Deciding to hire an Independent professional or freelancer can be a nerve-wracking process, especially if it is a process you’ve never undergone before as a new business owner. Questions like how do I know if they’re a good fit? Where can I find a professional? What is the going rate for my needs? What if things don’t work out?
Preparing a tasty meal doesn’t begin in the kitchen; it begins in the market where you source quality ingredients. This article will equip you with important tips to set yourself up for success when hiring a Professional.
1. Have a reasonably clear picture of what your goals are
“When they are unclear about your WHY, WHAT you do has no context.” —Simon Sinek
No, your goal isn’t to get a new logo or change the look of your brand. That’s only a “What”—a means to an end. You’ll need to dig deeper if you’re to find a clear enough “WHY”. And like Simon Sinek’s quote above implies, having a clear “WHY” will help to lend the right context to whoever you might hire, so they can bring their skills to bear to help you achieve your goals in the most efficient way possible.
But you would agree that it is no mean feat to uncover something as elusive as the “Why” behind what we do because our brains would rather save energy and stay on autopilot. Here are a few questions you can begin with to uncover the “Why”:
- What am I trying to accomplish? What does the picture of success look like, assuming I’m able to get the best possible results on the other side of this project?
- What challenges are in the way of getting there right now?
- Why is it important that I do this now? Can it wait for another month? Six months? What’s the urgency?
- What happens if I do nothing now?
While this is not an exhaustive list, it goes a long way to equip you with what you need to paint a pretty comprehensive picture of where you are and where you need to be.
2. Location, Location, Location
Granted, the world has become a global village. This has further been encouraged in light of recent events that have forced more people to consider remote work. I also work with clients across the globe. One of the advantages of being a Freelance Designer is the freedom to work remotely. And as we see technology in this area improve, it will become more prevalent. Yet, Depending on the nature of the project, you might choose to hire a professional within hailing distance.
A major concern for some clients I’ve met is the fear of getting duped in some way. So they would prefer to meet in person at least once, instead of simply relying on emails and text. And while this doesn’t completely alleviate the risks involved, it can help to establish some trust on both sides. It also helps to ask for testimonials or even talk to people they have worked with, in the past.
Keep in mind, though, that you might have limited options to choose from when looking to hire a Freelancer on a local level depending on where you live. Being open to hiring internationally removes this limitation.
Another point to consider when hiring internationally is the compatibility of timezones. Again, the nature of the project will determine whether this is worth considering. Most of the time, there are ways around it. So talk to your potential hire about it.
3. Do they have the capacity to provide the solutions you require?
This goes without saying. If you’re going to hire someone for the job, there should be demonstrable capacity to deliver. The first step is to ask to see their body of work. The Freelancer would usually direct you to their portfolio or refer to projects they have completed. Now don’t expect to see 10 or 20 similar projects. Most professionals prefer to showcase only a curated collection of the best work on their portfolio mostly to indicate what kind of work they’d like to get more of. One or two samples of related work should help you see the quality of their work and their skill level.
Sometimes, you might find yourself in a situation where your needs are unique and hyper-niched. You can consider hiring someone who is specialized in that niche. Keep in mind though that they may be more expensive but usually worth the cost since they have invested years of experience perfecting their skills in that area.
4. What is their typical process?
Anyone with some experience working as a Freelancer will agree that no matter how niched down you are, every project is unique in some way. In fact, it is part of the thrill of being a freelancer. The sense of adventure and risk that comes with every new client. But regardless of the novelty of any project, every seasoned Professional has something close to a working process nailed down.
So it helps to ask your potential hire what their working process is like and see if it is simple, reliable, and compatible for you. This is because, while we can’t plan for every eventuality when the rubber meets the road, you’ve got to have a process you can rely upon or at least until it all goes up in a big hairy explosion. Nevertheless, a good process will determine whether it is an explosion that blows it all in your face 💥or the sound of ignition 🚀
5. Quality isn’t cheap
This is more often than not, the most common deal-breaker in the hiring process. Like any elephant in the room, the question of budget often brings an awkward taste into the conversation. But I dare say it is the main reason for the conversation. Everyone is either trying to save or make more money.
A seasoned Freelancer has invested years into honing their craft, building things that help others make more money than they invested. By charging a premium investment, they claim to offer more value not just in the quality of work, but in the overall process and ROI behind an excellent execution.
That being said, it is prudent to look through their body of work and listen to them talk about their process and field of speciality. Ultimately, you get what you pay for.
Sometimes, clients are wary of investing large amounts of money into a project with a Freelancer they’ve never met before regardless of portfolio or even testimonials for good reason. In such cases, you can come to an agreement with the Freelancer, to structure the project into smaller milestones at the onset so you can get a pretty good idea of their quality of work before diving in with both feet. If they don’t meet expectations, you can pay for the work already done and find someone else.
6. Establish a single point of contact
One of the main culprits behind a project going sideways is the lack of clear communication. This is further exacerbated when there are multiple points of contact with the Freelancer giving rise to conflicting opinions which is a common issue with larger organizations. An Independent Professional would typically ask to be in contact with someone who preferably has key decision-making authority. This would reduce the likelihood of confusion setting in leading to time wasted and unneeded revisions.
Hiring a freelancer has its benefits. For one, it is cheaper than hiring a full-on agency and you get the benefit of the personal, hands-on approach to solving your problems. You also get the benefit of establishing a long-term relationship that can pay off in future. But it is smart to do your homework beforehand to make the process less tedious and more prone to succeed.