 key tips on hiring a freelancer, minus the headaches and disasters! If you’d like to chat with us about our existing network of creative freelancers, give us a call.

Tripod Brixton,
Lambeth Town Hall,
1 Brixton Hill, London,

Hours: Monday to Friday, 8am – 7pm
Phone: 020 7580 7333