How to hire better freelancers

Timothy Dann-Barrick , Storetasker
by Timothy Dann-Barrick
Digital Marketing Manager, Storetasker

Outsourcing work to freelancers is a pain — we would know. At Storetasker we have a team of over 80 experts and we’ve thoroughly vetted each and every one. And we’re constantly adding new team members to the mix.

It is painful, but it’s also important to your success as a Shopify merchant.

“You can’t do it all, stop trying” — Kelly Vaughn

Finding a good fit in a freelancer can be hard. Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to just do things yourself.

You want to find someone with the right skills, someone who communicates well and is a good worker. There are loads of people who will bid on your project and tell you everything you want to hear, but few are confident enough to tell you what you need to know.

It’s not easy.

It’s a whole process: reviewing bids, reading CVs and profiles, checking references or reviews, skype interviews.

Each step leaves room for error and it’s hard to know if you end up choosing the right person.

But there are things you can do to make hiring a freelancer easier and better. Here’s some common pitfalls

  • You don’t ask around first
  • You choose based on price
  • You didn’t give yourself a realistic timeframe
  • You didn’t write a clear job description
  • You don’t know the basics of the job you’re hiring for

Ask around

Use your personal and professional networks as your go to.

Chances are, you already know people who have had to hire the exact job you’re looking to get done.

Every time you work with someone you don’t know there’s a decent possibility that it won’t work as well as you’d like. That’s why it’s always a better bet to go with someone who has done great work for someone you know.

But you don’t have to ask only folks you know. Put a shoutout in a Facebook group or another online community where folks like you meet.

Being cheap

This one just makes sense. If you hire based on price alone you’re taking a huge risk.

On sites like Upwork and Freelancer.com the bids you’ll find are often a race to the bottom.

Freelancers who are less-experienced or who are having a hard time connecting with solid clients will low-ball their bids to try and get jobs.

It’s not surprising that you get what you pay for.

Freelancers who are doing well have to manage their time effectively. They simply don’t have time to take on everyone who wants to work with them. Supply and demand wins out and no matter how much they want to keep their prices low, they can’t.

Unrealistic expectations

Hiring takes time.

It takes a lot of time actually.

That’s why companies who hire a lot have Human Resources departments. It can be a full-time job by itself.

Give yourself a realistic timeline and schedule each step so you know you will have time to get it all done.

Here’s a list of most of the steps you’ll need to complete:

  1. Research — take a look at similar job descriptions and use them as a guide
  2. Write a detailed description — be ask clear as you can, and ask for help if you need it
  3. Decide where you want to post your job — where do the folks who do what you need done hang out on the internet?
  4. Publish the job — make it look good so the top talent will want the job
  5. Wait for responses — give it at least a day or two
  6. Select who you want to interview — make a spreadsheet or a pros/cons list
  7. Conduct interviews — if nothing else, find someone good at communicating
  8. Make a decision — congrats, you’re ready to get work done!

Writing a clear job description

No one can read your mind.

Even if someone could read your mind, if you don’t know what you want how is anyone else going to know?

You need to be clear.

Think about the words you are using and how they could be misinterpreted — especially if you’re working with someone who has a different native language to you.

Keep in mind that expressions and phrases don’t translate well.

Using the right vocabulary and keywords is important, it’s also important to include as many details as you can think of.

What is your timeline? When do you expect follow up? How will your hire know they are being successful? What tools do you want them to use? What format do you expect to receive the work in?

Be specific or you’ll just have to ask them to re-do things you already paid them to do once.

Know the basics

It’s important to know at least a little bit about the job you are hiring for. This will help in writing the job description and it will also save you money.

The best way to accomplish this is to find someone with experience with the job and ask if you can get them a coffee or lunch in exchange for a few minutes of their time. You can ask questions and get a general idea of what you need.

After all, writing a detailed job description is going to be a lot easier if you know the details. In fact, one of the things you could do during this lunch is run over the meat and potatoes of your job description with the person.

Not knowing the basics pretty much guarantees that you will waste money.

Maybe you’ll get work back in a format that you can’t use.

Maybe you’ll hire someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Maybe some part of your instructions will be unclear and you’ll have to ask for revisions to the work.

Any of these scenarios is costly and it’s best to do what you can to avoid these possibilities.

Wraping it up

This may sound like a lot of work — that’s probably because it is.

Hiring people is hard. But the more you do it, the better you’ll get.

Hopefully this post will help you hire better and avoid some common pitfalls.

Storetasker is the fastest, easiest way to get in touch with a vetted Shopify expert who can help with development, design and marketing improvements to your store.

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