3 Big mistakes choosing a remote freelancer - and how you can avoid making them

3 Common mistakes choosing a remote freelancer – and how you can avoid making them

Hiring a remote freelancer can be a great way for businesses and individuals to access top talent beyond their local area. However, it does come with some unique challenges compared to hiring in-house or locally. Avoid these three common yet major mistakes when choosing a remote freelancer, and set your project up for success.

Mistake #1: Not clearly defining project deliverables and requirements

When hiring remotely, clear communication is key. Yet many make the mistake of not clearly laying out all expectations upfront before starting work with a freelancer. Without clearly defined deliverables, requirements, deadlines, and processes however, projects risk misalignment down the road.

Make sure to clearly specify:

  • Exactly what you expect the freelancer to deliver for the project (e.g. report, design mockups, functional WordPress site etc.)
  • Technical skills or tools you require them to utilize
  • All essential information they need access to in order to execute
  • Layout milestones payments will be tied to
  • How you expect to communicate and exchange updates
  • Response time expectations

It may take a little extra work upfront, but setting crystal clear expectations from the start helps ensure you select the right freelancer, align on workflow, and receive the deliverable you envisioned. Prevent misunderstandings down the road by taking the time to articulate details now.

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Mistake #2: Neglecting to vet candidates thoroughly

With an abundance of freelancers marketing themselves online today, and the ease of transacting remotely, it can be tempting to choose candidates based on hourly rates alone. But neglecting to properly vet candidates can be a costly mistake.

Be sure to:

Check Multiple References

Do not rely solely on listed references. Take the time to search out and contact prior clients yourself – gain insight into work style, quality, accountability etc. Was the freelancer responsive? How did they handle challenges that arose? Would they be hired again?

Ask For Examples of Past Work

Carefully review a freelancer’s portfolio before hiring them. Is past work high quality and in-line with expectations? Were projects similar in nature and scope to yours? Requiring work samples that meet key criteria is prudent.

Run a Background Check

While most freelancers are ethical professionals, it pays to run basic background checks – especially for remote hires. This helps avoid potentially costly scams.

Assess Communication Capability

Can this candidate understand needs clearly? Do they respond promptly and professionally? Strong communications capabilities are a must for remote work to go smoothly. Have at least one video conversation before deciding.

Vetting carefully takes a little extra effort but helps identify responsible, capable freelancers less likely to default on deliverables – preventing crises down the road.

Mistake #3: Providing vague, sparse feedback and delays in payment

Once a project starts, mistakes on the client side often emerge as:

  • Vague, sparse feedback and guidance
  • Limited availability for questions
  • Delayed responses and approvals
  • Missed milestones and payments

Without clients providing ongoing, timely guidance and feedback, work quality can suffer or go askew altogether. Milestone payments also help provide incentive for your freelancer to prioritize your work.

To help your hired freelancer perform best:

Provide Clear, Regular Feedback

Be specific with comments tied directly to defined requirements. Share examples when applicable. Have regularly scheduled times to examine progress and answer questions.

Approve/Request Changes Quickly

Promptly review deliverables so your freelancer can make efficient progress. Clear bottlenecks don’t delay overall timelines.

Make Milestone Payments on Time

Stay on track with payments tied to agreed upon delivery milestones. This incentivizes priorities and commitment from your freelancer.

How to find and choose higher quality freelancers

The best way to avoid the above mistakes – and get your project done right – is to start by thoroughly evaluating candidates using these criteria:

Proven Industry Experience

Review examples of work related specifically to your type of project. Demand work samples before agreeing to contracts.

Specialized Skills and Tools

Ensure candidates have experience with specific technologies/methodologies you require. Ask technical questions to assess skill level.

Background Checks

Particularly for remote hires, independently verify candidate backgrounds, qualifications, and past client reviews.

Responsiveness and Communication

Gauge how quickly and clearly potential freelancers respond to interview questions and information requests. Ensure they can understand needs and discuss projects articulately.

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Reliable Work Ethic

Inquire about capacity, workload management and ability to meet deadlines. Review how they speak about past challenges. Assess passion for their work.

Taking extra care upfront to vet candidates thoroughly helps mitigate downstream issues and mistakes – resulting in remote freelancers who perform well.

While it does require diligence to avoid pitfalls, the world-class talent and increased cost efficiencies available through remote freelancing makes the effort worthwhile. Defining clear project plans, vetting meticulously, and maintaining excellent communication sets up your important initiatives for smooth success.

With the guidelines and recommendations above, you can feel confident choosing a remote freelancer that will deliver quality work successfully within scope and budget for your project.

I focused this article on helpful guidelines for choosing a freelancer, common mistakes to avoid, and tips to find higher quality candidates

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